April 19 2010 12:00 AM

Being creative and thinking outside the box can be a road map to success

Some people are so anxious to get their career started, they feel that until they do, time’s a-wasting.— However, sooner or later you begin to realize that there are no shortcuts. Learning a business is going to a different kind of school -- the School of Hard Knocks.

Steven Jomides is a perfect example of someone who knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. Ever since he was a young boy, his dream was to be in business for himself. It didn’t matter what kind of business it was, as long as he owned it. He was determined to take that route and be successful.

Jomides began life in a very modest way. Born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, his parents were in the real estate business. As a young boy his family moved to Rivervale, New Jersey, where he attended school.

While in high school, Jomides worked for a landscape company. He liked what he saw of the business and it looked like something he could get into with a small investment. In 1988, he started his own company and called it Lawns by Yorkshire. When asked how he happened to use that as a company name, Jomides replied that his parents owned and bred Yorkshire terriers.

Like many other new landscapers, Jomides started by mowing residential lawns. Eventually, he accepted design/build jobs and, over the years, began to learn not only the technical side of the business, but the “business end of the business.”

After a while, he began to realize that design/build wasn’t his strong suit. Sixteen years after Jomides started his company, in 2004, he dropped his design/build service and began pursuing more commercial maintenance business. He worked very hard; he loved the business and tried to figure out how he could increase his market share in a very competitive area.

Somewhere along the way, Jomides realized that the paradigms were changing. He could no longer do business the way he had in the past. He realized that his company wasn’t much different from many of his competitors. He knew that he had to be creative and break out of the box if he was to continue the growth pattern. Equally as important, he had to implement this creativity and incorporate it into his marketing plan. He had to meet and surround himself with people who could help grow his business.

He joined the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), and began to attend their meetings and annual convention. He attended various seminars, anything that would help him gain more knowledge on the business side of the business and increase his networking circle. He retained Judy Guido of Guido & Associates as a consultant to help him with marketing and growing his business. And grow it did. “Steven is the most vigilant networker I’ve ever met in our industry. He does whatever it takes to develop relationships and it’s paying off handsomely for him,” said Judy Guido.

A few years ago, he and Guido decided to take his marketing plan in a different direction. One of the ideas was to try and network the sports community. It took him a while to make the contact with the owner of the New Jersey Nets, but in the long run he met CEO Brett Yormark . . . and they seemed to hit it off quite well.

The New Jersey Nets were not exactly a winning team, but that didn’t seem to bother Jomides. He installed a putting green in the VIP lounge in the arena, and Lawns by Yorkshire began getting name recognition. “Everything is based around relationships,” said Jomides. “When you have a relationship with somebody, then you get their business, and it can last for a lifetime.”

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has named the first week of April as Green Week. The NBA has established this week to bring attention and awareness to environmental issues and help educate basketball fans about environmental protection. Jomides is making sure his company is involved in the green event. Lawns by Yorkshire is including the Nets’ fan base by creating the “Greenest Fan of the Year” contest.” They have worked with the Nets to create several green events, including the Nets participation with Jomides’ company in PLANET’s Day of Support on April 2nd.

Recognizing that the green revolution is making a lot of headway, Jomides is taking steps to ensure that his company stays ahead of the curve. “Ten years ago, who would have thought that we would be looking at sustainable landscapes?” “Today, we’re looking at retrofitting some of our clients’ properties with smart controllers and low precipitation heads. We’re beginning to look into different power sources to power our lawn mowers,” said Jomides. “Battery-operated units still have a way to go in the commercial sector, but it’s coming. And when it does come, we’ll be there. Organic or synthetic fertilizers, smart irrigation, and recycling are other areas we’re looking into. Being eco-friendly and environmentally compliant is the future.”

Branding became one of the basic components for Jomides. He realized that the more he could get the name and brand of his company out, the more people would remember it, so whenever and wherever he could, he got the name Lawns by Yorkshire in front of people. Jomides has already met with several executives and owners from corporate and commercial organizations.

Jomides lives with his wife Andrea, and their two children, Zac, 12, and Noa, 9, in Old Tappan, New Jersey. He is currently preparing for his 2nd degree black belt and enjoys his spare time. The family spends their summers in New England on their 50' boat and enjoy each other’s company.

Steve Jomides has not only graduated from the School of Hard Knocks, he built a very successful business along they way. “I’ve had my share of heartaches, but the fun is in building the business. Now, my family and I can enjoy the rewards.”

Sometimes being creative and thinking outside the box can be a road map to success.