The early loss of two parents, likely caused by lifelong exposure to toxic fumes, became Jaimie McDonald’s unexpected inspiration for Eco Garden Guys.
After 10 years abroad, mainly working on cruise ships, and 7 years back in New Zealand selling cruise holidays, Covid left Jaimie stranded and needing income fast.
He started knocking on neighbours’ doors offering gardening services, drawing on his childhood landscape company experience. But returning to the noisy, fume-spewing world of petrol mowers and trimmers took its toll.
“I was coming home with numb fingers from nerve damage I didn’t even realise, and breathing in fumes with the engine right by my elbow,” Jaimie recalls. “I thought, I need to do something for myself as much as my clients – give myself a better shot at hopefully living longer.”
And so Eco Garden Guys was born in 2020. It was Jaimie’s nascent effort to build a business that sustained both the environment and his own health.
Based in Orewa and serving clients across Auckland’s North Shore and Rodney suburbs, Jaimie maintains properties using all-electric equipment and organic sprays for a fume-free experience.
“People constantly comment on how quiet we are,” Jaimie says. “For people working from home on Zoom meetings or making lots of phone calls, it makes no difference at all having us there – there’s no man outside your window with a noisy mower!”
Transitioning to an electric van also fulfilled a personal goal – completing the ‘eco’ side of his business name. With the help of Driveline’s SmartLease program, Jaimie recently upgraded his vehicle from a petrol van to the new LDV eDeliver 9 electric van.
“It was almost the same running costs. The lease only costs me $50 a week more than my previous petrol costs, and now I don’t have any petrol cost.” Jaimie explains. “And there’s the cost savings on servicing, brake pads, and more – all these little things add up. Plus it means I’m finally fully electric, so I was over the moon.”
From Humble Honda to Capacious Electric Van
Jaimie’s first vehicle when starting Eco Garden Guys was a humble Honda station wagon. Next came an LDV G10 Cargo Van powered by good, old-fashioned petroleum, and funded mainly through savings and a top-up loan from his brother.
But to fulfil his electric dreams, Jaimie knew he needed a smarter financial solution.
Through his networking group, Jaimie reached out to Paul Tobin at Driveline. “Paul walked me through the benefits of their SmartLease – the flexibility, not tying up capital in a vehicle, and the accounting advantages,” Jaimie recounts. “We crunched the numbers with my accountant and realised it was an absolute no-brainer!”
Beyond the financial pros, Jaimie says Driveline takes customer service to the next level. “They stand up for you and have your back, making sure you’re treated like royalty. The follow-up is amazing – Paul even called after delivery to make sure my seat covers fit properly. You just don’t get service like that often.”
Jaimie couldn’t be happier with his slick new working wheels. The big LDV eDeliver 9 van easily fits his 3-metre ladder inside, saving 5 minutes every time he had to wrestle it on or off a roof rack at every job.
With 3.4 metres of cargo space, and just under 1.8 metres of head room, Jaimie can transport all his equipment and an incredible amount of green waste in one load, eliminating an extra weekly trip to the dump. And each trip to the dump is time better spent on maintaining his client’s properties.
Not just a flash ride, the van has also boosted Jaimie’s market perception. “Having an electric vehicle completes my eco business model,” Jaimie says. “It’s awesome when clients see the electric van roll up – they know we fully walk the talk we’re talking!”
Finding His Niche: “A Little Bit of Pride”
Jaimie loves upgrading gardens for real estate agents and property managers, ensuring upkeep that owners are unable to do themselves. He also enjoys sprucing up apartments and body corporates to keep common areas tidy.
But his favourite clients are homeowners who still enjoy gardening a bit yet need help with parts they dislike. “I really like people who take a little bit of pride in their gardens, and just need that extra help keeping it at that level,” Jaimie shares.
He also gets great satisfaction from dramatic makeovers of neglected properties, capturing the satisfying before-and-after photos.
Who Says Battery Tools Can’t Cope?
Jaimie recalls when he entered the industry, battery-powered equipment was scoffed at. “People told me there’s no way battery tools are good enough for commercial use. Even today people say they’re not powerful enough – but in some cases they’re actually more powerful!”
His arsenal of electric gear includes mowers, line trimmers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, and more. Jaimie loves how the lighter, low-vibration battery tools reduce fatigue and strain compared to heavy petrol models. And the lack of noxious fumes is a health-giving and environmentally-friendly bonus.
Wellbeing Wins Over Wealth
When asked about his goals for Eco Garden Guys, Jaimie’s aspirations reveal his values.
“One of my original goals was to not use my name, so I could potentially franchise it someday,” he admits. “But now I realise I don’t really want to be a mega corporation. I just want to make enough to live comfortably and focus on sustainability.”
Jaimie would rather build an organisation devoted to community and wellbeing than amass riches. But he’s keen to grow, hoping to operate two vehicles with two staff each within the next three years.
For now, Jaimie is nurturing his health and the planet, one quiet, fume-free garden at a time. He’s proud to bring a hit of eco sanity to the often loud, hurried world we inhabit.
Jaimie’s found his niche, helping time-poor homeowners and enhancing their slice of the universe. For those willing to listen, the sound of silence and clean air beckon.
Eco Garden Guys Wants You!
If you own a home on Auckland’s North Shore or Rodney district and want your garden maintained peacefully, give Jaimie McDonald of Eco Garden Guys a call on 021 0333-407 or 0800 ECO GUYS (0800 326-4897).