Christopher Fox's battery-electric lawn gear gets an inspection by his dog Amoeba. Courtesy of Christopher Fox.
June 9, 2020
It begins just after dawn. Mower- and blower-toting armies push into your neighborhood like a 21st century D-Day invasion, blasting a cacophonous hole in the peaceful suburban morning. The hoarse drone of a backpack leaf-blower rises and falls like the cry of a wounded wildebeest. Coffee on the patio? In the middle of this racket?
You may be surprised to learn that all those smells and decibels no longer have to be a lawn-grooming fact of life in the ‘burbs. Around the country, including right here in Dallas-Fort Worth, a new paradigm is emerging: yard crews that eschew lawn chemicals while using quiet, fume-free battery-electric equipment in place of the usual gasoline-powered gear.
Ellyn and Scott Golub say their son Jack is "very much a partner" in the family's sustainable lawn care business, launched in 2015. Here they stand between their company truck and a battery-electric mower. Photo courtesy of Golub family.
Helping lead the revolution are Ellyn and Scott Golub of Richardson and Christopher Fox of Arlington. The Clean Air Lawn Care franchise owners use only cordless electric mowers, blowers and trimmers that get their daytime recharge from solar panels mounted on company vehicles. Fertilizing and weed control is strictly organic – no chemical-based products are used.
“An organically treated lawn can sequester up to four times the carbon of a chemically treated lawn because of soil health,” Ellyn Golub said. “Our organic fertilization programs create beautiful lawns and produce a lazy way for our customers to lower their carbon footprint. Our solar powered mowing reduces pollution directly to nearly zero with each lawn we mow.”
Established in 2006, Colorado-based Clean Air Lawn Care’s business model is built around the use of organic and sustainable lawn care practices intended to protect the health of franchise owners and their communities. Fundamental to that mission are fume-free yard grooming tools.
For years, battery-electric lawn gear was characterized by slow charging, short run times and marginal power. Those days are gone. Advances in battery technology now enable cordless electric yard tools to deliver performance comparable to gas-powered equipment while cutting emissions by up to 99 percent. The electric equipment is significantly quieter, as well.
How much has the technology improved?
“By leaps and bounds,” Ellyn Golub said. “We began with lead-acid batteries and now there are so many choices and improvements that we now use the lighter, more efficient lithium-ion batteries. We can go 10 times farther on a single battery charge, and are excited as we watch further development in battery science.”
Franchise owners are free to use whatever emissions-free equipment best suits their needs. The Golubs use Mean Green mowers and EGO leaf blowers and trimmers, while Fox uses EGO and Ryobi. (Most major lawn tool manufacturers now offer a full battery-electric product line.)
For Fox and the Golubs, the decision to start a sustainable lawn-care service was an ethical move as much as a financial one.
Christopher Fox has operated his Arlington-based Clean Air Lawn Care franchise since 2018. Courtesy of Shanna Lucas Photo.
“Electric powered mowing, edging and blowing reduces not only pollutants in the air, it also reduces noise pollution,” Fox said. “Back in Christmas of 2018, I had the idea of lawn care but using only electrical tools, and have them be solar powered. Surely enough, there was already someone doing this, so I decided to join them since they have experience with operating a business.”
Scott Golub begin working for another Clean Air Lawn Care franchisee in 2010. Five years later, he took advantage of corporate incentives that waived the upfront franchise fee for qualified employees wishing to start their own business. His wife Ellyn describes their work as “a consciousness and an attitude: ‘First, do no harm.’”
“Scott really loved the work and the concept of sustainability in lawn care and wanted to keep doing it,” said Ellyn Golub. “So, when the opportunity presented itself we jumped.”
In exchange for low noise and a chemical-free yard, Fox and the Golubs say they charge a slightly higher fee than conventional yard crews. The Golubs have owned their franchise for five years and now have more than 60 customers, including an entire homeowners association. It’s a family affair, and they count their son Jack, a 5th-grader, as a full partner. Fox, meanwhile, is less than two years into his business and is in the process of growing his clientele.
Clean Air Lawn Care CEO and founder Kelly Giard says most franchise owners are “white-collar to green-collar” entrepreneurs who find value in the company’s sustainability mission. As a former information-technology developer for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Fox fits the profile, as does Ellyn Golub, a former TV executive who currently works for Jewish Family Services of Greater Dallas. Husband Scott’s background is a bit more exotic, having served with the U.S. Merchant Marine as an Apprentice Mate on tugboats in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite their disparate backgrounds, all share a common enthusiasm about sustainable lawn care.
Eco Friendly Lawn Care
Clean Air Lawn Care DFW Franchises
Ellyn and Scott Golub, Richardson
Christopher Fox, Arlington
Stephen Gault, Dallas
Happy Gardens Organic Landscaping
Anna Hurst, Fort Worth
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