The Groundsman

January 2013

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32 PROFILE : BUILD YOUR BUSINESS Completing his college course with flying colours, Jon secured an assistant greenkeeper's position at Dartford Golf Club. Aged just 16, he was driven the 10 miles to the course each day by his dad, who worked nearby. Over the next 18 months, he accumulated a full set of turf care skills carrying out a multitude of tasks on all parts of the course. However, he still hankered after a job in professional football and his dream became a reality in 1999 when he secured the post of assistant groundsman at Tottenham Hotspur's training ground. Although based initially at the Spurs Lodge training facility at Chigwell, Essex, Jon also helped out at the White Hart Lane stadium during his four years at the club, ultimately becoming assistant head groundsman at the stadium. " Lawn Master made me feel an integral and valuable member of the team " Seeking new pastures and a fresh challenge, he then spent a year as head groundsman at Gillingham FC before being approached by Jason Griffin, head groundsman at Chelsea FC. "I joined Chelsea as an assistant groundsman and within a year had become assistant head groundsman, supervising maintenance and preparation of all the training pitches. I also helped out at Stamford Bridge," recalls Jon. Although he loved the work, he did find the hours unsociable, especially the weekend work. "I was keen also to become 'the boss', running the show at a leading club," Jon points out. "But top groundsman's positions do not come up too often, so I started thinking about alternatives." His first contact with Lawn Master came in 2009 when he spotted an advert targeting experienced turf care professionals. "I received a comprehensive information pack but almost fell off my chair when I saw the costs involved," he recalls. "I thought I couldn't possibly afford to take up a franchise and basically forgot about it." About a year later, he received a phone call from Bob Underhill, founder and owner of Lawn Master and, after a two-hour conversation, Jon says he was totally sold on the idea. Six months later, he was at the wheel of a sign-written van visiting his first customer. "Lawn Master made me feel an integral and valuable member of the team," said Jon. "Although cost was an issue initially, it did not prove to be the stumbling block that I thought it might be. I borrowed from my family, used savings and took up a deferred loan offered by Bob. And I'm pleased I did." Golf grounding Alix, too, started his working career aged 16 on a golf course, being assistant greenkeeper at Reigate Hill Golf Club in Surrey, where his mother worked. "I was not a great academic achiever and basically fell into the industry when my mum told me about the job," he explains. "I really enjoyed working outdoors, even on freezing winter mornings. The club put me through college and I secured NVQ Jon Eves with a happy customer Visit for more information and digital editions the Groundsman January 2013 Greenkeeping Level 2, which was a great foundation for my career path." Describing himself as a massive football fan, Alix recalls becoming excited when he spoke with a fellow student who was working at Chelsea's Training Centre. "He told me about a vacancy there so I applied and was interviewed by Jon, who at the time was assistant head groundsman. He liked the fact that I had good turf skills, acquired over three years or so at Reigate, and I was offered the job. I started in 2008 as an assistant groundsman. "I remember telling Jon that working for myself had great appeal," said Alix. "A day or two later, Bob Underhill called and, like Jon, I decided to take the plunge with the full backing of my parents, a bank loan and financial help from Lawn Master." Since starting in March 2012, Alix has built a solid customer base, and he says he has more time and freedom to enjoy life, which now includes playing football at the weekends. "It's an interesting change from preparing the pitches for others to play on." l

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