2018 Nominee Six: ForeverLawn

In their second year as artificial grass dealers, Brian and Dale Karmie thought they’d already made every beginner’s mistake possible. Business was starting to boom, their best friend had put his own career on hold to open an affiliated Orlando dealership, and they’d just completed their largest installation to date. The next day they were out of business. Sort of.

One day they were growing dealers for a leading national brand of artificial grass and had just spent a cold, miserable week installing their biggest job. The next day the leading brand was forced into bankruptcy and unable to pay for the job they’d hired the Karmies to install. No supplier. No business. No desperately needed $40,000 payment.

As a business tool, disaster has its advantages. The Karmies soon became suppliers to a group of artificial grass dealers who’d also been left high and dry. ForeverLawn® was born without the luxury of being carried to full term. Eventually ForeverLawn® helped Brian and Dale Karmie discover their life’s calling, but not before testing their resolve in some unusual ways

Before starting their entrepreneurial adventure, the close-knit Karmie brothers were well-paid software consultants. Success left them unfulfilled and sure they should be doing more with their lives. But, they didn’t understand what “more” meant. An article about artificial grass caught Dale’s eye and he sent it to Brian. Soon, they found themselves kissing families goodbye before a long drive to Albuquerque. There among the water-starved lawns of New Mexico, they became AstroLawn dealers.

Their rough start was a tangle of long work days and nights spent living in their rented warehouse. They sold, installed and collected payment but money was short and bank credit non-existent.

Surprised to learn it snowed in Albuquerque, they weren’t prepared for a seasonal business downturn and started looking for winter business in Tucson. Soon they had five good jobs sold, but no money for supplies and travel. With time running out and no visible options, Brian took a phone call from a desperate contractor looking for a 50’ roll of artificial grass. They agreed to sell their one remaining roll for $3,000. Cash. Only after the mysterious contractor left did the Karmies realize they didn’t know anything about him, even his full name. Their best guess was an angel was sent to keep them afloat.

When disaster struck, there was confusion before a new path revealed itself. The Karmies analyzed how their supplier crumbled when ideas ran dry and integrity was lacking. They saw poor quality products muddling the market and decided to be different. Three words became their mantra: Innovation. Quality. Integrity. Building a business they could be proud of pulled them through more low points. More important it revealed their life’s calling.

Today, sitting in their brand new Louisville, Ohio, headquarters, Dale and Brian Karmie have turned ForeverLawn® into a leading artificial grass brand. They are market innovators with quality solutions for pet owners, golf enthusiasts, playgrounds, corporations and people who want the beauty of perfectly trimmed lawns without maintenance headaches. Life is good, but there was more.

While building a successful business on the fly, Dale and Brian Karmie became servant leaders helping thousands of their employees and dealers build better lives. Their living example and online training courses show others how to build successful dealer businesses while making an impact in their own communities. After 16 years of working toward something more, Dale and Brian Karmie finally understand what “more” is really all about.