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Seth’s Cut: Talking shop in the luxury suite

May 20, 2022 -  By
Seth Jones

Seth Jones

My yard was mowed, string-trimmed and blown off. The garden was watered. My well-deserved lazy Saturday afternoon was about to begin. I turned on DirecTV in my garage, sat down and put it on ESPN.

What do you know? It was the University of Southern California’s spring football scrimmage broadcast nationwide.

Normally, this would get a quick flip — Pac-12 football means very little to me, especially in the form of a scrimmage. But this time, I sat there and soaked it in. Because not even 24 hours earlier, that venue — the historic L.A. Coliseum, host site of the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics and Super Bowl I and VII — served as my office for the better part of a week.

Software company ServiceTitan invited me to attend their annual conference, known as Pantheon. I was there with six other journalists and 2,200 ServiceTitan software users. ServiceTitan is well known in the HVAC, plumbing and pest control industries but recently has made headlines in our industry when it acquired Aspire Software and FieldRoutes.

Ara Mahdessian, ServiceTitan CEO and co-founder, kicked off the event with a welcome to the crowd and some bold statistics. According to Mahdessian, ServiceTitan completed work in 95 percent of the zip codes in America last year. That accounted for 30 million jobs and generated $25 billion in revenue. “The trades are elevating to new heights, and there are favorable trade winds,” Mahdessian told the crowd. “The trades may not rank high on the glamour scale, but they rank high on necessity.”

I don’t know, from my sunny seat in the L.A. Coliseum and with a concert from Brad Paisley and a keynote speech from Magic Johnson still on the agenda, it felt pretty glamorous.

Appropriately, it was in the luxury suites at the Coliseum that I got a chance to discuss our industry with Vahe Kuzoyan, president of ServiceTitan.

I asked Kuzoyan to generalize his feelings on the landscape and lawn care industry. He told me he sees it as a massive industry with a lot of potential to create a better way of doing things. He also added that ServiceTitan made a “big bet” on Aspire because they saw it as the best-in-class player in the space. I asked how he foresaw ServiceTitan and Aspire coming together, and he told me there is a three-phase plan in the works.

“Phase one is do nothing. We bought Aspire because they’re awesome; we don’t intend on changing anything in the short term,” Kuzoyan said. “Phase two is, we have a suite of products and capabilities that Aspire doesn’t have — a big chunk of our pro products. Phase two is to make those products available to Aspire customers. Phase three is a more complete integration; we want Aspire to carve up their pieces of the puzzle and start mixing and matching. Things like intelligence, data products and everything else will all become unlocked to Aspire. We want to take all the investments we make into ServiceTitan, and eventually, flow it into our Aspire customers.”

Illustration: Peter Krause and Chris Sotomayor

Illustration: Peter Krause and Chris Sotomayor

Kuzoyan said this vision is not meant to be short-term, but a multi-year journey that creates access to all the technology they’ve been building for ServiceTitan, Aspire, FieldRoutes and “anyone else who joins the family.”

From there, we started discussing how artificial intelligence could create waves in the industry. We went from discussing lawn care and landscape to predicting the future. And it’s already got me imagining what our next comic book-themed cover might look like.

Speaking of our comic book-themed cover, a shout-out to the team that created this month’s “supercharged” illustration. As a longtime comic book fan myself, it was fun to work with illustrator Peter Krause and colorist Chris Sotomayor. Krause has penciled Power of Shazam! for DC Comics and Irredeemable for Boom Studios. Sotomayor’s colors have appeared in popular Marvel comic titles like Captain America, Avengers and The Incredible Hulk. And now, they add Landscape Management to their super-powered credits.

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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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