Meet the Owner

Organic Lawn Care Service in Corvallis and Albany, Oregon

Jack Nickerson’s team of GrassMasters offers mowing, blowing, trimming, edging, blowing/cleanup, as well as Clean Air Lawn Care’s specialized organic treatment services.

Click here for a full list of sustainable lawn care services offered. You can contact Bob by phone at 541-921-4001, by email at jack@cleanairlawncare.com, or request a lawn care estimate on this site.

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Jack Nickerson and Clean Air Lawn Care Corvallis Manager Dan Edmiston, standing with one of the solar-power units that powers their electric equipment.

About Jack Nickerson

Jack Nickerson took many turns through his career, before making the leap into franchise ownership with Clean Air Lawn Care. Early on in his career as a petroleum engineer, he saw the effects that oil exploration had on the environment, and made the move to become an environmental consultant and hydro-geologist.

“As an environmental consultant doing groundwater remediation I tended to work for oil and gas companies,” he said. “But I was slowly making this turn… I was getting closer and closer to becoming a semi-tree hugger.”

In 1992, he earned his teaching certificate, and became a middle school math and science teacher. Eventually moving to Corvallis and into positions within K-12 school administrations, Jack decided he wanted something of his own, which would cause an immediate impact. Remembering an ad he had seen for Clean Air Lawn Care, he opened the Corvallis franchise in 2013.

Married to Kathleen and father to Griffin, a Senior at Waukesha West High School and Gavin, a Sophomore  at the State University of New York – Fredonia (near Buffalo), Jack has recently moved back to Wisconsin after 20 years living in the Oregon to be closer to Kathleen’s family.

While there is a great distance between Jack and Dan, they work diligently together to maintain the high level of customer service that Clean Air Lawn Care customers have grown to expect.

“I used to go look for gas, now I don’t want to use it anymore”

 

What were you doing before Clean Air Lawn Care?  

I actually started out in the nasty oil business after college.  I was geology major and that led to working on an oil rig in Eastern Texas after graduation.  I did that for 5 years, but toward the end started to realize that I wanted out of it.  I ended up bouncing around, became an industrial engineer, got involved with ground water mediations and did some consulting on new construction sites to make sure they weren’t causing negative environmental impacts.  I then became an environmental consultant (hydro geologist), but I was still stuck in the oil niche of the business and it certainly wasn’t all glamorous work.  I was the in between person for big oil and environmental protection.

Because of my desire to get myself “cleaner” as I went, I decided to become involved with schools and turn them onto environmental ideas.  I knew I could expand my influence through students. Teaching led to administrative teaching and I ended up becoming an elementary principal for 8 years.  This became frustrating because my desire to educate the younger generation about environmental responsibility was trumped by the lack of resources that the public school system provided.  For a period of time, I was a sustainability coordinator for a few school districts but lack of funding made me just an administrative guy.  This led to my search for a new opportunity…

How did you learn about Clean Air Lawn Care?

I was looking at Craigslist for a variety of things that I could do locally that would have a bigger environmental impact.  This was about two years ago, and I was interested, but wasn’t quite ready to go for it.  I figured back then that the country was still pretty involved with the recession and people probably would cut back on lawn maintenance.  Obviously this idea stayed with me for those two years though.

What interested you in Clean Air Lawn Care?

It was the philosophy that caught my attention.  I wasn’t thinking, “I’d like to push a mower for the rest of my life,” per se, but I was interested that Clean Air Lawn Care had its own special niche.  Clean Air Lawn Care has everything to do with how I want to live.  The zero emissions/no gasoline mission is very appealing.  I used to go look for the gas, now I don’t want to use it at all anymore.

Also, because of my wife’s career – working between power companies and customers, trying to get people to sign up for renewable energy -our house runs off of alternative energy.  When I saw the Clean Air has the same brand/philosophy that my family household has, my interest peaked.  Not only can I tell people to use renewable energy for their lawn care, but I can honestly say that all of the energy in my house comes from renewables.

What attracted you to the franchise model?

I’m the kind of guy, even when I was teaching, didn’t like curriculum.  With a franchise model, I have the support and am able to ask questions but I have the flexibility to create my own business.  There wasn’t a whole lot of upfront work where you’d really need to dig.  Sometimes it takes a year or so to get a business going but with Clean Air I just hit the ground running.

Once I made contact with the company I didn’t expect an immediate call or email from anyone, let alone the CEO, but Kelly Giard and I hit it off immediately.  We have a very similar sense of humor and things like that.  We had commonality in our past employment woes and a general understanding.  Kelly came out within weeks, he never asked me how much money I had, if I could afford any of this, how much I expected to make, etc.  It was just questions about me, if I was a good fit, and whether or not I believe in the philosophy.  Since then, meeting the other owners and the guys in the training, it’s been a common fit.  I thought,

“this is neat, but the people are neater.”

Sometimes you don’t necessarily hire the super cracker jack teacher, you hire the best person, a good person, good for kids.  It’s all about relationships.  All about who you’re working with and who you’re working for, after that everything falls into place.

What sets Clean Air Lawn Care apart in the lawn care industry?

It’s obvious.  I live on a cul de sac with about 14 houses on the block. Since I started looking at Clean Air and bought the franchise, I’ve noticed 4 different lawn companies doing the houses on my block and they vary from landscaping companies to single gentlemen, there’s a various range, but they’re all loud and they all stink.  I got to thinking about how they’re doing it and knocked on my neighbors door and said, “hey, why don’t’ you do it this way instead?”

When I was in Portland hanging out with the Clean Air Lawn Care team at that location, you could hear the noise and commotion of other lawn companies nearby and our guys were quietly working away, barely being noticed. We are pioneering the new age of lawn care.

Why will Clean Air Lawn Care succeed in Corvallis?

Corvallis is a fairly progressive town. It has a population of about 50,000 when students are here.  For a town that small, we have an extensive bus system, and at least 50% of the community is all about making Corvallis known for its sustainability.  The Corvallis sustainability coalition, which focuses on land use, energy, and transportation, has about 600 members unto itself.  You can’t go by the courthouse without seeing some retired people in front of the courthouse without a social movement going on.  There’s a real progressive mentality in this town.

I know I have a captive audience here; I just have to tap into it.  I could park my Clean Air Lawn Care truck on 1st or 2nd street for a week and receive more estimation requests than I know what to do with.

Who should hire Clean Air Lawn Care in Corvallis?

The people who want high quality, professional care are the ones who are going got hire you.  1/3 of eventual customers are going to people who are into the brand and philosophy and they want a nice yard.  Another 1/3 is going to want a nice yard and the price is right, plus the philosophy is interesting.  The last 1/3 is going to say, “cut my darn grass.”

Outside of Clean Air Lawn care, how else do you promote sustainability?

I’d like to partner with local elementary and high schools, having them come into the field and help out with some of the work over the summer to just make a connection with them and their families.  Some of the churches in Corvallis are already onboard because they’re moving toward sustainable practices, and I can even promote environmental responsibility by putting Clean Air on the back of my son’s baseball jersey, things like that.

How can people contact Clean Air Lawn Care Corvallis?

You can contact us by phone at 541-921-4001, email at jack@cleanairlawncare.com or request a lawn care estimate on our website – Clean Air Lawn Care Corvallis.