Embracing the Future of Greener Landscaping Equipment

In the bustling world of commercial landscaping, where efficiency and eco-friendliness are becoming paramount, the shift towards battery-powered equipment is gaining significant traction. And at The Greenery, Inc., we are excited for a future where landscape equipment not only produces less pollutants into the environment, but also reduces noise pollution — all while maintaining cost efficiency and capability for our clients. 

Environmental Sustainability

One of the most compelling reasons for embracing battery-powered equipment in commercial landscaping is its positive impact on the environment. Unlike traditional gas-powered tools, battery-operated machinery produces zero emissions during operation. This reduction in harmful pollutants not only contributes to cleaner air but also minimizes our carbon footprint. 

Reduced Noise Pollution

When working near golf courses or tranquil residential neighborhoods, excessive noise from landscaping activities is a significant concern. Battery-powered equipment offers a quieter alternative, significantly reducing noise pollution levels. 

Cost Savings

While the initial investment in battery-powered equipment is higher than conventional gas-powered machinery, the long-term cost savings are substantial. Battery-powered tools eliminate the ongoing expenses associated with purchasing gas, as well as the costs of regular maintenance and repairs. Moreover, with the advancements in battery technology, the lifespan of batteries has significantly improved, providing reliable performance over an extended period. 

Increased Efficiency and Versatility

Battery-powered equipment offers greater flexibility and convenience for our employee owners in the field. Without the constraints of cords or the need for gasoline refills, our team can maneuver more freely around properties, increasing productivity and efficiency. Additionally, many battery-powered tools are designed with interchangeable batteries, allowing for continuous operation by simply swapping out depleted batteries for fully charged ones. This seamless transition enhances workflow efficiency, enabling our employee owners the ability to tackle projects with greater ease and speed.

In February, The Greenery, Inc. rolled out our first all-electric small equipment crew on Hilton Head Island. Working with our partners from Kress North America, the whole Hilton Head Island Branch crew received training. 

Mission Accomplished

The Greenery, Inc. team members using this technology are already witnessing the benefits firsthand in the field…

“I was recently installing a Kress RTK mower at the golf club in Palmetto Bluff and chatting with the Branch Manager when I realized that between the auto mower, the crew using electric handheld equipment, and the electric zero turn mower being used we weren’t bothering the people playing golf just a few hundred feet away at all. Usually in a situation like this I would have been worried about the complaints we were sure to get about all the noise we were making, instead the golfers passing by on the way to the 10th tee were making comments about how rough a job I had watching our robotic mower work.”
– Jon Harrison, Operations Business Support Manager at The Greenery, Inc.

The benefits of using battery-powered equipment in commercial landscaping are undeniable. From environmental sustainability and cost savings to increased efficiency and safety, the advantages extend far beyond mere convenience. 

As the landscaping industry continues to evolve, The Greenery, Inc. recognizes that embracing innovative technologies and sustainable practices is essential for staying competitive and becoming even more environmentally friendly. By making the switch to battery-powered equipment, our team looks forward to not only enhancing our operational efficiency, but also contributing to a greener and healthier future for the communities we serve!

One Name, Same Exceptional Landscaping Services

Our team at The Greenery, Inc. is excited to continue to expand and grow into markets throughout the Southeast as we work hard each day to enhance people’s lives with beautiful landscaping.

Over the past several years, The Greenery, Inc. has moved beyond the Lowcountry and coastal Georgia into markets in the Upstate of South Carolina and Northern Florida through the acquisition of other landscape companies. 

One of those acquisitions took place in 2021 with The Greenery, Inc. purchasing Martex Services Landscape Management based in Jacksonville and Amelia Island in Florida. This expansion has allowed The Greenery, Inc. to provide an extraordinary level of commercial landscape services to resorts and hotels, office parks, and distinguished gated communities in northeast Florida.

As we spring into a new season, The Greenery Inc. is excited to simplify the Jacksonville/Amelia Island branch into a single division name as just The Greenery, Inc.

Nothing is changing for our customers! You can still expect the same great landscaping services we’ve provided over the past several years. The only thing that will be different is the logo that appears on our trucks and any communication that comes from our office.

We look forward to continued growth and enhancing people’s lives through beautiful landscaping in the Jacksonville and Amelia Island communities!

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our office for immediate help at (904) 524-2340.

