Twin brothers expand homegrown landscaping business in Norfolk with merger

Tim Eldredge started his landscaping company EarthScapes Lawn and Land Service in 1996 with a truck, trailer and the hope that not only would it grow, but his sons would one day take over.

The proud patriarch saw his aspirations come true. More than a decade later, Josh and Matt Eldredge, 39-year-old identical twins, became the owners of the Norfolk-based company, which grossed more than $ 2.5 million in sales last year.

On April 1, EarthScapes merged with Lawn-Aid, another local lawn and landscaping company based in Virginia Beach.

EarthScapes now has 45 employees, including Josh Eldredge as President, Matt Eldredge as Vice President, Ben Hewlett as Chief Operating Officer and Trey White as Chief Financial Officer.

When the twins were 14, their father immersed himself in the sideline to supplement his work as a Virginia Beach geoscience teacher, school suspension coordinator, and soccer coach.

“We had to mow six, eight, ten meters a week,” said Josh Eldredge.

After graduating from high school in 2000 – Josh from Ocean Lakes and Matt from Kellam – joined EarthScapes full-time.

The twins worked in the heat during the day and took night classes side-by-side to earn their landscaping degree from Tidewater Community College in 2004. The Eldredge boys’ older brother, Ryan, a sergeant major in the Marines, worked for EarthScapes until he joined the military immediately after September 11th.

Years later, Matt moved to Northern Virginia to accompany his wife Stephanie to a job. He worked for another landscaping company and ran the business within a short period of time.

“This has definitely been a big learning curve for me in terms of multiple crews, logistics and everything that comes with it,” said Matt Eldredge. “It was probably a crucial moment to see what companies can do.”

Eager to return to Hampton Roads, Matt returned in 2012 and the two again worked together on the day-to-day operations of EarthScapes – Josh for maintenance and Matt for overseeing the landscaping. Josh’s wife, Michelle, has been an office administrator and auditor for 10 years.

The story goes on

While the Eldredge brothers settled in their family business, Hewlett and White were busy starting Lawn-Aid as a side business of their marine careers. The fighter pilots – long-time friends whose first meeting at the flight school dates back to the early 1990s – retired as captains in 2017.

Both Hewlett and White, armed with their MBAs, decided to start an entrepreneurial “experiment” with a single lawn care crew. With perseverance, good work ethic, kind faces, and hard work, Lawn-Aid quickly grew into commercial and home maintenance and landscaping installations, White said. At the time of the merger, there were six employees on board.

“We hoped to grow it through good business practices and set some serious goals year after year – and we did,” said Hewlett.

The merger was the next logical step in their business plans.

And it was the next big step for the Eldredge brothers, who were looking for strategic small business acquisitions, turned to Hewlett and White.

“These are two really good guys who really know their stuff,” said White. “And we’re good guys and we get along in business.”

The company provides lawn care services to both residential and commercial businesses, including homeowners associations in South Hampton Roads. It also installs paved patios, fire pits, and other living spaces in the back yard. The lawn management area is growing rapidly.

Well positioned in the Hampton Roads community, White expects significant growth over the next three to five years. And Hewlett said their five-year plan would include satellite service on the peninsula.

“We want to be a major force in the landscaping industry in this area,” said White.

“It’s a great area to call home as a business owner,” said Matt Eldredge. “It’s a fertile community to work in, that’s for sure.”

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, sandra.pennecke@insidebiz.com

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