John's Story is Our Story.
The family business was once John, his brother-in-law, and half a van. Read on to learn more about how it all started.
For as long as National has been around, John has been our leader. He has instilled an impeccable work ethic and demand for quality that has translated in our hiring processes, training, and the work itself. He is still here today, 6 days a week, steering the ship with the same vigilance and dedication. We decided to interview him about his story, a story he has shared with his family but felt shy to share with his clients and coworkers. After much convincing by his sons, we were able to pull some quotes and do our best to honor his story.
“I was working with my brother’s company but within a few years, people would start asking for me by name. Clients used to watch me outside their house after dark, checking for leaks with only the sound and the feeling of the soil under my feet. Sometimes they would even ask me to stay for dinner. I remember thinking that I wanted to build something for my family, and that I had something to offer. It wasn’t easy but I bought half a van and started on my own.”
- John Luciano, Founder and President, on starting in 1993
THE "HALF A VAN" IN 1993
“It was exciting to start out on my own, but I was also scared. My wife and I just had our second son two years ago and I had children to feed. Back then, there was no internet. I just focused on the work and asked every client to tell their neighbor. If there was a neighborhood I wanted to work in, I would tell a client I would do it for free as long as they refer me. I knew my work was good enough. Within the first few seasons, people would start calling me and say something like ‘Hi, is this John? I got your number from my neighbor. I’d like to have some lawn sprinklers installed. Can you help?’. They had no clue what the name of my company was!”
- John on growing through referrals and word of mouth.
JOHN ON SITE IN RYE, NY - 1994
“Even before starting my business, I had worked on golf courses. When our company grew big enough to hire office staff and hire technicians, I started to focus more of my own time on golf. I love these larger jobs. It's like a big puzzle. I think it was the confidence I had that got me into jobs like Winged Foots and Bethpage. I remember once, I was called by Westchester Parks to provide a quote for a public course. When I gave the quote, they asked me to meet at the course. I sat down with them and right away they started talking down to me, telling me they wanted the course done in 4 months otherwise they would go elsewhere. I let them finish and I told them, ‘You can go elsewhere but it doesn’t matter. The timeframe you want is not going to happen. You will run into problems with the frost and weather and the soil will be a problem. The pipe will shift with the thaw and you will have a headache on your hands.’ I left the meeting. The same day they called and asked me to do the job.”
— John on developing a reputation in the golf irrigation industry.
John on his first Ditch Witch in 1990
“When the calls started coming in, I needed help. I started with me and my brother-in-law. Within a few years, we had 22 employees. We moved from my bedroom to the basement office that I had rented out before. My wife was taking calls during the day between the kids' soccer and school, and I would answer messages at night. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, waking up at 5am, leaving before the kids woke up, and getting back late only to answer calls in our basement office to coordinate new appointments. I worked 14+ hour days since I was 13 in Italy so it was normal for me. Here in the states, I didn't see anyone working the same way so I believed no one else could compete. Soon we moved into a dedicated office. A few years later, I bought the building and we finally had the space for our vehicles.”
— John on growing the company
JOHN IN THE BASEMENT OFFICE OF Home in 1997
“I am very lucky to have my wife. When I started the business, she would help answer calls, she learned to use quickbooks, deposit checks, and whatever else I needed. I left school in the 8th grade. My wife left school earlier than that so it’s crazy to think we made it this far. When my sons got older, she would bring them around my work more. I remember we bought a new office with space outside - we called it the “yard”. They would come by and help in the summers, or even play soccer with the employees. We set up a goal with tarp and PVC pipe behind the office. The field was on a slope and most of the guys had work boots on but they didn't care. It really was a fun time. It is amazing to think my kids would join me all these years later.”
— John on family in the workplace
John with his two older sons at the “yard” in 1998. Both work with him today.
“I always said that I go on vacation every day when I go to work. It’s still true today. I love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I am grateful, and I'm very lucky that people call us to help them. It doesn’t matter how many people work with us, if a client has a problem and it escalates, I will get involved. I am a man of my word and when we step on a job, I give my word that the job will get done and get done right, the first time.”
— John on working today
John at the irrigation check for Mill River Club in 2017
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