Dustin Starnes has spent much of his life in service to the community, first with a longtime career in law enforcement and now through giving back to his staff, clients, and community with his business, Starnes Outdoor Solutions (SOS) Lawn Care & Snow Removal.

“My goal is to keep growing but still have the small-town feel in the office,” he said. “We make it a really good place to work for the employees and to be community minded. I feel like it’s important that as long as we’re successful we’ll be giving back to the community the best we can.”



Starnes started mowing lawns in his neighborhood at 13 years old. By the time he was a senior in high school, he was responsible for mowing fifty-four lawns. Simultaneously, he served as a cadet with the Gregg Township Fire Department, a volunteer department, and became an EMT/firefighter when he turned 18. He graduated from Martinsville High School in 1997 and went on to earn his associate degree in Criminal Justice at Vincennes University, paying his way through college with his lawn mowing business.

After college, Starnes started a career as a police officer with the Indiana State Police while continuing to grow his lawn care business on the side. He decided to leave law enforcement in 2018 after a 20-year career to allow himself to spend more time with his family and focus on his growing business. Starnes and his wife Annette have five children: three sons and two daughters. They reside in Mooresville and enjoy spending time outdoors doing activities such as camping, and dirt bike racing when not occupied with work and school events.

“When I was about 38 years old, I saw an article that said all of the hours in overtime you’re working now, the only people in 20 years that will remember it is your children,” he said. “It kind of hit home. I was working 16 to 18 hours a day. I’d work night shift and day shift I would mow lawns, which I enjoyed, but I was realizing that I wasn’t spending enough time with my three boys, and they were getting older. I now have a good balance of work and family. Family is number one to me.”



He started with one lawn mower he kept in a garage at home. Today, he has 16 trucks and 32 lawnmowers at his Mooresville office. Starnes hired his first employee in 2003. Today, SOS has thirty-five employees and seventy contractors. They rented office space until 2015 when they purchased what was a pole barn at 1257 Old State Road 67 and converted it to office space.

“I have an awesome team behind me,” he said. “About 2018 I realized that I can’t do it all myself and I need to get some professional people behind me. One of the successes of this business is having everyone from Melissa A Schiff, a CPA business in Martinsville, behind me. Also, an insurance agent that I can have on speed dial all the time, to an awesome staff that we have. As a small business, it’s hard to keep good employees and I’m fortunate to retain all the employees that I have, and they’ve been with us quite some time.”

Starnes credits the business’ high retention to their family-first mentality, things like being relaxed about the attendance policy, understanding that life happens, and employees should feel comfortable taking care of and being there for their families.

“Even though I’m the sole owner here, to me I’m just another employee and all of our employees here own this place,” Starnes said. “It’s really a family atmosphere here. I don’t look at them as employees but as coworkers. I’m really careful not to say it’s my company, I say it’s ours. The truth of the matter is I am successful because of my coworkers, not because of me.”



SOS offers commercial lawn mowing, landscaping, lawn treatments such as fertilization and weed control, snow removal, and ice management. SOS has a state-certified lawn treatment team, treating lawns for crabgrass, and bugs like fleas and ticks. In-house, they have seven lawn mowing crews. These crews are responsible for 3,800 acres of grass and weed kill.

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