When Rick Tarr was having a hectic, stressful day as director of maintenance at Dogwood Creek, an upscale Memphis senior living community, he’d sometimes look out at the Hatcher & Associates landscaping crews at work outside and feel kind of envious.
He’d even joke around with Hatcher General Manager of Commercial Maintenance Kelly Ogden about it.
“I’d say, ‘Can I just come over and mow grass?’”
He was only half-joking.
Now Tarr is an account manager at Hatcher, helping customers from a unique perspective — he used to be one.
He’s That Super Picky Guy
Rick joined the Hatcher team in March 2021, after nine years at Dogwood Creek. Before that, he did all sorts of work. He was a courier at Fed Ex, started a company that washed Fed Ex trucks, worked in the mortgage business, and did apartment maintenance.
The transition to commercial landscaping account manager was pretty smooth.
“I’ve had management experience most of my life,” he says. People experience, too.
But the most valuable experience is that for nine years, he was a Hatcher customer.
“As a customer with Hatcher, I had high expectations,” Rick says. So did the senior living residents, many of who once lived in upscale 10,000-square-foot homes.
Rick was that picky customer who noticed every detail. Every flower bed had to be edged and tidy. Flowers had to be healthy and bright. No sneaky weeds in the pavement or parking lots. “Crack weeds,” he calls them.
He asked for pine straw, not bark mulch, because he thought it had a softer, more elegant look.
“I’m really particular with details,” Rick says. “Now I’m training crews on what I used to look for as a Hatcher customer. “I have the advantage of that customer eyesight.”
Call Him Mister Clean
Many of the properties Rick works on now are sprawling warehouses of a million square feet.
“That’s a lot of parking lots,” he says. “A lot of concrete.”
No crack weeds allowed. He’s a stickler.
“If you give the grass a pristine cut, but the grass is growing over the curb line, your eye goes right to the curb line,” he says. “That’s what the customer focuses on, and your good job goes out the window.”
As a former customer, he knows how important attentive customer service is.
“It’s more important how you handle problems than never having any problems,” he says. “Being proactive, not reactive, makes a huge difference.
“I was always really impressed with how Hatcher took care of customers,” he says. “That made a big impression on me. Now I get to be part of that level of service.”
Gus, the Gender Reveal Dog
Rick and his wife, Nancy, are expecting their first grandchild in February.
“It’s gonna be a whole lot of fun,” Rick says happily.
They recently hosted a gender reveal party for daughter Ashlyn and son-in-law Robert, where 45 people gathered, anxious to know: pink, or blue
When poppers went off, shooting confetti 40 feet into the air, the backyard was a sea of pink, matching the crape myrtles in bloom.
But Gus the Labrador retriever could have told them.
Rick tells how Ashlyn held two cards out for her dog to inspect — one pink, one blue.
“Gus looked at the pink, then the blue, then the pink, then he very gently took the pink card out of my daughter’s hand,” Rick recalls with a chuckle.
Then Gus did that nine more times.
“I’m going to lay out cards with numbers on them, let Gus pick six, and play the lotto,” he says with a laugh.
Their son, Nick, 22, graduated from college and is in lineman school, preparing for a career in the electric utility industry.
Rounding out the family is Luke, a super-smart shepherd/collie/lab mix who can learn a new trick in mere minutes.
Just Hang On to the Airplane Wing
Rick loves golf, riding bikes with Nancy, and puttering around in the yard.
Back when he was younger, things were a bit more adventurous.
A friend of his in Florida was a jumpmaster for skydiving. He asked Rick, who had a new camera, if he’d take some photos of a few guys jumping out of a plane.
“As we approached 14,000 feet, my friend said, ‘OK, when I open the door, you step out of the plane onto this step, and wrap your arm around the strut of the wing to hang on.’
“I said, ‘Uh, WHAT?!’
“He said if you fall, just put your arms out and pull your parachute cord.”
Rick gulped and took the photos, hanging on to the airplane wing for dear life as 70 mph winds whipped his face.
Then the pilot told him to hold on tight because they were about to beat the skydivers to the ground.
“I think my lips wrapped around the backs of my ears from the G-force,” he says. “I was screaming my head off.”
“I still can’t believe I did that.”
These days, his job at Hatcher is plenty invigorating.
“I’m meeting new people, forming new relationships, utilizing talents I haven’t used in a while,” Rick says. “I love walking properties, taking care of customer needs, staying on top of everything.
“I’m doing something different every minute.”
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Or do you want to work with our team of skilled, experienced, and personable people like Rick, who has a camera if you ever want to jump out of an airplane? Learn more about careers at Michael Hatcher & Associates.