By Sara Poulin | Photography by David Fuller
Dustin Carrier strides off a Lewiston job site located in the area where he grew up. Rylee, a fluff of a dog, comes trotting out ahead of him. Approaching with an easy and amiable stride, Carrier watches as two of his crew members work to finish a hardscape project on the other side of the driveway – a beautiful stone walkway and retaining wall that, according to Carrier, didn’t exist a day ago.
Carrier Lawn and Landscape started as a lawn mowing business when Dustin Carrier was 13 years old. His clients were all within bike riding distance of his childhood home, in the neighborhood sandwiched between The Androscoggin Bank Colisée, Lisbon Street, and Lewiston High School.
“I’d dump the grass clippings right over there,” Carrier says, gesturing toward a gully just past where three of his work trucks and trailers are lined up. Mowing all summer long and saving his earnings, he was able to buy a rusty old Toyota pickup truck, even before he had a driver’s license. The business has surely grown since then, from five or six lawn care clients to an average of 30 year-round maintenance accounts each year.
While attending college, Carrier continued with his mowing business, making enough money to purchase more equipment. Working a grounds maintenance contract for a condominium complex, he made enough to pay for his junior and senior years of college. In 2008, Carrier graduated from the University of Maine with dual degrees in landscape horticulture and business administration.
A hometown guy, Carrier returned to Lewiston after college. By working and putting his money aside, he saved enough to fund additional landscaping equipment and put all of his efforts into getting his business off the ground.
Autumn of 2008 marked the official start of Carrier Lawn and Landscape, offering mostly residential and commercial lawn care and maintenance. Currently, the company maintains 12 commercial accounts, which include mowing, lawn care, sweeping, plowing, and sanding. These accounts are based on 12-month financing terms, ensuring a steady flow of income for him and his full-time, five-man crew.
In the future, he’d like to expand the business to include more accounts like these. Carrier offers, “I sleep better knowing that the payroll is covered during the winter months.” Though residential lawncare is where Carrier Lawn and Landscape started, over the course of the last ten years, Carrier has incorporated new offerings into his business model.
More than just landscaping
According to Carrier, hardscapes have been a solid part of his business for years, and one of his favorite things to work on.
“I love problem-solving,” Carrier says, “and viewing the end result of something is awesome.”
From where he is sitting, it is easy to see what Carrier means. The retaining wall and walkway that the crew is working on have some unique challenges. The new hardscape has to blend in flawlessly with existing structures like curves and a porch – which it does. Carrier had to “whack away” at preexisting concrete stairs. The slightest hint that something existed before the crew started their work can be seen, and only because Carrier pointed it out.
Carrier is also a certified contractor for the Department of Environmental Protection, which allows him to work with customers who own camps and homes on waterfront properties.
“We are trained on all things excavation within 250 feet of any water, lake, or pond,” he explains, “We work with code enforcement to try and get projects approved.” That means fewer roadblocks and difficulties for Carrier’s clients.
Septic services evolved from a good suggestion. Carrier’s associate, Adam Hall, said it would make sense if
their heavy equipment could be used for septic work, in between hardscape projects. Carrier saw
the financial benefit and added septic services to his list of offerings.
This July, Carrier Lawn and Landscape is planning to be in a new 9,600 square foot building at 587 College Road
in Greene. Until now, the business has been run from Carrier’s home garage.
“It will be nice to not have every employee know where I live,” Carrier laughs. “It’s the next step in growing the business.” The additional space leaves room to add more equipment and employees.
With the business having expanded over the last ten years, the company is looking toward growing into their new location.
Friends and neighbors
“This guy is top-notch,” praised Matt Ross, one of Carrier’s clients. “Guys like Dustin – you don’t worry about. You trust them.”
A high percentage of Carrier Lawn and Landscape’s business is generated through word-of-mouth and personal referrals. All of those referrals add up. The company averages 15-20 estimates a week. Most days, Carrier is also on the job site, working alongside his crew. His company typically runs one or two jobs at a time, to ensure high-quality work. While he is a busy man, Carrier really enjoys being on the jobs and seeing the finished product.
What’s the one thing Carrier wishes people knew about preparing for a landscaping project? He cracks a wide smile. “That you have to call in the fall if you want work done in the spring,” he replies. “As in life, planning is the key to success.”
Words of wisdom from a man who seems to have had a plan for success since the age of 13.