Four Seasons Total Landscaping – One Year On
For most of the United States, it started with a tweet. With the nation’s fate in the balance, Donald Trump’s announcement of a press conference at a Philadelphia landscaping company, where his team vowed to reveal evidence of massive voter fraud, sparked a chain of events that culminated in a cinematic ending for his presidency in a parking lot next to an adult bookstore.
But for staff at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the saga began hours earlier with a phone call from a member of the Trump campaign.
“We got the call at 8:30 am,” explains Michael Sivaro, the director of operations, of his first contact with the then president’s team. “In less than an hour, we were there to meet them, and at 10 am they had decided to come with us.”
Marie Sivaro, Michael’s mother and business owner, didn’t hesitate.
“I said, I don’t think we can say no to that. It’s the president, ”she said. The independent in the back office of their building. “We weren’t interested in the political part. We were right here doing our duty as citizens.
The rest was history. No sooner did Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani begin a conspiracy theory-laden monologue about alleged electoral fraud in Pennsylvania than reporters in front of him began to leave. The election had been called for Joe Biden.
It’s been a year since that day, and a mystery that has endured since then was whether the Trump team actually intended to hold their press conference at this family-owned business, and not at the Four Seasons hotel in the center. -city. It was this confusion and uncertainty that propelled the day’s events from a clumsy side show to a comedic and circus ending in the Trump presidency – from the Big Lie to the Big Joke.
The Sivaro family, who woke up one day to find themselves in the eye of a media storm, watched the joke spiral, but maintained that the campaign chose their business because of its location.
“The media kind of helped us by reporting that they didn’t know if they were confusing the Four Seasons hotel with us. It was like the comedy wrote itself, ”says Michael.
Marie says the Trump team chose their business after searching for suitable locations on Google Maps.
“We think they got the idea after doing an aerial view,” she says. “If you look outside, you can’t see here. So they blocked the street. They could have called 10 other people.
The Sivaros didn’t have much time to dwell on the ins and outs, because from the moment Giuliani started speaking their life was turned upside down.
“I just passed out because he started rambling and I was like, oh man, I see the crowd gathering in front of it. What is it? ”Said Michel.
They were immediately placed in the national spotlight. On a historic election day, with a record turnout that made Trump a one-term president, all anyone could seem to talk about was Four Seasons Total Landscaping. The story spawned a thousand memes and jokes that lingered on for days.
But not everyone was happy with them. It was a political event, after all, and politics found them.
“The first 24 hours were scary,” says Michael. “People threatened us and called out to us. “
Marie adds, “All of a sudden people send me emails: ‘FU, F Trump.’ I mean, I didn’t even know you could write that big.
“People have gone mad. You don’t know what someone is going to do. Other people left flowers outside as if it were a funeral for Trump’s death.
Their first concern was security. Michael immediately went to buy more cameras for their house and Marie went to the local police station to let them know what was going on.
But then things started to change, in part because of the team’s reaction to attention. Michael and former sales manager Sean Middleton saw an opportunity in the madness. They decided to join in the joke and turned the company’s social media accounts into memes machines.
“We would just exchange ideas on each other. We sent them to each other. If we’re kidding about it, that means we should publish it, ”says Michael.
The world’s attention also opened doors for them in a way that none of them could have expected. They were suddenly inundated with thousands of orders for t-shirts from all over the world – in the first week they sold 35,000. All the staff came to pack boxes, which were piling on top of their bags. heads among the lawn mowers in the back garage.
“We went from landscaping and finishing touches like leaf removal to an overnight merchandising business,” says Michael. And we had to become pros in a day or two. There was no time for error whatsoever.
Most of that money was used to pay bonuses to employees, says Marie. They also used their newfound fame to organize clothing drives and donated to the local alcoholic rehab shelter located nearby.
The phone went off the hook with offers – newspapers, magazines, TV shows all wanted to hear their side of the story. Then, in February of this year, their biggest offer to date came when Marie was asked to appear in a Super Bowl commercial.
“When the opportunity knocks on your corrugated garage door, you roll that puppy,” she says in the glitzy ad.
And Sunday, one year to the day that the Trump Circus arrived in town, a documentary about the past year will air on MSNBC.
Today, the parking lot that Giuliani and his team made famous is once again filled with landscaping equipment. A large row of flower boxes stand alongside the infamous garage doors, which have become a backdrop for Christmas cards, Zoom backgrounds, and countless mockups.
As Marie and Michael recount the events of the past year, three Israeli tourists can be seen approaching the front door nervously. The couple meet and take photos, before handing them Four Seasons t-shirts.
“It happens a lot,” says Michael.
It was a whirlwind for the whole team, but the experience was positive for them. Marie, who founded Four Seasons Total Landscaping in 1992, says the most valuable part of the past year has been a sense of validation, of recognition for the business she built from the ground up.
“Other than making some money this year, it hasn’t changed my life. But it’s almost like I’ve been validated to have a successful business, ”she says.
“My friends and their husbands, they were looking at me like I had this little truck and trailer business, and no one really knew us. They didn’t know what we were doing for the community.
During her first 20 years in business, in a male-dominated industry, things were tough for Marie. It took him a long time to make it a success, which was long before Rudy Giuliani arrived.
“I had days where I had six paychecks in my drawer and I said to the girl sitting in the front, can I cash any of my checks? I never had a week where my people weren’t paid, but I wouldn’t have accepted a check, ”she says. “I had my days climbing in the backs of trucks and digging holes and loading salt spreaders. And I would get up in the middle of the night for every snowstorm.
Michael took the reins of his mother’s day-to-day operations shortly before the press conference saga began, giving it something of a baptism of fire.
He says he wants to get back to landscaping and grow the business.
“I want to try to create as many jobs as possible for the people of Philadelphia and for the people in this industry. Landscaping doesn’t really have a good reputation when it comes to its working practices – there is no union, before you got minimum wage. I’m trying to get to where the staff can support their families with it, ”he says.
Marie seems ready to hand over the baton and is grateful to have the space to spend less time thinking about work.
“I am the most blessed person,” she said. “But all my life I’ve missed so much. I remember my friends going to fashion shows and catwalks in New York and I said, “I can’t go, I have to go home and work.
“I remember kissing Michael in my car window after he went to a baseball game. And I looked in my rearview mirror and cried all the way back to the store because I wanted to be there, ”she adds.
“If I was a man in the same position it would have been nice. But the fact that I was a woman, I think they were waiting for the great hurray for me to be successful. And it gave me the opportunity for everyone to realize that I have a real successful business.
“I’m happy with the documentary and hope it brings us some business, and it’s good that people know about your story, but to miss it all, I have a lot of time to catch up.”