The Evolution of Landscape Contractors and Their Equipment Dealers

Results from fall Green Industry Pros magazine reader survey

Landscape contractors and equipment dealers continue to mature, evolve and change with the times. In general, contractors are more business-savvy with a better understanding of how to compete and remain profitable. The same can be said for equipment dealers.

For contractors, a prevalent theme has been branching into new services. According to an October survey of Green Industry Pros readers:

  • 64% offer hardscaping and 8% would like to add next year. Of those already offering, 53% say business is growing.
  • 50% install water features and 8% would like to add. 16% say business is growing.
  • 48% provide outdoor lighting and 10% would like to add. 48% say business is growing.
  • 21% provide holiday decorating and 4% would like to add. 43% say business is growing.
  • 56% provide tree care and 5% would like to add. 46% say business is growing.
  • 80% provide aerating and 4% would like to add. 45% say business is growing.
  • 23% provide hydroseeding and 3% would like to add. 26% say business is growing.
  • 48% provide pest control and 4% would like to add. 51% say business is growing.
  • 51% provide snow removal and 1% would like to add. More probably would but they're outside of the snowbelt. Of those already offering snow removal, 47% say business is growing.

To accommodate their landscape customers' growing need for different types of products and equipment, many of today's equipment dealers offer everything from mowers and trimmers to skid steers and tractors to fertilizer and hardscaping supplies.

Also with respect to the equipment dealer network, there is a changing of the guard underway, so to speak. Many dealers are nearing retirement age. The industry is seeing more second- and third-generation ownership transitions, among other types of business succession.

According to the survey results, a third of dealers expect to be under new ownership within the next five years. New owners could include a family member, an existing employee, another dealer, or even someone from outside of the business.

Roughly 12% of dealers think they'll simply close up shop and retire within the next five years.

Just 1% said they plan on trying to open a second store.

Half of dealers said they will become more profitable over the next five years.