MIDDLETON Wis. – The Bruce Co. – no. 32 on Lawn & Landscape’s 2012 Top 100 list – has formed a strategic alliance with Reliable Property Services, a snow and ice management company in the country headquartered in Eagan, Minn., with offices and customers throughout Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Reliable will combine its strengths with The Bruce Co.'s national reputation in landscape design and construction, along with its 600-acre nursery operation in Verona, which will provide nursery stock to both companies.
Reliable will acquire The Bruce Co.’s lawn maintenance, snow and ice management operations in Milwaukee and Racine, and its golf course maintenance division. Reliable already has similar operations in Madison and Milwaukee.
The Bruce Co., celebrating its 60th anniversary year, will expand its wholesale nursery sales and landscape design and construction practice to Minnesota and Iowa, where Reliable has year-round clients. The Bruce Co. will retain its landscape design and construction business in Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee operations, as well as its seasonal landscape maintenance and snow and ice removal services in the greater Madison area.
The Bruce Co.’s destination retail Garden Center store at 2830 Parmenter St. in Middleton will continue. The company will also retain its irrigation and aquatics services for commercial and residential customers.
Bliss C. Nicholson, CEO, of The Bruce Co., said Reliable’s fit and similar values of customer care prompted the two companies to pursue this relationship. The partnership will allow The Bruce Co. and its employees to serve a larger share of the market in its core businesses with a higher level of service.
The partners will remain separate companies but will “swap” or share some operations. For example, The Bruce Co. will continue its residential, commercial and golf course construction efforts. Reliable will take over golf course maintenance operations.
Both Nicholson and James Hansen, chairman of Reliable, agreed they found the right partner.
“Our partnership will allow The Bruce Company to continue to provide exceptional services for current and prospective clients,” Nicholson said. “The Bruce Company plans to do whatever it takes for our business to grow its overall market and to provide more jobs now and over time.”
Nicholson said he did not expect staff cutbacks at the Middleton or Verona locations. About 75 workers will be hired by Reliable, and very few staff changes are expected in Milwaukee and Racine, he said.
Reliable will retain the existing Bruce Management Team in Milwaukee and Racine. Dave Weber, a 35-year employee of The Bruce Co. and a shareholder, will serve as president of Reliable’s Wisconsin operations. He will continue to be based in Middleton. Reliable also will make substantial new investments in equipment and systems.
To learn more about the Bruce Co., read our Oct. cover story on the company.