Real estate executive has high hopes for landscaping start-up

With a background in high end residential real estate development as Managing Director of Catterson Wood in the UK, Phil Wood worked extensively with landscape professionals.

“A lot of developers, and of course I knew a lot of developers, saw landscaping almost as an afterthought to development,” says Wood, now founder of United Landscape in Southeast Florida. “I always knew that landscaping must be an integral part of any design that is as important as the buildings we are constructing.”

With this perspective on landscaping and the general interest in the US landscaping market, Wood made the decision to found United-Landscapes in the middle of last year.

“I’ve completed a great development that we had and I was at a professional crossroads and I thought if I did, the time has come,” he says.

With this project, wood has gained some industry knowledge. Dean Murphy, former executive director of Terracare Associates and Monarch Landscape Companies, and Rick Cuddihe, president of Lafayette Consulting Co., serve as non-executive directors.

“I think the team we hired obviously have tremendous experience with mergers and acquisitions, and closing and raising funds, but we really wanted them to like the industry, too,” says Wood. “Aside from Dean and Rick, all the other people we have are very excited about the industry, which is very important for us to move forward.”

According to Wood, at least five acquisitions are possible under the United Landscape umbrella by the end of 2021. He says United-Landscape is a financial sponsorship group, which means that it works with a pool of funding sources – rather than operating as a single fund.

Targeting businesses in the $ 2 million to $ 5 million range with locations in central and south Florida, it focuses on commercial maintenance due to recurring revenue, but also seeks to provide a wide range of green industrial services and residential customers.

“We obviously like those companies that are heavily involved in commercial maintenance, but we’re into arborists, lawn care services, and irrigation,” says Wood. “Ultimately, we really want to offer the full range of services.”

He’s also looking for companies that don’t need drastic changes.

“It’s about us making incremental changes, not fundamental changes to the business,” he says. “We don’t want to change what made this business successful, but we can offer our group’s operational, strategic, and financial expertise to make those incremental changes that I believe will make a huge difference to the bottom line of these companies.

“When it comes to big changes, especially in personnel, we see people as the most important part of the business. It’s all about making improvements instead of making (major) changes to these companies. “
According to Wood, the group is also flexible about what type of owner sells.

“If someone wants to retire, we can take care of it,” he says. “If someone is ambitious and feels like they have taken a company as far as possible and wants a group like ours to help them take them to the next level, we can do that. So the idea is that we want to address each of these companies in a very flexible way. “

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