Level Up: Expanding Services Helps Nasim Landscape Double Their Growth - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Level Up: Expanding Services Helps Nasim Landscape Double Their Growth

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

Niwar Nasim was 10 years old when he moved to the U.S. along with his five siblings and parents as refugees from Kurdistan in Iraq.

Nasim’s father was a veterinarian and wanted to get re-established, but the language barrier and medical school required was too much, so he used his agricultural background to start a lawn care business as a way to make ends meet in 1997. Growing up, Nasim and his siblings spent their afternoons, weekends and summer breaks working for their father’s company. Nasim says his father taught him a strong work ethic and the importance of earning a living.

Despite the company losing a large chunk of their clientele during the 2008 recession, Nasim’s father kept the business going and Nasim would help out on projects over the weekend while attending college. Eventually, his father asked Nasim if he wanted to buy the company’s two trucks and build the business back up. Nasim was 25 at the time and that’s how he found himself the president of Nasim Landscape, based in Puyallup, Washington.

“During my upbringing, I always thought I was going to be some kind of executive somewhere with a suit and tie,” Nasim says. “I just thought that was the definition of success. Never did I imagine I was going to be a contractor.”

Nasim Landscape is primarily a commercial maintenance company with enhancement, irrigation and construction divisions. Nasim says they provide design/build services for residential clients, but these are more one-offs. He says they serve mostly HOAs but are working to diversify their commercial portfolio.

The company’s current annual revenue is close to $10 million, and Nasim says he could see the company eventually having four or five branch locations in western Washington and possibly move into Oregon as well. Currently, Nasim Landscape has two facilities with a satellite location near the capital of Washington.

“We do have aspirations to grow further into additional branches in the Puget Sound area of western Washington,” Nasim says.

He says while there are national and regional players in the area there is still room for local contractors to come in. They’ve proven themselves and it’s opened up conversations about getting a facility in the area.

Growth Spurt

For the last four to five years, the company has experienced exponential growth, doubling each year. Their growth also caused them to move to a new headquarters. They had previously been working out of the residential backyard of one of Nasim’s investment properties. He says the move has placed them on a main road, providing them with more exposure and signage.  

Photo: Nasim Landscape

Nasim says the business had been growing steadily and it accelerated when he implemented enterprise-level software. Previously, he was using antiquated systems and spinning his wheels.

“I never really had an idea what I was doing,” Nasim says. “When I realized that there’s software out there and there are systems that if implemented correctly, it was like, ‘Boom, you got this.’”

He says good people are another integral key to their growth spurt, as it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest software in the world if you don’t have good people to back it up.

“Once you do that, the work is there,” Nasim says. “If you have a good reputation, the work is there. It’s just that simple.”

He says getting serious about their snow and ice management services also allowed them to grow significantly. Nasim says the high-margin work allows him to invest in additional software, pay higher wages and buy new trucks. It has also taken their business from a three-season operation to one that can operate year-round.

Keys to Success

Nasim says some of his other keys to success include being willing to evolve, getting out of your own way and trusting others to execute.

“Learning from failures,” Nasim says. “Those were valuable lessons for me. It’s okay to fail and it’s okay to let others fail. It’s what you learn from them.”

Photo: Nasim Landscape

He says he’s also actively worked to become more professional in every way. As they’ve grown there’s been a demand for professional skills and certification and he says NALP has helped them develop their key people who want to grow and become better.

He says they’ve also built out a calendar of NALP events they want to attend such as ELEVATE.

Nasim says being involved with NALP helps him have a pulse on the industry and what others are doing and where the industry is headed.

“We want to stay ahead of the curve and not be behind it,” Nasim says. “I’ve really opened up my mind and been open to adopting new technologies and more innovative ways to do things and not be stuck in the old ways.”

He says their company is focused on being environmentally conscious and trying out methods to be more sustainable such as composting their green waste.

“As a company, we have a responsibility to demonstrate that we are aware of it; we’re reacting to it,” Nasim says. “It’s not just a page on our website. We’re truly trying to do things to do better ourselves and be a good steward.”

Recruiting and Retention

Nasim Landscape has 87 employees, and they have looked into utilizing the H-2B program but haven’t been successful with the lottery system for the past three years.

Photo: Nasim Landscape

“At our size, to continue to be able to recruit and with the goals that we have it’s an avenue that I have to continue to pursue,” Nasim says.

He says they also recruit employees through word of mouth as many of their team members share job openings with others in their community. He says they’ve also gotten an influx of applications thanks to people seeing their headquarters on the main road.

“All these years, we’ve been hiding behind a house,” Nasim says. “You can’t put out a hiring sign there, so it’s truly a blessing. Every single day we have people knocking on our door. We’ve got a big giant banner that says, ‘Now hiring.’ Even when we’re not hiring because we constantly get the flow of applicants and we’ve got a stack this big of people that just come knock on our door.”

He says they retain their workforce by having a good company culture, which comes down to how they treat people.

“People want to feel valued,” Nasim says. “People want to feel like they’re part of something, having growth opportunities for them. For us, that’s embodied in what we do every day.”

Nasim sits down and talks with his staff regularly, whether they are a manager or a frontline worker, so they know they’re important. He says they’ve been able to attract some employees from larger organizations where they felt like they were just a number. As they grow, Nasim says he is working on solidifying a management team that can carry their culture at other future locations.

Photo: Nasim Landscape

“To me, that comes down to just people, the leaders, and the processes,” Nasim says. “If your processes and your systems are not set up, and there’s not good people it’s just an idea that can’t come to fruition.”

For instance, one of their core values is safety and Nasim says it can be easy to overlook it as a company grows.

“You can have all the signage and all the fancy jackets and all that, but if it doesn’t get talked about, then it really becomes a forgotten thing and people get complacent,” Nasim says.

Nasim says they also have a competitive benefits package and a road map for employees who want to go back to school or earn certifications.

“If you invest in yourself, you’re invested in this company, we’ll turn around, we’ll invest back in you,” Nasim says. “We’re just trying to do all the right things and make people feel like this is not just a place to get a check. You can really grow and have a career here.”

Nasim says he never envisioned being in this position and it’s truly humbling to provide for his family and staff.

“I’m a refugee,” Nasim says. “I came from a war-torn country, and I am truly living the American dream.”

He says he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to pay the country back, but he wants to continue to grow and provide opportunities for his people and contribute to society.

Click here to read more Level Up stories.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.