Equip Exposition education: The Holy Grail of scalability

Graphic: Equip Expo
Graphic: Equip Expo

What does it take for a company to keep its momentum during a growth period?

That’s what Ken Thomas and Ben Gandy sought to answer during the Landscape Management education session “Scaling for Success: Strategies for Growing Your Landscaping Business” at the 2023 Equip Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

“We come to conferences like this and we’re looking for the silver bullet. We’re all searching for the Holy Grail of scalability,” Thomas told attendees. “So as Ben and I have pursued that, we’ve found that there’s a predictable growth pattern for businesses.”

The growth pattern steps are:

  • Growth mode.
  • Adolescence.
  • Maturity.


The growth phase of your business will move quickly, according to Thomas and Gandy. After a while, you’ll need to start scaling your business to increased demand, opening you up to potential pitfalls.

“When you start your business, there’s only so much gas that one person can produce. As you prove yourself, you start handing off those duties to other people,” said Thomas. “There might not be a real process, which works okay at first. But then you get better and (experience) more revenue, volume and more problems.”

At that point, it’s time to stop, collect yourself and then start to build systems, processes and accountabilities.


In a company’s adolescence, owners will face plenty of challenges, including problems with cash flow, profitability and personal issues that arise as a result of the rapid growth. Once that growth slows and your business starts to level out, moving past the adolescent phase can be difficult according to Thomas and Gandy.

“We’ve worked with businesses that have been stuck in an adolescent phase for 20 years,” Gandy said. “Not understanding how to advance your business is something we can all relate to. We’ve all been there and know what that feels like.”

Gandy told attendees their business doesn’t have to be stuck in its adolescence for decades. Overcoming adolescence comes down to how quickly and efficiently they face growth issues head-on.

“In business, you can’t just wait to mature with the passage of time. You have to make businesses grow up,” he said. “It takes the attention of owners, leaders and managers to get businesses to grow to that next stage.”

Breaking through

Reaching what Gandy and Thomas refer to as maturity is the end goal for any landscaping business.

What does it take to get to that stage? It starts with discipline and perseverance, Thomas said.

“You have to take the time out away from (your busy schedule) to write your SOPs, train your team, make people comply, police it and then stick to it,” Thomas told attendees. “It’s (the reason why) people fail their diets or their exercise programs; it takes discipline and perseverance. It takes courage to make big changes to the processes in your business.”

Help us create more classes for Equip 2024!

Landscape Management returns this year as the official magazine partner of Equip Expo. We will again be offering a full slate of classes for attendees. Do you have a great idea for a session you wish you could attend if only someone would offer it? Now is your chance — send your ideas for consideration for future Equip Expo educational seminars to LM Editor-in-Chief Seth Jones at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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Rob DiFranco

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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