By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Jon Langer, who formerly lived in Austin, moved to Copperas Cove about eight years ago because the plumbing contractor he was working for was seeing its Fort Hood contract work mushroom, and the commute was getting tedious.
Then the flurry of business on Fort Hood tapered off and the company started taking contracts across the country. But Langer got married while most of the business was still local, and the globe-trotting lifestyle didn't fit his new concerns, and those of his wife, Jan, with domesticity.
So in 2005, he went full-time with his home-based moonlighting yard and landscaping business, got all official papers in order and named it Rent-A-Man!, with an exclamation point.
Rent-A-Man! does lawn service and cleanup, tree services, landscaping, holiday and landscape lighting and other outdoor work.
Langer has no employees yet but subcontracts for concrete, masonry, stone and brick work, sod delivery and firewood.
Another subcontractor does indoor remodeling.
The company generally looks for work along U.S. 190 from Lampasas to Belton, but Langer has taken some jobs south of U.S. 190 on State Highway 195.
"My subcontractors are all friends," he said. "I take responsibility for what they do, but since they're not employees, they can just work for me when I need them, and they're free to do other things to make up a full-time living. But I'm amazed how well we've done. Business has just blossomed from the time I opened."
Jan, a certified nursing assistant with Metroplex Health System, started a business called Biscuits & Bones Pet Services about the time Rent-A-Man! raised its flag. She does pet-sitting for all kinds of animals.
Jon and Jan are working on building a strip center to provide space for their businesses and other space to sublease to three or four others.
The building would be in Cove, but the location isn't settled yet.
"Summer is our busiest time, but I was surprised that we've been busy all but a couple of weeks this winter," Langer said. "I'm looking at adding a couple of people and another trailer this summer if it keeps going this way. And word-of-mouth has been my only advertising, but I've joined the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce, and the chamber connection has provided a lot of referrals."
Langer said his operation isn't big enough for government contracting yet, but he has done some work for Fort Hood personnel, and both his and Jan's businesses prosper from the needs of soldiers and their families.
Originally from the East Coast, Langer did yard and landscaping work on weekends through high school before becoming a plumber with an Austin-based company for about 20 years. When the building boom at Fort Hood began about 10 years ago, he worked on projects at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, the new fire station and maintenance buildings, among other jobs. He met Jan, who had lived in Cove intermittently for about 20 years, and the couple were married.
"Cove was really a good place to start both businesses. It's a close-knit community where many people are friends with each other, and word about you spreads easily if you do a good job. If things keep on the way they are, I think we'll see some rapid growth," he said.
Rent-A-Man! can be reached at (512) 468-9848 or (254) 518-0004. Biscuits & Bones is available at (254) 520-0102.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7557. Follow him on Twitter at KDHbusiness.