How Do You Transform a Landscape Company? Transform the Landscape
“What was once old is new again.” That rings true for any number of industries wishing to revisit the past and remake it into the present, with a twist. At WLE, it’s less about revitalizing the past than it is about breathing a rejuvenating breath into the entire landscaping industry.
Originally founded by Wayne Weigelt around 2003 in southwest Austin, WLE functioned primarily as a landscape construction company serving local communities, track homes, and a variety of residential work.
Then some two-and-a-half years ago, in 2017, the company was purchased by Kade Thomas, Logan Brown, and Bradley Roofner from Mr. Weigelt and with that came a major shift in both the type of work the company would be doing and how it would operate.
WLE was repositioned to focus solely on commercial projects, seeking out work from developers, general contractors, and property management companies. As long as projects fell under the headings of landscaping, irrigation, hardscape construction, and maintenance then it was on WLE’s radar and continues to be to this day.
“A couple of challenges we faced early on were because the business was obviously in the previous owner’s name. It was Weigelt Enterprises when we bought it. So with all the other challenges that usually come with a brand-new company, especially a brand-new service-based business, we also had the challenge of really trying to identify ourselves as new management, and get the message out about the new and exciting things we wanted to bring to the industry,” says Logan Brown, present co-owner of WLE.
Not wanting to alienate a valued customer base established over the past fourteen years, the new owners came into their recently acquired company with a well-planned strategy: how not only to maintain what was established and thriving, but also to energize the company into growing beyond its current status.
First, they set out to assure all current clients that they could still look forward to the same level of service, and perhaps even expect an extra dollop of professional creativity. Implementing a new level of professionalism and expectations for the company was the change WLE needed, and over the next two years these changes brought new customers, projects and, of course, revenue.
Naturally, dealing with an explosion of growth while ensuring that its standards of service remain unchanged has been the biggest challenge for WLE, but it has also been the most welcome. Brown and Thomas commented that they see it as proving that the changes being enacted at the company have been recognized by customers as the optimum way forward for all concerned.
Among other changes was a new home for the evolving company. “This year we moved into our new facility, which is a facility we designed from the ground up centered around efficiency, collaboration, and organization,” Kade Thomas says. Begun almost two years ago, this brand new facility now plays an important part in the way WLE carry out their day-to-day operations.
Early birds at work
With an early-bird start time of 6:00 a.m., the two hundred-plus employees at WLE arrive, and are heading out to job sites in under thirty minutes. Efficiency was the first requirement when it came to designing the facility, and it has truly paid off for a company dealing with the complexities of keeping many ground crews equipped, briefed, focused, and on time. And with everyone operating from the same place, an early-morning huddle gives different departments the chance of valuable communication and collaboration.
As Kade says, “We have a motto at the company, the best idea wins. So, we have a very collaborative workplace with an open floor plan and access to all upper management at all times.”
Morning get-together done, field operations managers head out to oversee projects being serviced by the WLE teams. Come the afternoon, when more staffers are back at the office, employees are treated to the kind of environment that’s a pleasure and a reward for the hard work they put into the company. With music piped through Sonos speakers, and cold-brew coffee and beer on tap, this welcoming and collaborative space is a bonus of a kind for the staff of WLE. It also contributes to the revitalization that Kade, Logan, and Bradley want to generate in both WLE and the landscaping industry itself.
Kade puts his finger on what makes the behavior of WLE so different from the norm in their business environment: “Our mission statement is bringing sophistication to an otherwise unsophisticated industry.”
This truly sums up the approach to company culture that they’re creating at WLE – more than just an image of professionalism and responsive creativity. Running a thoroughly modern business with a modern work environment; a modern look with work crews in under-armor uniforms and a tech-company vibe, WLE has looked beyond what’s known to work for ‘landscaping companies’ and dug into what works across a variety of industries.
Selecting best practices and cultural traits from any number of industries and blending them into an abundance of quality cues for the WLE of today, gives the customer a gratifying sense of being cared for, and has re-framed what a landscape company can look and feel like.
“We’re not just here to get the project done then move on down the road. We want to be a true partner to our clients and establish some level of exclusivity as our ultimate goal. So at the upper levels in our company, we form those high-level partnerships while our business development team is working toward establishing relations with management companies” Kade says.
WLE takes pride in creating these lasting relationships both with its enduring clients and those whose projects need to be bid for year after year. Keeping these practices at the forefront of its business model, WLE intends to solidify its position in central Texas and follow through on its last two years of substantial growth.
Training for growth
Keeping its eye on the ball, WLE is also currently implementing a big round of in-house training to take it to the next level and keep its staff on track and focused on providing its clients with the most modern and professional experience. With this strategy of perfecting its unique strengths WLE is expecting continued growth that could double its current worth, bringing it from a $25-million company to a $50-million company in the next few years. Part of this plan is to expand into new geographies and extend its hold on central Texas to a much larger share of the state.
WLE is taking one of the oldest industries to new and exciting places, not just for customers but for employees as well. Giving those who work there a voice – in a place surging with energy, creativity, and an innovative outlook on what a job should be – WLE is overturning the industry’s time-honored customs. This, in turn, will be a major benefit to the customer who sees the work they need done accomplished with top-tier style and quality by people who love their jobs and a job well done.
No doubt the open-minded approach of WLE will inspire other companies to seek to break the mold, take what was once old and make it not just new, but better than it ever was before. In other words, to try to be like WLE.