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Vila & Son seeks buyer soon

Industry News

Faced with a $16 million drop in revenue in three years, the Florida company looks for an out.

Chuck Bowen | July 13, 2011

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – In three months, one of the largest landscape companies in the country will no longer exist, according to its chief restructuring officer.

“There’s not even a question in my mind” a sale will be done in three months, said Alan Goldberg, who joined Vila & Son in March as its chief restructuring officer.

According to the Lawn & Landscape Top 100 list, Vila & Son posted revenue of $62.5 million in 2008 and $53.8 million in 2009. Last year, it ranked as the 14th largest company in the industry.

The company was heavily reliant on the construction market, in addition to offering maintenance, irrigation, tree care and lighting services, and in 2010, its revenue dropped to $45.9 million.

“That’s tough on a company,” said Goldberg, who also owns Miami-based Crisis Management, Inc. “Construction, mainline construction, went down and landscape construction went down. Were there things we could have done? … That’s irrelevant,” Goldberg said.

Juan Carlos Vila, who founded the company in 1984, still serves as its owner and president, Goldberg said. The company has not entered bankruptcy.

Goldberg said the company is negotiating with three potential buyers – both landscape companies and private investment firms – right now, and recently hired an investment bank to help manage the process.

In anticipation of a sale, last week Vila & Son filed a notice with the state of Florida that it could lay off all of its 641 employees in August.

“We’re still around; we’re still alive,” Goldberg said. “Just like many businesses, we need an influx of cash.”

Vila & Son, headquartered in Homestead, Fla., also has branch offices in Miami, Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tampa, Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach.

At one time, the company also operated 200 acres of nurseries and tree farms throughout the state, as well as a retail store in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. The retail operation closed a few years ago. A sister company, Vila & Son Tree Farm, Inc., is not involved in the restructuring.

 

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