General manager who can grow a company from 1.5m to 5m


LawnSite Fanatic
Over 30 years in the green industry I have worked for various size companies. One of the first ones, 25 years ago I was crew leader, huge company in Atlanta and South East. Truck pulls up, hey get in i need to show you some things......i say who are you.....he's one of the owners. Shows me some things, never seen him again. The company ending up selling to tru green landcare.....i quit shortly after. Next significant company I worked for was a crew leader, promoted to maintenance account manager over time. Company grew well over years. I left after about 9 years. The owner had unrealistic expectations on the day to day work. At that time around 8 million a year company. A consultant told are a great owner, but a bad manager. And that was the truth. Now one of the larger landscape companies in Atlanta.
Now I work for a company that may hit 10 million this year. When I interviewed the owner said I could sell tomorrow and retire comfortably, but I dont want to do that to my managers. He is mid 40's.
At this size company it is great to see the owner daily. Approachable if needed.
Every consultant tells the owners theyre bad managers. It's consultant lingo 101...i think its in the handbook somewhere.

Most owners dont work well with others, thats why they are owners.

If the guy has an 8 million dollar company thats been running for decades... its real hard to say hes doing anything wrong...why did he have a consultant, what did he not have that he wanted a consultant to get him? A 50 million dollar company?


LawnSite Fanatic
The company will definitely won't be the new owners baby like it was yours. That being said, if the owner i work for got a buy out offer he couldn't refuse, i would understand. A company close by, probably the second largest in our area sold to a company from another state a couple of years ago.....seemed like they were falling apart at first, now it seems like they are rebounding. Possibly a normal thing from a buy out. I dont know. Again if the owner sold out tomorrow I would understand. Its business
Usually when a company sells , there's a change of entrenched key personnel. they either dont like the new rules, their feathers got ruffled or they simply got better offers and any loyalty they had left with the guy they had loyalty to.

Thats right when you find out how much of the operations were in three or four keys heads.
Never written down, not on a thumb drive somewhere.
no map no plan....

True story, I helped acquire and transition a company i worked for,
Large irrigation contracts as far as they horizon and beyond.

Where the shutoffs, isolation valves, valve boxes, blow outs even some of the controller locations were ...all in the heads of employees that were there for 15 years.
New owner canceled everyone's health bennies, then bought a ranch in hawaii and a corvette and told people about it.
Several people left in a huff and with little warning.

It took me a summer and many nights chatting with the former owner to document the locations of all that stuff.
And some if it was just 'intuition' and finding it.... "its got to be around here somewhere.
I found one shut off key in the middle of a thorn bush... a "weed" someone let grow over a decade.

Good times.

Moral of the story, acquisitions are rarely smooth sailing,


LawnSite Member
Atlanta, Ga
2 different companies I worked for, sorry if my post was confusing.
Where I work currently, company approx 20 years old, will be close to 10 million in sales. 70% landscape install work, majority of that residential. 30% maintenance/ lawn treatments.
Still family owned and owner available if needed. Work with him 3 years now

Bjg company before that was probably 12 years ago. At that time ago was approx 8 million company. He had hired consultants, but when commercial real estate slowed he hired a person involved with that. Not a consultant per se, but was able to tell the owner things a regular manager employee couldn't. If that makes sense? Now that comlany is well over 20 million a year, multiple branches.

Both companies are around 20 years old, both owners are in the 45 to 47 age range

Green Mentorship

LawnSite Senior Member
well an "owner" can literally be just the 'money man'.
Think about a race car...someone owns it, they dont drive it, they dont fix it... they just pay the bills and get to collect money from the sponsors.
Or a sports team is another good example, what does the owner do?
Pay bills, and possibly reap profit.
In fact they have a "person" that does that for them too.
If you're going to look at the business as a passive investment like you're describing here, the first idea that comes back from my head is Jim Cramer's "Am I Diversified" segment. This concept you're incorrectly advocating is like taking your investment portfolio and buying a single stock, aka betting it all on black or hard 8 for example. No one would advise that and I certainly wouldn't either.

If you have the desire to be a passive owner, then its time to sell out and diversify your holdings.