The Greenery, Inc. Expands Landscape Services in Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Greenery, Inc. has formally announced commercial landscape expansion plans for the Greater Charleston market. Innovative advances to landscape operations and services, an experienced executive leadership team, and a new branch office at 5080 Coosaw Creek Boulevard in North Charleston are part of the announced plan for growth.

“We have been serving the Charleston market since 1999,” stated Lee Edwards, CEO of The Greenery, Inc. “It’s the second largest market that we are in, and we think it’s going to be a huge part of our future through our strategic plan and our employee-owned leadership.”

The Greenery, Inc. offers commercial landscape services to resorts, municipalities, industrial and commercial businesses, HOAs, POAs, and planned communities.

The Greenery, Inc. currently has commercial landscape operations in Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina as well as Jacksonville, Amelia Island, and Daytona in Florida. The Greenery, Inc. continues to serve communities in the Lowcountry including Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Palmetto Bluff, Beaufort, Savannah, and Charleston as part of their corporate purpose statement of enhancing people’s lives through beautiful landscaping.

ABOUT THE GREENERY, INC.

The Greenery, Inc. provides comprehensive landscaping services to commercial customers including landscape installation and maintenance, hardscapes, irrigation, and construction.

Established on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in 1973, The Greenery, Inc. started as a small landscape nursery with a staff of just six employees. The 100% employee-owned company has always acknowledged its mission to be the best landscape company in the markets it serves with a focus on its people. The Greenery Inc. celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023 with over 800 employees across the southeast.

For information about The Greenery, Inc. in Charleston call (843) 974-9652.

New Greenery Videos Unveiled

At the recent Annual Meeting for employee owners of The Greenery, Inc., two NEW videos were unveiled about the history of the company.

The first video is an in depth interview with Berry Edwards, Co-Founder of The Greenery, Inc. talking about the early days of the company and how it all began. Berry charmingly looks back on starting a new company from a “mom & pop” nursery with 6 employees and a dream of taking on the commercial landscaping of the booming Island. 

In the second video, Berry tells the story of how the beloved old church building came to be the home of The Greenery’s Gift & Home Shop. Through all of the challenges and setbacks, Ruthie Edwards had a mission to bring that building to Hilton Head and she wasn’t going to let anything stop that dream…

The many challenges and triumphs that make up the more than 5 decades of The Greenery’s rich history are heartwarming and inspiring. The memories and stories presented through these videos will help to preserve a vital piece of Lowcountry history for years to come. 

The Future of Landscaping: Embracing Robotic Equipment for a Greener Tomorrow

The future of the landscape industry is exciting, sustainable, and surprisingly quiet. And The Greenery is at the forefront of leading new eco-initiatives through the Lowcountry and southeast region!

Teaming up with companies like Kress Outdoor Power Equipment, The Greenery is planning for a future where their landscape equipment not only produces less pollutants into the environment, but also reduces noise pollution — all while maintaining cost efficiency and capability. 

Kress Outdoor Power Equipment hosted a demonstration in December to demonstrate new technology that The Greenery is already implementing for a better community and client experience. At the event, The Greenery unveiled its new battery-powered and autonomous robotic outdoor equipment. 

Beautifully maintained communities like Hilton Head Island often face negative feedback from residents and visitors about loud landscape equipment that is used to keep these properties in pristine condition. But loud, gas-powered equipment may soon be a thing of the past as this new technology also operates without the disruptive noise. The new technology is also a “win” for the environment as it operates without emitting harmful pollutants.

The Greenery has been exploring electric landscape equipment options for years now but had yet to discover the right fit – electric equipment that is both cost effective and powerful. However, The Greenery CEO, Lee Edwards, believes that with Kress and its technologies they have found a “game changer.”

Currently, The Greenery is using Kress equipment on larger properties, as well as making it an option for various residential clients. And according to Edwards, the company has found that it can offer the same superior landscape services to their clients at about the same price as gas-powered equipment.

According to Edwards, the electric equipment is not only preferred by clients but also by The Greenery employees because it is a safer option. Featuring a sensor all the way around the device – it disables if an animal or person walks up to it or picks it up. 

The Greenery plans to make the transition to all-electric equipment at one or two of The Greenery’s branches in the very near future with long-term plans of being company-wide electric within the next several years.

