Sept. 18 2007 12:00 AM

In a business like landscaping where people come from all walks of life, Tony Bass is a breath of fresh air. Many of us meander into this business— some are born into it, but with Bass it was planned.

Bass was born in Macon, Georgia, the oldest of three children. He has two younger sisters. Raised in a very close knit family. Bass has never left central Georgia; he attended high school there and went to the University of Georgia, where he graduated in 1987 with a degree in agricultural engineering. While in college, Bass took a turfgrass course taught by Professor Keith Karnock. He found it not only very useful but entertaining as well. The professor recommended to the class that, “If you want to grow up and become a turfgrass professional one day, go to the library and read the trade publications.”

Bass did exactly that. He began reading the trade publications, and hasn’t stopped reading them since. “You can learn an awful lot about our industry just by reading,” said Bass. Following graduation, he and a friend spent two weeks at the beach contemplating what they were going to do with their lives. Bass decided that he was going into the landscaping business. Although he had never worked in that field, he felt that he could build a solid business.

And so, in 1987, Bass started a landscape company by offering landscape maintenance services. It wasn’t long before his clients requested other landscape services, such as adding on to the landscape, or installing an irrigation system. Not wanting to turn them down, and wishing to grow his business, he added to his menu of services. But the year 1991 threw him a curve ball. The country fell into a recession, and his business began to slide. Clients were looking for ways to cut expenses, which slowed his business down. Bass had learned much since he started his company and, not one to just lie back and wait for something to happen; he took a six-month sabbatical and began to study ways to improve his company.

He read “EMyth” by Michael Gerber, and after reading the book, he learned that he needed to work “on” the business instead of “in” the business. Bass began to strategize on ways to expand. By putting into practice his concerns for his clients, keeping them happy and “running a tight ship,” he grew the business to a volume of one million dollars annually by 1998. The next two years were spent perfecting how he could grow his company further by implementing controls that, even today, are ahead of the curve. He felt he had a good system in place, and a good financial system, but he realized that he needed to develop a good marketing system. He sought and retained a marketing consultant who “gave me the building blocks to build on,” said Bass. He learned how to get his customers to spend more money, and developed a discipline to market one new strategy each month. In the two-year period from 1998 to 2000, Bass doubled his business to two million dollars annually.

A common phrase today is “lean management,” but Bass practiced lean management back in 1992. Although he didn’t know the phrase, he knew he had to find ways to cut out some of the wasted time so he could be more productive. He realized this when he had to go to the gas station three times a week to get gas for the lawn mowers and other power equipment. With a mind working overtime, he developed a truck system that would carry an extra gas tank to fill the lawn mowers and other power equipment, and space in the truck body for the lawn equipment (mowers, trimmers, chain saws, etc.) in a place where it would be easy to take on and off. Bass saw this as a timesaving piece of equipment. It wasn’t long before other contractors began asking him if he could build a truck for them. Bass started Super Lawn Trucks with his father, and has been operating the company ever since.

He ran Super Lawn Trucks independently from his landscaping business. In fact, they weren’t even in the same building; they were across the street from each other. He built the landscaping company to a volume of four million dollars annually and, in 2006, he sold it to concentrate on the trucks. Tony Bass is no ordinary guy. Before he jumps into anything he spends a lot of time contemplating any business decision. He saw the need for a super lawn truck and stepped in to fill that need. He has earned enough money to live comfortably and could probably retire, but he feels a calling to help others succeed. He has written a book on business, titled “50 Ways to Find, Recruit and Hire Super Star Employees.” Bass has a unique capacity to see the future, and his passion is to share it with all.

“This is one way of trying to pay back,” he said. Married to his wife Lynn, they have two children, Holly Savanah, 6, and Maxx, 4. “We love to get in our motor coach and just go,” he said. “We’ll go hunting, or go to our farm and do some planting, or just go to the beach. I love being with my family and watching them grow. I’ve been blessed with good fortune and good luck,” said Bass. At the age of 42, Tony Bass has achieved what takes other people a lifetime to accomplish. His goal is to help make others successful in their business.

“When a young person can see a road map that will lead to success, he should just follow it,” said Bass. “It’s just that simple.”