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Flintshire founder of GreenThumb celebrates 25 years of business

THE UK’s biggest lawn care company, founded by a Flintshire businessman, has been hailed as a ‘shining example’ of how to be the best after reaching a major milestone in its history.

GreenThumb is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is a classic tale of homegrown success.

The firm has defied the recession and continues to expand at a relentless pace, servicing a lawn every four seconds and treating more than 31 million square metres of grass every month.

As the biggest end-user of fertiliser in the UK, GreenThumb’s unique selling point is that they can treat your lawn cheaper than you can do it yourself.

Today there are 209 GreenThumb franchises from Inverness to the Isle of Wight and the annual turnover is more than £60m.

Stephen Waring, the founder and CEO of the company who lives in the Holywell area, is keen to stay true to the company’s roots and pay tribute to GreenThumb customers in North Wales.

With that in mind he invited Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane and the local AM, Ann Jones, to help celebrate the silver jubilee.

After a briefing about plans for future expansion, Mr Waring took them on a guided tour of the company HQ, on St Asaph Business Park, in Denbighshire, where the operation is masterminded.

The plush offices on St Asaph Business Park are in contrast to the humble beginnings of the company back in 1986.

The budding entrepreneur was just 20 when he invested £64 in 1,000 leaflets, put a bucket of fertiliser in the back of his Sierra estate car and knocked on doors offering to feed and weed lawns.

The son of a sales and marketing director, the young Stephen Waring first ventured into business while still at school.

At the age of just 16, he realised the potential of the loft insulation business, given the availability of local authority grants.

But his eureka moment came during a visit to America for a family wedding in the Mid-West state of Ohio in 1985.

The lawn care industry over there was already big business, with 23%of Americans hiring specialist treatment services.

There was nothing like it available in the UK and he returned home with high hopes of exploiting a massive untapped market.

“It was an encouraging start because in a short period of time I ended up with 70 customers on the same housing estate.”

A key element in the GreenThumb success story was a decision to go down the franchising route.

Mr Waring said: “I’m fairly sure that had I decided to set up a 209 branches myself it would have been a logistical and managerial nightmare – and an incredible financial burden.

“Our 25th anniversary is an important milestone for GreenThumb and an opportunity for me to say a particular thank to our customers in North Wales for their continued support.”