It’s not often you can build a successful business on a wild goose chase. But that’s what David Marcks has done. He chases geese off golf courses for a living.
Well, not personally. He’s trained dogs to do it for him. And his business, Geese Police, is now a multimillion-dollar operation serving eight states. It employs 60 people and is franchised.
Marcks came up with the idea when he was working as a golf course superintendent. His job was to keep the course in perfect shape and his primary problem was Canada geese. They ate up the well-manicured grass and crapped everywhere.
Marcks tried flags, balloons, even pyrotechnics to chase the geese away. Nothing worked. He started experimenting with dogs and one day considered the border collie, which specializes in herding sheep and cattle. He called the American Border Collie Association for advice. They laughed. Marcks persevered.
In 1986 he bought a border collie, brought it to the course and it immediately went after the geese. The birds took off like an errant tee shot. Slowly word spread: This guy can solve your goose problem. Marcks started getting calls from courses offering to pay him for the service.
In 1996 he founded Geese Police. In time his client list expanded to schools, parks, playgrounds, cemeteries, corporate centers, even private residences. He’s consulted with government agencies from Holland and Wimbledon Park in London and currently services Central Park in New York.
“We offer an environmentally safe goose-control system,” he explains. “We don’t harm the geese. We convince them to move on as they were meant to do. Canada geese perceive the border collie as a natural predator, like a wolf, an Arctic fox or coyote.”
As any business, Geese Police has a few copycats “but few true competitors,” Marcks says. He attributes his success to patience, luck, and a sense of humor. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt when your star employees work for free.