Green Mentorship

LawnSite Senior Member
The Mexican fisherman in your example is passionate first and foremost about living easy and enjoying life. Being a good steward of the gifts God gave him - peace, family, a beautiful view. This is honorable.
-But is it impossible or less honorable to be passionate about creating a large organization where thousands can come to work and provide for their families, while also spending time with family and retiring nice?

In the banker/fisherman example, it sounded like the banker is just living for himself with no real cause or passion in life besides finally retiring rich one day.

For me personally, this is not motivating at all. I'd like to live well, but I don't really plan to retire, and I intend to continually spend time with my wife and kids and not be a workaholic. It's more about honoring those who are helping me build the company and loving my family and doing good with what I have. I think the fisherman would probably approve of this. The banker probably wouldn't understand.
Glad this discussion has been helpful for you. It's always good to question your own why. And yes, it's 100% honorable to want to build a large company and bless your employees in a way that other employment opportunities don't offer. It that is your first and foremost why, then you'll be successful. The profits follow that. Just don't let the tail wag the dog.


LawnSite Fanatic
If you're going to look at the business as a passive investment like you're describing here, the first idea that comes back from my head is Jim Cramer's "Am I Diversified" segment. This concept you're incorrectly advocating is like taking your investment portfolio and buying a single stock, aka betting it all on black or hard 8 for example. No one would advise that and I certainly wouldn't either.

If you have the desire to be a passive owner, then its time to sell out and diversify your holdings.
Who says that’s the only thing he has as a revenue stream?

as GM the only one you’re concerned with is the one your hired to be in charge of.

most of the owners I’ve dealt with had other revenue streams either related (like a nursery and landscape supply) semi related (like commercial real estate) or even one time completely unrelated (also owned bars and a restaurant)

I’m not advocating anything
I’m telling you people do it
Quite frequently in my experience, which is obviously more vast than yours.

Where the Pavement Ends

LawnSite Member
Montgomery, AL
Brendan; You've got buckets full of great advice here from people "who've been there, done that". Process it all.

I'll add a few things that I didn't see in any posts. And for reference, I was a COO for a regional healthcare company that did $5-$6 Million per year.

1. As stated you will need someone to handle all of the daily nuts and bolts of the operation. Think of this as "Neck Down" management. Things and issues in this realm are handled by the person placed over those. Then think of the Owner/CEO as being a "Neck Up" position. This is where all of the strategic plans and ideas flow from. New revenue streams, acquisitions, etc. As a company grows, a layer of middle-management may be required. Most of the other posts gave you a good idea of what these position should be and how much to expect them to be paid.

2. Another tool that top tier business owners and consultants use is "Reverse Engineering". I used this in healthcare, and in my LCO when I bought it. You began that by asking "What does it take to get there?"

Take your current revenue model, and using the percentages of each to both revenue and expenses, and scale it to your target revenue. This will give you an idea as to what numbers you need to be able to achieve in order to get there. Then you can look at each line item on your P&L sheet and determine if it is a reasonable objective, and if so, where do I need grow towards in order to get to that number (either revenue growth or expense reduction), what do I need to improve or change, and how am I going to monitor it? If you start at the end, and work backwards, you often see the process from a results oriented viewpoint. If you document this process, you end up with a "Playbook" that gives everyone a step by step process to follow for each job, position and responsibility, and how each are interconnected. Patrick Lencioni has two incredible books that provide details on how to grow a business, and how to strengthen a team. They are, "The Advantage" and "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team"

Here is a link to his YouTube video:
Wish you and everyone here the very best!


LawnSite Member
Ambler, Pa
Lots of great advice. I have built a number of companies to considerably higher revenues (and increased margins) a few times. The old adage "you get what you pay for" is true. You hire and pay someone less than six figures plus (more or less) in compensation you are likely going to get someone who may be good at operations but may not have what it takes to look forward in the business and help grow it. It's not an easy task and to do it you need to be well rounded in almost every facet of the business and be able to look forward and develop a long term view, how to get there and how to execute. Most often the failure is not knowing how to execute and getting the right people for the right positions. In today's world i find labor shortage at all levels to be our biggest obstacle.

Best of luck and i hope you get there.