The landscape industry tends to attract entrepreneurial types who started landscaping in their teenage years or younger. Niwar Nasim, president of Nasim Landscape, is no different.
But his landscaping path didn’t begin with summers and weekends spent running a mower or hauling mulch, though that is part of his story.
It started in Nasim’s native country of Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in the 1990s. The Nasim family fled Iraq and settled outside of Seattle. Nasim’s father, Khairi, started a landscaping business in 1998, Nasim and Sons Landscapes, where Nasim worked to help support the family when he wasn’t in school.
Nasim’s prospects of finding a job after college dwindled due to the Great Recession in 2008. The economic turmoil also took its toll on Nasim and Sons, as many commercial properties turned to industry giants like BrightView for landscape maintenance.
“It was a devastating blow because literally 90 plus percent of my dad's business was gone,” he recalls. “He was in his late 60s, and he didn’t have the energy to build it back up.”
In 2012, the Nasims struck a father-son handshake deal, and for the cost of the used mowers and two trucks, the “Son” in Nasim and Sons became the proud owner of a landscape business.
“Here we are, 10, 11 years later,” Nasim says. “I know it sounds like a cliche, but I do live the American dream. You can call your shots. Financial freedom has been the big thing.”
Quitting LMN for Aspire
Nasim Landscape, as it’s now known, is headquartered in Puyallup, WA, just south of Seattle, with a second satellite office underway in Lacey, WA. The company has 60 employees and serves high-end residential design/build clients and commercial landscape maintenance clients. The business continues to be family-run, with Nasim’s wife, Shilan, serving as the company’s controller.
When he purchased the business and started adding new properties and customers, he realized that spreadsheets weren’t built to scale the operation. He successfully began estimating in QuickBooks, but it couldn’t schedule jobs.
The company started seeing significant growth in 2015 and implemented LMN in 2016. LMN helped with estimating and budgeting but still couldn’t organize and streamline scheduling.
“It's the natural progression of growth,” he says. “As you grow, you have more needs.”
The business was more reactive than strategic at the time, and Nasim remembers they were making money but never had a clue how much, what kind of profit margins they had, and if they lost money, how much was lost.
The company onboarded Aspire in September 2020 and found a solution for its scheduling challenges and much more.
Know your numbers
Nasim was impressed with Aspire’s scheduling capabilities and its intuitive user experience. It’s easy to automate schedules by setting service frequencies for an entire year or provide customized programs and management plans for specific clients, he says.
It also provides accurate job costs and the ability to assess profitability by job and client.
“It’s so much easier to make a decision now,” he says, adding, “I’ve had some eye-opening discoveries after we put a whole year into Aspire and looked back.”
The company aims for at least a 50% gross margin on commercial maintenance. In one case, they thought they were close to that goal with a highly sought-after commercial client.
"We thought we were crushing it with this client,” he says. “We were doing that job at a 31% gross margin—we were basically paying this customer to work there,” he says.
Nasim provided detailed reports from Aspire, presented them to the client’s board, and obtained a healthy increase for the job.
This isn’t the only example of Aspire revealing data that would help increase profitability. “I could go on and on … I'm a big fanboy when it comes to Aspire,” he laughs.
Nasim contracted The Herring Group to examine their financials on a bimonthly basis, zeroing in on metrics like retention, growth, billable versus non-billable hours, and down to which crew leaders are most effective.
“(Aspire shows) a high level of detail and helps you know where you're struggling, where you're doing well,” he says. “It's incredible. I don’t see how you can run a business over two million if you don't have a system like that.”
In addition to The Herring Group’s CFO-level consulting services, Nasim signed with Two Twelve Advisors for more tactical education on Aspire, like creating standard operating procedures.
“They’ve helped us get so much more out of the software than we could've ever gotten on our own,” Nasim says. “It’s expensive, and I know it's not feasible for everybody to use these third-party consulting companies, but it was instrumental for us because we see the dividends immediately.”
Sky’s the limit
Now the company boasts over 20% net profit growth over the last three years, largely due to the success of its snow and ice division. But even without snow and ice, the company still achieves net profit in the mid-to high-teens.
High-profile clients are also contributing to that growth. In the fall of 2022, Nasim Landscape won a coveted contract for one of the largest HOAs in Washington.
“We joined Aspire at a little over $1.5 million in 2020. We made $7 million in 2022, and are budgeted to do $10 million in 2023 thanks to this large new contract we just won,” he says.
“This would have never been possible without Aspire and its capabilities,” Nasim adds. “You’ve helped a former refugee from a war-torn country realize his dreams.”