Level Up: Business Is Booming For LandPatterns - National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Level Up: Business Is Booming For LandPatterns

Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.

LandPatterns, based in Dallas, Texas, was started in 2000 by landscape architect Marc Funderburk.  

He started the company with the primary goal of providing quality landscape architecture, installation and maintenance to a discerning clientele.

“We try to provide unique solutions that allow our clientele to see those solutions, either all at once or in a phased approach,” says Neil Bales, partner of LandPatterns. “We’re looking out for the long-term value.”

Since opening, the company has grown to the $4 to $5 million dollar range in revenue with an upward trajectory.

Bales joined the company three and a half years ago. Previously, he had worked for another landscaping firm with his brother. When his brother left the industry to pursue a career in ministry, Bales tried to buy the company he worked for in 2016 and 2017 but was unsuccessful. When it was sold to someone else, Bales knew there wasn’t going to be an upward opportunity for him there.  

“I wanted to own a landscaping company, I’d found a passion and love for this industry and wanted to be an entrepreneur in this industry,” Bales says. “By God’s grace, I came to meet our founder Marc Funderburk and came to work over here with him, earned some sweat equity and then bought him out last July.”

Bales says he’s been trying to grow the company with their next goal the $7-8 million mark and in the next five to 10 years he’d like to reach the $10-12 million mark.

Keys to Success

Photo: LandPatterns

LandPatterns has experienced steady growth year over year and Bales says this is what he prefers.

“We want to grow, relationally and organically through right client relationships, and that also allows us to grow and train our people,” Bales says.

The company’s main customer base varies based on the service. On the design services side, 90 percent is commercial work with owners/developers. They work closely with a lot of high-end commercial real estate developments. On the construction side, it is a 50/50 split between commercial development and high-end residential projects.

As for maintenance jobs, 70 percent are high-end residential with clients who prefer high touch and high communication. The remaining 30 percent is commercial maintenance.

Bales credits his people, a strong clientele and their location for their success. He says he surrounds himself with people who are brighter than him and that his field staff is precise, passionate and respectful.

Photo: LandPatterns

“We’ve got an outstanding field staff,” Bales says. “My field staff is second to none. I mean those guys and gals do everything for us.”

Bales says having clients that trust them and believe in their services has also helped them grow. He says it’s a very relational business.

The third key to success is their location in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that happens to be one of the fastest-growing markets in the country. A number of people and companies have relocated to the area as well.

“We’re in a market here in Dallas that is seeing a lot of influx,” Bales says. “Westerners for California and the western side of the United States and even in the North, Chicago and New York, that are coming down here. One weather’s better and more consistent here. I think a lot of corporations are moving their employees into the Dallas-Fort Worth market and moving headquarters.”

Current Challenges

While being in Dallas has been beneficial for the company overall, this year it has presented some unique challenges after the winter storm back in February. The sub-zero temperatures resulted in significant freeze damage.

He says there’s been increased demand in projects even more than normal in the spring, with the need to replace these damaged plants,. He says mid-March through June is their busy season and he’s never seen it like in his almost 20 years in the industry.

Photo: LandPatterns

Bales says the hardest thing to keep up with right now is personnel and staying caught up with the demand. He says he’s been searching for additional crew members. Fortunately, they have had some great interns who have turned into full-time employees.

Growers in the Southeast and Southwest nurseries are also having trouble with their inventory due to the high plant demands.

Like many other businesses in the industry, the pandemic helped the company as lots of people stayed home and decided they wanted to implement landscape projects around the house. On the commercial side of things, Bales said things slowed down at the beginning of the pandemic due to the uncertainty. He says now there’s been an influx of design work that will play out over the next 18 to 36 months.

However, COVID has also affected logistics for many materials, raising the price of metal and steel, making it much harder to find trucks and trailers. Bales says he’s had a truck on order for four weeks now.

While the supply chain has caused issues, he says it’s a good problem to have as it means they the cash flow to purchase trucks.

“There’s just a lot playing into this year, it makes it challenging, but it also makes it fun,” Bales says. “It makes it fun to get up every morning to figure out how you’re going to tackle that issue for the day.”

An Eye on the Future

Bales acknowledges that while times are good right now, he wants to be in a healthy cash position so they can continue to serve their people and their clients well during a dip.

“My goal as the visionary and the CEO of LandPatterns is to get us in a position where we can weather that storm and hopefully even keeo growing coming out of that storm and grow in that storm,” he says.

Photo: LandPatterns

The company currently has 40-45 employees and Bales says that their best recruiting tactic has been rewarding employees with bonuses when a referral stays with the company for a certain period of time.

As for retaining their employees, Bales says their best tactic is having a strong company culture. Their three core values are respect, passion and innovation.

Bales says his membership with NALP has also helped with their retention. He enjoys taking employees to LANDSCAPES and is excited about it being in person this year. Also, LandPatterns often enters their projects in the Awards of Excellence to garner recognition for their team.

“It’s helped solidify employee retention through having people that I’ve taken to LANDSCAPES, training capabilities with the different programs available, being able to tell their people they produce this work and have been recognized nationally for the quality of work,” Bales says. “That’s always a bragging point in our organization.”

Personally, Bales says he enjoys constantly building relationships and networking at NALP events.

In five years, Bales hopes to continue growing their bottom-line profit and offering their employees opportunities to grow laterally or vertically. He says when there may not be professional opportunities they can step in and help them achieve and seek personal growth.

He says also in keeping with their core value of innovation, they’ve recently implemented robotic mowers on a few properties recently.

“We’re still a long way away, but we want to be on the cutting edge,” Bales says. “In five or 10 years I would love for people to be able to say LandPatterns has helped lead the way in that being environmentally responsible. Hopefully, it will provide more opportunity for our people as well.”

Click here to read more Level Up stories.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.

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