Performance Pays by ProQuest


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									 8       PRO • Volume 21 Number 6 • Summer 2009 •

PRO PROFILE                      By Gregg Wartgow

     Performance Pays
     When the majority of your business comes from a handful of big commercial
     clients, every cut counts—and this Missouri contractor makes sure his crews

     completely understand that.
     Mike Christopher says the most reassuring         happy to be back working in the field again, at    erty in an area he had developed,” Christopher
     thing about his landscape business is that        least for the time being. “Am I completely reces-  tells. “Apparently his contractor wasn’t doing a
     he’s geared for commercial. It’s also what        sion-proof?” Christopher asks. “No … but I’m       great job. He saw me one day and came up and
     scares him the most. This past year has been      probably better off than a lot of contractors.”    introduced himself. He asked me how he could
     about the most frightening in his decade-                                                            get his properties to look like the one I was
     long career.                                        A little luck doesn’t hurt                       maintaining. I told him, ‘Hire me to mow it.’”
                                                             Sure, the dramatic drop in installation           Before long Christopher was on the
         Drive around Christopher’s market area          business has stung. But Christopher is quick     account. Around the same time, the developer
     roughly 20 miles northeast of Kansas City and       to point out that things could be much worse. was also in the process of building up a resi-
     you’ll see an abundance of unfinished commer-       This contractor’s ability to withstand the       dential neighborhood and needed someone to
     cial developments—projects where Christopher        downturn thus far can be attributed to skillful mow the common areas. Christopher landed
     had contracted to do the landscaping, at least      management, and a little bit of luck.            that account too.
     until the funding was pulled. Christopher’s Lawn        While several area homebuilders have gone         Christopher’s Lawn & Landscape had its
     & Landscape in Kearney, MO, has also gone           under in the past year, Christopher has been     opening to break into the installation business a
     from doing installs on more than a hundred new partnered up with one that’s hanging on. That’s few years later. Again frustrated with his current
     homes per year to just a tad over 40 this year.     cause for a huge sigh of relief, because this    contractor, the developer looked to Christopher
         Why is it, then, that Mike Christopher is as homebuilder is also a commercial developer— once more. “We landscaped a few homes to
     confident and content as ever? First of all, his    and has been Christopher’s biggest customer      show him what we could do,” Christopher
     hard-working, blue-collar roots have taught him on both the installation and maintenance side recalls. “He was pleased, and thankfully con-
     to count his blessings. He’s relieved that he’s not of the business.                                 tinues to be. These days, when he or his son or
     running on too much debt. And he’s more than            The relationship goes back several years. “I foreman call me, they’re not asking for a bid.
                                                                        was mowing a commercial prop- They’re asking what we can do, and when we
                                                                                                          can do it by.”

                                                                                               LAWN & LANDSCAPE
                                                                                               KEARNEY, MO

                                                                                               OWNER: Mike Christopher
                                                                                               YEAR FOUNDED: 1999
                                                                                               AVERAGE ANNUAL SALES: $400-$450k
                                                                                               SALES BREAKDOWN: 38% installation, 30% commercial
                                                                                               maintenance, 7% residential maintenance, 20% snow
                                                                                               removal, 3% brush mowing, 2% lawn care and irrigation
                                                                                               EMPLOYEES: 3 full time, 1 part time
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