The morning we caught up with Joey Cuzzort he was visiting his mom. He had just left his doctor’s office where he had undergone a routine checkup, and he was taking one of his rare days off. “I work pretty much around the clock,” Cuzzort says almost apologetically, acknowledging the week that we had traded emails and played phone tag.
Cuzzort, 40, is the owner of Cuzzort Lawn Care, and has been offering professional property maintenance services in Cedartown, Ga., and surrounding communities in Polk, Haralson and Floyd Counties for the past 22 years. For 20 of those years he operated under the business name of Greenscape. Two years ago, when his father retired and started helping him in the landscaping company, he gave the company the family name.
Cuzzort built his lawn care operation, starting as a teenager, on the basis of being a local guy that shows up when he says he will, does what he promises to do and treats his customers as neighbors, which many of them are.
This Georgia lawn maintenance company owner realizes the simplest of truths when it comes to contract mowing – once you settle onto the mower seat and crank up the engine you want to mow and keep mowing until the job is done. You don’t want to have to stop the engine, climb off the seat and replace a belt or make some other adjustment that could have easily been done the night before.
Although Cuzzort is the company owner, he still does more than his share of mowing. Lots of mowing. The turfgrass he mows in north Georgia is mainly tall fescue, and most years it starts growing in February. That’s when Cuzzort Lawn Care starts ramping up for the season, gaining momentum each day until Cuzzort and his other operators, which sometimes include his dad and a son, are in full production mode.
When the season is full bore, Cuzzort Lawn Care employees put in 56 hours a week on Vanguard-powered MidMount 329 Grasshoppers and the company’s granddaddy, a Model 325 powered by a 25 hp Kubota diesel engine with more than 14,000 hours of service already logged.
When the grass is growing, the company will have seven people out mowing, trimming, working on beds, or cleaning up residential, commercial and some church properties, too. Most of his clients’ properties range from 1 to 2 acres, he notes.
The exception is a 250-acre private lakefront estate.
“That’s a four-person job,” says Cuzzort. “We plan on a four-hour day with two people mowing and two people trimming. We’ve been doing it for the past 21 years.”
Cuzzort says he’s as meticulous about caring for his equipment as he is with his clients’ properties. “I’m real picky,” he admits. Cuzzort does practically all of the maintenance and spends about three hours on each machine every week during the mowing season.
“I keep my equipment indoors and locked up; and during the season we do maintenance on our mowers daily, weekly and monthly,” Cuzzort explains. “If something breaks, we fix it or get it fixed right away.”
Cuzzort follows the following 10-point mower maintenance program, which he credits with keeping his equipment in top running condition. Some of the following items he does daily, some weekly and some monthly.
“It’s worked for me,” he says, adding with a chuckle that it’s time he put together a similar maintenance plan for his own health. This small-town Georgia lawn care company owner knows what he’s talking about.
Here’s his 10-point mower maintenance program:
1.) Check engine oil and all fluids.
2.) Check the air filter to make sure the inside of the seal and the inside of the filter are clean. Even if the outside of the air filter is dirty, as long as the inside of the filter is clean, the filter is functioning properly. If you need to clean the outside of the air filter, tap the filter in your hand to remove dirt and debris.
3.) Blow debris from the mower deck.
4.) Check the air pressure of the tires.
5.) Check belts for wear or looseness.
6.) Check to make sure the deck of each mower is level.
7.) Check the front wheel bearing for wear.
8.) Check each blade for sharpness. Sharpen as necessary, making sure that each blade is properly balanced after sharpening to prevent vibration damage to the mower deck.
9.) Check each blade spindle for loose bearings.
10.) Keep the underside of the mower deck clean with a scraper or flat tool.