These forward-thinking and sustainable initiatives are what sets The Greenery apart from other landscaping companies as an industry leader. Ultimately, this transition will benefit the environment, customers, and employees while The Greenery continues to enhance people’s lives through beautiful landscaping – just a little more quietly. 

That’s a Wrap on 2023

It has been a very busy and productive year for The Greenery, Inc. while commemorating our 50th anniversary!
We continued to fulfill our mission of enhancing people’s lives through beautiful landscaping across the Southeast. And what stood out the most over the past year is the persistent hard work and dedication by our faithful employee owners. We are so grateful for each and every one of the dedicated individuals that have led to our success over the last 50 years. Our company values the people that make up The Greenery, Inc. above all else.

We were thrilled this year to honor our “Crews of the Month” in each branch as well as some “Rising Stars” that have bright futures with the company. It was our honor to stand beside our employee owners who celebrated professional accomplishments as well as professional milestones in 2023 with some employee owners commemorating decades of service. The various training, Safety Rodeos, trade shows and job fairs that we participated in this year demonstrate our strong commitment to our employee owners and their future with The Greenery, Inc.

It was especially sweet celebrating our ESOP this year at our annual stock price reveal parties. To see the smiles on the faces of the employee owners knowing that they helped the company reach that point was particularly memorable. The pride that each person takes knowing they have a real stake in the company and its future is priceless.

This year, we enjoyed commemorating our 50th anniversary with each of our branches with unique celebrations because each person is valued and has helped The Greenery, Inc. to thrive in this industry for five decades.

The various landscape transformations and projects this year are evidence of our landscape presence in the communities we serve, but we also LOVED giving back to the communities in 2023 through donations, sharing our expertise and sponsoring community events. We participated in everything from Arbor Day in Savannah and Career Day in Port Royal to the Beaufort Water Festival and lots of activities in between.

Once again, it was OUR PEOPLE that helped make each of these events special and we are so appreciative for their willingness to go above and beyond.

Did You Know?

  • The Greenery, Inc. was ranked #27 in Landscape Management’s Top 150 Industry Revenue companies list in 2023 and recently featured on the magazine’s cover for December
  • The Greenery, Inc. was ranked #27 in Lawn & Landscape magazine’s Top 100 list for 2023
  • The Greenery, Inc. stock price for 2023 reached an all-time high
  • The Greenery, Inc. has more than 800 employees across three states
  • The Greenery, Inc. continues to acquire new customers every month
  • The Greenery, Inc.  looks forward to launching into NEW markets in the near future

… And we are just getting started. We are excited to see what 2024 and beyond holds for The Greenery, Inc.

A Glance into Heartwood:  The Greenery’s Project in the Heart of Richmond Hill

“Heartwood is a vision of those who dared to see the forest through the trees. A place with a purpose—to engage people and the landscape together in an inspired way of living that enhances the lifestyle that organically exists. Heartwood emerged naturally from the old soul that is Richmond Hill, Georgia.”

And The Greenery’s Construction Team was honored to play a role in helping to make the vision of Heartwood into reality for the community. Our team was recently involved in the beautiful landscape construction transformation that took place at Heartwood Outfitter’s Center and Ogeechee Park. 

Phase 1 of the project was completed in about a year with our team installing a one-of-a-kind park space anchored in the heart of Richmond Hill’s growing Exit 82 and Belfast Keller area. The Outfitter’s Center and Park spaces will anchor one of the most diverse footprints in the Coastal Georgia area. 

Over the duration of the project, The Greenery team worked diligently on the landscape development and planting, stormwater reallocation irrigation systems, pond aquatic plantings as well as the landscape lighting.

According to Rick Sotiropoulos LIC, The Greenery’s Director of Landscape Construction, he saw The Greenery’s construction team shine in several ways. Their collaboration with the owner/developer, general contractor, site contractor and landscape architect was second to none allowing the project to run smoothly and with very little setbacks. The team’s operational capacity and ability to modify and extend scope from the original contract was exceptional. In the landscape construction, you always have to be flexible!

In addition, the construction team took extra care to consider long term implications to the development and the landscape as well as the sustainable impacts on the environment. 

Some of the key project elements included:

  • The Outfitter’s Center: the anchor of the development and the event lawn will host a wide variety of activities for the entire community.
  • Stormwater pond reallocation: a six-acre stormwater pond was turned into an active reallocation of irrigation water source for the development area.
  • “The Hill”: a waste soil area turned into an integral recreation area to the community trail systems including trees, grass trails and a vista look-out over the community.
  • Community trail systems: integrated into this phase of development, they connect the active and passive spaces of the community.

