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Relationship Building, Reliability Key to Mass.-Based Business' Success

Thu July 11, 2024 - Northeast Edition #15

Greg Cole (L), president, Cole Landscaping, with his Alta Equipment representative, Ryan Sears.
CEG photo
Greg Cole (L), president, Cole Landscaping, with his Alta Equipment representative, Ryan Sears.
Greg Cole (L), president, Cole Landscaping, with his Alta Equipment representative, Ryan Sears.   (CEG photo) A JCB 417 wheel loader is Cole Landscaping’s primary tool for loading materials.   (CEG photo) Cole Landscaping’s JCB 55Z-1 compact zero tail swing excavator has proven to be a very useful tool, even more so with the addition of a thumb.   (CEG photo) The JCB 270T compact track loader has a side door entrance, which dramatically improves safety and ease of entering and exiting the cab.   (CEG photo)

Cole Landscaping is a large residential and commercial landscaping firm headquartered in Rowley, Mass., which serves the north shore region. The projects that it tackles for residential customers include property management; lawn care; plant health care; landscape design; hardscapes; outdoor kitchens; pool and water features; and irrigation.

For commercial customers it is primarily called upon to do landscape design and build; property maintenance; irrigation; and snow removal.

CEG photo

"We look at each customer as a lifelong commitment and relationship," said Greg Cole, president of Cole Landscaping. "Our goal is to improve our customers' quality of life as well as the value of their property. We help customers consider every detail of each project with the goal being not only to increase the value of their property, but to also make sure it can be easily maintained."

Cole Landscaping has embraced technology and the company believes in taking advantage of any new products that can improve its customer service.

"From scheduling customers to managing our fleet using GPS, we rely on technology to be more efficient," Cole said. "We do our landscape design using the latest software with 3-D models, which provide a realistic view of our proposed project. Our back office uses landscape specific management platforms that allow us to look at any project in real time as needed. We use a software called Aspire that tracks all key customer interactions and then integrates with Google tools and Outlook to help us manage tasks, appointments and e-mail correspondence. We are finding these technology tools to be critical to our future growth and the key to managing customer communication.

"We work closely with industry-related associations whom we find to be critical to staying on top of industry trends," he added. "Beyond the relationship with associations, we maintain our competitive edge by attending seminars and trade shows across the country. We are constantly adapting new strategies and solutions to continue to grow and provide our clients with the service they deserve."

According to Cole, the focus of his company's 30-year history has been servicing customers on the north shore and becoming experts on the various conditions and circumstances unique to each area.

"We pride ourselves on keeping open and continuous communication with each customer during the entirety of their project," he said. "We pride ourselves on having same-day response to any questions or concerns a client may have and we are absolutely dedicated to sticking to the agreed upon time frame and budget."

Employee training also is critical to being able to achieve its goals, along with meeting customers' expectations.

"Our entire staff meets every week for a team meeting," Cole said. "Part of each meeting is dedicated to safety and the balance to operational training, such as how to properly trim a hedge or how to operate a skid steer. Safety is of the utmost concern to us. Our employees are family, and we want them to come home every day in the same condition that they left."

CEG photo

Between the company's longevity, product knowledge and the dedication of its employees, Cole Landscaping has opportunities to get involved in many unique projects, including a recent pool project in Marblehead where the pool was being installed on a hillside with a 30-degree grade that had to be maintained.

The future is bright for Cole Landscaping. It has projected that by the end of the decade it will have 160 employees and it is currently looking to invest in a second facility to reduce windshield time.

Cole is quick to point out that his employees at times are only as good as the equipment they have access to complete a project. With that in mind, Cole Landscaping has made significant investments in its equipment fleet. The company has purchased six Toro Dingo TX track loaders with vertical lift loader arms, which gives each Dingo a 1,000-lb. capacity for loading and unloading. The vertical lift makes the machine very flexible and able to use attachments such as augers and vibratory hammers.

"We love our fleet of Dingo machines and use them for many applications, from pulling pipes to loading and unloading trucks," he said. "We typically have one Dingo machine at each project that we are working on."

Relationship building and reliability is the key to the company's growth Cole said his company looks to receive the same from its vendors.

"Alta Equipment, who sold us the Dingo machines, gives us great customer service. Ryan Sears, our sales representative with Alta, understands the work that we do and does everything possible to keep our fleet up and running. But, with the Dingo machines we typically do not need any support. I would highly recommend that anyone in our business own these machines."

Another machine that Cole Landscaping has purchased from Alta Equipment is a JCB 270T compact track loader.

"About two years ago, I knew we were going to be hit with a blizzard. With just one day's notice, I called Ryan [Sears] and he showed up with a JCB 270T, a 74 hp compact track loader with a 2,700-pound load capacity. It was exactly what we needed.

"On short notice, he provided us with a compact track loader that perfectly met our needs. We use it constantly for snow all winter and we use it to load materials throughout the year. The machine is great. It's easy to get in and out of, gives us great visibility thanks to the single arm boom and great ground speed.

"The single arm boom is very important to us from a safety standpoint," he added. "The loader boom allows for a side door entrance, which means no more climbing over the boom to get into the cab, a great safety innovation. Besides providing a safer environment for our operators, the machine is very stable and very strong."

Another machine in the Cole Landscaping fleet is a JCB 417-wheel loader, a 2-yd. loader with a 125 hp engine. Cole Landscaping relies on this loader to fill its salters and help with the snow removal needs. One of the key features of the JCB 417 is its quiet motor operation.

"We live in a decibel restricted area," Cole said. "We cannot have a machine that operates at over 100 decibels. The JCB 417 meets those decibel requirements."

CEG photo

The most recent JCB purchase from Alta Equipment is a JCB 55Z-1 compact zero tail swing excavator with an operating weight of 12,000 lbs.

"Once again Alta Equipment delivered an awesome machine to us. It has tremendous digging and lift capacity and with the addition of a thumb it has become a very flexible tool for us."

When asked why Alta Equipment is Cole Landscaping's equipment supplier of choice, Cole said, "All of the machines are reliable and that's important. But it's really the performance of our sales rep that puts it over the top for us. I have his cell number and I am encouraged to call him day or night and, believe me, I do. Every time I have needed him, he has come through.

"I am a very loyal guy, that's why we service customers the way we do at Cole Landscaping. Because we know that great service will ultimately give us customer loyalty. Alta Equipment and Ryan [Sears] have given us that same excellent level of service."

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