An Interview with Aaron Roberts

Founder of Yard Farmers

Yard Farmers LLC

Aaron Roberts is an entrepreneur from Somerset, Kentucky who owns Yard Farmers LLC, a service based company providing general contracting, property maintenance, excavation, and mowing and vegetation control with an emphasis on steep slopes and dams. Starting his business at 15, he shares his advice for becoming successful in your respective field.

 

What is your background and how did you get started doing what you do now? From graduating high school to where you are today.

I began in my current field of work at age 15. I had a life-long history of farming, so when I began thinking about a truck, gas money, etc I took out a loan and bought a tractor one year before I had my license. I began bush hogging, spreading gravel, and pulling shrubs. Shortly after that, I began doing residential landscaping and mowing after purchasing a new zero-turn mower.

Upon graduating, I began community college. My business was growing rapidly, and I found it nearly impossible to keep both juggled. After a phone call while in class about potential damage to a piece of equipment, I left class and never went back. At age 19, my business was turning over good money, and I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do. The logical thing seemed to be pursuing my business.

Today, my business is stronger than ever, and reached a point that we can be selective about the projects we bid on, and we are taking on larger jobs than I had ever even imagined.

 

What do you do at Yard Farmers and what makes you good at it?

I oversee day-to-day work for my company, with the help of a full time foreman. I am constantly trying to find jobs to bid on, and ensuring quality on current projects. I have a confident personality that helps me with both personnel and customers. I have an easy time gaining the trust of customers and always stick to my word.

 

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Simply put, no day is typical. I am very hands on. Today I may be meeting with the government about an upcoming project, tomorrow I may be on heavy equipment. I always try to make sure my employees know that I will not ask them to do anything I will not do. Therefore some days I may be the guy down in a muddy ditch fixing a water leak, allowing an employee to operate the backhoe. I try to work side-by-side with my crew as much as possible.

 

What are some mistakes that you made early on that my readers and I could learn from?

One of my earliest mistakes involved employees. I took on too many jobs too fast, and had to hire employees without being able to properly supervise. At age 19, I had 12 employees and one foreman. Lack of supervision reflected poorly on me.

Another mistake was hiring people that were friends or family. In nearly every case they expected favors. Instead of being more dedicated, they tended to want more days off, be late more, expect more pay, and want to do less work when on the job. I prefer to work people I’m not closely tied to.

 

When the going gets tough, what would you say motivates you to keep moving?

When things get tough, I have to remember the perks of entrepreneurship. My earnings are not limited. My hours are made by me. I have only my customers to answer to. No one person can make me unemployed.

 

What would you consider one trait that has made you the businessman you are today?

Determination. Sheer determination. My sophomore year of high school a shop teacher made light of my business endeavors, and tried to make it seem like I would never succeed. I was determined, and my senior year I had more income than he will be earning when he is ready to retire. I was determined to prove him wrong, and determined to succeed in general. I’m most determined to please my customers.

 

What are YOUR top 3 Tips for success?

  1. Be determined and have a plan. Business is not for the faint of heart.
  2. Be faithful to your commitments. If you quote a certain price, honor it. Even if you lose money. If you place a warranty on your work or product, stand behind it at all cost.
  3. Stay close to your customers. Employees cannot maintain that relationship for you. You must remain in constant contact. If you don’t take care of your customers, your competition will.

Are you using any Apps on a day to day basis that help you most from day to day?

Yes, Intuit online payroll app, Intuit go payment card reader, Invoice2Go.

 

What are YOUR goals for the next 5 years?

I want to consistently earn over 2 million per year, and subcontract more work. I plan to expand my business so that my wife can leave the public work place, and work alongside me.

 

What advice would you give to our readers?

Set REALISTIC goals, have a plan, and do whatever it takes to reach those goals. It may be working 18 hours per day, it may mean occasionally swallowing your pride. Whatever it takes, do it if you want to succeed.

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