Did You Know… Our CEO is a Landscaper Too?
We’re willing to bet you didn’t know our CEO also runs a landscaping company!
Long before Andy Hopkins became CEO of Terrace Finance and Mower Finance (our specialty financing division), he was a landscaper. For 15 years, he and his brother Chris Hopkins have been running Twin Pines Landscaping together. Today the business employs over 50 people and grosses around $6mm in sales. Andy will tell you he has struck a balance between the board room challenges of running a fintech company and his love for being outdoors, talking to customers, and crafting beautiful landscapes. Located in Southborough, MA, Twin Pines has been his testing ground for making sure the finance solutions Terrace Finance brings together serve the green industry well.
So how is this leader of a fintech company able to balance both responsibilities?
Recognizing the value of strong teams, Andy and Chris rely on their strong executive team to run the day-to-day operations of Twin Pines. Most of the Terrace Finance team worked with Andy in previous companies, helping achieve successful launches and rapid growth.
As a kid, he remembers his earliest entrepreneurial venture selling wild raspberries and blueberries out of a little red wagon to neighbors with his brother. Later, while in college, he started his first serious venture, a painting business that kept him and a crew busy over the summers. He initially painted homes but eventually crossed over into the more profitable commercial sector, a move that helped pay for his college tuition. Once Andy earned his finance degree, he entered the corporate world and began to make a name for himself both in finance and operations. By age 32 he had turned around a struggling billing and customer care outsource provider to the deregulated utility industry, increasing its valuation dramatically. After that company was sold, he decided it was time to start his own management consulting business applying his experience helping struggling companies in the areas of billing, collections, cash management, and customer care— all the messy behind-the-scenes parts of businesses that are essential to thriving.
About Twin Pines…
Meanwhile, Andy’s brother Chris had founded and grown Twin Pines Landscaping into a 20+ person company with over $1mm in sales. But the strain of uneven cash flow and dealing with aging equipment was causing Chris to doubt the future of Twin Pines. “Anyone who has tried it knows how much sweat goes into growing a landscaping business,” Chris says, “and that’s what makes it so frustrating when you seem to be doing everything right, yet at the end of the day, the cash just isn’t there to keep growing.” Knowing his brother’s track record in turning around businesses, Chris sought Andy’s advice. The analysis: the business needed more than just an infusion of cash, it needed an efficiency overhaul.
Andy and Chris became partners officially in 2003, and although not twins per se, many folks assume Twin Pines was named for the two of them from the beginning (they are both tall). Once Andy came on board, he used the skills he had mastered in the corporate world to add new systems and controls within Twin Pines. The business started growing again, and by 2014 they had reached $2.5mm in sales.
Not wanting to stop there, and partly to overcome the seasonal nature of the landscaping business, the brothers began to diversify Twin Pines by purchasing adjacent home improvement businesses specializing in construction, electrical, plumbing, gutters, chimney cleaning, and others to form the Twin Pines Family of Companies. They are currently considering buying a concrete foundation company as the last piece of the puzzle needed to be able to build, maintain, and landscape properties top to bottom without the need for subcontractors.
Everyone around them told them they were crazy.
Didn’t they know, focus equals efficiency and therefore profits? But they didn’t listen. By bringing together multiple specialties, the focus became simplifying the decision-making process for homeowners who need only to remember one company when it comes to maintaining their homes. And when those customers receive excellent service, the decision becomes a no-brainer for them!
The math behind the logic.
Goal: To be a $10mm Company
Homeowners in Metrowest Massachusetts spend $10-20K per year on the maintenance and repair of their homes.
If you could serve all of their needs, you would need only 500-1000 customers.
Homeowners in Metrowest Massachusetts spend $2k per year on mowing and plowing.
If you’re only mowing lawns and plowing snow, you would need 5,000 customers to reach that goal!
It’s been seven years since they started diversifying. Both brothers will tell you they underestimated the complexity and amount of constant communication needed to be a full-service provider, but the approach has served them well over the long haul. They survived through the 2008-2009 financial crisis and were well-positioned to take advantage of the unexpected side benefit of the COVID crisis: homeowners’ desire to invest in their homes. “Most importantly, we are proud we haven’t had to lay off a single team member due to lack of work,” says Andy. In fact, now they are laser-focused on growing their team to meet present and future demand.
About Terrace Finance…
Andy’s transformation of Twin Pines into a one-stop resource united by excellent customer service inspired the Terrace Finance lending platform.
Today, Terrace Finance represents around 30 lenders with specific specialties and unique appetites, all available under one umbrella. Terrace Finance can match customers and businesses with finance solutions that are very targeted to their needs whatever they may be. The 1-stop format is what we spend the most time perfecting behind the scenes because Andy knows what a chore it is to seek out specialized financing from the thousands of lenders out there, especially if your credit is challenged (but even if it’s not.)
Mower Finance, our division specializing in landscaping and agricultural equipment, was Terrace Finance’s earliest success story. Leveraging Andy’s knowledge of the landscape industry and using Twin Pines as a test case, our lender line-up was crafted to satisfy any customer in this space including the ones newly venturing into the landscaping business with low or no credit. Our secret weapon is our own CEO who knows what it means to operate a fleet of trucks, trailers, and mowers, all while balancing the books and making all customers feel taken care of. You will not catch this CEO in a suit and a tie in or out of the board room!