By Joyce L. Carroll Special to Delaware Business Times
Landscapers often chose the profession because of a love for the outdoors. For Jermaine Marlow Wright, working outside has a deeper meaning. It's an environment he enjoyed only fleetingly for two decades.
Once on death row and in solitary confinement, Wright was exonerated of first-degree murder in 2016. He went into prison at 19. Now, at 44, he is picking up the pieces.
Wright launched Cut Low Lawn Service in Wilmington in 2017 and also continues to work full time at Christiana Excavating Company Inc. His greatest challenge, he said, is in finding qualified people to handle the business until he finishes up at Christiana Excavating. He currently has one such co-worker.
Wright is self-taught and said he is relying on skills acquired as a youth.
"I was mowing lawns, raking leaves. I did these things when I was younger so I could make money to go skating," he said. His motivation has since matured. "I'm earning on my own, but I appreciate it more."
Wright said he's beginning to build a solid customer base with repeat clients in Delaware and in Pennsylvania.
"The customers I have like my work and want me to come back. I'm learning from my mistakes," he said. As his seasonal business has grown, he's been able to upgrade crucial equipment. In time, he said, he'd add colder-weather services like snow removal. And he hopes to expand by adding employees, in particular by giving others who may be struggling a chance.
"I'd like to [hire] from the inner city and get those guys jobs," he said.
His proudest moment? There were several: "Getting out of prison, getting my driver's license and getting my business license. No one is telling me to cut grass. I have the freedom to do the things I couldn't do," he said.
Wright said a positive attitude has sustained him. "Hope is everything. One should not look negatively at life. The glass is half full, not half empty. In this way, you can see that all is not lost. Even when times
are hard, it's a good way to look at life."