One transaction of note announced recently was the acquisition of a 70% stake in Lawn Dawg, Inc. of Nashua, NH by Brighton Partners. Lawn Dawg, with branches in Litchfield, NH, Albany, NY, Woburn, MA and Portland, ME, is a regional lawn care company.
Although private equity is heavily committed to the green industry through large ownership positions in industry leaders ServiceMaster (TruGreen), The Valley Crest Companies and The Brickman Group, investments in companies like Lawn Dawg have been relatively rare.
Lawn Dawg’s CEO is industry veteran Jim Campanella. Campanella is a former president of the Professional Lawncare Association of America (now merged into the Professional Landcare Network). Campanella served as regional manager for Barefoot Grass prior to its acquisition by TruGreen and, according to their website, he and partner Tom Kelly, who had been a Barefoot branch manager, met and laid the groundwork for the launch of Lawn Dawg the night Barefoot’s acquisition by TruGreen was announced.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and financial information about Lawn Dawg is not readily available. They did report that Lawn Dawg services 15,000 customers through its four branches.
In announcing the transaction, Campanella revealed their intention to grow through acquisitions: “There are many owners of smaller lawn care companies out there looking for the right exit strategy, but most want to avoid selling out to the big companies. For independent lawn care businesses, Lawn Dawg may represent an opportunity to join a recognized leader in the industry without compromising the basic values we all seem to share – – outstanding customer service, employee loyalty, and deep respect for the environment.” Dan Broos of Brighton Partners further emphasized their growth plans: With Jim’s vision and operating skill, we believe we can build a multi-region power and preserve Lawn Dawg’s core values.”
This is a tangible reminder that the private equity industry remains active in the green industry, despite the tumult of the last year-and-a-half. Indeed, private equity has been active in several other notable green industry transactions this year. Gridiron Capital-backed Yellowstone Landscape Group acquired Florida-based Austin Outdoor in January with its 350 employees and then in August acquired Dolphin Landscape, another Florida landscaper with 150 employees and merged it into Austin Outdoor, significantly increasing its footprint in the key Florida market. In ___, Dallas-based Progress Equity Partners carved ACC Landscape LLC out of Denver-based American Civil Constructors. ACC Landscape is active in Colorado and California.
The two private equity-backed landscape industry titans, The ValleyCrest Companies and The Brickman Group have announced no acquisitions. ServiceMaster’s TruGreen Lawncare unit has continued its acquisition program but TruGreen Landcare, its landscape services unit, has not announced an acquisition in several years.