Mariani Landscape Expands National Footprint with Family of Companies - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Mariani Landscape Expands National Footprint with Family of Companies

Frank Mariani says his goal is to create the best residential landscape company in the world.

Mariani Landscape, based in Lake Bluff, Illinois, has experienced record growth over the last 18 months. This was driven by the company’s decision in December 2020 to become the best residential landscape company in the world with their “family of family companies.”

To date, Mariani has acquired seven family-owned residential landscape companies. The companies that are part of the Mariani Landscape family are:

  • Berghoff Design Group / BDG Maintenance – Phoenix, Arizona
  • Designs by Sundown – Littleton, Colorado
  • Hoffman Landscapes – Wilton, Connecticut
  • Mariani Landscape – Lake Bluff, Illinois
  • NatureWorks Landscape Services – Walpole, Massachusetts
  • Rocco Fiore & Sons – Libertyville, Illinois
  • R.P. Marzilli & Company – Medway, Massachusetts
  • Woodlawns Landscape Company – Mundelein, Illinois

This growth and consolidation is a first for residential landscape companies. Each of these companies will maintain their brands and leadership teams.

“We’re a family of family businesses,” says Frank Mariani, chairman of Mariani Landscape. “That’s not just a name. That’s just not a slogan. We’re not asking companies to change the colors of their truck to Mariani green and green and put our logo on their trucks. We are going to different markets because these individual companies are the market leaders and we want to celebrate their success. We want them to keep their name, to keep their brand, to keep their teams intact. We’re not looking to cut our way to success. We’re looking to grow our way to success. The way to do that is by celebrating each and every company that we partner with and that’s been extremely successful.”

Mariani says that since he took over the business when his father passed away in 1973, he has grown the company to almost $60 million as a way to retain his associates and provide them opportunities to advance.

He says the decision to create this family of companies was to continue to provide advancement for his people and to raise the bar of professionalism for the industry.

“I decided that one of the best ways to get better is to reach out to fellow owners and leaders of other companies that would help us achieve the goal of truly creating the best residential landscape company in the world,” Mariani says.

The main benefit of companies joining Mariani is access to the ‘ultimate peer group’ where the leadership teams across companies can draw insights, share experiences and solve problems.

“The peer group that has been created through the Mariani family of companies is invaluable,” says Jeff Berghoff, president of Berghoff Design Group. “Everyone brings an incredible amount of knowledge and experience to the table. There are so many best practices being shared, allowing all of the companies to evolve. We’re truly one large company invested in helping everyone succeed.”

Each time when Mariani starts to partner with a new company, they review that company’s employee benefits to ensure that they take the best of the best incentives and apply them to all of their companies. Mariani’s new CEO Bryan Christiansen and COO Bill Blodgett have been tasked with coordinating an integration plan that ensures each company retains their individual autonomy yet spreads the best practices to each business.

Christiansen says unlike traditional peer groups, these companies are in constant communication and share strategies like best recruiting practices and how to use social media effectively.

“If you need something, whether it be on the marketing side or the recruiting side, or the technology side, all you have to do is just pick up the phone and that peer group is right there,” Christiansen says.

He says there is no ideal number of companies they are looking to acquire, but their goal is to be in every high-end residential market north to south and east to west. They are particular about who they are partnering with. Mariani is looking for companies that have a similar culture that cares for their associates.

“They have to have the same passion for meeting the client’s expectations, a special approach to sustainability, excellent landscape maintenance, excellent landscape architecture, and excellent landscape bid build, just excellent services and understanding,” Mariani says. “It’s a very, very high bar, but the sky’s the limit.”

Possible partner companies don’t have to be family-owned in order to be considered. As for ideal company size, Mariani says they are looking for the brand leader in the market and these are typically businesses that are $7 million and up. However, he says there are special circumstances everywhere and if a company has an outstanding team, work ethic and culture, they’ll make exceptions.  

“It really does feel like a larger family company, which is pretty darn amazing,” Christiansen says. “I think there’s always a risk when you bring companies together that you’ll lose the entrepreneurialism, that you’ll lose the family feel, that you’ll lose that connection with the clients. But the way that we’re doing it where all the companies stay intact, we’re not acquiring to cut costs, we’re acquiring to just make everything better.”

Mariani’s national presence will also provide associates the ability to move up and around the country with these different partner companies.

“Employees want the opportunity to move up,” says Bob Marzilli, president of R.P. Marzilli & Company. “This partnership affords them that opportunity. Recently, one of our estimators moved to Colorado and will be able to be an estimator for Designs by Sundown. The Mariani family provides true growth opportunities within the industry, which is something the green industry hasn’t really seen before.”

“We offer premier, residential landscape firms an incredible opportunity,” Christiansen says. “We provide owners with the ability to secure the future of their company, improve employee benefits, expand career opportunities, and offer a tremendous amount of shared resources. For anyone interested in joining us in building the best residential landscape company in the world, we would love to have a conversation.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.