How you grow it

February 10, 2014

Chuck Bowen

Part of my job involves speaking gigs around the country, usually getting up in front of a few dozen landscapers at a regional or state meeting.

I give them my take on the state of the industry and what trends I see coming down the pike that are going to have the most impact on them in the coming year.

It gives me a chance to get out and talk with contractors, association folks and suppliers that I might not otherwise get to see.

Earlier this winter, I was at a conference in Columbus, where I’d coordinated some education sessions for the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation.

One of the speakers I asked to come up was Larry Smith. He runs Greentech in Troy, near Cincinnati. He shared a few to-do items that made for great advice for owners just starting out and who have been in the business for a while.

My favorite thing he said during his short presentation was this: “Start succession planning today. If you started your business yesterday, start succession planning today. If you started your business 10 years ago, start succession planning today.”

With the sale of Brickman last year to KKR for $1.6 billion, and its subsequent purchase of Metheny Commercial Lawn Maintenance, one of the largest contractors in Texas, a lot of owners are thinking that it might be time to cash in.

But many of them aren’t ready – financially or emotionally – for that to happen.

You could do almost anything with your company. You could sell it to a national company, or you could sell it to a regional player. You could liquidate and just close the doors. You could transfer it to your son or daughter or employees.

Whatever you decide to do with it when you’ve finished your run, you have to decide what it is. Because the decisions you make today and this spring and next year to grow your company will be predicated on what you want to do with it when you’re ready to sell it.

Maybe your kids aren’t interested in taking over the family business. Maybe you don’t want to sell to the guys in the two-tone trucks from Maryland. That’s fine.

But, whatever you want to do when you’re ready to retire or step back, you have to start thinking about it now and do what you need now to build your company accordingly.

Our 2014 Mergers and Acquisitions Guide starts on page 76 and is designed to help you get ready, to ask yourself those big questions to see what you want and how to get there. The time to start thinking about the future is today.

– Chuck Bowen