Site and construction schedule as well as weather impacts on the development were a challenge during the project. However, our team overcame these hurdles by being flexible and nimble to adjust our implementation to finish even when we had impacts beyond our control. Using “outside the box” and creative methods, we were able to adjust in real time and reduce long delays.

“We were honored to work with such a great group of talented people including: Bill Cunningham of Raydient Places (owner/developer); Eric Pohlmann, PLA, and Lauren Cline of LandDesign (Landscape Architects); Todd Mayo of Omega Construction of Savannah (General Contractor); and Matt Hilton of Preferred Site Construction. Without our combined efforts, the project would not have been so successful” said Rick Sotiropoulos. 

In addition to Rick, who oversaw the client relationship and project coordination, The Greenery team was led by Nathan Hexamer (Construction Branch Manager) and Michael Ackerman (Project Manager) who both did an outstanding job overseeing this project to fruition. We are thankful to be a part of the Team at Heartwood!

This initial project was just the first phase of the vision of Heartwood with several other phases to come in the future and some very exciting plans. The Greenery hopes to continue to work with Heartwood to see the completion of this amazing community and the dream of Heartwood come true! More to come at Heartwood…

2023 LM150: The Greenery celebrates growth and community for 50th anniversary

*This article appeared in the June edition of Landscape Management magazine, a national trade publication

When it comes to growth, few have done it like The Greenery.

This year, the company celebrates its 50th year of operation. Not a bad way to ring in the anniversary is ranking No. 27 on the LM150 list with $92,500,000 in revenue and 14 percent growth from 2021 to 2022.

The company, which offers maintenance, design/build and installation, irrigation and turf and ornamental care to primarily commercial clients, attributes its growth and success to its employees. As it acknowledges its history, there is a feeling of pride among the employee-owners.

“To me, being an employee of The Greenery means being a part of something,” says Romario Blackwood, a licensed pesticide applicator from the Sun City branch in Bluffton, S.C. He has been with the company for three years. “Since I’ve started working here, I can see how the properties we have worked on have developed. I’ve seen a lot of changes in myself. Being a part of The Greenery means getting the opportunity to learn and grow.”

Being employee-owned
The company’s employee ownership started when Berry Edwards, co-founder of The Greenery, began prepping for retirement in 2003. He was looking for an exit strategy that would serve as a proper thank you for his employees. His search led to the decision to establish an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), giving his employees the ability to earn ownership in the company.

Employees see the ESOP as a motivator to do their job to the best of their abilities. They want to see the company’s stock price go up year after year.

“Having this knowledge helps to push you toward improving yourself,” Blackwood says. “At the end of the day, my success is also the success of The Greenery. That works the other way around as well.”

Since making this shift, the number of employees at The Greenery has skyrocketed from 200 to 800 people. Joe Dubois, an account manager at the Sun City branch credits The Greenery’s investment in its people as helping establish the company as an industry leader.

“Knowing that your work can affect the bottom line makes you have a little bit more skin in the game,” he says. “It’s about accountability. You know that what you are doing can eventually affect the bottom line of the company, along with your retirement. You learn that other people have your back.”

Dubois came to The Greenery 10 years ago with a desire to learn more about the landscape industry. Wanting to gain experience, he saw a position with the company as something he could learn by doing as opposed to reading about it.

Blackwood agrees, noting a hands-on education is one of the best elements of the company.

“I wanted to learn and grow,” Blackwood says. “There are plenty of things that you can read about and classes where you can talk about those topics. (This) is hands-on work that I appreciate being able to do here.”

Dubois believes the ESOP model is a positive influence. In his mind, it is hard for any business to stay relevant for just 20 years, but even harder for it to be so dominant after 50 years. 

“There were a lot of guys that were above me when I first started working here,” Dubois says. “They showed me how they do things. Those interactions and lessons help with the longevity of the company. I think I’ll be around for another 50 years as long as they keep this same model.”


The long journey
Ruthie and Berry Edwards fell in love with Hilton Head Island, S.C., while on vacation in 1973. After relocating to the spot, they bought a nursery with the desire to grow their business.

