Heart of Texas Landscape & Irrigation in Belton, TX, has been built on maintenance. To continue growing, though, the company has focused on becoming a one-stop shop for landscaping services, positioning itself as a leader in not only commercial maintenance, but also outdoor living spaces and responsible irrigation.
“Maintenance has been our bread and butter, and is vital in the off season,” says the second-generation vice president and chief operating officer of the company, Ben Pamplin. “We have now become more customized in our services to allow customers to schedule according to their budgets.”
Founded in 1989 as a maintenance company, Heart of Texas added irrigation and landscape installation divisions in 2001, helping complete the full circle of services for its predominantly commercial clientele. More recently, the company has added “staycations” to its offering. “These outdoor living areas are taking the place of vacations for some consumers,” says Pamplin’s wife Leah, who serves as human resources manager.
Relationships fuel growth
Other family members also work in the business. Brother Tony Gallagher is president and CEO, focusing on the strategic direction of the company. Parents Doug and Carol Rowald are the owners. Doug acts as chief financial officer while Carol spearheads public relations and networking. Networking has been an important part of the company’s business development for years.
Heart of Texas is a member of several local chambers of commerce, an area homebuilder association, and numerous local and statewide apartment associations. In addition, the company is a member of the Better Business Bureau, the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association, the Irrigation Association, the Texas Turfgrass Association, and the Native Plant Society of Texas.
Alongside networking and developing relationships with clients, Pamplin says the “educational factor” is what has made Heart of Texas a successful landscaping company. “When we meet a client for the first time, we make sure they realize that we are not just trying to sell them something. We want them to understand why we do things the way we do. The idea is to create a relationship with that person. The sale may not happen then and there, but it will eventually. People want to do business with people they know and trust, especially these days. People are more frugal than they have been in the past, regardless of their social or economic status.”
For most contractors, including Heart of Texas, client relationships have been tested over the course of the past two years, especially in the cutthroat commercial maintenance business. Customizing services and presenting customers with more options has helped nurture existing relationships and retain accounts.
“Before the economy tanked, we wanted to keep everything pretty consistent,” Pamplin tells. “When you start customizing trip counts, scheduling becomes a lot more difficult and there’s a lot more opportunity for things to slip through the cracks. But over the past two years, customizing has become necessary as the majority of our clients have had to cut their budgets back. We either had to fall in line or get left behind.”
Now Heart of Texas submits a proposal with recommendations based on what the client is looking for. “If they’re looking for that wow factor, we’re going to push full service with weekly visits. If they’re a smaller commercial property that just wants to make sure the city stays off of their back, we’ll keep it simple. You have to make adjustments in today’s market or a competitor is going to come in and clean it up.”
Clients are now allowed to select the number of times Heart of Texas services their property each month. The actual tasks the maintenance crew performs also varies from one client to the next.