CHESTERFIELD — Last summer, when cyanobacteria was spotted surfacing on Spofford Lake, Patrick and Stephanie Ericson, the owners of Ericson Homes & Properties, a property maintenance firm, grew concerned and decided to do a little research.
They learned that the nutrients that fuel cyanobacteria blooms often come from the nitrogen in runoff from lawns and agricultural lands. Thus was born EH&P Green, an environmentally conscious lawn care company.
What drove you to look at the impact of land management around the lake and decide to start your business?
Stephanie: We live here and we love it here. We care deeply about our community. We have three children and we visit the beaches and waters of Spofford Lake often. No matter your standing on political or town issues, we think that most folks would agree — our beloved lake needs help and intervention, and now. It is important not only so that people can recreate safely, but also so that the wildlife and the ecosystem of Spofford Lake and the surrounding water table are protected.
Patrick: I’ve always been into landscaping and lawn care. Even back when I was little, my parents had to buy me a riding lawnmower, which they loved because they didn’t have to mow the lawn.
Was the plan to go into landscaping?
Patrick: I was actually a full-time firefighter in my 15th year. I recently left the Keene Fire Department and I worked in Lebanon for seven years. I’m only 35 but I’m realizing it’s a young person’s adventure.
Stephanie: I’ve been a little bit of a dental hygienist and a little bit of a stay-at-home mom, especially with the pandemic, home-schooling our three kids.
Patrick: When we were living in Lebanon I worked for a landscaping company and being environmentally conscious, I kind of felt guilty the whole time, out there running the lawn mower. At the same time, you’re dealing with the vibrations and the noise, and by the end of the day, I was just tired of it all. And so I started looking into battery-operated equipment and this was, maybe 2012, 2013 and this stuff was just barely coming out.
Why did you move to Chesterfield?
Stephanie: We both grew up in Keene, but Patrick has roots in Chesterfield. His grandma, Audrey, is a historian at the Chesterfield Historical Society. When we had our first child, we decided to move here. Patrick became obsessed with buying a property we could rent out. And we were also thinking about college for our kids. It’s so expensive. How were we going to pay for that.
Patrick: So we bought our first house for our first child, so that when it’s time to go to college, he can refinance and that will help him pay for school.
You did the same thing for your other two children?
Patrick: Yes. Each of our kids has a property now and we were basically managing those properties. But it was two or three years ago, I got obsessed and started researching battery-powered equipment and started buying the little handheld stuff. And then, in 2019, we started our own business, Erickson Homes & Properties, mostly for property management and our rentals. I found this company, Mean Green Mowers, out of Columbus, Ohio, which makes commercial-grade, zero-turn, battery-operated mowers. We have a 52-inch commercial mower I can run wide open for seven-and-a-half hours.
Besides no emissions, what’s the best thing about the mower?
Patrick: I’ve had a few people that will call me or text and say “Hey, I thought you were coming today.” And I’ll say “I’ve been there. Have you looked outside.” Everywhere I go, I’ll turn around and the neighbors are out and they’re all talking about it and they want to come over and see it. And you can talk on the phone while you work or I can listen to music. And it doesn’t smell like a gas-powered mower.
But you’re not totally zero emissions?
Patrick: Unfortunately, certain equipment, like an aerator, hasn’t come along. I rent that stuff and it’s gas powered. Unfortunately, it is what it is. Eventually the technology will get there and we’ll be able to do that stuff. We’d like to get an electric truck, too, to haul around the equipment. But the way I look at it, the majority of people who need their lawn mown, that portion of it, we can do it zero emissions with little noise.
What about managing lawns, not just mowing them?
Patrick: We use all natural. When it comes to fertilizer, it’s a product called Milorganite. It’s all natural with low nitrogen and a slow release. If you want to have another company come in and fertilize, it’s your lawn, that’s your choice. I’ll still maintain it for you. Sure. But I will not put down anything that doesn’t go along with our beliefs or our business model.
Stephanie: The kids, they run and tell their teachers about what we’re doing proudly. We’re hoping that this family business is going to be a true family business, that we can employ them in the future. Their names are Everett, Harlow and Porter. So EH&P Green is named after them.
So, how has business growth been?
Patrick: We were hoping to slowly kind of organically, no pun intended, grow the business this year and look to expand it next year. And I’m almost to the point now where I’m like, do I expand it this year?
Stephanie: We are fully booked this year with 33 clients over 38 properties both residential and commercial. We have people interested in our services for next year and have established a wait list of potential clients for next season.
Patrick: We are currently looking to hire part time help that will hopefully transition into full time, even if just seasonal, for next year. I am currently participating in the Hannah Grimes Pitchfork Challenge in an effort to promote the business and receive a $10,000 reward/investment for the business.