Not long ago, I was visiting with the president of a green industry business.  He was recounting to me the steps that he had taken to weather the economic downturn.  Those steps had included at least two rounds of down-sizing along with other belt-tightening steps.  One of the things that he said that particularly resonated with me was what he had not done.  Although some of his industry friends and peer group members had urged him to discontinue his design-build business and focus solely on maintenance, he had elected not to do so.  He made that decision based on thinking about the services that had built his business to where it was headed into the recession.  High quality design-build and hardscaping services had served as the core of his business as he had grown it, and he believed it would have been a  step backward to abandon those businesses based on the economic downturn.  He concluded that it would be better to make adjustments to be able to perform those services profitably.  Now, as the economy is easing out of the recession, his business is profitable, and it is well-positioned to take advantage of design-build opportunities as they present themselves.  This conversation reminded me that every situation is different and there is no cookie-cutter approach to structuring your business for success.

As 2010 comes to a close, we are continuing to see increased merger and acquisition activity across most industry segments, including some large transactions in the landscape services segment.  While the recovery is developing more slowly than hoped, fears of a double-dip recession are easing, and the general outlook seems to be improving.  While many industry business owners continue to be extraordinarily cautious, others see the opportunity to move forward in creative ways.

After the hustle and bustle has passed, the holiday season can be an ideal time to pause and reflect on your future plans.  If buying or selling a business is a part of your plans, we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  This is also an excellent time to work on your longer-term exit plan.

We would also like to take this time to pause and say a heart-felt thank you to our clients, business colleagues and friends.  We appreciate our business relationships and are looking forward to continuing them during a prosperous 2011.

— Ron Edmonds

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