We recently returned from three days at The Professional Landcare Network’s Green Industry Conference held in in Louisville during the giant Green Industry Expo+ The three days were filled with meetings, making new acquaintances and renewing old ones.

Although trade show participation was no doubt down, the overall mood seemed to me to be upbeat.  We continued to meet green industry business owners focused on improving their businesses and seeking good opportunities.  Our tables were mostly full at the Breakfast of Champions.

The Brickman Group set the tone  for the week when it announced its acquisition of D. Foley Landscapes in the Boston area.  The acquisition of the business owned by a former Planet president was Brickman’s first announced deal of 2009.

The conference keynote included a panel including  Scott Brickman of The Brickman Group, Craig Ruppert of  Ruppert Landscape and Rick Ascolese of TruGreen Landcare.  It was interesting to see Craig Ruppert on the stage with TruGreen Landcare’s president.  Craig sold his business to TruGreen in 1998.  Five years later, upon the expiration of his noncompete agreement, he relaunched Ruppert Landscape, which in only six years has grown to number 15 on Lawn and Landscape’s Top 150 with $57.7 million in revenue reported for 2008.  The three industry leaders agreed that during this challenging period it was most important to focus on providing quality, cost-effective client service, recruit and retain high-quality employees, and improve processes.

Maybe there is time for an acquisition or two, too.

— Ron Edmonds

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