|By DENNE GOLDSTEIN|
Chris Elmore has taken over the reins as a president of The Grounds Guys, a landscape maintenance franchise which is part of The Dwyer Group. If you velieve in karma, now is the perfect time and place for this transition. At the age of 42, both he and the company he leads are primed for explosive growth.
Elmore was born and raised in Hampton Roads, virginia.
His father had a heating and air conditioning company, so Elmore was no stranger to the business. “When I was out of school on holiday breaks or during the summer, I would go to the office with my father,” he said. “He’d give me chores, telling me to go with this guy and help him install an A/C system, or ride with that guy on a service call.”
His father sold the business, but he continued working in management for the people who bought the company. “I still went with him to the office,” he said. “My dad would tell me to do all the duct work, or go under the house to do something.”
Upon graduation from high school, Elmore spent three years at Old dominion university, in their engineering program. While he was at Old dominion, he met his future wife; they married in 1998. “I quit school because it was time to support our family, but I started taking some business courses at night,” he said. “Then, once the kids came along, that kind of went away.”
Elmore had to earn a living, so he became a service tech in the heating and air conditioning industry. by the end of 1993, a year after he began, he became a full-service technician and continued working in that capacity for another four or five years.
By this time, he had two children and was living in Chesapeake, virginia, working as a ‘service guy’. Between 1995 to the beginning of 1998, Elmore worked for two different companies. He was exposed to doing business in a franchise operation through a company his dad worked for, back in the late 1980s, called Service America.
He became familiar with wearing a uniform, selling service agreements, customer service, etc. “I always had a different method of thinking about customer service and doing technical service,” said Elmore. “To me, it was never about just fixing things; it was about understanding the customer and having him be a part of the process.”
During this period, he became acquainted with Aire Serve, one of the franchises owned by The dwyer Group. “When I went to work for a company that was an Aire Serve franchisee, it just further confirmed that I wanted to be associated with that company,” he said. “With other companies, it was always about the ‘thing’—fixing the ‘thing’; it was never about any interaction with the customer.”
After working for two Aire Serve franchisees, he liked their business concept and customer service. While he was working for the second Aire Serve franchisee, the manager was stepping down, and he was asked to take over his position. “I said, ‘I know the system; I’ve been around the technical side and I think I can do it—I’ll take the job.’”
Taking over as service manager gave Elmore a deeper insight into the importance of customer service. While the company he was working for was a franchisee of Aire Serve, Elmore met doyle James, who was the support person for Aire Serve. He liked The dwyer Group’s philosophy.
More importantly, he was learning a lot. When he found out that his company had decided to separate themselves from Aire Serve and go independent, Elmore started looking around for another job. James asked him if he would like to join the company as a franchise consultant, and in 2000 he joined Aire Serve.
He went to Waco, Texas, for training and met dina dwyer. “After the training, she walked up to me and said, ‘You must be Chris Elmore. I’m dina; welcome to The dwyer Group. I know why you’re here, and I hope everything works out okay.’ That just blew me away, because I’m thinking, ‘How does this woman who’s running this company know who I am; I’m just an applicant.’” Elmore loved the job. being a franchise consultant means visiting with the franchisees; he was on the road at least 24 weeks a year. but with two small children, Elmore felt he needed to be closer to home.
His father, who had retired five years earlier, was involved in another business which was growing, and he asked Elmore to come in and help. So in 2002, he left The dwyer Group. by 2004, doyle James had taken over as president of Aire Serve, and asked Elmore to take over as vice president of operations for the company.
Elmore stayed with Aire Serve until 2012, when he was asked to move over to the latest acquisition of The dwyer Group, The Grounds Guys. When Ron Madera, president of the Grounds Guys, retired, Elmore was asked to take over.
“As I didn’t come from the industry,” says Elmore, whose humility allows him to acknowledge that, “I needed to surround myself with people who do know the industry. I’m still learning the finer points of landscape maintenance.”
One thing Elmore does know is that there are some excellent opportunities to grow the franchise. He also realizes that to grow it, he has to have the right people to buy into the franchise. “Landscape contractors who have a passion for this business would make great franchisees,” he said. “We have a proven way of doing business. We work closely with our franchise partners to develop new revenue streams, such as installing landscape lighting and irrigation systems.”
There is no doubt that with the dedication he possesses, Chris Elmore will succeed in his life’s work. His enthusiasm and passion are truly contagious.