When Larry Roberts began YellowBanks Lawn and Landscaping 21 years ago, he was strictly mowing yards — over 700 per week as his business began to take off. But in recent years, with lots of small lawn businesses popping up over the city, Roberts has had to diversify to keep his business thriving.
YellowBanks now mows around 300 yards per week, but specializes in concrete work, excavation, hardscapes, landscape lighting, drainage work, irrigation, retention walls, power washing and fence construction as well.
“Today, you can mow a lot cheaper than you could 21 years ago,” Roberts said, joking that every new truck that rolls off of a local car lot now comes with a trailer and a mower.
But Roberts doesn’t fault those small mowing operations because that’s exactly how he got his own start out of high school.
“I didn’t get a college education,” Roberts said. “My story is more about luck and hard work. I guess you can say I’m self-made.”
After working many jobs in his younger years, Roberts said a lot of his employers didn’t prioritize employee’s families. In building YellowBanks, Roberts knew he wanted to be different.
“I tell every one of my guys, family comes first,” Roberts said. “I tell them to take time to go have lunch with their kids at school. Make sure they are off in time for every ball game. I am not going to miss my kids’ stuff and I don’t expect them to miss theirs.”
Roberts believes that this attitude is what keeps his employees happy, most of them working for him since his business took off over a decade ago. Roberts employs 11 consistently throughout the winter and will employ 24 to 30 in the summer as work increases with the warmer seasons.
The family-focused environment, Roberts said, in turn provides his customers with great service.
“I have had most of my accounts for 10 or 12 years,” Roberts said. “I do everything I can to make my customers happy.”
Those accounts are made up of around 150 consistent landscape customers and several large commercial accounts, including the 300 homes per year that YellowBanks services with Jagoe Homes.
Vice President of Jagoe Homes Brad Jagoe said he has been working with YellowBanks for the last 10 years, utilizing the company for their Owensboro neighborhoods as well as communities in Newburgh and Evansville, Ind.
Jagoe said YellowBanks first started out doing finish grade work, preparing new Jagoe homes for sod. Over time, Roberts proved himself and landed bigger projects with the contractor.
“YellowBanks is exactly what we look for in a trade partnership,” Jagoes said. “We are looking for something long-term that will offer us quality service. Reliability is what counts for us.”
Hayden Construction has been another commercial contract that has grown with over the years. And that relationship has been reciprocal as Hayden Construction has helped Roberts with building his new location on Thruston Dermont Road.
Currently located on Vincent Station Road, Roberts said he ran out of outside space for his equipment, which includes 15 vehicles, 15 pieces of excavation equipment and 30 mowers.
After buying the 10-acre farm on Thruston Dermont Road from a distant family member, Roberts decided to relocate his business, constructing a 14,000 square foot building on the property. The construction is nearing completion and eventually, Roberts will build a home for his family on the backside of property.
Despite the larger YellowBanks headquarters that will soon be in place, Roberts said he doesn’t plan to get any bigger.
“The bigger you get, the more your service is affected,” he said.
Content with his employees and loyal customers, Roberts said he hopes to continue the legacy he has built over the last 21 years and turn the company over to his children.
It is that sense of legacy that pushed Roberts to keep the original mower he bought when he first started mowing yards.
“I’ve kept it all these years, and I just can’t see me ever getting rid of it,” Roberts said.