How it all started

How it all started …in their own words.

Living in Jacksonville at the time, McGregor and Fechtel and their wives met by chance during a wedding in St. Petersburg. “Our good friends said we had to meet Doug and Terri because they are a fun couple,” said Fechtel. “Little did we know that eight months later, we were going to start our own business.”

After graduating from college with finance degrees, McGregor worked as a banker and Fechtel as a financial planner when they decided to make the change. “We loved our jobs until the market crashed in 1987, threatening our positions,” McGregor recalled. “We decided to walk away from our coat-and-tie jobs. We neither had kids nor big mortgages, so we planned our exit strategy and started the company.

“I had worked in a garden center growing up, and Mark mowed grass as the “boy next door.” We knew landscaping was the kind of work we liked,” 

After growing their Lawn Care Business, the pair soon expanded their services to irrigation and landscaping. In 1999, they bought a swath of heavily wooded land bordering Beach Boulevard which became Earth Works Garden Center. 

Jason Duffney, who joined McGregor and Fechtel as a junior business partner in ?, was hired in 2003 as a part-time employee while a freshman at the University of North Florida. “Jason started with us when he was 19 years old. By the time he was 33, he had grown with the company and became one of our business partners,” said Fechtel.

A native of Lecanto, Florida, Duffney had previous experience working in a nursery as a teenager before he moved to Jacksonville to earn a finance degree from UNF. “I came in as a nursery kid pulling weeds and making deliveries,” he said. Jason learned quickly and became well-versed in pond building. He contemplated starting a pond business of his own at one point when McGregor and Fechtel approached him with a proposition.

“They wrangled me in and said, ‘don’t be stupid. Let’s talk about how all of us can grow,” Duffney recalled. In charge of Earth Works’ pond operations, he has built it into the award-winning Water Garden division it is today.

As Earth Works’ third business partner, Duffney’s mission is to update and streamline the company so it can serve customers better.

Working together, we balance each other out, said McGregor. “Mark and I have different personalities” “I’m more Type A, and he’s a laid-back guy. I don’t think we’ve had ten disagreements in over 30 years. We like each other. We’re really good friends, and our families are close.”

In the business, Duffney heads operations, McGregor oversees finances, and Fechtel manages sales. “Mark and Doug are opposites, and I fall somewhere in the middle, which makes for a nice blend,” Duffney said. “If we are dealing with clients or employees, everyone brings a different skill to the table.”

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