To Our Friends and Website Followers – With the recent passing of Lynnfield (MA) icon Roger C. Lummus, Jr. it seems appropriate for us to post again (below) the 2016 blog about Roger… which was part of our 50 years look back series.
Fifty years ago the landscaper’s scene in Lynnfield was vastly different then it is today. Most, if not all, of the major players are gone now but, in their heyday, the likes of George DeCoste, Ed Patterson, and Nick Valente had quality “operations.” Jerry Pezzella (upon graduating from Stockbridge) had one as well and he, like us, has long prospered in a “spin off” business.
The guy who had it all figured out though, was Roger Lummus, Jr. Ubiquitous and known by everyone, Roger’s Lummus Landscaping, Inc. provided top tier service… and he understood what it took to insure that the hard work put into that service – at the end of the day – was profitable. From the Reeds’ standpoint, we certainly aspired to be part of the aforementioned elite group, but Roger Lummus had a successful business model AND philosophy that was to be emulated. A lifelong Lynnfield resident and knowledgeable local historian, Roger has an opinion to offer on most any subject. And, while congenial, yet at the same time often blunt… you always know where you stand with Roger. Fortunately, he had a liking for us from the start. He took us under his wing, gave us “tough love,” and “coached us up” on the business aspect of our industry. He also schooled us on the importance of developing policies where customers are concerned – and, more importantly, sticking to them!
Roger had a complete understanding of the pitfalls of our business. The season is short; you had to make it when you could. Wear and tear maintenance expenses are high (so you’re likely not making what you THINK you are making) and, unless you are plowing snow or have OTHER income, keeping your operation solvent in the winter months is a daunting challenge.
During the 70s and 80s we worked with Roger on numerous odd jobs… shrub trimming, turf repairs and turf rejuvenation to name a few. We provided labor – as we did for Pat DiPietro. Pat, the perfectionist, was so esoteric about the “sowing of grass”… Roger, not so much. We’d always ask him – “Roger, aren’t we going to RAKE IN THE SEED?” “What for?” was his usual retort (these were the days long before hydro seeding was available.) Well, to Roger this was a needless (and unprofitable) step… we’d ALWAYS argue the point.
By necessity, Roger and his boys along with his late wife Gloria, as support, took up the repairing of small engines and turf equipment. Always fair and reasonable Roger provided expert service, built a large following amongst professionals (many of whom were competitors) and residents alike. Rainy days were particularly busy at the Lummus residence… the shop also served as clearing house for all sorts of information! Eventually, as the years went by, Roger dropped the landscaping part of his business, but as “Lummus Inc.” he was known far and wide as the man to see for equipment sales and service… the much respected “Gold Standard” in our area.
Although good, and decent people… Roger and his sons came under fire a few years ago. Seems a neighbor (the usual case) raised an issue about Roger’s “permitting” to operate his business from his home on Lowell Street. Indignant and unbowed Roger vowed to fight the town’s “cease and desist” order. With quality legal representation from Jay and Jason Kimball of Kimball and Kimball (long term Reed Family attorneys) a formidable defense was presented for Roger to continue his operation. The outcome of the matter was very much in question. But at the open hearings, instead of a throng of opposition voices, Roger was met with an out pouring of endorsement in numbers! The goodwill he had cultivated for years was evident to all. It was the time for Roger to “REAP WHAT HE HAD SOWN.” The overwhelming support played no small role in the Lynnfield Zoning Board of Appeals decision to allow him to continue. Justice was served! Goodwill aside, we still, to this day, debate Roger on the fundamentals of sowing grass!
Far more than just an industry colleague or vendor, Roger has been a mentor during our formative years in business… and our life-long friend. Indeed, he earned and enjoyed his stature. And, a trip to Roger’s for some equipment repair work, was never without a story and a laugh… for his vivid recall of countless characters and “episodes” defined him. The legion of his “dependents” in the industry will surely miss him… but Roger’s legacy of goodness and decency will live on with his daughter, sons and grandson. RIP dear friend.