Prior to founding Landscape Maintenance Professionals (LMP), Orlando Castillo Jr., says he was working part-time for a friend who owned a landscape company—and valet parking cars in the evening. But he had developed an entrepreneurial spirit from his father and decided he could launch his own company. In the “early days,” Castillo says the company consisted of himself and one employee using one truck to provide services in the residential market. Meanwhile, his wife, Michelle, ran all aspects of the business office. Today, however, LMP has over 250 employees and focuses on commercial work.
NALP recently talked to Castillo to find out more.
Company Name: Landscape Maintenance Professionals Inc. (DBA LMP and LMP Inc.)
Company Headquarters: Tampa, Florida
Revenue: $19 million
Year Founded: 1991
Client Mix: 80% commercial; 10% industrial; 10% retail/other
Service Mix: 75% maintenance; 24% design/build
Business Motto: Call us today for a greener tomorrow!
What is your proudest moment in business?
There are many things I am proud of about LMP but the greatest joy comes from the knowledge that the continued growth of the organization provides more employment opportunities for individuals and a sense of security and well-being for their family members.
What is your biggest business challenge?
Like most owners in the landscaping industry I would have to say finding employees who understand the amount of labor required to maintain landscape materials—and want to have the opportunity to grow in the company by developing their skills and knowledge—is the biggest challenge. This concern also involves identifying key management professionals who are willing to commit themselves to the industry until they are ready for retirement.
What business worry keeps you up at night?
The nature of the landscaping industry, including the tools we use and the terrain we maintain, offers many opportunities for an individual to sustain an injury. I concern myself with the safety of the employees who work for LMP, and it is the commitment to their physical well-being that can cause some sleepless nights.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
I am motivated knowing that I am going to spend the day visiting job sites to perform quality assurance inspections. Having the opportunity to see the products our team produces and spending time with them in the field to talk about the property and the product is exciting. I get to share with these men and women the experience and knowledge I learned over the years, and I have the opportunity to learn from them when we are in the field together.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
My father, Orlando Castillo Sr. He was the epitome of an entrepreneur typically holding up to three jobs and running his own businesses when I was young. He taught me the value of a dollar, to never settle for less and to continue to strive to do more in order to provide a better life for my family when I grew older. He also taught me to work hard for my goals; I can accomplish anything but it is not going to be handed to me. If I wanted money, it was never handed to me; I had to earn it by mowing the lawn or washing cars.
What is your favorite business book?
LMP has become a learning organization over the past several seasons giving me the opportunity to read the same great leadership books the teams are reading. A few that have held my attention include “Five Languages of Appreciation,” “Fierce Conversations,” and “The 360° Leader.” But my favorite—and that of the team’s—is “Growing Dreams.” We understood and appreciated the idea of making your dream a reality, and managing the ups and downs of a landscaping business so much that we asked the author’s permission to translate the book into Spanish to use throughout the company. We recently submitted the translation to the author and are hopeful and excited about the possibility of it going into print for the public.
What does it mean to you to be a “landscape professional?”
Outside of my family—my wife and beautiful twin daughters—becoming a landscape professional is my greatest accomplishment and I embrace it with pride and satisfaction. I have worked hard in the field educating myself in the trenches. There were many, many years I personally labored learning all aspects of exterior grounds services from mowing, weeding and edging to insect/disease control to irrigation. I had no choice but to learn all aspects. It was my name on the door and my reputation on the line. Prior to the advent of technology, I would carry books around in my truck to help me diagnose issues I would come across. And when I could, I would attend horticulture classes at night to earn the right and privilege to call myself a professional.
What does it mean to you to be an NALP member?
It means that my teams and the teams of every landscaping organization across the country are recognized for their involvement in a stable, growing and professional industry. I believe that every day is an opportunity to learn something new in the green industry and being a part of NALP provides me and my team with access to a wealth of knowledge and information that we can use to better the company and ourselves.
Where do you see your business in five years? Where will you be?
I will still be involved in some capacity. I just love what I do and I love being involved with the employees and the clients. The business will continue to grow in not only revenue but brand recognition providing the opportunity for us to develop and promote the individuals who work for the company. Our commitment to our teams is that they have career opportunities with us from hire to retire. I believe this enables us to consistently promote our message of not being an average provider. We always instill in our teams the importance of relationships with each other and our clients, and our commitment to providing only the finest of quality service in the industry. Both of these are the key to be successful and sustainable.