|The Year in Review – 2011|
Merger and acquisition activity within the green industry was mixed during 2011. Although there were a few major transactions, the larger companies in the industry were mostly on the sidelines in 2011. On the other hand, there were definite signs of life, with many transactions being completed as well as several new private equity investments in the industry.
This article includes publicly announced transactions within the industry.
The largest transaction of the year was the acquisition from ServiceMaster of TruGreen Landcare by Los Angeles-based Aurora Resurgence. On a standalone basis, TruGreen Landcare would rank as the seventh largest company in the lawn and landscape industry and the fifth largest landscape services company. ServiceMaster had previously announced their intention to sell TruGreen Landcare, and the completion of this transaction concluded a period of uncertainty in the industry.
Among other industry leaders, The Brickman Group, Ltd. entered the Los Angeles market with its acquisition of Dworsky Services. Los Angeles was one of the last major markets without a Brickman presence. Brickman did not report any other acquisitions during 2011.
ValleyCrest Landscape Companies did not report any acquisitions in 2011, although they made several large acquisitions late in 2010.
Yellowstone Landscape Group, backed by GridIron Capital, acquired Port St. Lucie, Florida, based Acorn Landscaping through its Austin Outdoor unit, but reported no other acquisitions.
The Davey Tree Expert Company acquired Tree Health Professionals Inc. of Campbell, California; Complete Tree Service of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Osborne Brothers Tree Service of Mentor, Ohio; and Marshall’s Tree Service of Orlando, Fla.
EMCOR Group, Inc. acquired USM Services Holdings, Inc. (“USM”), a leading provider of facilities maintenance solutions in North America. Landscape services are a part of the portfolio of services offered by USM. USM had revenues of approximately $375 million, of which approximately $133 million is landscape services-related.
In addition to the acquisition of TruGreen Landcare by Aurora Resurgence, several other new private equity platforms in the landscape space were initiated in 2011:
L2 Capital of Radnor, Pennsylvania, announced the launch of a commercial landscaping and snow removal platform by acquiring New Jersey-based Lipinski Outdoor Services and Pennsylvania based R.E.I.T./M&H Services.
Birmingham-based McKinney Capital acquired Environmental Landscape of Memphis and indicated it is considering several additional acquisitions.
In a Canadian private equity deal, DDR Landscaping Contractors, Ltd. of Oakville, Ontario, has been acquired by a joint venture of GC-Global Capital Corp. and Rossmore and Partners Investment Corp. DDR is now known as Tanenbaum Landscape & Design.
Among other private equity transactions, Denver-based Terracare Associates, Ltd. has acquired Cimarron Landscape of Sacramento, California. Terracare’s financial partner is Progress Equity Partners, Ltd.
Nashua, New Hampshire, based Lawn Dawg, Inc. acquired Capital Green Lawn Care of Rochester, New York. Lawn Dawg is backed by Brighton Partners.
In another example of a facilities management company adding landscape services, The Millard Group, based in Chicago, acquired Preferred Landscape and Lighting of San Antonio, Texas.
In the New York metro area, Blondie’s Treehouse merged with J. Mendoza Gardens. Blondie’s Treehouse is one of the largest interior plantscapes businesses in the U.S. It also provides exterior landscaping services. J. Mendoza Gardens will continue to operate as a division of Blondie’s Treehouse, focusing on New York City terraces and rooftop gardens.
Also in New York City, Town & Garden, Ltd. was acquired by Connecticut-based Ultimate Services Professional Grounds Management, Inc.
Arrow Environmental Services of Sarasota, Florida, acquired Seminole-based Ultimate Pest & Termite Control and Tampa-based Young Pest Control. Arrow offers lawn, tree and shrub services in addition to pest control.
Bartlett Tree Experts acquired Preservation Tree Care in Beaufort, South Carolina, and Native Son Landscape & Tree Care in Wimberley, Texas.
Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care, of Rochester, New York, has acquired Country Way Garden Center, which will continue to operate under its existing name.
Cantu Enterprises, parent of Express Services of McKinney, Texas, acquired Discount Pest & Lawn, of Carrolton, Texas.
Clark Pest Control of Lodi, California, acquired High Desert Pest Control of Sparks, Nevada, and Smart Pest Control of San Diego, California. Clark provides lawn and garden services in addition to general pest control and termite services.
Houston-based Econocuts acquired Hillview Landscaping.
Orlando-based Massey Services acquired American Pest Control Management. Massey provides pest control and lawncare services throughout Florida, as well as in Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
SavATree, Bedford, New York, expanded its operations into Illinois, merging first with Autumn Tree Experts and then with the similarly-named Save A Tree. SavATree also acquired Town & Country Tree Experts of Midland Park, New Jersey.
Scott Lawn & Landscape, Inc. of Oviada, Florida, acquired Pristine Image Landscaping.
Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care, of Denver, Colorado, acquired Lawn Care Aeration Plus of Greeley.
Among transactions in industries related to lawn and landscape, Horizon Distributors, Inc. (Horizon), a full-service distributor of landscape and irrigation products, expanded into the Florida market with the acquisition of certain assets of the Kilpatrick Companies. Horizon also expanded into the Mid-Atlantic region with the acquisition of Gaithersburg, Maryland-based G.L. Cornell Company.
New Hampshire-based Natural Technologies, Inc. acquired Fire Belly, Inc. and its Fire Belly® Organics, a unique six-step, natural, organic lawn care program.
Hines Growers, LLC sold assets from its Fresno, California; Chino Valley, Arizona; and Fulshear, Texas, nurseries to California-based Colorspot, Inc. Colorspot has growing facilities in California and Texas.
In highlights from SEC reports, ServiceMaster, parent company of TruGreen Lawncare and Terminix, reported expenditures for acquisitions, mostly related to TruGreen and Terminix, of $24.7 million through September 30, 2011, down 53% from the $52.5 million reported for the same period in 2010. ServiceMaster does not typically report individual TruGreen and Terminix acquisitions. ServiceMaster, although a privately-held, private equity- backed company, voluntarily files SEC reports.
Davey Tree, which also files reports with the SEC, reported cash expenditures for acquisitions of $.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 compared with $5.8 million for the same period in the prior year.
In a measure of the level of activity within the industry including transactions that were not publicly reported, the BizBuySell.com database of transactions completed within the lawn and landscape industry includes 89 transactions in 2011, a 27% increase from the 70 completed transactions in the database for 2009.