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American Society of Landscape Architects


May 2007 Issue

News Alert: Buyouts are Big Business
ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest privately held landscape construction firm, is casting its net into design.

By Susan Hines

News Alert: Buyouts are Big Business James Yang/

Last year, MSD Capital, a private-equity investment firm formed exclusively to manage the capital of computer magnate Michael Dell and his family, purchased a majority ownership interest in ValleyCrest Companies, the nation’s largest privately held provider of integrated landscape services.

With its influx of computer-generated capital, ValleyCrest didn’t buy more John Deere tractors or purchase another landscaping or lawn care company. Instead they went after design, buying some of the best landscape architecture offices they could find to meet client demand for new services—commercial design/build of the very highest quality through a new company division called ValleyCrest Design Group and high-end residential design/build through Estate Gardens by ValleyCrest, a division they debuted in 2006.

Composed of five distinct landscape architecture design studios—JamesHyatt Studio, Denver; Comstock Studio, Calabasas, California; HRP Studio, Santa Ana, California; SiteWorks Studio, Fairhope, Alabama; and Phil Graham Studio, St. Petersburg, Florida—ValleyCrest Design Group is being promoted as offering a unique “integrated design/build service” and “the only company to propose such a holistic and efficient approach to completing landscape projects.”

Certainly ValleyCrest is not the only landscape construction firm offering design/build. But with 57 years in the landscape industry and an experienced cost-estimating team and due diligence department, as well as in-depth knowledge of what to expect during the construction process, ValleyCrest is aiming for high design, sound construction, and satisfied clients. By instituting a collaborative approach, the company aims to make money from stringent accountability in cost management and project administration. Ultimately, a shorter construction time provides lower costs, a higher profit margin, and increased customer satisfaction.

What do industry experts and other landscape architects think about the construction company’s move? What’s in it for ValleyCrest, and what’s in it for the design studios they have acquired?

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