Jensen, NLS join Monarch Landscape Holdings

Monarch Landscape Holdings acquired two more West Coast landscape companies. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.

San Jose, Calif.-based Jensen Landscape and Woodinville, Wash.-based Northwest Landscape Services(NLS) are now part of the private equity-backed company that entered the market last May with the acquisition of Signature Landscape Services in Redmond, Wash.

Brian Helgoe (3) Brian Helgoe

“I’m honored that landscape firms the caliber of Jensen and NLS have chosen to be a part of Monarch because it validates the partnership we envisioned creating with our equity partner, One Rock Capital Partners,” said Brian Helgoe, CEO of Los Angeles-based Monarch. “Our success in attracting these landscape industry leaders is directly correlated to our platform being closely aligned with their customer-first service values, landscape-based workplace culture and collaborative team approach.”

Helgoe is a ValleyCrest (now BrightView) and McKinsey & Co. alum with more than 20 years of landscape industry experience.

Monarch’s companies have more than $80 million in annual revenue and 1,000-plus employees across four states, according to a news release.

Ultimately, the companies will join under one brand, although a time frame and unifying name are to-be-determined, Helgoe said.

Jensen, which had been employee-owned since 1994, ranked No. 32 on the 2015 LM150 list of the largest landscape companies with $40 million in 2014 revenue.

“We chose to be a part of Monarch because we recognized its leadership group is filled with experienced, front-line landscapers who share our vision and its a work atmosphere that understands and values landscape expertise,” said John Vlay, Jensen’s chairman, CEO and president, who will continue to operate the firm as executive vice president. “We know our customers will appreciate seeing the same people delivering the high level of service they’ve come to expect from Jensen at their properties.”

Jensen wasn’t for sale and wasn’t seeking investors, said Vlay, but a mutual acquaintance connected him with Helgoe more than a year ago.

Once Vlay and other Jensen leaders decided to pursue a sale, they brought on an independent trustee to represent the ESOP, which was the majority owner of the company. The reaction has been positive but there was some surprise, said Vlay of the deal that closed April 1.

“People were surprised because the company has been around for 47 years and run as basically a small, family business,” he said. “They said they didn’t realize we were for sale, and I told them we weren’t for sale. But I think it’s the next great chapter for Jensen and the employees.

“Everything (Helgoe) said connected with me,” Vlay said. “The thing I liked was he understood and was passionate about both maintenance and construction. Usually, people are one or the other.”

NLS, which became part of Monarch on Feb. 12, was owned by Tom DiMeco, Vaughn Weedman and Frank Corzine. DiMeco and Corzine have stayed on as members of the leadership team; Weedman retired.

“The foundation NLS, established as the largest landscape company in the Northwest, serves as a great launching point for our next growth phase under Monarch’s umbrella,” said DiMeco managing partner of NLS, who will assume the role of senior vice president at Monarch. “It is terrific to see our team being warmly welcomed into a family of companies that prides itself on being a great place for landscape professionals to work.”

Crews and managers from both firms are expected to remain in place. The Monarch approach when bringing together companies is to forego many changes initially as it carefully integrates people and practices, the release said.

Monarch said it intends to continue building its West Coast presence with additional partnerships with regional landscape firms with revenue between $10 million and $50 million.