Trinity Hunt Partners is expected to announce later this morning two add-on acquisitions for its Visterra Landscape Group, the Dallas private equity firm told PE Hub exclusively. The acquisitions of Cincinnati-based Oberson’s Nursery and Landscapes and Wylie, Texas-based Dyna-Mist add to the platform’s initial investment in Riverside Services in December 2022.
The firm will also announce the appointment of Alan Handley as CEO. An experienced business services executive, Handley comes to the platform most recently from LRS, a nationwide waste management and recycling business.
The goal for Chicago-based Visterra is to create a “super-regional or national” commercial landscaping platform, said Handley and Trinity Hunt partner Garrett Greer in an interview with PE Hub.
“We are in the business of building platforms, initially partnering with established local companies in an attractive sector and then joining hands with additional partner businesses as a part of a buy-and-build strategy,” Greer said. “We have plans to go super-regional or national with many of our investments, and that’s the case at Visterra.”
Handley added: “The core attributes that we like about this sector are that it is recession resistant; the business demands a higher level of service and professionalism compared to residential landscaping, so there are higher barriers to entry; and there are ample opportunities to cross-sell multiple lines of our existing business (maintenance, snow, sweeping, enhancements and construction) into any existing channel.”
The capacity to cross-sell services is key, because, “it provides the ability to expand our share of the customer’s wallet through any one of the existing lines of business that we are providing,” Handley added.
Cross-selling services will also help expand Visterra’s geographic footprint through spreading out certain services that one company may be offering to places where other companies are not, according to Handley.
Landscaping and caring for the grounds of a business are non-discretionary expenditures, Handley said. As an owner of a commercial property, “you can’t ignore snow; you can’t ignore the appearance of your property; and you can’t ignore the safety component that goes along with owning or managing these properties,” Handley explained. “These services are needed in perpetuity, regardless of what is occurring in the macro economy.”
“We are focused on steadily growing industries that have been resilient through different economic environments over the decades,” Greer said.
Trinity Hunt expects Visterra to make “dozens” of acquisitions, banking on the fragmented nature of the business.
“It’s a very large sector that has been fragmented for decades,” he said. “It aligns well with Trinity Hunt’s strategy and Alan’s prior experience in the waste industry, in terms of assembling an attractive platform that business owners are looking forward to joining in the months and years ahead.”
Among its differentiators, Greer said Trinity Hunt allows the existing business owners who join the platform to remain highly involved in the day-to-day operations of their business.
Although there are reports of wide variations between the ask-bid spread amongst PE investors and sellers, Greer said he hasn’t seen much of it in the last six months.
In its portfolio, Trinity Hunt has Alliance Group, a commercial HVAC business; Fleet Response, a provider of residential and commercial restoration, mitigation and repair services; and Miller Integrated Solutions, a provider of industrial cleaning and environmental services.
“We have been dedicated to these large, field services, route-based, blue-collar and boots-on-the-ground sectors for years through our investments in the commercial landscaping, commercial HVAC, and restoration services industries,” Greer said.
Trinity Hunt is not the only private equity firm investing in commercial landscaping. Just yesterday, One Rock Capital Partners unveiled a $500 million investment in BrightView Holdings, a Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based commercial landscaping services company.