Skip Lowrance’s job really stinks — and he’s OK with that.
By RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Special to The St
Lowrance owns the Perfect Lawn K9 Waste Removal, a company that provides residential pet poop cleanup services.
“We pick up where your dog left off,” said Lowrance, echoing his company’s tag line.
Lowrance is a one-man operation offering his service south of the Country Club Plaza in western Kansas City, as well as in Johnson County. He operates out of his home but is often on the road driving from home to home to pooper-scoop the yards of residential customers.
“Being cold like this, it sure makes the job a lot easier,” he said recently. “A lot neater, not as smelly and no bugs.”
It’s quite a change from his former career as a flight attendant for United Airlines. He spent 21 years with the airline, including several years flying internationally.
Q: Why did you decide to make a career change?
“When they started bombing embassies in Africa, I knew it was the end for me,” Lowrance said. He retired and spent a while traveling with his wife. Lowrance worked for a friend in the landscape business for three years and enjoyed having time on the ground. He was living outside the Kansas City area and then decided to move back to help manage family property.
“We were playing the retirement game and taking advantage of airline passes,” he said.
During a visit to a friend’s house in Omaha, Lowrance saw a man scooping up pet waste from the yard. Lowrance went out to chat with the man, a move that sparked the idea for Perfect Lawn.
“He told me about his company, how he got started,” Lowrance said. “It came about the same time we were asking ourselves what we were going to do next.”
Back in Kansas City, Lowrance and his wife kicked around the idea for a pet waste service. Their plans came together slowly when they ran into a problem.
“We both came down with the H1N1 flu, and that wiped us out for six months,” he said.
Later, Lowrance’s wife died suddenly, but he continued his plans for Perfect Lawn.
Q: How did you put your business together?
“We used LegalZoom (a website) to answer our questions and to become an LLC,” Lowrance said. He decided to become a limited liability corporation — LLC — “to protect me and cover any damage to someone’s property.”
Lowrance said there was little financing necessary to start Perfect Lawn.
“I bought a bunch of five-gallon buckets, the poopie scoopers and scented plastic bags,” he said.
In addition, Lowrance bought magnetic signs to put on his truck to help promote the business. “We had to wait on the telephone number because we wanted a term that would identify the business and we got D-U-N-G.”
Fees for Perfect Lawn are on a per week schedule based on the number of dogs a customer has. The first dog is $8.95, $10.95 for two dogs, $11.95 for three canines and $14.95 for four animals. But, he admitted, “I’ve never charged anyone for the fourth dog. If you have four, you deserve a break.”
The frequency of visits depends on the customer.
“I go as often as the client wants — usually one time a week. Some are two times with multi-dog families with two kids who don’t want it around,” Lowrance said.
Lowrance wears heavy trail boots and plastic gloves when he’s out scooping a yard. He often makes friends with the dogs he’s picking up after. When scooping, Perfect Lawn uses scented bags that help mask the odor of the pet waste.
“You get used to it,” Lowrance said of the smell. “I don’t even notice it anymore (but) it does get stinky in the summer.”
Lowrance’s business has grown since he started the service, going from 100 pounds a month to 100 pounds a day.
Q: What do you do with all the pet poop?
Each day, Lowrance takes the waste to two large bins where he removes it from the plastic bags.
“I recycle the poop,” he said. “It goes to a farmer I met who trucks it up to Iowa to a worm farm. From there it’s turned into compost and sold for gardening.”
Q: What has been the most difficult aspect of your business?
“The hardest part has been getting our name out there,” Lowrance said. “We hit every pet show, event and other shows to get our name out there. And I would volunteer to pick up at these events, which no one else would do, so I would get my booth for free and they would announce my name.”
Lowrance also has done limited advertising in specialty publications as well as instituting a referral program.
“If you refer someone and they become a customer, you get one month free,” he said.
Lowrance likes this second career he has created for himself.
“After being in the airline industry with so many situations with so many people ... I’m glad to be on my own,” he said. “It’s quiet, I’m outdoors and I get to listen to the birds. It’s really fun ... I’d never dreamed in my wildest dreams that I’d be doing this.”