Two Top 100 companies merge services

Two Top 100 companies merge services

Austin Outdoor acquired Cornerstone Solutions Group's maintenance division to expand in the Central and Western Florida market.

February 2, 2012
Industry News

This story is an updated version of Austin Outdoor acquires Cornerstone division.

BUNNELL, Fla. – Two of the industry’s larger landscape companies have merged their maintenance divisions to better serve commercial clients in Florida.

Austin Outdoor acquired Cornerstone Solutions Group landscape management division, allowing Austin to expand into the Central and Western Florida markets. Cornerstone had operations in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Sarasota. Cornerstone’s Jacksonville and Orlando locations will be consolidated with Austin’s; in Tampa and Sarasota, where Cornerstone is well-established and has a long history, the operations will remain under the Cornerstone brand, the companies said. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“This will make a significant difference in the growth of our business from a statewide standpoint,” Austin Outdoor President Bill Dellecker said to Lawn & Landscape. “There is some overlap in certain markets where there are common clients. But many commercial clients, larger ones, will have a presence in other markets in the state, and that is a benefit as well. We’re able to serve a client in Florida wherever they may be, and that’s another plus, potentially, for our customers on a combined basis.”

With the addition of Cornerstone, Austin serves more than 500 properties and has revenue in Florida approaching $40 million. Austin also has taken on about 100 Cornerstone employees, a number Dellecker said he expects will grow to at least 150 in the peak season.

The merger allows two Top 100 companies to join forces. Yellowstone Landscape Group acquired Austin in 2008 and was ranked No. 11 on the most recent Top 100, with $74 million in 2010 revenue. Cornerstone was ranked No. 58, with $20.4 million in 2010 revenue.

John Faulkner, founder and chief visionary officer for Cornerstone, said the maintenance division was 50 percent of the company. Cornerstone is also a general contractor and landscape installer, both of which made up 25 percent of the business before the maintenance division was sold. He said he expects the construction and installation company to continue to grow.

“We were growing so fast at a rate that was hard for me to keep up with,” Faulkner said of why he decided to sell the maintenance division. “I’ve always had this passion to build big businesses and it just seemed like we could get there a lot faster if I teamed up with somebody that had the same vision and the same culture as our company.”

Faulkner will move into a sales and management role with Austin, helping to maintain and grow market share in the Tampa and Sarasota areas. Faulkner said he’s been approached several times over the years to sell, but Austin was the first cultural fit.

“Culturally it’s a very good fit,” Dellecker said. “Their service orientation and our service orientation are perfectly aligned, so it’s come together very, very smoothly. And working with John and his team has been a real pleasure.”