WICHITA — Since buying Suburban Landscape Management out of bankruptcy in late 2007, Jim Biehler and seven former managers of the company have increased sales from about $3 million to more than $4 million.
Now, they're looking to further grow with the acquisition of Dreamscapes in Derby.
"Part of our business plan for the next two-to-three years was to experience some growth through acquisition," Biehler says.
He learned about Dreamscapes, which he says started "under the worst of times" in 2008.
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"It's been about as tough as any time you could have started the business," Dreamscapes founder Wes Pechin says.
"I was competing against people who were becoming laid off and instantly hanging a shingle out and saying they were a landscaper," he says. "I was also competing in a time when people were scared to spend their money. ... It was just a difficult time in terms of trying to gain a foothold in the market."
The decision to sell was still a hard one, he says.
"I finally figured out ... it takes a village."
Pechin says he wasn't a big operator, but he wasn't small, either, and it became overwhelming to do the landscaping and keep up with day-to-day business operations.
"You know, when you're stuck there in the middle ... it's a frustrating place to be."
Biehler could identify. His son, John, started Suburban in 1993. He joined in 1998. Some health issues John Biehler experienced led to difficulties at the company, he told Have You Heard? in 2007, and the subsequent bankruptcy.
That's when Jim Biehler and the management group decided to buy the company.
"Probably if I had known in 2007 what the economy was going to do in 2008 and beyond, I would have real second thoughts about doing the reorganization," he says.