Starting as a full-service landscaping company at a nursery in 1973 with six employees, the Edwards’ hired knowledgeable gardening and landscaping staff from the area. Now, their son, Lee Edwards, serves as president and CEO of the company.

The Greenery now serves a broad list of clients requiring different service levels. The operation’s installation and landscape management clients include multifamily communities, hospitals, hotels, exclusive resorts and a few residential homes. 

It continues to expand its reach to multiple cities and states. The Greenery now has locations in South Carolina in Beaufort, Bluffton, Greenville, Palmetto and Spartanburg; Daytona and Jacksonville, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga.

A retail center still operates on Hilton Head Island.

What it’s like to work at The Greenery
When asked if they would recommend working at The Greenery to their friends and family, employees unanimously say yes.

Leticia Jimenez, who works as a maintenance worker for the floral department (which supports The Greenery’s South Carolina branches), says her job means a lot to her.

“Everybody has been so friendly during my time here,” says Jimenez. “I love my job and what I do. The people here treat each other like family.”

Meanwhile, Romario Blackwood, a licensed pesticide applicator from the Sun City branch in Bluffton, S.C., says his favorite part of working for The Greenery is the chance to be in nature.

“This is going to sound corny, but I love getting to work outside in the morning, feeling the cool breeze and watching the sunrise,” says Blackwood. “In the past, I have worked in other industries, including the food industry. For many years, I just found myself inside a building all day. Now, when I get here in the morning, it feels like a complete 180-degree change from then. And I really enjoy it.”

All about community

Reflecting on his time at The Greenery, Blackwood recalls a moment from earlier in the year. As the seasons changed, he and his team treated azaleas on a property. This visit was a mixture of irrigation, maintenance and plant health services departments working together. At the end of it, they had perfectly maintained azaleas.

“I was driving by and I had to stop and get out of my car to properly look at it,” Blackwood says. “I took a picture of it and sent it to my supervisor. I was thinking, ‘That is why we are here.’”

Blackwood adds that the feeling of community has always been a highlight of the job. Everyone has a different role to play. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and they all come together to work through challenges.

Dubois says the entire team at The Greenery shares admiration for the communities they serve.

“People have worked here since (the Bluffton, S.C., branch) started and during the time when the company became employee-owned,” says Dubois. “Time has gone on and on, yet we maintain some of the stuff put in by our predecessors and former leaders. It continues to expand. I always tell people about The Greenery.”

To read the article visit: https://www.landscapemanagement.net/2023-lm-150-the-greenery-celebrates-growth-and-community-for-50th-anniversary

By Brian Love

811 AWARENESS DAY

811 AWARENESS DAY

As a professional landscape organization, The Greenery’s mission is to enhance people’s lives through beautiful landscaping. Our mission would not be possible if we did not prioritize the safety of our Greenery team members and the community. That’s why we want to shine a light on a very important safety awareness campaign: 811 Awareness Day. Each year on August 11th, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) spreads awareness about the importance of calling 811 before you dig anywhere in your yard. This awareness campaign aims to protect lives and avoid costly utility damages in our communities.

Each year, nearly 40% of U.S. homeowners risk their personal safety and utility damage by digging through their landscape. From minor garden projects to full-scale landscape installations, there is no project too small that can cause unintentional damage to your yard. Essential utilities like gas, water, electricity, or cable and internet lines are buried under ground at our homes and businesses. Digging without clearly marking these utility lines before hand can run the risk of hitting one of these utility lines, which can have disastrous consequences in some cases. It is also very important to know that you are required by law to call 811.

“Not only do you risk personal injury, but hitting a utility line can disrupt critical services throughout your community,” said Rick Sotiropoulos, Construction Business Development Director at The Greenery, Inc. “That’s why The Greenery wants to do our part to spread awareness on National 811 Day, so the communities we serve can stay safe.”

That’s where the phone number 811 can help! If you are considering a future dig, it is not only essential, it is also the that you must  call 811 at least two business days before starting your project. And the best part about this helpful process? It’s completely free to you as a home or business owner! Here’s how the process works:

  1. Step One: Call 811 or visit 811.com at least two business days before your project. Ask the representative to have a professional visit your property and mark utility lines in your yard with a flag.
  2. Step Two: Wait a few days for the utility organization to stop by your home and clearly mark areas with utility lines.
  3. Step Three: Confirm that all utilities have responded.
  4. Step Four: Respect the utility marks or flags as you begin your project.
  5. Step Five: Do not dig on or near utility flags.

