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2020 Industry Pulse: Despite the news, an amazing year

December 14, 2020 -  By , , and
Outdoor DBI project (Photo: Jeff Robinson Photography)

2020 saw a major uptick in homeowners wanting to update and beautify their outdoor spaces. (Photo: Jeff Robinson Photography)

Despite the news, an amazing year

Despite bad news on TV, it was good news outdoors for the lawn care and landscape industry

By Seth Jones | LM Editor-in-Chief

The final days of 2020 are here, giving us a chance to take a moment to reflect on what was a difficult — and yet positive — year.

Social unrest, record-setting wildfires and hurricanes and a contentious presidential election weren’t enough for 2020. Throw in a global pandemic for good measure.

But, the results of the 2020 LM Industry Pulse survey, sponsored by Cub Cadet, show an industry thrilled with the season that was, despite all the bad news and the challenges of doing business. While the nightly news showed a nation in turmoil, the daytime reality for companies in the lawn care and landscape business was they were busier than ever, with the nation more appreciative and in need of their expertise than ever before.

Business outlook graph (Graphic: LM Staff)

Graphic: LM Staff

According to respondents of the 2020 LM Industry Pulse survey, 31 percent say their local market was up significantly, with another 39 percent reporting it was slightly up. Only 16 percent report their market was down, and 14 percent say they were flat. Optimism for 2021 is also high; 46 percent are somewhat optimistic, and 36 percent are very optimistic, while only 7 percent say they are pessimistic. Eleven percent say they are uncertain.

“Honestly, it was amazing; we had a good year overall,” says Jeremy Elliott, owner of myLawn! Turf & Tree in Great Bend, Kan. “There was the stress and the unknown in the early spring, not knowing how the whole COVID situation was going to pan out, but overall, as the season progressed, it was awesome — everything, from our clients to our team. I expected things to be worse, especially with my team missing work or the fear of coming to work, but there was none of that. 2020, believe it or not, was pretty amazing.”

Andrew Gabries, owner of Go Green in West Chester, Pa., says the difficulties of 2020 made homeowners care more for their outdoor spaces than ever before.

Pandemic graph (Graphic: LM Staff)

Graphic: LM Staff

“We did not lose as much work as we thought we would, when everyone said the world was going to end, and we were all going to die,” Gabries says. “The year turned out better than we thought. It was a horrible winter with no snow in the Northeast and a scary spring with the COVID (pandemic), but it all turned out better than we expected. It was a good year overall.”

One respondent sums up his feelings of optimism mixed with pessimism based on the uncertainty of having enough labor to satisfy the workload. The respondent writes, “Business has significantly picked up since September, and now we have a shortage of manpower with more work than ever. We could be doing double the work if we had the employees to do it.”

Profits graphs (Graphic: LM Staff)

Graphic: LM Staff

Elliott says he’s highly optimistic for 2021 based on what he saw in 2020.

“God willing, it will be another 20 to 30 percent growth (in 2021),” he says. “That’s what we’re expecting. I really think next year, we’ll have a better handle on the way COVID is. I know what it would look like in a perfect world, but that’s not what we’re dealing with.”

Industry Pulse graphs (Graphic: LM Staff)

Graphic: LM Staff

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