Level Up: ExperiGreen Lawn Care Grows Organically and Through Mergers & Acquisitions - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Level Up: ExperiGreen Lawn Care Grows Organically and Through Mergers & Acquisitions

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

ExperiGreen Lawn Care, based in Mishawaka, Indiana, was founded in 2016, and since then, the company has grown to around 350 employees.

Dana Irwin, vice president of ExperiGreen, has worked for several different lawn companies, including ChemLawn, Barefoot Grass, and Scotts LawnService, which were all sold to TruGreen. He says John Moehn, the president of ExperiGreen, was the largest Scotts LawnService franchisee at the time. Part of his franchise agreement required him to sell, but he didn’t have any non-competes in his market, so they decided to start ExperiGreen.

Photo: ExperiGreen

“Some of us had opportunities at TruGreen, but we just felt like there was a better opportunity to try and start up again and have our own company rather than working for somebody else,” Irwin says.

The company mainly serves residential clients, focusing on offering lawn fertilization and weed control. ExperiGreen also provides perimeter pest control, mosquito control and tree and shrub care in select markets.

The company’s current annual revenue is around $45 million. Irwin says they are looking to be above $100 million in annual revenue in the next three to four years. Irwin says they’ve tried to grow steadily, but it’s been pretty fast and furious, going from zero clients in 2016 to over 60,000 customers across 18 branch locations today.

“It’s been pretty rapid growth and just trying to keep that all under control and keep your arms around it, budgeting and forecasting,” Irwin says. “It’s been fun, but moving pretty fast.”

Keys to Success

ExperiGreen boasts over 400 years of combined green industry experience. Irwin says their managers’ experience is one of their keys to success, and it is where their company name comes from.

He acknowledges there is a bit of a sea of sameness out there with lawn care companies. ExperiGreen focuses on providing quality customer service and a good competitive product. This year they introduced a good, better, best lawn care program to their customers. Irwin says it’s been really successful for them.

Photo: ExperiGreen

“The way we try to position it is with our sales folks is present the best, present all three but settle in the middle on the better program, and that seems to work pretty well,” Irwin says. “We give the customer incentives, discounts to bundle it all together and buy it all at once, and you can save money.”  

They’ve also added liquid aeration, as their customers hate seeing traditional aeration cores. Technicians also risk hitting the irrigation system, an invisible dog fence or robotic mower guidewires when operating aerators.

“We’ve offered that to our customers, and customers seem to love it,” Irwin says. “The liquid aeration has been really good for us, and customers really like it.”

Because their experience is one of their differentiators, ExperiGreen has a strong training program for their frontline employees. Irwin says it depends on the individual whether an experienced hire or someone new to the industry is the best fit. Sometimes a licensed person might know what they’re doing, and other times they could have bad habits that are hard to change. He’s seen other times when an experienced new hire is a great employee.

“In general, and this just my opinion, if you can get somebody who’s engaging, wants to be here, they’re like a blank piece of piece of clay,” Irwin says. “You can train them the way you want them to be. That’s the ideal.”

Photo: ExperiGreen

ExperiGreen recruits their employees through Indeed, their employee referral program and by offering signing bonuses in certain markets. Irwin says their employees stay at ExperiGreen thanks to their comprehensive benefits package and creating a place where people want to work. They recently added a matching component to their 401(k) plan this year.

He says as they grow, they maintain and build a positive culture through their people. They also keep their team in the loop by sharing stats like revenue to budget, sales, cancellations, and penetration of other services on a weekly basis.

Irwin says since joining NALP, they have been able to stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry.

“I think some of the articles spur thought and how can I relate that to our business,” Irwin says. “It just opens your eyes up.”

ExperiGreen also experienced a surge in business during the pandemic with consumers stuck at home. Irvin says in 2022, some of those new customers dropped off, but in general, they have continued to grow the company.

Partnering with a Private Equity Firm

Another aspect that has helped ExperiGreen with their growth is their partnership with private equity firm Huron Capital. The company partnered with Huron Capital in August 2022 and have purchased six business since then.

A side-by-side comparison of ExperiGreen’s client’s property and one that is not a customer.
Photo: ExperiGreen

Irwin says previously, they had bought a handful of companies with private investment. Some businesses were very small, with just a couple $100,000 in revenue and 100 or so customers, while others have been fairly sizable.

“We’ve got a what we call a buy and build strategy,” Irwin says. “We acquire generally owner-operator companies and then try to build them from there both organically and then continue to do mergers and acquisitions.”

ExperiGreen has had 15 total acquisitions over the years. Irwin says they look for good opportunities in their same geographical footprint where they could do a bolt-on acquisition and roll it into their existing operations. He says they generally don’t look for smaller acquisitions now. They’re looking for around $1 million in annual revenue.

ExperiGreen’s sweet spot is in the Midwest, as they’re in Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, northeast Ohio, Canton, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. They also have a location in Charlotte, North Carolina. Irwin says Charlotte is an outlier, but it’s been very good for them.

Irwin says Huron Capital has been a good partner who lets them manage the day-to-day business and even their strategy but they’ll consult and provide their opinion where it’s needed. Based on the run rate basis of some of the acquisitions that are coming in mid-season, Irwin expects they’ll be around $55 million in annual revenue.

“We’ve seen really nice organic growth, but then continue to build the company on top of that with mergers and acquisitions,” Irwin says.

Click here to read more Level Up stories.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.