The nation's largest landscape services business, ValleyCrest Cos. of Calabasas, has agreed to merge with another industry giant, Brickman Group Ltd. of Maryland.
The new company, which has yet to be named, will be a landscaping behemoth with more than 22,000 employees and annual revenue of about $2 billion.
Each serves large-scale clients such as corporations, universities, hospitals, housing communities, hotels and resorts. They also landscape and maintain parks and other grounds for public entities.
ValleyCrest landscaping clients include the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Wynn Las Vegas hotel, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, and the Chinese and Japanese Gardens at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.
"We are excited to bring together two family-founded industry pioneers to continue shaping the industry while caring for client relationships that have been built over decades," said Andrew Kerin, chief executive of Brickman.
The transaction is expected to close by the middle of the year. Upon completion, Kerin will be chief executive of the new company. Roger Zino, now chief executive of ValleyCrest, will be vice chairman.
ValleyCrest is dominant in California and Florida, Zino said, whereas Brickman was established and grew biggest in the Northeast and Midwest. The two companies do compete in some of the same markets, however.
"We have known and respected one another for many years," Zino said, "and have always shared a commitment to superior customer service, a relentless focus on employee safety and support of the environment and communities in which we live and work."
Brickman is currently owned by New York private equity firm KKR, and ValleyCrest is currently owned by affiliates of MSD Capital, the investment vehicle for computer magnate Michael Dell and his family.
After the merger, KKR will have majority ownership of the combined company and MSD Capital will retain a significant minority ownership interest. The new company will maintain offices in Calabasas and Rockville, Md., Zino said.
ValleyCrest was co-founded in 1949 by Burton Sperber, who was still active as chairman of the company when he died in 2011.
Sperber had a passion for horticulture and preferred to be called "head gardener" even as his company grew into a national firm.
Benefiting from the post-World War II building boom in Southern California, Sperber's privately held company grew steadily as it did landscaping for residential developments, schools and freeways.
What initially began as a small nursery with three employees had grown to more than 150 locations around the world, with 9,000 employees and nearly $835 million in annual revenue at the time of his death.
ValleyCrest did work at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles, the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park in Florida and Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.