Happy new year! It’s the middle of winter here at LawnAmerica, and spring is coming soon, so my first blog post of the season. Pretty boring stuff really as it pertains to lawns and landcapes now, as it’s too cold to do much of anything outside. We’re getting ready to begins treating lawns here in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, with our early spring pre-emergent going down between now and late March. So our new lawn care trucks are purchased, the existing ones are cleaned up and tuned-up, and out on the road for this first production day in early Spring.
The big news in our lawn care industry has been the pending sale of Scott’s lawn care to Trugreen. Both are large national companies, who have struggled in some ways during some of the past few years to really grow much organically. So the investors at Trugreen I guess figure that by purchasing the #2 company in our industry, they’ll be able to grow more, enjoy some synergies (in other words lay off many of the Scott’s managers), and make their company look better on paper. That’s really what it’s all about, as their end goal most believe is to dress up the company, make it look good on paper, and take it public.
My take on public companies in our lawn care industry is that decisions are often made solely for the benefit of shareholders, and not Mrs. Smith, the lady on 69th st. that just wants good service and a nice-looking green lawn. It becomes more of what’s best for the bottom line or for the balance sheet, rather that what’s best for employees and customers. I know quite a few people in our industry, after being a part of it for 32 years now. Heck, I sold my first business, green-up!, to Trugreen way back in 1993. So I know a little bit about them. I’ve competed against them here in Tulsa and now Oklahoma City, and I know the local manager here in Tulsa. Most of the folks I speak with in the industry see potential problems with these two large companies merging, especially under the Trugreen brand, and feel that it’s going to be a great opportunity for smaller and mid-size local companies, like LawnAmerica. And I can’t wait.
So we’ll see what happens. The local guys such as myself anticipate quite a few Scott’s customers bailing once they find out that Trugreen is going to be their new lawn care company. I think some of that depends upon the local market. I can tell you that Trugreen does not have a good reputation in our industry, or in the consumer marketplace. We usually view Trugreen as “Darth Vadar”, and us local guys as Hans Solo (wait a minute….Hans Solo got killed in the latest episode…yikes!) I’d never sell to them again, I know that, as I would not want to put my employees and customers in that situation of working for or being a customer of this large, and soon to be public company. Big corporate lawncare is just a different deal, compared to locally-owned and operated companies in most cases.
I do know we’re excited at LawnAmerica about getting starting in 2016. We have a great group or almost 60 motivated team members, mainly in Oklahoma, but now with 3 in North Carolina also. We’re ready to pick up some of those Scott’s and Trugreen customers who are not being served well, because I know that LawnAmerica will take care of them well! In fact, a few years ago I did a survey of our active customers, and over 33% of them had used Trugreen in the past, switched to us, and were very satisfied. So I think this sale of Trugreen to Scott’s will end up being a good deal for the local guys such as LawnAmerica, and will be good for those customers who come over us, because I’m confident we’ll give them service and a lawn that they will love. And we’re looking forward to making a positive impact in the families of our team members, the lives of our customers, and in the communities we serve in.