Jim Eccleton grew up on the golf course. Naturally, he started working for a country club, where he became grounds superintendent and worked for more than a dozen years.
Members were so impressed with the property, they often asked him for advice about turf issues at their homes and businesses. “I finally determined I should start a business in 1987, and Country Club Turf seemed like a good name since I was a country club superintendent,” Eccleton says. At first, he offered basic lawn care and sprinkler services, which opened the door to other services.
Over several years and a handful of acquisitions, Eccleton added equipment and skills to meet customers' needs and Country Club Turf Cos., eventually become a full-service, year-round company.
Eccleton saw his first acquisition opportunity in 2000, when a business in the area went up for sale.
The company, Silver Rain Irrigation, had been larger than Country Club Turf at one time, but the business was struggling. Still, it possessed the equipment Eccleton needed to improve his irrigation services, adding installation and repair capabilities. Plus, the price was right.
He purchased Silver Rain Irrigation, increasing his sprinkler business. By combining the company's inventory with his attentive approach to customer service, growth was inevitable.
“The business was not doing well, so when I purchased it, I instantly gained a large percentage of their customers because they were not being serviced properly,” Eccleton says.
Then, the owner of nearby Lakewood Irrigation suddenly died, leaving no transition strategy behind.