Evansville small business owner speaks on struggles as inflation continues

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Published: May. 31, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Some businesses are experiencing a strain as inflation continues, including services like lawncare.

Brian Spaetti started Firehouse Lawncare in 2012, but he’s been working in the field since 1995.

He says he’s never seen supply prices quite like these.

“It’s nothing we’ve ever seen,” says Spaetti, “we’ve never seen these prices of products and, um, and it’s a global thing.”

The products he’s referring to aren’t just gasoline. It’s fertilizer and chemicals used for killing weeds, too.

Spaetti says he has client contracts set for the year months in advance, and doesn’t plan on asking for more money.

“Some of my chemicals are up 300 percent, which is astronomically high, and you can’t just pass that on to the customer because you’d be out of business,” says Spaetti.

He says Firehouse Lawncare consists of just himself and one other employee. Even though he has to eat some of his costs, his customers have been very understanding about necessary rate increases.

He says normally rates would go up a few percentages every couple of years.

What is the increase now? About 25 percent.

“I was scared to even send the email to the clients, in the mass email saying this was going to happen, because it’s like, you don’t want to do that,” says Spaetti, “I don’t want anybody to pay for anything more than they have to, cause I don’t want to.”

He says some friends of his in the business have taken out hefty loans in order to buy all of their product in bulk up front, because the interest is cheaper in the long run than constantly dealing with the fluctuating prices.

Spaetti says the biggest thing a business owner can do right now, is plan.

“If you’re a small business and you’re not doing the research, it’s gonna hurt. Because, this is, this is here for a while,” says Spaetti.

He says that he’s got almost all of his products purchased for up until 2023.

It’s not only the prices of supplies, there’s issues with getting the products at all, as well as getting and keeping good, reliable workers.

Spaetti refers to it as, “the perfect storm.”

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