Mark A. Smith and Tim E. Reed first met at Mobile Oil, where they worked within the chemical division for 15 years. They didn't know each other very well, and neither realized they would be running a business together-years after they left the oil company.
Both men had worked in the landscaping field on the side, unbeknownst of each other. Coincidentally, after they left Mobile, they ran into each other while on separate contracting jobs.
"He wanted me to check out what he was working on and see if I could give him a hand. I didn't mind, so I rode with him and we started talking about stuff," Reed said. "We kept our accounts separate, but helped each other out a lot. Then one day, we just decided to join up and bring everything together."
Thus began a lasting friendship that resulted in MasTer Landscape Supply, a landscaping retail business that would last the next 15 years.
"We both got back to what we really wanted to do long-term," Smith said. "And it allows us to give back to the community."
When they started looking into opening their business, landscaping materials were scattered across the county; landscapers and contractors would have to visit different stores to get what they need for one job, Smith said.
By creating MasTer Landscape Supply, Smith and Reed sought to provide everything necessary for a landscaping job under one roof. And the difference between their business and likes of Home Depot and Lowe's is that all of its organic materials like mulch, shrubbery and trees are all locally grown within Georgia.
Irrigation systems, erosion prevention products, drainage equipment and a large catalog of equipment and tools are available in-house and their online store, which ships products across the country daily.
In addition, they offer on-site deliveries, allowing contractors to keep working without skipping a beat.
Opening their doors in 1998, the business was initially open to contractors and landscaping businesses. When Smith and Reed saw the public demand grow for the same professional grade products they provided, both men eventually opened the store to public, offering hardscape products not often available at popular retail businesses-all at the same cost charged to contractors.
"One thing our customers can count on is that we're always here," Smith said. "Knowledge is our power. That is a 100 percent true statement. We'll take as much time as we need to take care of whatever questions you may have."
Smith and Reed participate in a number of community events throughout the year. In particular, Reed hosts the annual Tyler Reed Golf Classic at Bear Creek Golf Club, an event held in memory of Reed's son who passed away in an automobile accident. Winners of the tournament will receive the Tyler Reed Memorial Scholarship, which has given away about $6,000 in awards since its inception. The tournament will be held on May 14. For more information, visit www.bearcreekmonroe.com.
"We've invested just about everything in this," Reed said. "But there's nothing else we would rather do."