‘Partners’ inspire growth, goodwill

September 4, 2014 -  By

A Texas company’s focus on partnerships inspires growth and goodwill in the communities it serves.

(From left) David Minor, president, and Rick Onstott, CEO, opened Fort Worth-based The Landscape Partners in 2003.

(From left) David Minor, CEO, and Rick Onstott, president, opened Fort Worth-based The Landscape Partners in 2003.

To Rick Onstott, president of The Landscape Partners, a company is a lot like a three-legged stool. “If one of the three legs is broken, the stool will fall down,” he says.

It’s that mentality that inspires The Landscape Partners’ mission to deliver great quality, great service and great value to all of its customers. As stated prominently on the Fort Worth, Texas-based company’s website, The Landscape Partners ultimately aims to leave the world a little bit better than it found it by maintaining beautiful landscapes and supporting those in the areas it serves.

The company’s name has an underlying meaning that defines the way it strives to operate. By being more than just a service provider, The Landscape Partners can make a bigger impact in the lives of its customers and their communities.

“We wanted to have a partnership that went beyond the legal definition of ‘partnership’ with our customers, suppliers and with the people in the communities in which we do business,” says CEO David Minor. “For us, that is the formula for success.”

The Landscape Partners opened its doors in fall 2003. Started by Onstott, Minor and two other founders who since have left the company, the group touted a combined 75 years of landscape industry experience. The $8 million company has branches in Dallas and Oklahoma City, and offers landscape management services to a nearly 100-percent commercial clientele. While a few acquisitions have helped bolster its growth, overall the business has grown organically. Onstott believes staying true to the company’s mission and valuing its partnerships have played big roles in its success over the years.

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Images from: The Landscape Partners

“Most significantly, what’s contributed to our growth has been establishing a game plan from the very beginning, monitoring and adjusting that plan, and continuing to move forward,” he says.

This drive helped The Landscape Partners garner the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award in 2013. The Landscape Partners won in the category of businesses with 50 to 150 employees and was selected from 94 nominees and 38 applicants. Each finalist was judged in several areas—including business growth and performance, customer service strategies and community involvement—by a panel of Fort Worth business owners and top entrepreneurial students from a local business school.

The Landscape Partners has incorporated the accolade into its marketing materials and promotes it in public relations scenarios.

While Onstott says his company was fortunate to win and it was an honor to be chosen for the award by its peers, he also views the recognition as a testament to the company’s hard work and solid values.

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Images from: The Landscape Partners

“Internally, we always thought we had a great company, but the award validated for us that people beyond our four walls see it as we do,” he says. “What it says to me is we’re credible.”

The Landscape Partners’ community involvement is just as notable as its small business prowess. In 2012, the company introduced its TLP Gives Back program, a key aspect of its overall company rebranding strategy. Through TLP Gives Back, the company donates $100 to a nonprofit whenever a prospective client requests a commercial landscape maintenance proposal. After a potential client reaches out, a company representative visits the property to discuss the client’s needs, then schedules a follow-up visit to review the proposal.

The Landscape Partners leaves clients with a form listing 195 nonprofits they can give to, along with an envelope addressed to the United Way. Once the United Way receives the form, it sends the donation to the designated nonprofit and an invoice to The Landscape Partners. Even better for prospects, the company makes the donation regardless of whether a customer accepts the proposal or not.

“When you start building a business and you’re blowing and going and putting out fires, sometimes you don’t focus on your branding,” Minor says. “We thought, ‘What can we do to send a message that this is what we’re all about?’”

Since the program’s inception, The Landscape Partners has donated more than $34,000 to nonprofit organizations. While the company views the initiative as being successful, it has come with challenges. Minor says a surprising number of customers don’t follow through with selecting a nonprofit and sending the form to United Way. The Landscape Partners had to implement a callback process to remind customers to fulfill their part of the deal. If customers don’t act by the end of the year, The Landscape Partners chooses the organization and makes the donation in their honor.

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Images from: The Landscape Partners

Minor says the firm also is considering assembling a committee of employees who will decide where to send the donations that are unaccounted for.

“This idea was conceived as a way to give back to the community, while at the same time hopefully creating more bid opportunities,” Minor says. “We do it in part because we want to generate business, but the more business we generate, the more we can give back.”

TLP Gives Back isn’t the company’s only philanthropic effort. The Landscape Partners is one of eleven platinum ambassadors of the Professional Landcare Network Academic Excellence Foundation, pledging $50,000 to the fund that supports efforts to recruit professionals into the landscape industry and grants scholarships to students in landscape-related programs. The Landscape Partners also is generous with local efforts, such as recent fundraising events at a children’s hospital.

While the company’s future looks bright, Onstott and Minor realize challenges are on the horizon. The Affordable Care Act is one issue raising some questions about employee compensation that they simply don’t have the answers to just yet. The ongoing battle with immigration reform and the H-2B guest-worker visa program is another situation that could impact the company’s staffing model. But, as Minor’s father used to say, nothing good comes easily, so The Landscape Partners will continue to move forward, striving to reach its goals.

“Problems are opportunities in disguise, and the strong—whether in the landscape industry or any industry—will survive,” Minor says. “At the end of the day, everything we do is focused on our mission. That is what really drives us.”

Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.

 

Images from: The Landscape Partners

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

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