Optimal Design: Landscaper Meets Demand For Maintenance Services
Fall 2021 – Ziegler Cat, On the Job
As a successful, well-established force in the local design/build landscape segment since 1978, Southview Design began receiving requests from some of its satisfied customers for critical ongoing maintenance—a service they did not provide at the time.
Recognizing this as a bonafide opportunity, Southview launched a sophisticated maintenance operation during 2014. The net result is they have nearly doubled their sales volume in just seven years.
Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., Southview Design has a well-earned reputation for excellence in design, architecture, construction, landscape care and client service throughout the Twin Cities metro area. Their core clientele for both design-build and maintenance resides within a 50-mile radius.
Southview handles the carriage trade among the area’s uber high-end residential customers—such as the luxurious homes surrounding Lake Minnetonka—and also serves the needs of residential landscape design/build and commercial landscape management.
Southview strives to deliver the finest possible service to its many loyal clients while burnishing an image that bespeaks quality.
“We’re known for quality, communication and service,” says Johannes Louwers, COO at Southview who manages day-to-day operations as well as landscape sales for the landscape/maintenance side of the business. “We’re growing incredibly fast.”
Southview’s design/build business will do about $18 million in sales this year, while the maintenance side will realize sales of about $12 million.
“Snow removal is going to be the new focus for significant growth,” Louwers says. “Our three-year goal would be north of $50 million dollars. We’re fortunate. We don’t really pursue work. It’s all organic growth. I shouldn’t say all—but the majority of our growth has come through existing relationships and referrals.”
Initially founded as a residential design/build firm, the company transitioned in 2008, when the current owner, Chris Clifton, bought the company and decided to focus on custom, high-end design/build that essentially carried the company through 2014. Then, as demand for maintenance grew among its customers, Southview expanded its scope of operations to add maintenance—resulting in explosive growth.
Today, the commercial side—healthcare, corporate campuses and large industrial parks—comprises 95 percent of the maintenance business and operates on three- to five-year contracts. Weekly maintenance performed by care crews includes lawn trimming, mowing, weeding, pruning and fertilizing.
Interestingly, proactive communication by the company’s landscape care reps served as the catalyst for the explosive growth in it’s maintenance operations, according to Louwers.
“All of our reps do weekly site visits for our clients. We’ve developed a unique app that enables us to send a document with photographs of site visits, updates and other things that clients may want to see. A lot of these property managers don’t visit their sites on a weekly basis, so we pride ourselves on being the eyes and ears on their properties while they’re at their offices working.”