An upstate New York corporate sales job isn’t for everyone: pinstripe suits, pressed shirts and leather briefcases. Some describe it as intimidating, while others conclude it’s luxurious.
Jim Duffy, now a franchise owner of Lawn Doctor in Florida, firmly agrees with the latter. “A job in sales allowed me to work while my wife stayed at home and took care of our kids,” says Duffy. “I had the flexibility of working from home and maintaining my own schedule as long as I hit my numbers.”
Duffy found success early in his career. But change was inevitable, both with his family and his career. His kids were growing older, and he wanted to spend more time with them and watch them grow. His wife, a teacher, missed watching her students excel. And the job market was constantly in flux: his territories began to change and traveling became more frequent, with jobs being relocated out of the city. More importantly, Duffy’s wife loves sunshine.
A proclaimed family man, Duffy began to see the writing on the wall.
“I knew I had to make a change,” Duffy said, “And I’ve always wanted to own my own business.”
Owning and operating a franchise was attractive for Duffy because it would allow him to still have the flexibility he grew accustomed to. There would be no work on nights and weekends and he could maintain his own schedule, but he wanted to find a fit that would allow him to avoid a physical office. Ten years into his career, he began to plan.
Duffy completed extensive research on franchise opportunities and began a journey to find the right match for what would later become his Florida empire. Four years in, he stumbled on Lawn Doctor.
“It was a perfect fit,” Duffy said. “I remember calling my wife the moment after I met the owners of the business. They felt genuine; like family. I knew it was the only choice for our family.”
For the next six years, Duffy and his family took trips to Florida for vacation, where he and his wife would scout the area to find the perfect location to start their new venture.
“My family is important to me,” Duffy said. “At the time, my kids were still in school. I didn’t want to uproot them from their friends, so we waited until they left for college.”
And in 2004, the Duffys packed up their belongings and moved to Florida. Without a prospective client, he opened his first Lawn Doctor location in Fort Myers. He says the risk definitely paid off.
Duffy’s wife began to start teaching again while he ran the business. But the family continued to encounter change.
“My sons went off to college, but they weren’t sure on what they wanted to do with their lives,” Duffy said. “I saw an opportunity. A chance to build a family business, together.”
Duffy assessed the Florida market and began to acquire new territories. First Naples. Then Bonita Springs. He now owns multiple territories, 14 years after opening his first location.
“The Lawn Doctor business is now a family business,” Duffy said.
He shares 50/50 ownership with his wife, who is now retired from teaching and running the business’ operations while Duffy focuses on sales. His two sons work alongside him, with intentions for them to buy the business within the next five years.
“It’s people like Jim [Duffy] that make the Lawn Doctor business so special,” said Eric Martin, Vice President of Franchise Development at Lawn Doctor. “Not only were we able to see him and his family grow and prosper, but we’ve seen him grow his community as well.”
Duffy has sponsored 11 youth athletic leagues, including little league and soccer. Duffy also offers opportunities for inquiring Lawn Doctor franchise owners to shadow him and his family, so they can learn the ins and outs of the business.
“Jim has been an integral part of the business in Florida and is an ambassador of our system as a whole. We aspire to find more like him that are ready to create freedom, flexibility and personal wealth with an asset they can be truly proud of,” Martin said.
Duffy wants to grow his network even further, but as the heart and soul of the business is family, he will only expand if he comes across the right person that he can adopt into his family.
“I hate to sound sentimental, but it’s truly been the American dream,” Duffy said. “I get to work alongside my family every day. And we are excited for our sons to take over so we can spend more time with our grandchildren. Retirement is still far into the future, but there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing something grow that you built from scratch.”