It’s as easy as that! As landscaping professionals, we want to make a difference in our communities. The Greenery is proud to demonstrate our commitment to responsible landscape practices throughout the southeast. So, we encourage you to always call 811 before you reach for that shovel; it only takes a moment, but the impact can last a lifetime.

Gold and green

The Greenery is celebrating its 50th anniversary and 20 years as 100% employee-owned.

After 50 years in business, The Greenery, based in Hilton Head, South Carolina, has a lot to celebrate. The company earned $92 million in revenue in 2022 and ranked No. 28 on this year’s Top 100 List.

This year also marks another important milestone — the 20th anniversary of becoming 100% employee-owned.

Current president and CEO Lee Edwards says it was following a vacation to the island that his parents fell in love with Hilton Head and wished to relocate.

“They were looking to do something different. They came back from vacation a couple weeks later and said, ‘We need to find a way to move there,’” he recalls. “Somehow, somebody mentioned this little landscape business for sale and my dad didn’t even know anything about landscaping. But they went and talked to them, and he started looking at it from the numbers and from a business standpoint. Then they went to talk to the head foreman.

“When they bought the company, it had six employees and two pickups,” he adds. “They said as long as Leon, the crew foreman, agrees to stay on, they’d buy the company.”

And with that, The Greenery was born.

Welcoming the next generation
Fast forward 50 years and that landscaping company has expanded to more than 1,000 employees across multiple branches spanning from Greenville, South Carolina, to Daytona, Florida.

Edwards says his path through the green industry has been a unique one — noting that originally, he wasn’t planning on joining the family business. Growing up, he’d work on a crew during the summer but didn’t plan on returning once he went away to college. He remembers a pivotal moment that changed his mind.

“I ended up in Colorado one winter after college,” he says. “When the summer rolled around, I stuck around and got a job at a landscape company. I knew how to run all the equipment and spoke fluent Spanish. By the end of the season, I was running half the company for the guy and there was talk about us becoming partners.”

But Edwards says he didn’t want to work for just anybody.

“I called my dad and told him I wanted to give it a shot,” he says. “I think my dad had secretly hoped that it’s what I would do.”

In 1999, Edwards opened his own separate branch of The Greenery a little closer to home in Charleston.

“I was running my company in Charleston and doing well and then my dad got cancer,” Edwards says. “That sort of accelerated his timetable on retirement. He started rethinking his life and his priorities — and that’s when he created the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program).

“I took over as president of the company in 2007, and that’s the same year we became 100% employee-owned,” he adds. “We had started the process in 2003.”

Invested employees
Edwards says the purpose behind the ESOP goes back to a fundamental business philosophy of his father’s.

“I think one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned from my dad is he always said, ‘Hire good people. Get out of the way. Let them do their job. And reward them well,’” Edwards says. “He really believed that and took it to heart, and I do, too.

“His thinking was he built up this really successful company after all these years, but it wasn’t just him who did it — it was all these great employees who’d been here so long,” he adds. They dedicated their whole careers to this company and building it. This was a way to give back to them.”

CFO Ben Campsey says it was The Greenery’s ESOP that pulled him away from a lucrative career in the hotel finance industry.

“An ESOP gives a company its instant why,” he says. “For most companies, why we do what we do is the hardest thing to define… we provide beautiful landscaping, but we also build retirements and a good lifestyle for the people that produce our product.”

From the get-go, Campsey says he’s seen the good in the ESOP countless times.

“Someone was in my office a few months ago and this person started with very humble beginnings 25 years ago and has worked his way up,” Campsey says. “He told me, ‘I think I’m going to be able to retire a millionaire.’ Who would’ve thought this guy coming in to mow lawns would’ve been able to do that. It’s stories like that, as a 50-year company, that builds the culture of who we are.”

Janet DiNicola, chief technology officer, says she’s witnessed these kinds of stories as well over her tenure with the company.

“What’s great about being an employee owner is it’s not something you have to sign up for; it’s automatically granted after you make it through the initial waiting period,” she says. “We’re not in an industry that generally promotes pensions or 401Ks. Some of these guys after being here over 15 years have developed quite a little nest egg… they didn’t save it themselves. It’s just the money that is given to them.”

