Lawncare pro: Danny Milligan

April 11, 2012 -  By

MilliganCropCl-rev_C2101_R31630Danny Milligan, president of Strathmore Landscape, is proud of the company’s latest environmental initiative.

“We cannot change from gas-powered trucks completely, but we are moving in the direction of sustainability one step at a time.”

Milligan, along with daughter Jessica and son Gordon, talked a little bit about how the industry has changed over the years and how business is different in America’s northern neighbor.

How did you get into the industry? Danny’s father Elmer did landscaping when Danny was a child. Danny helped him. Elmer opened a garden center and Danny started taking planting jobs for garden center customers when he was 17. Gordon joined the company while he was still in high school and Jessica started in 2004.

What makes your company unique? Our clients don’t simply need a contractor; they need us to be their eyes and ears for their building’s exterior appearance. We offer them proactive, professional management.

Tell us about your electric vehicle. Strathmore launched Quebec’s only zero-emissions landscape maintenance team in April 2011. This team of skilled horticultural technicians drive Québec’s first privately owned Goupil electric vehicle. This compact truck can operate for a full week on a single electrical charge. The zero-emissions team does not use gas-powered tools. Their work is done by hand or with professional-grade battery-powered tools. All green waste is composted and used to enrich acres of local topsoil.

Do you have challenges in Canada that your American counterparts don’t face? Herbicide restrictions in the past five years. We’ve adapted our systems and processes to focus more on total lawn health, preventative rather than reactive treatments.

Can you describe your market and your customers? Urban commercial properties and suburban shopping/lifestyle centers. We work with property managers who are focused on balancing their budgets while maintaining an excellent exterior image.

To what do you attribute your 100% retention rate in 2010? We don’t wait for customers to tell us there’s a problem. We partner with the customer and propose upgrades and improvements, establish long-term plans and budgets and participate actively in the success of their building.

What is your strategy for growth? We focus on what we can be the best at. Any new growth has to be in line with our budget and has to be done systematically. Instituting standardized work practices has allowed us to grow quickly and profitably with very little stress.

What’s the best part of your job?
DM: Touring jobs after the flowers are planted.
GM: Being outside.
JM: Seeing our employees succeed at work and in life.

What is the most significant moment in your business career? Writing our value statement together with the employees and then turning it into a living document that guides our daily decisions and practices.

At a Glance

Name: Danny, Gordon, Jessica Milligan
Company: Strathmore Landscape
Year founded: 1960s
Years in the industry: 40-plus
Industry Involvement: Members of ASHOQ (Quebec Ornamental Horticulture Association) and CNLA Certification Committee
Education: Very little formal education. Lots of learning at industry conferences and seminars
Hobbies: DM: Reading, walking; JM and GM: Crossfit; All 3: Family vacations
Family: Danny is married to Cathy, and together they have 6 children. They also have one granddaughter, Jessica’s daughter, Mia.
Website: pslc.ca/

About the Author:

Jacobs is a former editor-in-chief of Landscape Management.

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