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Seth’s Cut: Looking back and looking ahead

June 18, 2020 -  By
Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

I finally took a moment to look back at what really was a great year. I met a bunch of interesting businesspeople in travels to over two dozen different cities, including three different treks outside America’s borders. For entertainment, I attended some fun concerts, including Kiss in Kansas City and the Smashing Pumpkins in Atlanta. Back home, my weekend ride was my 1964 Chevy Impala, running strong and loud and burning that gasoline.

The year was 2019.

This issue of LM celebrates the success of that year — which right now feels rather distant — with the LM150, our 12th annual list recognizing the top 150 landscape companies in America, ranked by revenue. For the first time the list, sponsored by our friends at Vermeer, eclipses the $12 billion mark.

These last few months have been turbulent. I know that I have been so focused on the present and the future that I haven’t taken much time to think about the past. The LM150 made me, for the first time in a while, think about the recent past. I looked at those numbers with a sense of astonishment and pride. This is indeed a great industry to be in.

The companies we interviewed were all happy to discuss the success they had in 2019, but they also wanted to talk about right now and the steps they are taking to ensure their 2020 is just as great, if not better. I look at the LM150 as both a celebration and an education — celebrating the success of these companies but also trying to learn from them so we can communicate those keys of success to the reader. This year’s LM150 had a greater level of gravitas because of the shake-up that has been going on in America since mid-March.

Profiles of Hittle Landscaping (No. 114), Westfield, Ind., Art by Nature (No. 119), Granite Falls, Wash., and Brilar (No. 129), Detroit, are included in this year’s LM150. These companies are all plenty busy with their day-to-day work and challenges, but took the time to open their doors to us and our readers. I agree with what Scott DeNardin, president of Hittle, told me when he said, “I love this industry … I’ve met a lot of great people, I’m building relationships and learning in order to help Hittle grow. There are so many people in this industry and everyone seems to want to help each other.”

Logo: LM staff

Logo: LM staff

It was good to talk to someone like Scott, a businessperson driven to keep his company growing. Talking about Hittle’s successful 2019 was a reminder to step back and appreciate the good work that has already been done. If you’re like me and have been so focused on the present and the future, take this issue and these stories as a reminder of the good work the industry accomplished last year. We all deserve a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come. Cruise through the photos from 2019 on your phone and make note of the photos that really stand out as a job well done.

And then realize that we’re taking more of those same photos in 2020. As one source recently told me, the grass doesn’t care if there’s a virus or not, it’s still going to grow. Many American cities are witnessing the turmoil of civil unrest right now, but peace will return and it’s our industry that keeps those cities looking beautiful day in and day out, during protests and peace.

2019 was a great year and 2020 has its challenges, but we will chug along. If Gene Simmons and Billy Corgan can still bring it, so can we.

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

This article is tagged with , , , , , and posted in 0620, Editor's Note
Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 19 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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