How to Grow Your Landscape Business Quickly - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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How to Grow Your Landscape Business Quickly

Bob Grover shares insights on how his Oregon company has nearly doubled in size over the past three years, giving attendees a glimpse of what they’ll see and learn when touring Pacific Landscape Management in August.

Pacific Landscape Management in Portland, Oregon, has nearly doubled in size over the last three years. No acquisitions have been necessary. All of the growth has been organic. “We’ve had a great run,” says Bob Grover, owner and president. “I give a little credit to the economy and a lot of credit to my team.”

With annual revenue now surpassing $20 million, Pacific Landscape Management is one of the largest companies in the landscaping services industry. It is also widely perceived to be one of the most efficiently run and environmentally conscious.

“We’ve always felt like we ran an efficient company,” Grover says. “But when the economic downturn hit in 2008-2009, we learned very well how to become even more efficient. Our production staff has been trained on lean management.”

Business leaders also have to focus on keeping people happy, which includes both employees and customers. “Our staff talks a lot about customer service and sales,” Grover says. “We’ve decided that we do not sell to customers; we help them buy. That’s the best way to describe what we do.”

Destined for greatness

That people-first philosophy can be traced back very early in Grover’s career. Speaking of careers, Grover says landscaping is the only one he has ever known. “I’ve never had a job outside of the green industry. I really feel like I’ve been born and bred to do what I’m doing,” Grover relates.

Bob Grover (right) with business partner Elias Godinez

It started in college where Grover earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Oregon State University. Upon graduation he went to work for an area landscaping company. That lasted nearly 18 years before the company was acquired. Grover continued on with his new employer a little while longer, but felt like he needed to try something different.

“I’d went from working for a premier, locally owned company to being part of corporate America,” Grover tells. “It was exciting for a while and I learned a lot, but I was also traveling a lot. With a young family, that became challenging. I was also losing touch with my employees and customers. Really, I was turning into just a business manager. Being this guy who was born and bred to be a landscaper, I wanted to get back to talking about landscape problems, not just financial problems. I also wanted to get back to pleasing my customers and helping my employees develop.”

Grover was ready to start his own company, and did so in 2001. Just 17 years later, Pacific Landscape Management is generating roughly $22 million in annual revenue. That’s an average of $1.3 million in growth every year. Still, he hasn’t lost touch with what drew him to this industry.

“We have been successful and profitable, but that’s just a measuring stick,” Grover says. “Our focus is on doing great work and honoring people. Yes, we do that as efficiently as possible, but the real focus is on people. The great opportunity of the business world is treating everything strictly as business. That’s also the great flaw of the business world. You can lose sight of your passion. We are passionate about horticulture and people, and that’s what we lead with.”

Go behind the scenes at Pacific Landscape Management

NALP members looking to get an inside look at Pacific Landscape Management can attend the August 8-10 Field Trip facilitated by Marty Grunder and Frank Mariani.

“On the first day, we’ll meet in the hotel for a roundtable-type discussion,” Grover explains. “Marty and Frank will ask us questions and look to expose us intellectually. The second day is when we’ll tour our facility. We’ll break up into small groups and rotate through 8-10 different stations. Then we’ll head back to the hotel where attendees can share their observations and ask more questions.”

The goal is to collectively identify what Pacific Landscape Management should keep doing, do more of, or stop doing. “As the host company, I’m really looking forward to some great feedback,” Grover says. “You can never stop learning in this industry. It is a great honor to be chosen for this event.”

For more information on the NALP Field Trip with Marty Grunder, visit the NALP website.