Lessons in leadership with an LM150 CEO

Read Time

4 minutes


Abby Hart


Aug 4, 2023

Lessons in leadership with an LM150 CEO

Leading one company, let alone five, is not easy, but that’s the daily grind for Trey Brock, CEO of LMC Landscape Partners. 

LMC Landscape Partners is a service business platform comprised of five companies based in Alabama and Texas: Alabama Lawn Masters, LMC/Embark, Property Management Source, Owens Landscape Group, and Woodlake Outdoor. The company ranked No. 34 on the 2023 LM150 list with $79 million in revenue.

Brock is doing something right, with the five companies having a record-breaking year in organic growth and the entire platform averaging 96% client retention and 99% management retention. 

What brought Brock to landscaping after spending his whole career in facility management? After decades at regional companies and 12 years as a senior executive at a Fortune 500 facility company, he started considering some new ventures that would allow him to build his team and return to a service-first approach.

“I was excited about the opportunity,” Brock says. “Landscape services have always been an offering throughout my career, so I have experience, and I like the idea of what we’re trying to do: find companies with excellent momentum and culture and help them with infrastructure to get them growing.”

He sat down with Aspire to share his approach to learning and leading in the green industry. 

What have you learned in the facility management industry that you’ve brought to your work at LMC?

I took an endeavor like this because it's very granular. We’re buying founder-owned small, medium, and large landscape companies, many of which started with a truck and a trailer. Next thing you know, they have built a successful business by doing what they said they would do. 

I learned in my prior role that through growth, you can lose sight of who gets the work done every day: the frontline workers. I wanted to sit at a table where my team and I could make decisions based on simple criteria:

  • Does it give us more facetime with the client? 
  • Does it grow the business?
  • Does it make us more efficient?

You have to be careful. When you get too large, you stop hearing what the frontline and operations teams say—that's a real risk. You start letting people at the top make decisions that are disconnected from how the work gets done. 

I started as an operator—a night supervisor. And I learned that you can't get too far away from how the work gets done. Every decision you make should be about that, so I try to stay close to the frontline to ensure we make good decisions.

How has technology helped you live your company’s values? 

You can't manage what you can't see. You can only hold our teams accountable if we give them tools to see what's happening in the business. We hold people accountable daily for running labor, material, and supply budgets, timing on billing and work orders, and generating work orders. We have to give them tools to see everything in real time.

I come from a time in the Fortune 500, where companies burden operations teams with systems, which takes time away from clients. I wanted something easy for (operations staff) to use. That solution is Aspire.

I see where Aspire is also in facilities now, and the solution translates well. I wish that I had this platform at several stops in my career.

Our operators have real-time data where they can make daily and weekly decisions instead of waiting till the ship has sailed to react to something. We can now make real-time changes to affect this week's payroll or billing. And we certainly can make changes based on the data in the middle of the month. Aspire gives us the ability to pivot faster and manage proactively.

You had no prior experience with Aspire, so how did you decide to implement Aspire across the entire organization?

In the facilities space, we used many different systems, but for the most part, we had good data and good visibility into our data. I firmly believe that data visibility is an essential component of running a service company.

When you look at (software) capabilities as we scale our business, you want something capable of growing with you. There aren’t many solutions in the landscape sector, and the other options weren't mature enough for the business size we're trying to build.

I know guys who have spent their careers in the landscape business, and they pointed me toward Aspire.  And then we acquired our Houston business, and they had a lot of success with Aspire.

What do you look for in potential acquisitions?

We're not in the fixer-up business; our model is not cutting labor or people to improve margins by 10%. That's not what we're here to do.

We're maintaining a family of brands, so we want a company with a good reputation, organic growth, and a leadership team with the potential to go to the next level.

These companies are thriving but maybe need more capital to invest in the business. By scaling and having more revenue to spread our overhead, we can come in and do a lot for these companies. We want to build that support infrastructure but not disrupt service delivery.

What are your goals for future expansion? Are you looking to target companies outside of Texas and Alabama?

We want to be in what you'd call your traditional landscape, long-growing season markets. We'd love a hub in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia. We certainly want to keep expanding in Texas. We'll consider some locations further up north, depending on the opportunity.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I hired a senior regional vice president who worked with me in the past to come over and work with us at LMC Landscape Partners. We had already started what I believed to be our foundation and a service-first approach where we appreciated what was happening daily on the front lines. We wanted to be sensitive to how we get the work done. He validated our work—and this is someone with their previous employer for 30 years. He said, "I love what you're doing here.” He said it feels like 15 years ago in his prior role. Anytime someone will follow you somewhere else and validate your thought process, how you run the business, and the culture, that makes you feel good about what you're doing and what you've done. 


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