How do you more than double sales in a recession? Well … you can buy out a competitor, expand into other geographic markets, and you can make Laura McMurray your president and CEO.
That’s what Peter Salmeron, founder of Complete Landscaping Systems based in Wichita, KS, did one year ago. Since that time, sales have jumped from $9.3 million to an estimated $26 million this year. In fact, when McMurray joined Complete Landscaping as sales manager in 2006, sales were merely hovering around the million-dollar mark.
McMurray has indeed done a superb job since her arrival. But tremendous growth like Complete Landscaping Systems has achieved is a result of several things.
Factors Driving Sales Growth
Owner’s Vision. Complete Landscaping Systems began 27 years ago as a one man/one mower operation that was determined to build upon the dream of its founder. “My vision focused on delivering trademark service at a fair market price,” Salmeron relates.
Early on, consistency and unwavering support of customers created new opportunities for the company. Large accounts began asking for bids, while expansions into lawn care and installation sparked additional sales growth.
“Like any developing company, we did experience our share of pitfalls,” Salmeron points out. “In fact, we almost lost the business in 2004 due to financial stress. However, we continued to evolve through sustained client satisfaction, perseverance and confidence.”
Employees Who Care. A cornerstone of Salmeron’s vision early on was to hire true practitioners of their craft who could embody the concept of “trademark service”. To that end, Salmeron says, “It’s vital that our employees have a personal stake in the success of our company. That belief serves as the foundation of the career development programs and incentive programs we employ.”
One of the programs Salmeron and McMurray are most proud of is the CLS Employee Scholarship fund established to award the scholastic achievements of the staff’s children.
Market Expansion. Growing like Complete Landscaping Systems has typically requires some aggressive expansion into new market areas. Today the company services properties in 15 states. More than 90% of revenue comes from commercial accounts.
“We’d been presented with several opportunities to work for various national accounts,” Salmeron says. “Doors were opened after we’d proved that we could perform the work in an expedient way, offering cost-saving options and opportunities for clients.”
Complete Landscaping’s national client roster include hotels, restaurants and banks. Salmeron spearheaded the relationship-building effort. “I found the names of the people in charge, and we started growing city by city and state by state,” he says.
The Wichita-based company now has additional branches in Chicago, Des Moines (Iowa), Detroit and New Jersey. Salmeron and McMurray rely heavily on their very capable regional managers. “Having been in business nearly 30 years, we’ve met a lot of talented people in the industry from all over the country, especially at events such as GIC,” Salmeron adds.
Acquisition. Complete Landscaping Systems has also grown by acquiring other local landscape firms, allowing the company to quickly grow both customer base and service offering. A large part of the sales growth this year has resulted from an acquisition that’s allowed Complete Landscaping Systems to double its sales in the Wichita market.
While Salmeron, McMurray and the rest of the Complete Landscaping Systems management team have been focused on growth opportunities for the past few years, they’ve definitely found time for other high-priority initiatives, namely sustainability.
McMurray says her company takes pride in being one of only five property management firms servicing a LEED Gold facility. Complete Landscaping Systems has also been accepted into OSHA’s corporate pilot program to help align new industry safety standards with sustainability goals.