Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.
Ivan Giraldo doesn’t like to think in limits.
“I don’t envision an ideal size, per se,” he says. “I believe size can increase as long as we can keep providing good service, give employees a good work environment and can make some money doing it. I do strongly believe that we need to keep growing.”
Giraldo founded Clean Scapes Landscaping, based in Austin, Texas, with Rex Gore 15 years ago. The company has two other branches in San Antonio and Dallas. The company is at number 33 for Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 list for 2020.
Clean Scapes offers maintenance and construction services to a number of customers including retail, corporate, industrial, multifamily, education, HOAs and more.
Rapid Growth at the Start
When the company started out, they experienced rapid growth from 2005 to 2007. Giraldo says that in June 2005 their revenue wasn’t more than $400,000 that year but by 2007 it was at $26 million thanks to large construction projects they landed between those years.
Giraldo explains that while they were a new company, they were well-known in the city already.
“The top management team and my business partners and myself, we’ve been in the industry and been in the city so the trust and confidence that we were able to deliver what they expected was already there,” he says.
Steady Organic Growth
That initial growth slowed in the middle of 2008 when the recession took place, but since 2013, Giraldo says they’ve experienced steady organic growth.
“We have maintained our growth by always being keeping up with the changes in the economy as well the adjustments, innovations and changes in our industry,” he says.
In 2013, the company’s revenue was $20.7 million and by 2019, they had grown their revenue to $55.2 million. Giraldo says this was achieved by solidifying their presence in the San Antonio market and they had expanded their footprint in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as well.
“Because we provide complete landscape service – construction, maintenance, arbor, irrigation, enhancement – sometimes we notice more growth activity in a particular segment, especially construction,” Giraldo says.
He says they’re always looking for ways to grow in smart, manageable ways. As they grow in a location, he says they will move some services from subcontracting to an in-house core competency. For instance, at their Dallas branch, which is the newest, they currently sub out their arboriculture work. However, they eventually will bring it in-house. This is to better control their quality and schedules.
“This is the preference of our clients as well,” Giraldo says. “It was always our intention from the beginning.”
Keys to Success
Giraldo says their quality of service has earned them a good reputation and as such, they are a preferred service provider in their markets. He says being a NALP member has also helped with their company’s standing.
“The recognition and being part of an industry organization gives credibility to both our industry and our company when speaking with potential clients and attracting potential employees,” Giraldo says.
He also credits having a strong team, from the frontline employees to the management and administrative staff, for having a successful company.
“The team has played a great part of where we are right now,” he says.
During the economic downturn, Clean Scapes had to adjust as they had acquired equipment and extra manpower to match their growth at the time.
“At that point our maintenance division started growing and we were able to shift personnel around,” Giraldo says. “Those were stressful times though.”
Giraldo says they had a minimal amount of staff leave on their own during the recession and they were able to keep majority of their workers employed. The company culture at Clean Scapes is one that is welcoming and always providing opportunities for everyone to evolve.
Another key to success Giraldo mentions is having the determination and perseverance during the rough and the good times. He says it’s important to always remain focused on their goals.
“Challenges are always present, growing or not,” he says. “Building a strong staff and hiring enough qualified personnel is always a challenge, especially during big growth spurts.”
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