Valencia landscapers are growing their operations across the region

Gary Horton, CEO of Landscape Development Inc., announced several acquisitions of the last year that have helped his business.

Valencia-based Landscape Development Inc., one of California’s leading landscaping companies, is in expansion mode for the latter half of 2018.

LDI’s maintenance division, Enhanced Landscape Management, or ELM, acquired the Ventura-based Quality Landscape Care, or QLC, in an asset purchase on Wednesday “without a hitch,” said LDI CEO Gary Horton.

“When you bring on new companies, particularly when they have so many new employees, you have to make sure everything is set correctly and everybody feels good about the change,” said Horton, who also writes a weekly column for The Signal.

The process leading up to the acquisition began with one of QLC’s founders, Michael Robinson. After following the work coming out of ELM, Robinson met with the ELM leadership, Horton said. That meeting led to talks about an acquisition.

“I’ve long admired ELM and consider joining ELM an optimal union between our two companies sharing identically matching customer-facing priorities,” Robinson said in a news release from Landscape Development.

Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

QLC’s 50 employees immediately joined Landscape Development following the transaction. The transition was immediate to “ensure a consistent brand in the ELM service areas,” according to the release.

Employees quickly acclimated to their new employer on Wednesday, which Horton said he found interesting to watch. The employees were fitted with new uniforms, given employment packages and individually met with a representative of LDI’s human resources branch.

But that’s not all.

“In this case, we’re able to offer them a substantial upgrade in health care and vacation benefits,” Horton said.

He added that this was a happy medium for the new employee and was different from what competing organizations offer.

In settling in to work with ELM, the new employees will be trained in safety and kept in shape through simple exercises to prepare ahead of upcoming landscape work.

“It’s a risky business with lots of moving parts,” Horton said. “Risk management is key.”

Landscape Development is looking at three more acquisitions before the year ends, which would increase the number of employees to 1,000, Horton said.

“This is part of a very planned strategy from a construction firm to a mixed-product company,” he said. “I’m pleased that our team, everyone from H.R. to safety and finance, did such a thorough job at executing the onboarding of the new staff.”

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