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Firm finds a branch

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  • | 11:00 a.m. December 30, 2016
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What was once one of the largest tree-planting firms in the region, Turner Tree and Landscape, has a new owner after a tumultuous five-year run that included several foreclosures and a bankruptcy filing.

Fort Myers-based Juniper acquired Turner Tree in early December. Juniper had $35.8 million in revenue in 2015 and was ranked No. 42 on Lawn & Landscape magazine's Top 100 list of the largest companies in the industry nationwide. Founded by longtime industry entrepreneur Mike Duke in 2001, Juniper has offices in Venice and Naples and about 270 employees.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Darrell Turner, who founded Turner Tree in 1981, will stay on with Juniper as the Bradenton branch manager, under a division called Turner Tree-a Juniper Company. The facility will remain in east Manatee County, just off State Road 64, where Turner Tree has operated for years.

In a statement, Juniper executives say Turner Tree will provide “additional capacity for large tree moving projects across all branches, a service Turner is known for.” Duke, in the statement, adds that “Darrell is a pillar of the landscape industry and will be a valuable resource for the company.”

For Turner, well known in the Sarasota-Bradenton area construction and development community, the deal also provides closure and relief. “This has been 13 months of hell,” Turner tells Coffee Talk.

Turner Tree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. The firm owed more than $6 million, including $4 million on a bank loan and about $2.5 million to unsecured creditors, records show. Turner says the bankruptcy stems more from complications with a land deal and a divorce than any specific issue with the company. “We didn't liquidate,” says Turner. “We didn't close our doors.”

Turner Tree's issues go back to at least 2010. It had $8 million in revenue that year, but Turner, in a July 2011 interview, said the firm also had $4.3 million in debt. The company's capital was depleted, and the business was put up for sale.

The listing price was $19.5 million for Turner Tree when it hit the market in early 2011. That price was cut to $7 million by August that year.

At its peak in the early 2000s, Turner Tree and Landscape was doing $20 million in sales a year and had 170 employees. It planted trees on many of the region's largest road construction development projects.


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