BALTIMORE, Md. – The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) is now accepting entries for its acclaimed Green Star Awards Program. This exclusive program brings national recognition to grounds management programs, managers and crews responsible for landscapes that exhibit a high degree of excellence in certain areas including sustainability practices and policies, turf management, landscape design and more. This awards program honors “the best of the best” in landscapes and winners boast about the recognition they receive.
Andrew Kerin and Roger Zino have the unprecented challenge of leading the creation of the largest landscape company in the history of the industry.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to put their story on the cover – the biggest news in the landscape industry in the last two years has been the purchase of Brickman and ValleyCrest by private equity company KKR, and the subsequent efforts to combine them.
The Brickman and Sperber families were arguably the founding families of the industry. What they started in the ’30s and ’40s grew into the modern landscape industry that we all know and love today.
And when I was talking with Andrew Kerin and Roger Zino at the Brickman-cum-BrightView headquarters in a swanky office park in suburban Maryland, I realized something. Despite the fact that these guys don’t look like your typical landscapers, they are now the standard bearers for the landscape industry.
How they decide to operate – pricing, safety, design style, employee training, recruitment, wages, etc. – will trickle down through other commercial maintenance firms, property managers and customers. Because, like it or not, like ValleyCrest and Brickman before, BrightView is the landscape industry to many people. They have the most trucks, the most employees, the most high-profile jobs.
What BrightView and other Top 100 companies do defines what the green industry looks like to the outside world.
And that’s why the Top 100 matters to every landscaper out there – from the large, regional companies that actually go toe-to-toe with the BrightViews and the TruGreens of the world, to the independent entrepreneurs running mom-and-pop operations who make up the bulk of the industry.
This issue is not meant to be a bragging contest about who has the biggest company. While that’s interesting, it’s not particularly useful. It’s about helping you understand who these guys are and how they’re going to shape the next 50 or 100 years of the industry.
I asked Zino and Kerin about combining two of the industry’s most storied and influential companies into one, and how they approached that idea. Zino told me this: “The way that you honor pioneers who created decades of opportunity is to be a pioneer and create the next five and six and 10 decades of opportunity. So that’s what BrightView is about. We honor the Brickmans and the Sperbers and their pioneering by being pioneers – taking this industry to the next level and providing opportunities for thousands of people like both those families did.”
The mega-merger of these two companies makes for splashy headlines, but the rub lies in how Kerin and Zino lead the industry, like their forebears did. So far, they seem up for the challenge.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Recently, at my annual event for landscapers, GROW!, we had the pleasure of listening to my friend, New York Times best-selling author and award-winning speaker Mark Sanborn.
Mark is the author of several books, including the smash hit, “The Fred Factor.” The wisdom that Mark shared with my group was priceless. He made all of us think about what we are doing at our businesses. However, it was something that Mark mentioned to me outside of the event that has really woken me up.
Mark told me that in our marriages, “We don’t get extra credit from our wives for the big things we do, like being faithful to them or earning money to help support our families. That’s the cost of entry into marriage, a basic requirement, if you will.”
He said we get credit for the little things we do like, “saying thank you, being considerate, cleaning up the kitchen, celebrating important dates and showing appreciation.” Mark went on to tell me that it’s the little things people appreciate that make a difference. He commented on how this is true for all relationships – business and personal. Ain’t that the truth?
Recently, I had to take my new vehicle in for warranty work. When we take our vehicle in for service, we expect it to come back the way we had it. Well, that’s not what happened.When I got into the vehicle, the seat was all the way up, so I had to fix that. The mirrors were adjusted to fit whoever drove it which doesn’t make much sense to me as I didn’t think it needed to be driven very far. The radio was switched to a station I did not have programed, and finally, no one at the dealership explained to me what they did.
On top of that, while they were removing the top to work on a crushed wire in the GPS, whoever did this got their greasy fingerprints all over the bright white inside of the top. I spent 30 minutes cleaning it up. Now, none of these things are terrible. And I sent an e-mail to the owner of the dealership which he forwarded on to his people who called me. I’m going back. This isn’t a deal breaker. However, if it happens again, it probably is a deal breaker, and that leads me to the point of this month’s column. Little things make a big difference!
Mark is right. We don’t get credit for the big things we do right. The dealership fixed the GPS. It now shows my office on a road, not in the middle of a cornfield. However, the other little things, the things that I could really notice, were not done well and left a sour taste in my mouth. Look at your own business. How are you at the little things?
At most of the landscaping companies I work with, they do the hard part very, very well. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in business. They can mow a lawn with the best of them, they can design a breathtaking landscape and install it, too. They can stop water from pooling in their customers’ back yards, and they can do a floral display that makes passersby say “Wow!” However, they aren’t very good at the end of day clean up, writing thank-you notes, calling clients back or making sure their teams act professionally at all times.
Most landscapers I work with can get their team their paychecks like clockwork, give them nice trucks to use and have a way for them to feed their families. However, they also aren’t good at saying thank you, don’t recognize the top performers and share little or no information with their team.
The landscapers that I work with that realize substantial profits and have less stress are the ones who know that their teams sell the next job by the way they are handling the current job. They know that client satisfaction is paramount and they have an ongoing dialog with their clients asking them constantly what they should stop doing, keep doing and start doing.
They also understand that the way you engage a team is to share your story with them, tell them where they are going in great detail and share information. They are careful about promises they make and always do what they said they would do. These are all little things when you think about it.
Thank you, Mark Sanborn. You wrote a great book. However, it is the little things like this that you have shared with me and my clients that have made a big difference. Everyone reading this should go buy Mark’s new book, “Fred Factor 2.0.”
Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See www.martygrunder.com; mail
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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – John Deere Landscapes announced today the acquisition of AMC Industries. AMC Industries has nine locations in Texas and Oklahoma.