“I secured a 90-day note from the bank for $10,000 and we were in business.” That’s how Jim Mather reminisced about starting JW Mather & Son Landscaping in 1975.
Mather had worked for Arthur P. Boglisch & Sons nursery in Windsor Locks part-time for years while as a project coordinator at Hamilton Standard, and went full-time with the nursery in 1970. There was even talk about his becoming a partner in Boglisch, but that didn’t materialize.
So he struck out on his own, and later bought five and a half acres on Boston Neck Road in Suffield to build a home and run his business.
“In the early years, we worked all over, both in commercial and residential,” said the 81-year-old Mather ,who could easily be mistaken for 20 years younger.
He installed landscapes at condos in Newport, Rhode Island, at alcohol and drug rehab centers in New York and New Hampshire, at area convalescent homes and at many residential developments in Connecticut. There were Springfield medical buildings and the Enfield Motor Vehicle and John Harland Co. properties. “I had eight to ten workers in two crews, and at times we were away from home up to a week at a time,” he said.
But the travel, equipment hauling and time away became too burdensome. Over the last ten years, he scaled back his business.
“Today, we perform mostly local residential work: walls, walks, patios (hardscapes), landscape design, plantings, seeding and sodding. We do everything except mowing,” he said.
Jim’s son Ken is taking over the business. He’s worked with his father for 43 years and earned a degree in landscape architecture from UConn. “I want to make my customers happy, make sure they have smiles on their faces and give them what they want, not what I prefer to do,” he said.
Jim will be helping Ken as needed and is looking forward to more time to work on hobbies like rebuilding an International Harvester farm tractor and renovating a yellow, hand-crank-operated 1930s Shell gas station pump. He credited his late wife Sandy for skillfully managing his finances so that he can live comfortably in retirement.
Jim and Sandy were charter members of the Suffield Chamber of Commerce and original Suffield Observer advertisers. “The Observer is the only paid advertising that we have ever done,” said Jim, and he attributed lots of inquiries and business to his ads.
I’m an example. In 2013, after seeing his ad in the Observer, I hired Jim to tear out and replace overgrown yews and creeping juniper. Today the slow-growing, easy-to-trim boxwoods and other plantings he recommended, along with a gray cobblestone border, are holding up just fine.