When Larry Ryan founded Ryan Lawn & Tree in Overland Park, KS in 1987, he set out to create a lawn care company focused on building relationships – both with its customers and with its employees. This commitment to relationships has helped Ryan Lawn & Tree grow into one of the Midwest’s largest lawn service providers, and has built the company a reputation as a lawn care provider that goes the extra mile for its clients.
It’s no surprise then, that a turf school research professor with a passion for helping others would find Ryan Lawn & Tree to be an enticing career move. Dr. Rodney St. John was working at Kansas State University when he jumped at a chance to be the VP/Director of Agronomy and Environmental Stewardship at Ryan Lawn & Tree. “For me, personally and professionally, I just enjoy helping people,” Rodney says. “Whether it’s a customer, or a neighbor – I love helping people out.”
Rodney’s responsibilities with Ryan Lawn & Tree, much like those at Kansas State, involve education. “It’s about developing lawn care programs that utilize products and services that are the best choice for our customers, the environment, and Ryan Lawn & Tree as a whole.”
To build lawn care programs that deliver consistent results and customer relationships that last, Ryan Lawn & Tree looks to Bayer, and in particular, their Area Sales Manager – Wes Kleffner – who lives in Kansas City and services territories in Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado. As a self-described outdoorsman with a green thumb, Wes never saw himself working behind a desk. This love of the outdoors and working with turf led him to pursue his degree at Kansas State.
It was at Kansas State that Wes and Rodney’s paths would first cross. Wes knew Rodney as a professor, but it was later in Wes’ career when he joined Ryan Lawn & Tree in their Turf Department that he developed a friendship with Rodney. “When I was looking for my next career move, a mentor encouraged me to look into lawn care. During my time at Ryan Lawn & Tree, and now at Bayer, Rodney and I have gotten to know one another really well.”
This is the kind of trust that both Ryan Lawn & Tree and Bayer are known for. Relationships that solve problems through collaboration and innovation, and that are deeply rooted in friendship. In a word, Rodney says Ryan Lawn & Tree’s relationship with Bayer is “fantastic.” “I like that Bayer backs their products. I always feel like they’ve got my back. They’re also a leader in supporting the industry as a whole, and I appreciate that.”
According to Rodney, it’s not just the relationships and support that make Ryan Lawn & Tree choose Bayer. “The products work. The coverage is consistent. And consistency is key – I need a product that I can apply to 26,000 different customers and know that it’s going to work in all situations.” Ryan Lawn & Tree trusts products like Merit®, Prostar®, Specticle®, and Tempo®. “We use about 3,000 acres of Merit per year, in particular,” Rodney says.
“But this isn’t just about great products,” Wes agrees. “The relationships we as Bayer sales managers make with our customers are cool stories to tell. We’re not just out here selling product and calling it a day. We take the time to take care of our customers and the environment.”
His admiration for Ryan Lawn & Tree is also strong. “You don’t see a business model like theirs often,” he says. “They invest a lot of time and money into their employees. They build relationships with their customers. To them, their customers aren’t just numbers. They are Mr. and Mrs. Smith with two kids and dog and they love to vacation at Lake of the Ozarks – that’s what sets them apart. People stick around at Ryan just like people stick around at Bayer. That says a lot about both companies.”
Wes and Rodney’s friendship is a direct reflection of the partnership between Bayer and Ryan Lawn & Tree, and one that benefits all parties involved. “We appreciate Wes and all he does for us” says Rodney, “and his willingness to be available at any time. He and Bayer are great partners.”