As the eighth minister in his family, Scott Tarkenton is always looking for ways to be of service to others.
He just never expected that calling to lead him to Lawn Doctor.
“It wasn’t until training was over and I got into the field that I realized chaplain work relates very well to customer service and sales,” said Tarkenton. “People just want someone to talk to. Sometimes we end up standing there and talking to people about their lives during a lawn evaluation. I’m integrated into the community and Lawn Doctor is really setting me up for the next big step—which is volunteering at nursing homes and hospitals.”
During his senior year of high school, Tarkenton began spending evenings with his uncle, an ordained minister, learning how to “preach and teach.” After a few years, he became a youth minister in Fresno, California, where much of his family lives.
“Eventually, my uncle said I needed to get more experience and to grow in other areas,” he said. “So I went to Grand Junction, Colorado where my grandfather was a preacher. We had a small church there, which is where I met my wife. Sheryl walked through the church doors one day, we had her over for lunch and we got married a few months later.”
After getting ordained by his grandfather, Tarkenton enrolled at the South Houston Bible Institute to receive a more formal education. It was there that he and Sheryl had their first child, Benjamin.
The young family then moved back to Fresno, where Tarkenton worked varied jobs while also working with churches up and down the California coast. They then moved to Roswell, New Mexico for a year before hearing that Tarkenton had finally gotten approval to begin “preaching and teaching” out on his own. Along the way, the couple also welcomed their second son, Jeremiah.
“For so long, I wondered when I’d be out of training and hold my first post,” he said. “I found a great church in Littlefield, Texas and spent two years there before realizing that I was a workaholic. My philosophy had always been to work until the sun went down and then keep working until the work was done. I didn’t realize how much that impacted my family. We had two kids. I couldn't be a good minister while I was a half-father. I needed to be the best I could be at both.”
So Tarkenton stopped practicing his ministry for awhile. He turned his hobby of tinkering with computers into a few stints with software companies. He even opened his own bread distribution business—and made a big splash by building a computer program to analyze sales, which ended up more than doubling the company’s volume.
When a senior distributor became jealous of his success, Tarkenton realized that he would soon be at odds with that distributor, so he sold the company for what he’d invested and got a job with a software company. He quickly worked his way from the bottom up, eventually serving as a supervisor for 14 years where he helped develop reporting, tracked statistics and gauged productivity.
Then, after a company-wide reorganization, Tarkenton was pushed back to managing the help desk support line. “I learned so much working in that corporate world—about people, how managers tend to oppress our workforce and how we need to change things in order to create a comfortable work environment for everyone,” said Tarkenton. “One thing that really helped was that ministry background. I counseled people on both their personal and work lives. I really enjoyed doing some of those things.”
Still, in the back of Tarkenton’s mind, he always wondered—how could he get back to what was most important to him?
“My passion was in returning to the ministry,” he said. “I had been a chaplain in nursing homes and hospitals and in police, fire and healthcare systems. I used to walk away thinking I was really doing God’s work. It wasn’t long before I realized that they helped me more than I helped them. How could I give back to the community in that way again while maintaining the level of income I needed for my family? I prayed about it for quite a while and then doors started opening.”
Tarkenton was laid off in June 2018—17 years to the day of his first day of work at the software company. He started looking into franchising. “I looked at four franchises before finding out about Lawn Doctor,” he said. “It seemed like a great fit. It didn’t cost a lot to get in and there’s no brick and mortar location. I could drive the van from property to property with my sons next to me. If I did it in a small community that had a regional hospital, I could pick up my ministry and fulfill my dream.”
Sheryl and their four sons—Benjamin, Jeremiah, Andrew and Timothy—were nothing but supportive of Tarkenton’s vision. “My children said they’d be willing to do the work with me and eventually take over so that I could work with the community as I see fit,” he said.
After meeting with the Lawn Doctor team and mutually deciding it was a perfect fit, Tarkenton expressed what he was looking for in a territory and community. Together, they identified an opportunity in Abilene, Texas, and the Tarkentons packed up and moved there in October 2018.
Their Lawn Doctor business officially launched in March 2019.
“It’s really come full circle,” said Tarkenton. “I’m going back into the ministry that I joined as a young man with the help of my family and Lawn Doctor.”
The Abilene Lawn Doctor franchise is certainly a family affair. Ben, now 24, often helps with servicing clients; he will soon enter the business as the company’s first full-time employee. Jeremiah, now 21, is currently in Colorado pursuing a career as a machinist while Andrew, 19, is helping out with the franchise until he returns to his training with the Navy. And Timothy, 15, has been helping since the launch.
As for Tarkenton, he plans to put in about one more year into growing his business before he starts volunteering in a local hospital and taking a couple of night classes to receive his chaplain certification.
“I’m excited to go back into the community for the first time in several years and give what God gave me to others,” he said.
Tarkenton continued, explaining that the legacy he’s building with Lawn Doctor will serve as a lasting testament to his family.
“With Lawn Doctor, I’m excited to see my boys pick up the mantle my wife and I started and build the business,” Tarkenton said. “I want to watch them become passionate about it and call it their own. I’m giving them each a piece of the business so that it’s not just a job to them, but a career; something they can grow and pass on to their children. As a father, I’ve always wanted to pass something down. I’ve never had that until now—Lawn Doctor is it.