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Turner Tree and Landscape seeks buyer

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  • | 1:01 p.m. August 1, 2011
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Turner Tree and Landscape, one of the most recognized and established tree businesses on the Gulf Coast and Florida, is for sale.

While certainly recession-related, co-founders Darrell and Mary Ann Turner say the sale isn't about a business gone bad in the dire economy. Instead, the potential sale of the Bradenton-based firm, which had $8 million in 2010 revenues, is more about a time for change than a time for last rites. The 30-year-old business is profitable, the owners say, although it has $4.3 million in debt.

“We've depleted our capital,” Mary Ann Turner tells Coffee Talk. “I think it's time to bring in a some fresh capital, and a fresh pair of eyes.”

Another significant change: The Turners are recently divorced.

Mary Ann Turner, who runs the firm's finances, owns 51% of the business. She says she would sell just her shares of the company, so a new owner could partner with Darrell Turner. Darrell Turner has been the public face of the company and one of the area's most tireless networkers.

After a bootstrap-like start in 1981, Turner Tree, which does nearly anything tree-related, from relocations to transports to plantings, grew fast in the late 1990s, when it surpassed $20 million in annual sales. It grew again in the boom of the early-2000s, but the company's expenses, especially its payroll, ballooned the later half of the decade. It had 170 employees at one point.

The Turners have since spent the past two years in expense-control mode. The company no longer matches 401(k) contributions and doesn't pay overtime. Cutting back on overtime has saved the firm $20,000 a week in payroll, Mary Ann Turner says. It now has 80 employees.

The company also recently sold 30 pieces of excess equipment. That netted $100,000, Darrell Turner says.

Local commercial broker Stan Rutstein with Re/Max Alliance Group has the listing. The business includes 600,000 tress worth at least $5 million; equipment worth about $1.2 million; and two farms that total 123 acres, according to a Rutstein marketing release.

The price was $19.5 million when it first went on the market in early 2011. The price has since gone to $7 million. Rutstein has fielded many calls on the sale from the Gulf Coast, and a few from outside Florida. “There's been a pretty good amount of interest,” Rutstein says.


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