Aug. 17--Two brothers, Brian and Joshua Mark, are co-owners of Chris Mark and Sons Landscaping, located in Bourne. Their father started the business in 1974 as a part-time job and expanded it to what it is now.
What's the most important thing your business does?
We provide great service to our customers by taking care of the beautiful landscaping on Cape Cod, as well as care for our employees and staff.
How long have you been in business?
Brian: Our father, Christopher, started the business in 1974, working part-time, while he was a manager at Sears. He wanted to make a little extra money so he started mowing grass around the Cape. Josh and I started working with our father when we were about 12 years-old.
What did you do before?
Joshua: We've basically always been involved in the company; rather it was part-time or full-time. Brian taught at Bourne High School for about three years after going to the University of Rhode Island, and I went to the University of New Hampshire and studied physiology. But we always came back to work for the family business.
How big was the staff when you started? How about now?
J: It was only three people, my father, mother, and one of my father's colleagues. Now we have about 48 seasonal employees.
How has the market changed since you started?
B: There's a lot more summer residents now, so there's a lot of second homes that we have to care for. People are also more aware of the environment -- being very conscious about organic programs and doing things right through conservation commissions. Landscaping has become more of a professional occupation, also; more people are making careers out of it instead of just working part-time. Twenty years ago, the business was 99 percent men now you see a lot of women working in landscaping, too.
What are your plans for your business future?
J: We plan to continue to grow and provide a good career path for our employees. Following that, we want to remain environmentally conscious and continue to embrace the changes that come along with that, by being sustainable and ecological sufficient.
What's the best thing about having a business on the Cape?
J: Days when its 74 degrees and no humidity are perfect! But also, we grew up on the Cape so it's an area that we embrace, it's home to us. So, the seasons, the weather and the people make it a great place to stay. It's important to be a part of taking care of it and making places look beautiful, so people can continue to come and enjoy vacationing here during the summer time.
What's the biggest challenge to having a business on the Cape?
J: One of the biggest challenges is that it's difficult to maintain employees, because we can only have a full time staffer for so long. It's a seasonal business so workers are coming and going, we have a great staff, but we don't have that permanent staff that can stick around. From May 'til September it's around 50 people, and from September to December it's about 30 people, and January and February it's about 15 people.
What has been your most memorable moment with the business?
B: In our younger days, the good times of cutting the 18 lawns that we needed to cut, and then Josh and I and our buddies would go out and water ski and have a great time. But, as we got older, I think, watching us go from doing it as teenagers, then young adults and now you're an adult watching your kids grow up and work for the company. You get to see the evolution of the company. Also, working with our father and learning so much from him.
What advice do you have for someone starting a business on the Cape?
B: Learn your trade and craft, don't decide you want to start a landscaping company and do it, but learn how to landscape and then start the business. Take the right steps first, and don't be that guy who just slaps things together. Just take your time and know that you don't have all the answers, and you never will.