Encore Landscape Management thrives during pandemic
Two longtime colleagues started their own landscaping business in 2019 and have seen consistent success in their first year, building business with large companies in the corporate landscaping field.
Then the pandemic struck, sending millions of office workers to work from home. But instead of job cancellations and open hours, Encore Landscape Management owners Mike DiFabbio and Juan Hernandez found their Phoenix business busier than ever in 2020.
At first, DiFabbio said he believed his main customers would cut spending and the landscape category would be among the first areas to be cut.
It turns out that while the buildings are practically empty, the need to keep their exteriors alive and thriving remained a priority.
Encore’s customer base includes large real estate and investment firms such as CBRE, Cushman and Wakefield, Prologis, Kidder Mathews, Caprock and Avison Young. The other clients are The Scott Resort in Scottsdale, Joyride Taco House and Upward Projects, the hotel group responsible for Postino.
Encore’s growth tripled in 2020 and is expected to double this year, DiFabbio said. Demand also triggered Encore to launch a branch in Las Vegas and a dedicated tree division in 2020.
“We thought the investment projects were going to disappear, but it was the opposite,” said DiFabbio. “It shows the confidence owners and managers have (in us), knowing the investment they have and they have to look good. “
Much of this is attributed to DiFabbio and Hernandez’s business model which focuses on relationships and a client list of professionally managed properties.
And Encore’s customers – 90% of them represent large commercial, industrial or commercial buildings that are very proud of optics –
Julie Cornelius, director of the international real estate company Lincoln Property Company based in Phoenix, is one of them. Encore serves five of Lincoln’s properties in Phoenix and Las Vegas. Since most of the employees were working from home during the pandemic, Cornelius said these conditions offered a good chance for tasks that might not have been able to be done if the buildings were fully occupied.
“When you have a large property and have the landscaping of all of our properties, you need them to look crisp and ready for inspection at any time,” Cornelius said.
Cornuelius had already worked with the management of Encore. When she found out that DiFabbio and Hernandez had started their own business, she was quick to sign them up. Cornelius said Lincoln is Class A and First Class A properties that require a high level of service that she knew Encore could provide.
“We don’t see our suppliers as suppliers. We see them as partners. Encore really is the epitome of it, ”Cornelius said. “They understand what we need… I have a lot of confidence in their ability to deliver what they say they are going to deliver.
Both veterans of the business landscape, DiFabbio and Hernandez have worked for the same large company for years, with DiFabbio in that company’s Las Vegas office and Hernandez in its Phoenix office.
When this business was sold in 2016, they left and continued their separate professional paths but kept in touch.
It didn’t take them long to realize that their ideas were aligned and joining forces would give them the opportunity to start their own business and run it the way they envisioned, but wouldn’t be able to if they worked for it. ‘others.
“It seemed like we could do better on our own. We thought, why not give it a go? »Says DiFabbio.
Over the past two years, Encore has grown to include a fleet of 25 vehicles, several divisions specializing in landscaping, arbor, new installations and upgrades.
Encore is part of a landscape services industry that employs more than a million people and is worth $ 105.1 billion, according to IBIS World.
During the pandemic, Encore worked with clients in a feasible way on both sides. Hernandez said they maintained the Scott Resort for free while it was shutting down, and when Upward Projects had to suspend service, they stayed in touch and helped as best they could. This included buying meals at their restaurants and distributing them to employees at the end of the day.
Both strongly believe in a positive work culture and a team attitude, two aspects of which they have always wanted to be a part.
“We learned a lot of good things from the original owners… When that business became part of a big business, all of those things were gone,” Hernandez said of his former employer and that of DiFabbio. “We felt that we could provide better service to our customers by creating a good environment for our employees. ”
In addition to the daily interactions, this includes events throughout the year such as recreational activities, raffles, donations of turkeys and hams for the holidays and corporate barbecues with Hernandez at the grill making his famous carne. asada.
Seeing the property present and convenient goes a long way in letting employees know that they are all a team, explained Hernandez, who started out pushing a lawn mower and more than 30 years in the industry have worked his way up through the ranks. ‘to become an entrepreneur.
He appreciates giving employees a chance to do the same.
“What’s gratifying is just providing a home for our guys. Not just giving them a job, but the opportunity to make a career out of it, ”said Hernandez.
Letting staff know that owners have their backs is also essential, especially when employees are not treated professionally. DiFabbio spoke about sitting down with former clients and having tough conversations about why the relationship isn’t right.
This has been essential to the success of the company and its continued growth in a competitive market.
“This is the culture we wanted to build, where we really look out for you and create positions for our employees to continue to grow,” said DiFabbio. “If you don’t grow up, you are dying. ”
What: Encore landscape management
Or: 2600 S. 20th Ave., Phoenix
Interesting statistic: The landscape services industry has a market size of $ 105.1 billion, according to IBIS World.
Details: 602-568-2582, encorelm.com