When Charles Baldwin comes home from his job as a firefighter for Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue, he doesn’t exactly get to put his feet up and kick back.
Baldwin keeps busy on his time off with the Grounds Guys, a lawn care franchise he owns with his son Charles Baldwin Jr., who is in
training with the Air Force Reserve.
They were the first franchise to use the Public Protectors Franchise Advantage program. The promotion by parent company The Dwyer Group offered a 20 percent discount off the franchise fee for any current or former full-time law enforcement or firefighting personnel as a way to thank them for their service.
Doug Dixon, the vice president of marketing and operations and franchise development for The Dwyer Group, said the program follows in the footsteps of a similar program for military veterans.
Members of the military, law enforcement and firefighting communities are all used to following protocol and procedure, so they
make great franchisees, he said.
“You’re buying a set of best practices,” Dixon said.
Baldwin has always enjoyed the outdoors, he said, and had a lawn business on the side for years before buying the franchise a few months ago.
Over time, he has built a customer base of more than 80 clients.
Moving to a franchise operation excites him, he said, because it lets him focus on lawn care while being guided in marketing and other growth strategies.
“Not knowing how to market, not having systems in place, that really holds you back after a point,” he said. “Now there’s tools in place that I have here now that I didn’t have before, that helps me to grow the business.”
His job as a firefighter takes 40 hours of his week, but he does it in shifts of 24 hours on, 48 hours off. This allows him to have extended periods to devote to his business.
“It can be overwhelming at times, in terms of trying to work a full-time job and then have another full-time part-time job,” he said. “You’ve just got to be able to juggle it and have a good business sense.”
Saving lives and building a small business are things Baldwin is proud to be a part of.
“At the end of the day, you know that you did something that was worthwhile,” he said.
Baldwin said he feels fortunate to be not only working his dream career as a fireman, but also building his own family business with his son.
“It’s the American dream. Everyone wants to own their own business,” he said. “I think that’s so important, and it’s something I love.”