While Edwards says there haven’t been too many challenges associated with the ESOP, he notes that educating employees on the benefits of it has been a hurdle.

“A lot of the employees were very appreciative but a lot of them didn’t understand it, or understand how it worked,” he says. “When someone gets a stock certificate the first time, it’s not really worth that much. But over time, as the value goes up and people earn more stock each year, it really grows exponentially after they’re here awhile.”

Campsey says that the more time an employee spends with the company, the more they pay attention to their ESOP shares.

“Every year we do our big stock reveal and we put some education around that,” he says. “We use pomp and circumstance to make it feel really official and we hand out cards and certificates to make it a big deal.”

Outside of the annual reveal, Campsey says The Greenery tries find unique ways to promote the ESOP.

“Our biggest challenge is, ‘What are the means we use to communicate this?’” he explains. “We’re in a decentralized environment and companies like ours have industry-wide high turnover. So how are we finding ways to communicate the benefits? That’s where I find it the hardest.

“We have a website we post videos on, a text messaging application where we can push information out to their phones and we have posters with QR codes that educate on ESOPs,” Campsey adds.

Edwards says he feels the ESOP allows The Greenery to get the most out of their employees, therefore impressing clients and influencing their growth.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” he says. “You treat the company well and it becomes more valuable. If it becomes more valuable, you earn more stock for your retirement…They can influence that stock unlike a 401K or an IRA… If you take care of your client, take care of your equipment, work safely and provide great service — our company becomes more valuable. If the company is more valuable, then the employees are the winners because they’re the ones earning more stock every year.”

Encouraged to explore
Outside of the ESOP, employees enjoy other advantages of being 100% employee owned.

DiNicola says one valuable benefit is the ability to experiment and learn about the latest, most cutting-edge technology within the industry.

She adds The Greenery has prioritized technology in recent years as a way to differentiate themselves in their market and nationally. In 2019, DiNicola says the company moved away from typical Excel spreadsheets and invested in software designed specifically for landscaping.

“If you’re owned by a private equity company it’s all about making that dollar,” she says. “Lots of times in the beginning, robotics or any new technology doesn’t make you too much money in the beginning because there is such a learning curve. I don’t think a lot of those companies will be the ones investing or trying things out like this.”

Robotic mowers have been another new frontier for the business. However, DiNicola recognizes it can be hard for some smaller companies, and even ones the size of The Greenery, to find opportunities to test out the new technology.

“Right now, it’s still really hard to get our hands on a lot of technology,” she says. “There’s a big difference between who is going after robotic mowers and who isn’t.”

Seeing green
With the milestone anniversary upon them, leaders at The Greenery agree that steady, thoughtful growth is the vision moving forward.

“One of our biggest objectives is to become a $100 million company,” DiNicola says.
While the majority of this growth will be organic, Edwards says the company is interested in making more acquisitions in the future.

“We’ve continued to grow steadily,” he says. “The last few years we’ve expanded out of our traditional footprint. We made an acquisition in Florida and opened another branch in Daytona. Those were exciting moves.”

However, Edwards stresses those acquisitions will be dependent on finding the right fit, which he says is no small task.

“A lot of companies when they make an acquisition, they are mainly buying contracts,” Edwards says. “With us, it’s all about the right cultural fit. We don’t want to just buy a bunch of contracts or revenue. It’s the relationships, the people, the safety program — all of it. We looked at one company I really liked until I saw their safety program and it was terrible. I thought if they don’t care enough to have a decent safety program and take care of their employees, it’s not the kind of company we want to be associated with.”

Edwards adds all this prospective growth will be inspired by the company’s employees as it always has been.

“I’ve always said we’re a growth-oriented company. Not because we want to go up the Lawn & Landscape Top 100 list, but because the way you hold onto people in our industry is you provide a future for them,” he says. “Whether it’s the No. 2 guy on the maintenance crew, a kid right out of college with a horticulture degree or a highly experienced regional manager, they want to take that next step. We provide an opportunity for everyone.

“We haven’t changed our philosophy,” Edwards adds. “We not interested in bringing on any other ownership and we plan to stay 100% employee-owned.”

National trade publication, Lawn and Landscape Magazine, recently featured this article on The Greenery’s 50th anniversary in the June 2023 edition.

By: Kim Lux, Assistant Editor