There is something about Stay Green Inc. that keeps it “staying greener” as far as Lawn & Landscape Magazine, the landscaping industry’s premier publication, is concerned: In its popular May Issue, L&L ranked Stay Green No. 64 out of the “Top 100” landscaping firms in the U.S. and Canada for 2022 – a big jump from No. 81 in 2021.
Stay Green CEO Chris Angelo was one of just five executives from the lauded firms invited to share their thoughts on the current state of the industry.
This honor, Angelo says, must be shared with the entire 500-member Stay Green team that serves Southern and Central California. “It takes everyone working together to keep prospering like we have been despite the challenges of the last two years that include a pandemic, conflicts overseas causing supply-chain issues at home, inflation, and a tough labor market for employers,” he said. “But we have the right people on the job caring for our clients’ little ‘Gardens of Eden.’ So, we’re staying green.”
L&L ranks its list of Top 100 companies according to revenue generated in the past year. Stay Green generated $38.5 million in 2021, $8.2 million (27%) more than 2020’s $30.3 million.
In the L&L article, Angelo discussed changes and trends in the industry, and the challenges they pose for employers.
“In my years of experience, 2021 was probably the most trying and challenging year to manage and lead through,” Angelo said. “Just because of the unintended consequences of COVID, limited resources and people and inflationary pressures.”
Wage increases between 20 and 40% seen across all skill sets since 2020 demand defensive adjustments in employee hiring and retention practices, he said. “Industries that never used to look at the green industry to recruit from are now recruiting people out of the green industry to come work for them — whether that’s distribution, trucking and things of that nature,” he said. “That’s forcing us to pay more for an account manager, a production manager or branch manager.”
More than inflation and wage increases, it is California’s highly regulated market that creates the biggest challenges for the industry, Angelo said. “California leads the country in green initiatives, which obviously impacts landscape contractors like us. We’re state No. 1 when they talk about being sustainable and green.”
Innovative strategies are a big part of remaining sustainable, he said. Early adopters of regulations that are coming down the pipeline, like California’s ban on the sale of gas-powered equipment, which will go into effect in 2024, will fare better and be more sustainable in the long run, he said. “We’ve been in front of green technologies and using alternatives for the past several years,” he says. “It’s not going to be a shock culturally for our organization when it’s mandated to do that.”