No Job Too Big
BC Landscaping Inc. has the capacity to tackle the largest erosion control projects
Business partners Jon Scroggs, an engineer, and Josh Kusnitz, a former banker, have created one of the most prominent erosion control companies in Georgia, and, after years of steady growth, are looking to expand BC Landscaping Inc.’s business throughout the southeastern United States.
BC Landscaping does grassing and erosion control for large-scale highway projects, as well as jobs for other public and private entities. “I’d say 80 percent-plus is Georgia Department of Transportation project work,” Scroggs says. “We will come in when they are beginning and put up orange barrier fence and silt fence, then put down temporary mulch to control runoff as the project progresses. Then we will start doing grassing as they start to get the finished grading done.”
While their work has been primarily in Georgia, the company is looking elsewhere in the Southeast, but it has to be the right job to prompt them to travel. “You can’t go 300 miles away for a little job that you are only needed on for one day a week,” Scroggs says. “It all depends on the type of job and how it is phased.”
Kusnitz agrees, “You can’t go after every opportunity out there. You really have to dig in and make sure that you can maintain margins. If you back out of your driveway to lose money that day, there is no sense in leaving.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently approved BC Landscaping for work in that state. The company has also done some work for the U.S. Department of Defense, Scroggs says. In addition, BC Landscaping has grassed subdivisions, landfills and areas around solar project installations.
Started in 2005, BC Landscaping quickly began to evolve into a hydroseeding and erosion control business. Scroggs purchased the company in 2008 and continued to grow it throughout Georgia. A native of Gainesville, where BC Landscaping is headquartered, Scroggs has an engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He has owned other small businesses and worked in the corporate world.
In 2012, BC Landscaping merged with its largest hay vendor, JW Hay Farms in Bartow County, Georgia, to become more vertically integrated. With the merger, Scroggs and Kusnitz, who had started JW Hay in 2006, became business partners. BC Landscaping was Kusnitz’s first large-scale hay customer.
The merger “increased our capacity exponentially because of the overlap in equipment,” Kusnitz says. “It just made for a much more efficient, highly competitive market in the erosion world, because one component of the erosion is the mulching, and mulching requires the hay. So, because we were producing our own product to put on the erosion side of the business, it increased margins exponentially.”
According to Kusnitz, JW Hay Farms, now a division of BC Landscaping, produces about 10,000 round bales and 70,000 to 80,000 square bales of hay annually on about 3,000 acres of leased land to support the erosion control operations. Most of this land is on corporate farms.
Kusnitz oversees the farm operations. That’s not bad for the former corporate banker who says he never ran a tractor until 2007. “I never even got on a tractor bigger than a 12-horsepower riding lawnmower,” he says.
Another thing that the merger brought to the table was dual operators. While they work on bid requests together, Scroggs is generally in the office while Kusnitz is in the field meeting with the contractor and making sure that everything on the ground is getting done. “This business does not run itself,” Kusnitz says. “You can’t be an office guy and trust that your guys on the ground are getting it done to spec.” Scroggs is based in Gainesville, while the hay farming operation is run out of Rockmart, Georgia.
Large Capacity, Efficient Operations
The biggest project that BC Landscaping has been involved in was the Northwest Corridor project. The $834 million project, the largest in Georgia Department of Transportation history, involved building a network of toll lanes along 30 miles on Interstates 75 and 575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties. “We did all the erosion control and grassing on the job.” Scroggs says.
BC Landscaping was a subcontractor for Northwest Express Roadbuilders, a joint venture of Archer Western Contractors of Atlanta; Hubbard Construction Company of Winter Park, Florida; and Parsons Transportation Group in Pasadena, California.
“We had a full-time crew on the job just about the whole four years,” Scroggs says. “A lot of the jobs we do are a one-day-a-week kind of thing. We go in as they grade and make progress…but on the Northwest Corridor project, they had so much work going that they were there sometimes six days a week. We did everything from silt fence to mulching, grassing, trees and slope matting.” He says the contractors told them that BC Landscaping was one of the only grassing and erosion subs that started and completed a project of that size with them. “We were very pleased that we were able to start and finish a job of this size,” Scroggs adds. “It turned out to be a really good job for us.”
The ability to do big projects like the Northwest Corridor is what sets BC Landscaping apart from other grassing and erosion-control companies.
“With the equipment that we have, we can very efficiently do the big jobs,” Scroggs says. “Most of our people have been with us for many, many years and we have a lot of experience. That combination allows us to really excel and do it efficiently. Other companies can run 30 to 40 rolls of slope mat a day and BC Landscaping can do 150 or more. They can mulch a few acres and we can mulch 10 or 15 acres.”
Scroggs goes on to explain that part of this comes from using the round bales of hay versus square bales: “We’ve got big tractors and big blowers, and you can dump a whole roll in and blow it out instead of having to push square bales into the blower one at a time.”
On those jobs where they do use square bales, they have come up with a unique system to deliver hay at a larger capacity. “A lot of people will put the square bales on a flatbed truck and go out and blow it at the project,” Scroggs says. “We use box trucks. You can get more hay in them. You don’t have to worry about strapping it down and people climbing up on it. When you are driving down the road blowing the hay, you don’t have people hanging off the trucks; they are inside the box. So it’s safer and you can get more hay to the job.”
Hands-on, Responsive and Responsible
According to Kusnitz, capacity and in-the-field management are what makes BC Landscaping special. “We have an owner in the field…as well as office support run by an owner,” he says. “When you see the boss get out of the truck and he’s covered in just as much mud as you are, that goes a long way with the employees—and it turns the eyes of the contractor as well. If there is a problem, it is immediately corrected.”
BC Landscaping is “a responsive and responsible erosion control company that can handle any size job,“ Scroggs says, “and we will be there when we say we will be there and do what we say we will do. That sets us apart; they ask us to come on a certain day and do the work, and we always show up.”