More than 25 years ago two business magazines, Lawn Care Industry (LCI) and American Lawn Applicator (ALA), competed in the chemical lawn care segment of the green industry. Both reported on industry issues and innovations while also providing business management and how-to information to help lawn care operators (LCOs) become successful. For three years I served as editor of LCI.
Recently, while cleaning out a file cabinet I came across a single issue of LCI. I rediscovered that long-forgotten magazine on the very day TruGreen and Scotts LawnCare jointly announced a merger and the wire services hummed with reports of a Dow and DuPont merger. The three events occurring in bang, bang, bang fashion seemed somehow connected and fitting to me.
Briefly leafing through that long-forgotten issue of LCI caused me to reflect on how much the green industry and suppliers to the industry have evolved and changed since the early 1990s. Nothing is as unchanging as change itself, I reminded myself. Everything moves on, and we must adapt to the change and realign our perceptions of the new reality… which, of course, will itself change.
In the late 1980s ChemLawn, the biggest lawn care company in the world, struggled under the ownership of EcoLab. ChemLawn, it turned out, was only a few years away from being acquired by TruGreen. The late 1980s/early 1990s was also a time when companies providing specialty chemicals to the industry were being acquired or merged, also.
The recent news of a TruGreen/Scotts Lawn Care merger and the giant Dow/DuPont will cause all participants in the agricultural and specialty chemical markets to seek out and address the challenges and opportunities these new developments will mean to them.
Change begets change, after all.
I held irrefutable proof of that in my hands as I tossed my remaining issues of LCI into the recycle bin. Both LCI and ALA, the two publications focusing on the chemical lawn care industry in the 1980s disappeared by the early 1990s. They lost their identities as they morphed into publications more in tune with the changing green industry services market.
The TruGreen/Scotts merger and a combined Dow/DuPont (assuming it passes muster with regulators) are causing industry participants, especially competitors, to yet again reassess their pecking order and how it might be threatened or can be improved in bigger landscape of the newest market realities. As a result of these recent mergers, look for more realignments involving the chemical industry and the service companies that rely upon its products.