The Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce named Ultimate Lawn Care, described as a “true family business,” as its Business of the Year.
The company is owned and operated by longtime Ontario residents Ruben and Armida Hernandez and their five children. It was nominated by Ken Hart, an Ontario city councilor.
Over the years, the Hernandezes have given back to the community, sponsoring the Ultimate Fun Run, a fundraiser for St. Peter Catholic School. In addition, Armida, who grew up in Ontario, has been a teacher at St. Peter for 10 years.
Ruben Hernandez, who was raised in Ontario, is the head coach of the Ontario High School girls wrestling team.
Hernandez also was the head coach of the Field of Dreams softball program, a girls softball club that served as a feeder program for the Ontario High School softball team.
Over the years, family and community have been the overriding themes of the company’s success since Ruben and Armida Hernandez started the business in 1997.
According to Hernandez, the company would not be where it is today if it were not for his employees Juve and Mayra Lopez and five children, Tyra, Ruben Jr., Hannah, Amy and Julianna.
“Every time I’ve needed help, they have been really good about going to work,” he said.
Hernandez said his father, Victor was always an entrepreneur and ran a trucking company after immigrating to the U.S. when Ruben was 5. Being self-employed, Hernandez noted, always appealed to him.
Hernandez said when he decided to start the company, he dedicated all of his time to the business, taking any job that came his way to build a clientele.
“We bought all the equipment, the truck and a trailer and went to work,” Hernandez said. “We started with one customer and did a little bit of everything.”
Soon enough, through referrals and advertising here and there, Hernandez said the company has stayed busy.
Ultimate Lawn Care does residential and commercial mowing, pruning and other landscaping maintenance, according to Ruben. He said the business was primarily built through word-of-mouth and he has not had to advertise in a long time as most of the customers come to them.
Over the years, he said he has only had to hire up to three employees and mainly, his five kids have helped as they got older.
Through it all, Ruben and Armida have found time to remain active in the community. For her part, Armida, during her tenure at St. Peter Catholic School, increased enrollment at the school and made it possible for children from lower-income families to attend.
For years, Ultimate Lawncare sponsored a fundraiser where the proceeds went to scholarship funds for kids.
The Hernandez family runs the concession stand at the high school soccer games, donating proceeds to the soccer program, Ruben took the helm of the Ontario High School girls wrestling team after coaching the boys team for six years. In addition, he also, for the first time, Hernandez coached the golf team at Ontario High School.
Hernandez said that while it is hard to find the time to volunteer and coach as his kids get older and busier with sports, kids in the community must have role models that they can look up.
Hernandez, who wrestled when he went to Ontario High School before graduating in 1989, said former head coach Charlie Anthony was a lifelong mentor of his long after he stopped wrestling.
Not only that, it was Anthony who tapped him to get into coaching and it’s his influence that makes it hard for him to turn down offers to coach today.
“It was that respect and everything he gave me and what I learned from him. It’s a big part of why I do what I do now,”
Hernandez has mentored scores of kids over the years. One of those mentees, he said, will join his coaching staff on the girls wrestling team this year.
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