The Fort Myers News-Press recently ran a feature article on Florida Evergreen. Just below is a link to the article on the News-Press site. I don’t know how long it will stay online so I have pasted the entire article here as well.
Success story: Fort Myers landscaping company goes extra mile to get customers
In 2012, the company grossed about $2.79 million in sales compared to the $2.73 million collected in 2011.
After 26 years in pharmaceuticals, Bruce Ward was ready to run his own company.
He wanted a job where he didn’t have to travel as much and where he could give back to the community. He didn’t mind leaving behind the corporate politics, either.
“Corporate politics isn’t all that much fun,” he said, “and that you can have a very successful business by enjoying each other’s company, by laughing, by taking serious the things that you need to take serious …. It’s a breath of fresh air for me.”
So in 2010, Ward bought Florida Evergreen Landscape & Lawn Care with his wife Suzi and his golfing partner and CPA Dan Buettin. The previous owners had opened the company in 2000.
Florida Evergreen is a full-service landscape and lawn care company. Its services include lawn maintenance, fertilization and pest control, irrigation and landscape. While lawn maintenance is the largest part of its business, Ward said landscape is growing most aggressively. And that isn’t by accident. About a year and a half ago, the company hired a full-time landscape operations manager.
“It’s a good part of the business for us, it really is,” he said. “And it’s neat because you can see the result of your work very quickly.”
In 2012, the company grossed about $2.79 million in sales compared to the $2.73 million collected in 2011, which is a growth of 2 percent year over year.
Ward said this number is a little deceiving because the company dropped some of its unprofitable clients in 2012, many of which were government contracts. The company’s previous owner focused on government contracts while Ward and Buettin are focusing on residential and commercial properties. Florida Evergreen’s gross revenues were about $2.2 million when they acquired the company.
And despite its success, Florida Evergreen faces many obstacles and business pressures. It’s affected by the rising cost of fuel, possible employee growth limitations caused by health care reforms, the higher cost of insurance, and competition from lower-priced lawn companies.
“It’s a challenging business,” he said. “Do we think we’re up for the challenges? Absolutely.”
One way the company overcomes these challenges is by focusing on operational efficiencies. It has meetings to evaluate what the company spends money on, why it spends money there, and if the company is routing properly to save gas.
And it attracts customers through differentiation. Ward said the company stands out by focusing on customer service, employee training and safety, and quality products. It also has extensive licensing in fertilization and pest control, irrigation, and has a certified arborist on staff.
“You’ve got to be able to differentiate yourself,” he said, “so one of the ways you can do it is you’re licensed in every aspect of your business. And we are.”
Jean Del Core, business office manager for Aston Gardens at Pelican Marsh, said Florida Evergreen does the community’s landscaping, garden designs, tree trimming, and weekly maintenance and cutting.
She said the company’s employees are efficient and attentive. Plus, they’re respectful and caring toward the retirement community’s residents.
“They do the job without much commotion,” she said.
Ward said customer referrals are a major part of the company’s growth. Word-of-mouth and networking have really contributed to its success.
“I think one of the huge keys to success in this community is networking and developing relationships within the community, among other business disciplines,” he said.
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