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Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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To Greener Pastures

At the helm of American Heritage Landscape, 39-year-old David Price is redirecting the 35-year-old business towards more fertile grounds. While construction has remained the backbone of the company his family acquired in 2006 – and they are keeping busy with projects that include building the landscape for the new Resnick Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Universal Studio’s new King Kong Ride and the Disney World of Color attraction – Price wants to pursue other areas of opportunity. Golf is one of them. “We’re working hard to take the construction side to the next level and one growth area we’re focused on is golf because that’s our family background,” said Price who worked for American Golf Corporation, a golf course management and maintenance company founded by his parents in 1971. The swing in the golf business is coming from increasing demand for retrofitting irrigation systems for water conservation, he said. “That’s basically our specialty,” Price said, adding that the company is bidding on more golf work than ever before. Recent projects include the Boulder Country Club in Colorado and Los Verdes Golf Course, in Palos Verdes. Price, who owns and manages American Heritage Landscape, which also includes a 48-acre nursery in Simi Valley and a maintenance division, also has big plans to boost grounds maintenance operations. “When we acquired [American Landscape] maintenance was not their main focus of business, it was construction, and by coming in and defining that we want to be world class in both of those categories that has really been driving our direction as we move forward,” Price said. With the goal of increasing the maintenance division from $5 million in current revenues to $12 million by 2015, Price has made significant capital investments in equipment, technology and people within the last year. The company hired a new dedicated sales force to seek maintenance contracts and added a new maintenance manager to lead the branch. In August the company acquired a new facility in Chatsworth to expand maintenance operations. The 3,000 square foot property will now house the company’s tools and equipment including its 150 trucks, out of which only about 20 have not been recently replaced or revamped. “Our game plan is to be poised in 2015 to capture what we’re setting up right now,” said Price, who is also charting strategies into new markets and new geographic areas, in order to position the company for fast and steady growth once the economy begins to turn around. History Founded in 1973, American Landscape at its peak reached $65 million in annual revenues and operated in several markets including Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Utah and San Diego. The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City fueled business as did the rapid real estate growth in other sectors like San Diego. “We grew quickly from $40 million to $65 million in about 2 years,” said Gary Peterson, one of the original founders of American Landscape who remains onboard as an officer in charge of business development. However, during the years following the Winter Olympics the economy slowed down dramatically in Salt Lake City and this coincided with a slowdown in San Diego’s real estate sector. At the same time the company ran into trouble integrating an acquisition in Sacramento. “The company found itself in a tough cash position after making significant investments in the expansion. We weren’t able to continue with our same business model and had to downsize,” Peterson said. It was then that the company decided to sell the majority ownership to the Price family, who brought in a much needed injection of capital. More than that, Price’s background in golf course management and grounds maintenance, has guided the company, allowing it to diversify in a tough economy, Peterson said. “The acquisition has brought both deep business experience and financial capabilities, and also the youth and enthusiasm of David- with an agronomic background- to take established companies to new areas and new heights,” Peterson said. Expansion plans Peterson said the company is planning to expand into the Inland Empire and San Diego markets and continue pursuing Ventura and Orange county areas. “A 15 percent organic growth is our target but we would also like to grow through some acquisitions,” he said. While the recession that has brought residential and commercial building to a near standstill has also hurt margins at American Heritage Landscape, Price said the company has managed to keep its work volume high and retained long term clients through “value engineering”. “We really work hard to help clients manage their money and we make suggestions on alternatives on trees or products that can reduce costs,” he said. “We do the same on the maintenance side. Properties are suffering from high vacancy rates so we’ll work something out with a property manager. Instead of trimming their trees every year, we’ll now do it every other year, things like that.” This approach has helped the company keep clients by helping them maximize dollars, in hopes that when the economy turns up so will profit margins. “Value engineering has been the big key during the process,” he said. “When the economy picks up we’ll be ready.” American Heritage LandscapeFOUNDED: 1973LOCATION: Canoga ParkCORE OF BUSINESS: Full-service landscape maintenance contractorNUmber of Employees: 250Revenues in 2009: $17 MillionRevenues in 2010: (Projected) $21 Million

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