Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.
Roland Harvey founded Natural Concerns, Inc., based in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland, in 1989 with the desire to provide quality landscaping services utilizing a natural approach. He had worked for other landscape companies but decided to go out on his own.
George Goodhues, general manager of Natural Concerns, joined the company 16 years ago. He says what started as a ragtag bunch has grown into a staff of about 60 employees now.
The company’s main customer base is high-end residential clients located in the subdivision in north Baltimore County. Goodhues says only about five percent of their business is commercial, but they are working on expanding this since implementing the Aspire software. Goodhues says they are wanting to work with institutions in particular and bring a residential flair to this side of the business.
Currently Natural Concerns has an annual revenue of $6 million. Goodhues says they don’t have an ideal company size, but they are trying to have over 100 people on staff.
Keys to Success
Goodhues credits the company’s growth to their marketing strategy, their relentless pursuit of perfection and their good people on staff. He says while the Baltimore area has few major brands left, they have been successful marketing to those still in the city.
“We take a customer, we give them excellent service and a good, finished product,” Goodhues says.
He says the company has experienced steady growth over the year as they’ve kept it controlled. Natural Concerns did not experience a boom in business during the pandemic like many other residential landscape companies.
Natural Concerns’ three core divisions are complete landscape design and installation along with maintenance, masonry, and the Natural Gardener. Goodhues says they added their masonry division because they were leaving a lot of money on the table by using subcontractors.
The Natural Gardener division was added in 2016 at the request of clients and provides raised bed vegetable gardens, organic pest prevention, rooftop and container gardens and more.
Goodhues says about 20 to 25 percent of their customer base takes advantage of the Natural Gardener division right now. The company also added stormwater and bioretention services three years ago. Goodhues hopes as their commercial division grows, so will this service.
One of the challenges they have faced recently is the switch to Aspire, which they are a year and a quarter into. Goodhues says he’s learned from others it takes about two years to get fully immersed in the software.
“We were always a custom boutique shop as it were, and had spreadsheets everywhere, paperwork everywhere,” Goodhues says. “We decided to consolidate and we’ve had complete buy in with Aspire’s program.”
They selected it based on its reputation in the industry.
“I was working 60 hours a week on a good week,” Goodhues says. “I was working every Saturday and Sunday much to my wife’s dismay. I decided things needed to change.”
Supporting People and the Community
Natural Concerns believes in people and the Greater Baltimore community and has incorporated three Es into all of their activities: employment, education and environmental enhancement.
The company feels that when people are given the opportunity to learn, they can appreciate the value of work, become self-reliant, accept personal responsibility and contribute not only to Natural Concerns but society as a whole.
Natural Concerns maintains outreach with groups like Thread, where they have successfully hired, trained and retained Baltimore residents from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Many of Natural Concerns’ employees have years of experience in the industry and continue to work to improve their expertise. They work closely with the American Landscape Institute and the Community College of Baltimore County to provide continuing education opportunities for all their team members.
As a newer member of NALP, Goodhues says they are looking to implement NALP’s Safe Company Program. He says they’ve found great value in not being in a silo. They also make a point to take two employees to various industry events.
Goodhues says they pay their staff more than the market rate, provide multiple benefits and keep morale up with team bonding activities. Natural Concerns will take staff to Baltimore Orioles games and retreats where employees from the different divisions must work together.
Natural Concerns promotes environmental enhancements by promoting the use of native designs, stormwater management and nutrient runoff control. The company is also active in the community, donating their services to non-profits and causes like Sheppard-Pratt Hospital, Baltimore Tree Trust, and The House of Ruth.
Click here to read more Level Up stories.