Meet the new boss

Features - Interview

Brickman’s new CEO sits down with L&L.

October 11, 2012
Chuck Bowen

Andrew Kerin was hired as CEO at the Gaithersburg, Md.-based Brickman Group this summer, bringing a fresh set of eyes to the maintenance giant’s executive suite. Kerin moves to Maryland from the $12 billion Aramark Global Food, where he was group president. Before that, he was vice president with facility services firm Ogden Corporation.

We sat down with him shortly after he joined the company to talk about what he brings to the industry giant, the future of facilities management and where he sees the company growing.

What made you want to join the landscape industry? So several things, it’s always been important to me to be involved with work that matters both to the people that do it and the people it serves. Creating beautiful landscaped environments in various settings is something that people can be very proud of, because it has great meaning. It’s also something that consumers value – whoever they may be – corporate campuses, retail settings, residential settings, universities, hospitals. Doing something that leaves an imprint and enhances the environment is something that I have tried to stay involved with. There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of passion around it, and like I said, a lot of pride in the members that do the work, and a lot of enjoyment of those that receive the benefit of it.

Brickman exists toward the top of the food chain in the landscape industry. Where do you plan on taking the company from here?
So to continue on the thought, I came to Brickman because of the industry that I admire greatly, but more importantly because of the values of Brickman – its’ honesty, integrity, its commitment to those people it serves. It’s got a leading position in the space, it has a great foundation, and there’s a lot to build on. It’s done a great job in its history, but we always want to continue to understand how we can better engage and provide an opportunity for our people. Continue to deliver the exceptional service and continue to evolve. This is clearly an evolving time, and as a leader you want to stay on the forefront of that. And continue also to be even more involved than they have been in the communities and localities that we work in and where our people live. My vision for Brickman is to accelerate its growth into the future, and to continue to be the preeminent landscape maintenance and snow removal company in the country.

Does your experience and background position Brickman to become more of a facilities maintenance company? My goals for Brickman and Brickman’s goals are again to continue to be the preeminent, industry-leading landscape maintenance and snow removal company in the country. My background around the ability to work with a variety of different customers in various markets, work with people in a distributed business that provide service work in communities that you can attract and retain people, those are some of the broader skills I try to bring to the organization, as well as a great passion for service.

How will you deal with Brickman’s perception in the industry? I will tell you that Brickman in my opinion has been committed to maintaining the right position in the industry, has continued to be a leader, and that will continue to be a focus of mine.

Part of the reason that I joined Brickman is because I believe that the values they have are very strong and resonate in the industry. We have an obligation to be stewards of the industry because of our position.

What’s your schedule look like in the next six months?
It’s very important to understand those you lead and those that you serve. So, I have a very full agenda over the next 60, 75 days to really do a listening and learning tour and work very hard to understand how we can continue to engage our folks, continue to better serve our customers … and to understand the broader industry dynamics so we can be best positioned for our own success. I will be traveling around the country visiting with all the stakeholders that are involved with Brickman – our people, our customers, our suppliers, industry experts, etc.

What are you most looking forward to?
I came with several goals. In the service business, the thing I most look forward to is when you can lead a great organization and you can grow and have a great strategy, you can change people’s life trajectory. There’s no business like the service business and the landscaping business in particular where what we can do is help people improve, learn, develop, grow and change their life trajectory.

No. 2 is, your customers vote by the business they give you, by how long they keep you and the amount of opportunity they create. You have to stand for being the most valuable provider in the industry, so assuring that we understand our customers’ needs in such a way that we can be the highest value provider.

Thirdly, take all that and ensure that we’re good stewards of the industry, but also good stewards to the communities in which we live and work.

Where do you see the company’s growth coming from in the short-term? I think the opportunities for growth in this industry are very significant. There are opportunities to do more for the customers you serve today. There are opportunities to find customers you don’t serve today that have a desire for enhanced landscape environments and more effective and efficient operations, and I think there’s certainly enough fragmentation in the industry that when you find organizations that have talent and a footprint … that there are opportunities for acquisitions as well.