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Firms' owner is escapee from corporate world

Rochester Business Journal
December 21, 2012

Adam Bernhardt spent three unfulfilling years in the corporate world before buying a landscape curbing business in 2008. Last month, he added a second company to his portfolio.
Bernhardt, 32, owner of Curb Magic on Portland Avenue, acquired Lawn Doctor Inc.'s territorial rights to Monroe County on Nov. 19.
So far, Bernhardt says, business is good.
"We're still in transition," he says. "There are a lot of loose ends and getting everything changed over to my name and that kind of thing."
Bernhardt bought two Lawn Doctor territories in Monroe County, including the customer base from each. The acquisition also included a fleet of Lawn Doctor trucks and equipment.
A third territory was included in the purchase for future prospecting, but as the lone Lawn Doctor franchise owner, Bernhardt can serve the entire county.
"The old owner serviced all of Monroe County," Bernhardt says. "That's against Lawn Doctor's corporate franchise rules, but there was nobody here to say you can't do it because there was no other franchise in this area."
Bernhardt declines to disclose the purchase price for the Lawn Doctor rights.
Investment costs for a Lawn Doctor franchise range from $68,387 to $98,237, information on the company website says. The average profit margin for franchisees is 69.9 percent.
Lawn Doctor provides lawn, yard and landscape care, pest control, lawn mower maintenance and commercial lawn care services.
Bernhardt employs an office manager and three service technicians for his Lawn Doctor business. He plans to hire a fourth technician next spring.
"Adam is a really passionate guy about everything he does," says Lawn Doctor CEO Scott Frith. "He's an entrepreneur. He looks to build things. Most importantly, he's very customer-oriented."
Bernhardt employed five people full-time this past summer at Curb Magic, which he purchased in 2008.
"Curb Magic has grown over the last five years," he says of his long-term plan for the two businesses. "I just want to keep on growing."
Bernhardt graduated in 2005 from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in engineering. His first job involved packaging design. His second was in industrial engineering at a canning factory. Bernhardt took a job in sales and printing after that.
"I didn't like corporate America," he says. "I like being outdoors. I was working for a friend of mine, plowing in the winter. Curb Magic came up for sale, and I bought that."
Curb Magic offered only curbing, or landscape borders, when Bernhardt bought it. He has added concrete, patio and driveway work to its services.
"I can market the two together, but it's really two different things," Bernhardt says of the two businesses.
So far, revenues from each of the two are roughly even.
"Right now, it's hard to tell because I'm so new to Lawn Doctor," Bernhardt says. "Lawn Doctor is a little bigger than curbing. I wouldn't say it's a drastic number. It's pretty equal."
Lawn Doctor already is profitable, he says.
"I'm not supposed to (go outside Monroe County), but if the opportunities are there, we can make agreements with Lawn Doctor," he says. "If I advertise to somebody in Sodus and happen to get stuff in Sodus, I can buy additional territories so I can stay there."

Small Business is a weekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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