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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    What’s Going On: Jordan Brook sold to Maxum Irrigation in Waterford

    From left, Bob Grandieri and Kevin Grandieri, who run Maxum Irrigation & Plumbing’s irrigation business; Bryan Grandieri, who runs the plumbing business; Jack Stehle, who runs Jordan Brook Lawn Care, and Scott Gladstone, Maxum’s principal. Maxum late last year bought out Jordan Brook, but Stehle will remain to run the fertilization side of the combined business. Photo submitted

    Maxum Irrigation & Plumbing bought out Jordan Brook Lawn Care as of late last year to create a Waterford-based business that will serve thousands of customers in the warmer months ahead.

    As Maxum principal Scott Gladstone told me last month, his irrigation business was growing too big for the building it owns near Crown Pizza off Route 1, so when he heard Jordan Brook and its three and a half acres of land previously used as a nursery and garden center might be for sale just down the road, he jumped at the chance to buy it from Jack and Janet Stehle.

    “We really outgrew where we were down the road,” Gladstone said with a smile as he gave a tour of his new space.

    He and the Stehles were used to doing business together, as Jordan Brook was a cell phone customer of the Wireless Zone franchises he owns with Neil Ryan, and Gladstone used the Stehles’ lawncare services. In fact, Maxum had purchased Jordan Brooks’ irrigation business more than a decade earlier, before Gladstone bought the company.

    “We both had a really simplistic approach to business which was take really good care of our team, and if you take really good care of our team and give them all the the right training and the right education and so on they'll take really good care of the customers,” Gladstone said.

    One of the best parts of the deal, said Gladstone, is that Stehle and his wife, who ran the office, will be staying on. Jordan Brook, he added, has expertise in lawn fertilization, so Stehle will be training Maxum employees in that end of the business. The combined business will have about 20 employees, with a half dozen coming from Jordan Brook.

    Jordan Brook has been around for 28 years, and at one time it ran a garden center as well as a landscaping business. But it downsized a few years ago to concentrate on lawncare.

    “So basically today’s Jordan Brook business is back to its roots,” Gladstone said.

    Gladstone said Jordan Brook, like Maxum, is basically a seasonal business, and it will be keeping its name to continue concentrating on the fertilization business.

    “We’re keeping their staff; we’re keeping their pricing,” he said. “It’s been a good match to take a family business that’s been there for a long time, and Jack had a wealth of knowledge on fertilization. And, as you can imagine, we share a lot of the same customers.”

    Gladstone said the combined business, which runs essentially from March through November, works mostly with residential customers, but about a quarter of its revenue comes from commercial entities such as the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, Chelsea Groton and Dime banks and the Ocean House resort in Watch Hill.

    “We’re all over the state for irrigation,” Gladstone said.

    And Maxum has all the bells and whistles to focus on the customer experience, including being able to plan where to deploy its trucks so it can more efficiently direct them to locations that are close by.

    “We really are able to, you know, reduce travel time,” Gladstone told me.

    Gladstone said the whole deal started when Jack Stehle mentioned he needed a backup plan as he neared retirement age.

    “So you know, we took over a lot of the administrative side, paying the bills and selling and so forth but he's doing what he did before and doesn't have any intentions of slowing down,” Gladstone said. “If he wanted to take a day off, he's got someone behind him, to help him just run day to day.”

    Gladstone said his new headquarters at Jordan Brook will allow opportunities to increase their offerings over time in line with what customers are looking for, including organic lawn treatments. He estimates the merger with Jordan Brook will add about 50 percent to the size of Maxum’s overall business. Maxum puts in more than 100 irrigation systems every year.

    “In the irrigation world we are not able to finish all the jobs,” Gladstone said. “So starting every season, thankfully we have a list of customers that are waiting for us to start their new quotes.”

    This time of year, a skeleton crew is planning for the season ahead and doing maintenance on equipment. The plumbing part of the business is the only one that operates year-round.

    “They have an unbelievable reputation, and we're all just there to work for the customer,” Gladstone said of Jordan Brook. “So we're not looking to make any changes. We're not looking to do anything differently, just to be able to support the community.”

    Lee Howard is The Day’s business editor. To reach him for comments or story ideas, email l.howard@theday.com.

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