Lawn care with muscle

New ‘tree-hugger business’ plants roots in midtown

He’s a six-foot-tall, 200-pound wrestler with a buzz cut.

“I’m the meanest looking guy around but I’m such a wussy,” Kevin Hurren says.

The long-time Leasider is actually hilarious, the real deal.

He’s so affable, he can’t seem to say no to people who ask him to do things outside of his business focus.

Hurren’s new biz, Reel Green Lawn Care, is supposed to be a green lawn care and maintenance company. That means no chemicals,
no gas-powered lawn mowers, and, ideally, nothing beyond lawn care and maintenance.

“It’s a tree-hugger business,” he says.

But since launching earlier this spring, Hurren has found the bulk of his clients don’t care much about the green aspect of things.

“They just want the lawn done,” he says. “They don’t care how I do it.”

One client has even asked him to use a gas mower instead of the reel mower, as they prefer the cut with a gas mower.

“I didn’t want to do it,” he says of the request, but he eventually capitulated, as the elderly client was adamant.

Though he says it’s not his preference, he’s been known to do landscaping and what he calls “hardscaping” — essentially working with bricks, trees and so on. Recently he put in veggies, a flagstone pathway and some flowers for an elderly client in Leaside.

Hurren says he wants to focus exclusively on the Leaside and North Toronto areas. Not surprisingly, that hasn’t prevented him from travelling to Finch and Keele for a client.

The almost 50-year-old is well-equipped for his new venture. For one, he’s brawny. He’s been a Special Olympics Power Lifter Coach for a team called the “Downtown Muscles” for five seasons now.

After flunking out of Brock University in his early 20s — he jokes that he went to Brock for half-an-hour — he came back home and got a job landscaping and hardscaping at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. There he says he learned about trees and how to operate heavy equipment.

But after hearing about opportunities at the Toronto Transit Commission, Hurren says he left graves behind forever and got a job as a streetcar driver. He hated it. Eventually he shifted into a job as a heavy equipment instructor, teaching those doing TTC repairs how to operate heavy machinery.

He’s been with the TTC for 23 years now.

“I love the Commission,” he says. “I don’t know what I’d do without the discipline.”

Though he’s still employed by the TTC, Hurren says the goal is to get the lawn business established so he can shift into full-time work when he retires in six years.

Though there’s a connection between his two jobs — they both entail working outside, something he says he loves — Hurren says there’s a subtle difference:

“It’s kind of ironic that I destroy the earth in my day job and restore it in my new job.”

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: Jun 15 2010 4:52 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto