[Mike Christopher]'s Lawn & Landscape had its opening to break into the installation business a few years later. Again frustrated with his current contractor, the developer looked to Christopher once more. "We landscaped a few homes to show him what we could do," Christopher recalls. "He was pleased, and thankfully continues to be. These days, when he or his son or foreman call me, they're not asking for a bid. They're asking what we can do, and when we can do it by."
8 PRO • Volume 21 Number 6 • Summer 2009 • www.promagazine.com 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 m 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.” CHRISTOPHER’S 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 subcontractors EMPLOYEES: 3 full time, 1 part time
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