Grass is getting greener for artificial turf company ForeverLawn
Between soccer, dogs, and people who just want a manicured lawn with little or no maintenance, ForeverLawn’s Louisville business is booming and may need to expand soon.
Based east of Canton, the company has developed several types of artificial turf for special applications, along with a national network of more than 70 dealers who sell and install its products.
What started as a small family business has grown into a company with annual sales of $ 25-35 million and revenue of $ 70-80 million for the total sales of its national dealer network, said Dale Karmie, CEO of ForeverLawn.
“We’ve actually grown very quickly. We’ve probably doubled (sales) since 2014,” said Karmie, who owns the company he founded with brother Brian in 2004.
The artificial turf market has grown overall as more and more people and organizations try not to devote labor and resources to maintaining real grass, Karmie said. Plus, the lawn has improved over the years, he added.
Most sports fans know how artificial turf, once known almost everywhere under the brand name AstroTurf, has improved. Gone are the days when artificial fields offered athletes the chance to suffer a concussion and a carpet burn in the same fall or tackle. The new artificial fields now offer the feel and cushioning of real lawn.
But ForeverLawn took the concept one step further – several steps in fact.
“We’ve broken down into five segments of the market that we call vertical markets,” Karmie said, noting that each segment has its own specialty turf designed by ForeverLawn and made for it by a third-party company in Georgia.
Among them is the company’s perennial best seller called K9 weed. Designed for dogs, it allows urine to flow through without staining, does not cling to what needs to be scooped, and is chew and dig resistant, while still making it an ideal surface for dogs to run, Karmie said. It’s also antimicrobial, he added.
Then there is the company’s playground lawn, which is softer than most other lawns to keep children safe from falling. golf green grass that is short and manageable; Sports turf for sports fields; and regular turf for home and business lawns.
“Landscape, K9 and playground make up the majority of our volume. … But what has increased in recent years is the sports turf and golf greens, ”said Karmie.
Business has been going well since the company moved to Ohio from its original headquarters in Albuquerque, NM, Karmie said. He and his brother initially thought his product would work best in the water-hungry Southwest, but soon found out it didn’t have to be there and the owners brought it back to their Ohio homeland.
Karmie believes that by gaining more market share, the company can continue to grow.
“I would like to say that we dominate the market, but we are not,” he said. “We probably make up less than 10% of the lawn residential market. We have so many opportunities for growth.”
If the company can capture more of this market and continue its uptrend as planned, ForeverLawn will likely need to build more space in Louisville.
The company currently operates from a 12,000-square-foot office building and 30,000-square-foot warehouse on 35 acres with space for further construction, Karmie said.
“We already do,” Karmie said when asked if he needs to expand. “We moved in here in 2018 thinking we had enough space for a decade, but we’re full. We’ll probably consider expanding in the next 12 to 24 months.”
The company hasn’t yet decided what it will build, but Karmie said it needed more employees.
ForeverLawn has grown in all aspects including sales, dealers and direct employees, Karmie said, adding that it also needs more employees.
“We have more than 70 employees at ForeverLawn and we have 75 dealerships across the country, I believe,” said Karmie.
ForeverLawn is currently recruiting including a marketing manager, members of the installation support team, and other roles.
“We’re not slim. We’re not trying to keep our staff as small as possible in order to maximize profits; we’re probably doing the opposite,” said Karmie, who added that his priority is making sure the company is its own Customers and its dealers to support further growth.
That makes it good too, said Tim Bast, a dealer and owner of ForeverLawn of South Jersey, near Philadelphia. Although he is only 31 years old, Bast already has a long history as a trader in the company. His father started the dealership when Tim was in high school and he sometimes missed classes to help with an installation, he said.
Bast said he likes ForeverLawn because the Karmies treat their dealers well and, perhaps more importantly, because he thinks the company has the best turf on the market.
“We’ve been installing it for 15 years and have never had to replace it on a single project,” said Bast.
In and around Philadelphia, ForeverLawn’s K9 weed is a particularly big hit with customers, according to Bast.
“As the places become more pet friendly, they really need a place for dogs to run around and play. We run a lot of dog parks in the Philadelphia area, ”said Bast. “We actually built all of the artificial turf (municipal) dog parks in Philadelphia. They all have K9 grass. … We are building apartment complexes, dog parks on the roof in the city center and then also many residential buildings. “
Here in Ohio, however, Karmie said that sports stadiums are becoming his biggest customers.
To date, the company has mainly done high school fields, in addition to sports turf installations for the NFL Network, ESPN, Disney, and Universal Studios. But that should change.
“In the field market, it was mostly high school. But we’re doing our first college field at Malone University down here in Canton,” said Karmie. “That’s happening this summer. It will probably start in about four weeks (early July). This will be our first college competitive field.”