ChemLawn To Lose $212 Million In Sell-Off
As reported here in February, TruGreen (ChemLawn) will bail out of the landscape construction industry. In a deal that will reportedly close Friday or Saturday of this week, TruGreen’s parent company will receive $38 million from a Los Angeles private equity firm — which represents a $212 million loss.
ServiceMaster paid $250 million for TruGreen-ChemLawn Landcape in 1999, just 18 months before a unanimous Canadian Supreme Court decision in Spraytech & ChemLawn vs. Hudson began to erode the company’s image.
The buyer, Aurora Resurgence, isn’t giving any indications about its plans for the struggling company or whether or not the name — that changed from ChemLawn to TruGreen in the wake of the Hudson decision — would be changed or retained.
Gross revenues for the landcare division have declined from a reported peak of $400 million, to a reported $238 million according to the industry trade journal known as Lawn & Landscape magazine. The associate publisher of the magazine, Chuck Bowen, called the deal “a fire sale.” The comments from readers at the bottom of that article are particularly telling.
“Just because you’re the biggest doesn’t mean that you’re the best,” wrote a poster named Daniel Hanson. “Especially when you chrun out the low quality of work that TruGreen Landcare is known for!”
Speculation remains that Aurora Resurgence will ultimately sell off its new acquisition to strategic buyers like Valleycrest and Brickman, which are both huge regional landscape firms that offer mowing and landscape construction services. ServiceMaster, which will be shedding approximately 4,200 employees in 38 states in the Aurora deal, told Lawn and Landscape magazine that it intends to focus on increasing its home and commercial pesticide and fertilizer business going forward.
TruGreen’s marketing has been vigorous this spring as it tries to offset a significant customer drop last year. Some homeowners are reporting receiving as many as a dozen fliers in the past two months offering special deals on spring application of wee-killing chemicals.
The Toxics Action Center in Boston, meanwhile, continues to encourage homeowners and especially schools to avoid the company in its “Be Truly Green — Refuse to Use ChemLawn Campaign.”
“Across the country, college and high school students, as well as their parents and friends, are calling on TruGreen ChemLawn, the nation’s largest lawn care provider, to stop using toxic pesticides on their campuses,” said the organization’s web site.