A distinct evolution

Features - Design/Build

Brian-Kyles Landscapes of Distinction transitions into the next generation of ownership while holding on to the core principles that have helped grow the firm for 25-plus years.

February 10, 2014

When Douglas Maurer named his landscape and construction business after his two sons, at the time he really wasn’t sure if Brian or Kyle would take over operations one day. But more than 15 years later, both sons are at the helm of Brian-Kyles Landscapes of Distinction in Avon, Ohio.

The firm morphed from Maurer’s original construction homebuilding company and separate landscaping outfit into a complete design, build and maintenance entity in 1988. The oldest son, Brian, came on board after earning a degree in agricultural sciences and has driven the landscape installation division for the last decade. The youngest, Kyle, entered the business officially as director of commercial maintenance this year, leaving a career in the insurance and financial industries to pursue his passion in the family-owned business.

Both remember working with their father as soon as they could handle a shovel. “Growing up, we were working outside and helping dad,” says Kyle Maurer, relating the work ethic that was instilled early on. “Those are the core values we still carry with us today and have been able to maintain as we have grown.”

The company has posted double-digit growth since 2010, “and that’s rather significant considering the sluggish economy,” Maurer says. The company also ranked 8th on the 2013 Weatherhead 100 Upstart category recognizing northeast Ohio’s fastest growing companies.

A focus on commercial landscape maintenance is partly responsible for the company’s success during tough times. Also, the Maurers decided to shift from a “family business” run from a kitchen table conference room to a “family owned” business with senior management (not family) and a senior leadership team (including the Maurers) with a combined 100 years of experience.

Take the office on the road

Client stewardship wins repeat contracts.That’s esepcially true today because of society’s thirst for instant response to a problem or a questions.

And technology helps Brian-Kyles Landscapes of Distinction deliver real-time “status updates” on properties.

Crews are equipped with tablet computers and systems that allow the company office to track their progress on an entire route from start to finish in real-time.

“We know as soon as they fill out a completed work log – I can go online and see where a truck is at any time of day,” says Kyle Maurer, commercial account manager at Brian-Kyles, located in Lorain, Ohio.

Kyle and his brother Brian are also the namesakes of their father’s landscape and construction company.

“Technology gives us a better opportunity to drive production and also to better serve our clients because we know when we are on site and we can see what is happening on the grounds so we always know what is going on,” Maurer says.

Plus, the tablets help Brian-Kyles maintain momentum during the sales process.

“We can meet with a client, take measurements, review the property and make calculations, and if we need to create a proposal right on the spot we can,” Maurer says.

The client can print, sign and seal the deal right on the spot.

There’s no need for Brian-Kyles to take extra days or make repeat visits to finalize the deal.

“We are excited about how technology is keeping our business forward-thinking and progressive,” Maurer says.

Brian-Kyles Landscapes of Distinction is officially in its second generation, and the structure has evolved into a more sophisticated business model with the same grass roots focus on commitment, execution, creativity, excellence and quality.

Meanwhile, the firm is moving forward by implementing technology to drive efficiency, forging relationships to grow its commercial maintenance division, and continuing to seek out installation opportunities where the firm can shine.

“We focus on creativity and quality – our designs are authentic,” Maurer says, pointing to the Japanese tea house (pictured at the beginning of this article) as an example. “And we know we can build a project from start to finish because of our construction roots.”

In synch.

What differentiates Brian-Kyles in a competitive market is that authenticity – a keen design eye, ability to execute complex projects without calling in the subs, and the work ethic to deliver results that keep the referrals rolling in.

Maurer points to the company’s core values on its website, remarking that “these things can seem cliché,” but the leadership and staff of about 15 really live out the company’s mottos. It all starts with a commitment to the community. Brian-Kyles has operated out of Lorain County, Ohio, for nearly 30 years.

“We are heavily involved with community organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis, and we do charity work with the Friendship Animal Protection League and Avon Youth Baseball,” Maurer says.

“We have been raised in this area and always operated a business in Lorain County, so we feel like giving back to our community is the best way to conduct business.”

But the foundation of the firm’s success is based on its execution. And how jobs are executed is an evolving process, despite a steadfast focus on quality and excellence.

When Douglas Maurer founded the original company in 1983, called Brian Builders, the firm constructed custom homes. He added a landscape company to his repertoire soon after, naming it Kyle’s Landscaping. In 1987, Brian-Kyles Construction was incorporated.

“My dad’s true passion was landscaping, and the decision to merge those firms and focus on landscape construction was driven by the economics of the 1980s and how that affected the building business,” Kyle Maurer says.

Since 1988, the firm has expanded its landscape construction offerings to lawn fertilization, lawn enhancement, irrigation, seasonal lighting, landscape lighting, commercial maintenance and more.

“We have been able to carve out a niche for ourselves by not specializing,” Maurer says. “We can essentially build any project from start to finish – we don’t have to use third-party contractors. By being a jack-of-all landscape trades, the firm can be sure that its clients’ needs are met without sending them to a competitor.

Creativity keeps the business fresh, and quality wins the firm accolades in regional and national competitions.

“We tend to screen our prospects to really qualify them so the work fits with our core values and strengths as a firm,” Maurer says.

“We are not in it just acquiring a mass of jobs – we are into the jobs where we can really display our creativity and our commitment to excellence.”