2023 LM 150: Genesis is creating something big in the desert

July 7, 2023 -  By
Homeowners associations make up most of the business for Genesis Landscape Solutions, setting the baseline for what it looks for in an acquisition. (Photo: Genesis Landscape Solutions)

Homeowners associations make up most of the business for Genesis Landscape Solutions, setting the baseline for what it looks for in an acquisition. (Photo: Genesis Landscape Solutions)

As Genesis Landscape Solutions in Mesa, Ariz., enters its second decade of existence, big changes are on the way. The company, which makes its LM150 debut in 2023 at No. 124, has a fresh face in its leadership team and a new strategy for growth.

At the helm of the company are President and COO Warren Wheat, and CEO Joe Calland, who joined the company a year ago. The duo brings a lot to the table with quite different life experiences before joining forces at Genesis.

Calland holds an MBA from The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and proudly earned a perfect SAT score. Wheat was an eighth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1989 out of Brigham Young University and earned seven starts in a multi-year NFL career with the Rams and the Seattle Seahawks.

“We lead with that, not the test score,” Calland jokes when Wheat brings up his football career.

Whatever you lead with, the facts are the duo helped grow Genesis with an acquisition strategy that looks to integrate companies under one banner, while allowing them to continue their own growth.

The strategy has paid off as Genesis slots in at No. 124 in the LM150 ranking with a revenue of $22,509,446, and 11 percent growth from 2021 to 2022.

Moving and shaking

Joe Calland

Joe Calland

A relatively young company — Wheat founded the Arizona-based operation in 2012 —  Genesis is already making some significant moves. Over the last few years, the company has made several acquisitions of fellow Grand Canyon State businesses — Desert Care Landscape Resources and Botanicare Landscape Management — in a bid to expand its footprint in the area.

“We’re looking to make Genesis a platform for investments where we see a strong opportunity,” says Calland. “When you add these companies, you also add the people and the relationships they have with their customers. And then, in a distant third, in our eyes, is the equipment and the facility.”

Genesis serves a 90-percent commercial clientele, with most of that being homeowner’s associations, according to Calland. As a part of their growth strategy, he adds, it’s crucial to find companies that not only share similar values but a client base that Genesis can add — and get — value from.

“One of the things we look for in a business investment is the customer relationship and is that something that fits into our strategy?” he says. “We don’t want to invest in a business that doesn’t align with what we’re good at. So, we view it as wanting to know what we’re getting from a customer service perspective and seeing a clear way to maintain or even improve it.”

Collaborative effort

The investments Genesis made in its acquisitions go far beyond adding the business to its brand, Wheat says.

“Philosophically, (Joe and I are) both the type of person where, if our new acquisition has an idea on how we can make our processes better, we want to hear it,” he adds.

Genesis also brings its expertise to the table, Calland says, citing the addition of new tree mapping software to its newest acquisition. Calland and Wheat also see value in their company’s leadership structure and its ability to modernize and professionalize these new additions to their brand.

“We look at companies that might not have that structure, but that have people who could fit into those higher-level roles,” says Calland. “When we do find those gems, we sell them on adding our processes while continuing to do what they’ve always done. We do everything we can to close the deal while keeping all of their people in place because we see that generating consistent and great results.”

What it’s like to work at Genesis Landscape Solutions

Warren Wheat

Warren Wheat

What does it mean to be a destination company? That’s what Genesis Landscape Solutions’ COO and President Warren Wheat and CEO Joe Calland are constantly searching for.

“There are a ton of landscape jobs in Arizona and in this market,” says Warren Wheat, COO and president of Genesis Landscape Solutions. “We have to find out what can we do to make our experience different for someone who comes in to work here.

So far, according to Calland, there have been some pretty obvious buttons you’ve got to press.

“It’s about knowing that you’re cared about,” he says. “Whether that’s through being given the opportunity to advance, or just being treated well. It’s a whole number of things that spreads through the company and then through the industry, where we hope our employees will tell their friends that Genesis is a great place to work.”

A delicate balance

Alongside acquisitions inevitably comes change. As part of its acquisition strategy, Genesis makes it clear to the businesses it invests in that its intention is not to bury the existing culture of the company. Instead, Calland says, the message focuses on how collaboration can create the most scalable business possible.

“There is a lot of pride in these companies, and that’s why they’re such good investments,” he adds. “What we try to do is build a consensus and say to them, ‘We’ve invested in this company because of the work you’ve done.’”

Calland is a new recruit to the green industry. Both before and after his graduation from Wharton, he worked in the consulting world most recently at Boston Consulting Group, where he worked with a company to fix issues before moving on to another to do the same.

That, he says, has set a solid baseline for his work at Genesis in integrating companies into the brand.

“The last thing we want to do is come in on day one and change what has been a winning formula for them,” he says. “Our approach starts with finding out what the business might struggle with. What are the pain points they see on a day-to-day basis?”

Identifying those pain points takes time and communication between the existing Genesis leadership and the new acquisition, Calland says.

“It starts with an introduction period where you say, let’s talk about what you think is going well and what isn’t, and then let’s adjust accordingly,” he says. “That gives us a pretty good sense of what those things are going be that you need to change versus the ones that are good processes that should stay.”

What’s next?

Up to its most current acquisition, Genesis melded companies it adds into its Genesis Landscape Solutions platform. Calland says he sees value in having one name, specifically when operating in a single market.

That could change in the future, however, if and when, Genesis expands beyond Arizona.

“Our goal is to continue our growth in the Phoenix area and get to a hundred-plus million in revenue,” says Calland. “Then, potentially, looking at repeating this process in another market where we see a similar opportunity.”

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To view the complete list, breakdowns and company profiles, check out a PDF version here.

Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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