As a college student, Clark Tomlinson had a clear vision of his ideal career. “When I was a junior, I hoped that I could get a job in education and make $10,000.” And that’s exactly how things turned out for him. In his first job out of college, he was a guidance counselor and special education coordinator for Columbia School District, and his salary was $10,000. “I thought I had it made.”
However, despite that impressive beginning, education did not become his lifelong work, and today he’s president and owner of Tomlinson Bomberger Lawn Care, Landscape & Pest Control. He started the business with his close friend Dave Bomberger in 1981, and they operated the business together until 2009, when Bomberger retired to pursue other business interests.
For Clark, getting into the lawn care business didn’t mean moving into something completely new. That’s because he already knew grass and plants quite well. “I had worked on the greens and as a caddy at Lancaster Country Club since high school. Dave had studied turf grass at Penn State, and we started this as a part-time, side business.” The business was actually Dave’s idea, and, ironically, he first approached another co-worker with the idea. That man wasn’t interested, but Clark was, and so were many customers.
“In the beginning, we did turf applications, mowing, and fertilizing. By 1984, things were out of control, and customers would ask, ‘Can you prune our trees? Can you …?’ So that year we made the decision to go full time with the business.” Growth has been steady. “We’ve been breaking records every year. The only time we didn’t grow was the recession of 2008–2009.”
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