Clean Air Gardening might never have come into existence if Lars Hundley, the president, hadn't been too cheap and environmentally conscious to buy a gasoline powered lawnmower to take care of the yard at a house he was renting back in 1997.
There wasn't a chance that he was going to spend hundreds of his own hard earned dollars to purchase some noisy, stinky, gasoline-powered contraption just for the benefit of his landlord. No way!
Instead, he poked around the back of a local big box home improvement store and found an old fashioned push reel mower, hidden way down on the bottom shelf where no one could see it.
"Wow!" he thought to himself. "I didn't even know they still made these things! I wonder if it works?" He dragged it out from the bottom shelf, paid at the register and took it home.
Once Lars got the mower home, put it together and started pushing, he was in for a pleasant surprise. It worked, and it worked well. It wasn't noticeably harder to push than some heavy, stinking 80 pound gas mower. And it did at least as good a job cutting the grass, if not better.
That was the moment when the wheels started turning.
"Why doesn't anyone else know about these terrific reel mowers?" he asked himself.
Not long after that, Lars was fired from his dotcom PR job. (Quite possibly because his enthusiasm for his job didn't come anywhere close to matching his enthusiasm for his mower.) This led to the next entrepreneurial question: "Would other people buy these cool reel mowers on the Internet?"
Lars made a few phone calls and learned that pure good fortune was on his side. It turned out that there was a guy about 45 minutes away who was importing a mower from Germany that was the top of the line of reel mowers.
As further good luck would have it, this guy was willing to take a chance on Lars, even though Lars had a background in journalism and had never run a business before. He sold Lars an entire car full of reel mowers at wholesale. Lars drove back home with very little money, but a whole trunk, back seat and passenger seat filled with mowers. (How many Brill reel mowers can you fit in a 1991 Volvo? Fifteen, if you pack carefully!)
Lars got home, unloaded the mowers, and got to work building a web site. Even though it was late summer of 1998 and past the end of the lawnmower season, and even though Lars wasn't even able to accept credit cards yet and had to ship the mowers COD, people bought them.
When the spring of 1999 rolled around, Clean Air Gardening had a domain name, accepted credit cards, and was off to the races. Lars had been researching other cool environmentally friendly lawn and garden products he liked in the meantime, and was steadily adding those to the site too.
Sales kept growing and growing, as more customers discovered the web site and liked the products.
After some raised eyebrows from his landlord when an 18 wheeler pulled up and unloaded six pallets of string trimmers, completely filling up the garage without permission, Lars felt pretty sure it was time for the next step.
He packed up and moved the whole business from Boulder, Colorado to Texas, where he was originally from. He rented a giant storage unit locally, and leased an even bigger amount of warehouse space in Indiana for his large products.
But it soon became too much work for Lars alone, even with Steve, Sherry and Shane at the warehouse fulfillment center in Indiana doing the heavy lifting. He hired a different Steve locally to manage operations, keeping products in stock, helping customers, and taking care of all the important details that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
Then came Don, who took over the Dallas inventory and shipping operations. Lars' wife Andrea joined the company, followed by Angela, Craig, John, Libba, Lisa and Chris. We bought a building in Dallas, and made that our office and warehouse.
So, as you can see, we're no giant, faceless company. We're just a few people in Dallas, working as fast as we can to make sure that we have plenty of cool, useful, environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies that we think you'll like. We work here because we love what we do, and wouldn't want to be doing anything else!
We've been in business since 1998, and we're here to stay. If you're not already one of our customers, why don't you become one today?
Want to know more about us as we go along?Keep up with our daily biz by following us on twitter. We keep it light with updates on the cool, new gadgets we get in stock, media mentions and other cool stuff eco-friendly related.
We're on facebook, so add us as your friend. It's actually Lars' account, so no spamming from this facebook friend. You can leave comments on his photos featuring him with the dozens of Elvis impersonators he's met over the years. If you don't want to be friends, you can just join the Clean Air Gardening Facebook page, or Clean Air Gardening Facebook group.
We've also got a YouTube channel, so subscribe to our Clean Air Gardening channel to get the latest videos about products, things we're doing and other helpful gardening information. Don't forget that we also have a blog!