Wa-Hi grad rakes in entreprenurial recognition

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A former Walla Wallan has been named Entrepreneur Magazine’s "Emerging Entrepreneur of 2009" after building the nation’s first sustainable lawn-care franchise.

Kelly Giard, founder and chief executive officer of Clear Air Lawn Care, will be honored at the Growth 2.0 Conference next month in Miami Beach.

The son of Walla Walla residents Jon and Ethel Giard, he was operating his own LPL brokerage franchise in Fort Collins, Colo., when he began his lawn-care operation as a part-time project in his garage.

Using electric mowers powered by wind and solar energy, the business’s clean, quiet services soon were in demand. Giard decided to expand nationally and add an organic treatment program. In January 2008, Clean Air Lawn Care was franchised. The company operates with a zero carbon footprint, Giard said. Through the use of electric equipment powered by renewable energy — trucks are equipped with solar panels that recharge the equipment throughout the day — Clean Air Lawn Care removed 32,000 pounds of air pollution, equaling more than 1 million vehicle miles in 2008.

"His idea began at the front end of the green movement in a way that struck a chord with people, so much so that sales multiplied from $7,000 in 2006 to more than half-a-million dollars in 2008," according to the announcement from Entrepreneur Magazine.

Giard, who lived in Walla Walla from the ages of 5 to 22 and graduated from Walla Walla High School, called the magazine’s award "an honor of a lifetime."

The magazine also named Rick Alden, founder and CEO of Skullcandy, as Established Entrepreneur of 2009; and Bradley Ericson, co-founder and CEO of 3SecondReceipts, as College Entrepreneur of 2009.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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