KERNEY— Here is the condensed version of the story by Josh and Kristen Graczyk.
At 14, before he could legally drive, Josh started a lawn mowing business in 1998 in Elm Creek.
Elizabeth Earl, his first client, followed Josh’s work in a notebook. Josh also tracked the cases in a notebook. The eighth-grade student’s clientele continued to grow.
Eventually, Josh’s list included the lawn where Kristen lived.
“He mowed my dad’s lawn,” she said, “but we didn’t start dating until 10 years later.”
Romance had to wait because Kristen and Josh went off to college.
Kristen earned a degree in accounting from Bellevue University and Josh attended Southeast Community College in Beatrice. With the help of his family and lots of support from the Elm Creek community, he turned book learning into a growing business. Prior to this, Josh rented space in Elm Creek for his business.
People also read…
His mother, Cindy Graczyk, drove him to lawn mowing appointments until he was old enough for a driver’s license. In 2006-2007, his father, Jaime, his grandfather, Ed, and his uncle Jim helped construct a 40 foot by 80 foot building to house Josh’s lawn care equipment.
The romance blossomed. Josh and Kristen got married, and now they’re raising four kids in Elm Creek. The family includes son Case, 11, and daughters Charley, 9; Adaline, 6 years old; and Ellis, 4.
Just as their family grew, so did the business.
After expanding to rental space and the 40ft by 80ft building, Josh thought his business might stabilize, but the clientele was expanding to Kearney.
“I thought this building was the last building I would ever need,” Josh said.
Graczyk Lawn & Landscape made their first move to Kearney, renting a former dance studio on North Railroad Street in southeast Kearney. Around 2018, Josh and Kristen’s lawn care business morphed into a variety of complementary businesses.
Lawn care remained a focus in the spring, summer and fall, but Josh and Kristen found opportunities during the quieter months.
Graczyk Lawn & Landscape has expanded into landscape design and installation, commercial snow removal and retaining walls. They have also extended to outdoor paver patios and kitchens (Grindstone Hardscapes), paver sidewalks and driveways, and concrete curbs (Curb-It Inc.).
Graczyk also hangs and stores holiday decorations.
As their business now evolved in many directions, the Graczyks decided to build a facility that would support their company’s sales and service.
On Thursday, October 20, visitors to the Graczyk Lawn & Landscape grand opening will tour the facility and see how it solved challenges and improved functionality.
Achieving this goal was a big task, Josh said, due to the variety of workgroups, functions and storage areas the building had to accommodate. The layout includes an 8,000 square foot showroom and offices as well as 23,200 square feet for the Mechanical Bay, Grindstone Hardscapes Displays, Mowing Crew, Wash Bay, Curb-It, Fertilizers , processed salt, outdoor storage and Christmas lights.
“I started mowing lawns when I was 14 and never thought we would have made this business what it is today,” said Josh. “I cannot thank our employees enough for their hard work, dedication and courage. »
Kristen and Josh said much of their success can be traced back to their upbringing in Elm Creek. They said the community of 900 is tightly knit and supportive, and is seeing an increase in the number of young families. It’s time to give back, said Kristen, so she chairs the Elm Creek School Foundation. The organization has scheduled its annual fundraising banquet for Nov. 4.
Voters recently approved the replacement of the town’s 101-year-old elementary school. So, as this building rises, the foundation helps meet other needs, including scholarships for graduating seniors.
Additionally, Graczyk Lawn & Landscape supports Forever Pink. The 501©(3) organization provides direction, support and resources in the Kearney area to help financially and emotionally those battling breast cancer. After beating breast cancer in 2006, Josh’s mother died in 2015 of thyroid cancer.
“We know she’s been with us every step of the way and continues to watch over us from above,” Josh said.
At the Graczyk Lawn & Landscape Grand Opening and Customer Appreciation Event, customers will have the chance to support Forever Pink.
Josh and Kristen said the grand opening will be a time for them to thank the many people in the Kearney area for their support.
This includes contractors and vendors who made the building a success.
Josh said he drew the plans and then project manager Chad Micek with Chief Construction refined the plans and was present during the entire construction process. Josh and Kristen said they appreciated that Chief Construction allowed them to work with local businesses when building their facility at 1170 30th Ave.
These companies include Blessing Construction, GD Construction, NebraskaLand Bank, Double J. Plumbing, Walters Electric, Brungardt Engineering, Mid-Nebraska Garage Doors, EZ Kitchens, M&J Signs, Cottonmill Enterprises, CMH Interiors, Kucera Painting and Russell’s Appliances.
“Our site is very well set up for high production, and that’s important in this industry,” Josh said of consolidating operations at the Kearney South West plant.
Asked what the next business venture might be, Josh said keeping the operation and its 30 employees running smoothly was the current priority.
“After you build something like this, you want to make it stable,” Josh said. “As long as you do it right, success and growth will follow.”