Level Up: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc. Is Committed To Excellence - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Level Up: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc. Is Committed To Excellence

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

Greg Struhl entered the landscape industry by chance and despite some trials early on, he has shaped Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc., based in Las Vegas, Nevada, into a successful business.

Previously, he had been working at an automotive center, which is where he met his friend Jason Heep. Presented with the opportunity to buy the company Chip-N-Dale’s from former owners, Chip and Dale, Struhl went into business with his friend Heep.

Photo: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc.

Later on, he found out they didn’t have a contractor’s license and the business was in considerable debt. Despite all of this, Struhl eventually got things straightened out, acquiring the necessary license and paying off their debt. He credits the business booming in the 90s allowing him to quickly turn the corner.

Chip-N-Dale’s primarily serves residential clients with a 50/50 split between design/build and maintenance work. Struhl says their outdoor living spaces are particularly popular as they can design everything from pools and barbecues to hardscapes and fire pits.

The company currently has an annual revenue slightly under $6.5 million. They have grown steadily aside from the housing crash in 2009. Struhl says they are typically booked out nine months to a year and the pandemic kept them busy as people started investing in their homes more.

Struhl says he’s dealt with pushback from employees throughout the years who want the business to grow because it makes them more money.

“I want to grow without compromising quality,” Struhl says. “I’ll get as big as I can get without compromising my quality or my values.”

Keys to Success

Struhl credits his company’s success to their quality level, creativity and integrity. He often tells his clients he cares more.

“There may be people who are more talented or more creative, but nobody cares more than I do,” Struhl says. “I work so hard because I care so much and so I never compromise on that.”

Photo: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc.

He’s always pushing himself to do better and to ensure that what he provides is the best. He says he wants to get all of his employees certified because it helps set a standard.

“We can always get better,” Struhl says. “You can always learn more.”

Struhl also concentrates on generating good word of mouth.

“Just do a great job and they’ll tell a friend,” Struhl says. “Somebody will always tell somebody, so that’s what I focus on.”

Struhl makes a point to educate his clients during the design phase so they’re properly aware of the maintenance and upkeep of certain features. For instance, their region has very hard water that causes alkaline buildup on water features.

“I like to educate my clients because the last thing I want them to do is put in a water feature and then realize the amount of time, effort and energy that it takes to keep it looking that way,” Struhl says.  

He says sometimes they give customers things to make them happy because it’s not worth it in the long run. Their clients keep coming back if they make people happy. They focus on customer service and warranty all of their work.

Photo: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc.

“We stand behind everything,” Struhl says. “If it’s right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.”

One thing that he’s learned over the years is to charge enough for their services. He had to come to terms with what he has to charge to cover all of his overhead and a quality team around him.

“All these costs add up and a lot of companies don’t have them, and they can do it for less, but nobody says, ‘We do it better,’ but a lot of people can do it cheaper,” Struhl says. 

As an NALP member, Struhl says he’s had a great experience networking at industry events and thinks the training and education available are great.

“I want to compare myself to the top companies and keep getting better,” Struhl says. “And keep doing what I love to do.

Commitment to Excellence

Chip-N-Dale’s employs around 60 employees and Struhl says while they try to do everything in house, he will utilize subcontractors when they don’t have enough people.

Photo: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc.

They use word of mouth to attract new hires and have an employee referral program that rewards the referring employee three separate times the longer the new hire stays on.

“We’ve just found out that if the employee vets them as opposed to somebody just coming in off the street they’re more apt to understand our culture right off the bat,” Struhl says.

Struhl plans to attend the National Collegiate Landscape Competition next year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, to recruit as well.

“I want to go really be there and see these young talented people, people that have the passion for what we do,” Struhl says.

Chip-N-Dale’s retains their employees through their company culture. A number of his employees have been with him from 10 to 25 years. Struhl strives to create an environment where the employees feel appreciated, valued and part of the team. He makes a point to share positive customer feedback with his team. He says his supervisors will take their crews out to lunch to celebrate.

Photo: Chip-N-Dale’s Custom Landscaping, Inc.

“I try to make sure they understand how much we value them,” Struhl says. “I want my guys to take pride in what they do. If you’re going to do something, don’t just be good at it, be great at it. Don’t just go through the motions in life.”

Struhl says they are only as good as their weakest link. He tries to instill a commitment to excellence in all of his employees.

“I can’t be everywhere, so it doesn’t matter what I do,” Struhl says. “It’s what they do.”

He says they only have one set of standards, rather than having different pricing and service levels.

“We do one thing and that’s the right way,” Struhl says. “We do it that way all the time. You have to be consistent with your guys and make sure that they understand this is how we do it every time, all the time.”

He says he works to give his teams the equipment and time needed to do the job right, as you can’t expect people to do something properly without the right amount of time and tools.

Click here to read more Level Up stories.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.