Category Archives: Landscaping

Ackerman out, Salmeron back in at Complete Landscaping Systems

WICHITA — Peter Salmeron is back at Complete Landscaping Systems – the company he founded in 1983 then sold in 2010 – but it’s unclear how long he’ll remain or what will happen with the troubled business.

Laura Ackerman purchased Complete Landscaping around the time she and Salmeron were briefly married. Since then the business has been mired in various lawsuits and has struggled financially. Ackerman then declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.

“The bankruptcy attorney asked me to come into the business because he felt that Laura is not competent,” says Salmeron, who returned Jan. 15.

“I don’t want to harm her … but I can tell you the company has really suffered a lot,” he says. “The company has gone from one of the leading companies in Wichita to one … in Chapter 11.”

Ackerman, who says she resigned Friday and turned over her stock, blames Salmeron for the company’s current situation.

“Peter sold a bill of goods that he could take over all finances,” she says. “I have no control of the finances, and it’s going to fail.”

She says Salmeron hasn’t made payroll or insurance payments since he’s been back.

“It’s because she hasn’t generated any money to pay anything,” Salmeron says. “That’s why they have asked me to come back and see if I can save the company.”

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Absolute Natural Stones starts landscaping design and installation division

WICHITA — Absolute Natural Stones owners Ammar and Nazir Jesri are adding yet another division to their company.

Last week, the two announced they would add a Taylor Rental franchise when they moved their business to expanded space at 12225 E. Kellogg next year.

In August, they started My RV Time Share.

Now, the Jesris are adding a landscaping design and installation division.

“We finally decided … it’s the right time,” Nazir Jesri says. “The opportunity’s here, so we said, OK, let’s do it.”

He says the company’s new 12,000-square-foot building is allowing for the division’s creation.

“We’re going to have some room to breathe,” Jesri says. “We’ve been thinking about (this) for several years.”

Part of the reason is the division complements what they’re already doing with stonework.

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Complete Landscaping files Chapter 11, is hopeful for large new contract

WICHITA — A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is the latest twist in what’s been an ongoing financial and legal struggle for Complete Landscaping Systems.

“I’ve taken a look at the gross revenues of the company, which are pretty substantial,” attorney David Eron says. “I think we’ve got plenty to work with to turn this thing around.”

In early September, it looked like Complete Landscaping had sold most of its assets to Wichita attorney Rick Hodge, who said he wanted to expand his Yard Concerns landscaping business.

Eron says what happened with Hodge is “a sensitive question.”

“Bottom line is there never was a final agreement with Rick Hodge,” Eron says.

“It was just immediately apparent that this deal with Rick was absolutely not going to come anywhere close to taking care of the financial issues the company had,” he says. “I personally told him the deal was done, and it was not going to go forward.”

The first hearing in the bankruptcy case is Wednesday.

“There’s certain things we have to do in order to continue operating the business,” Eron says. The point is to “try to get some time where we don’t have to worry about all the lawsuits.”

There are about 35 lawsuits again Complete Landscaping, mostly from local and some out-of-state vendors.

“Really, most of the debt problems generally are fallout from the Bank of America contract,” Eron says.

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Wichita attorney purchases most of Complete Landscaping’s local assets

UPDATED — Almost all of Complete Landscaping Systems’ local business has sold.

“We have purchased 90 percent of their local operations,” says Rick Hodge, a bankruptcy attorney.

Hodge owns Yard Concerns, a company that until now has mainly existed to service commercial and residential properties he owns.

“Now we’re going to try to grow it and branch out,” Hodge says.

During a slower season in a month or two, Hodge says he’ll relocate equipment he purchased from Complete Landscaping to another building.

“We are not Complete Landscaping by any means,” he says. “Complete is still in existence.”

Complete Landscaping owner Laura McMurray didn’t have an immediate comment.

The company, which McMurray purchased in 2010, has had a series of financial and legal issues since then, much of them stemming from a dispute with Bank of America, which once had been a large national account for the company.

“I know that Complete has been having a lot of problems,” Hodge says. “I knew they had some cash flow problems. … I’m fearful their entire ship is or was sinking.”

His career as a bankruptcy attorney influenced his decision to buy most of Complete Landscaping’s local assets and accounts, he says.

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Complete Landscaping and Michael’s Complete Lawn Care to share work space

WICHITA — Complete Landscaping Systems owner Laura McMurray was looking through tax lien notices when she saw competitor Michael’s Complete Lawn Care.

She also saw an opportunity and called co-owner Michael Ackerman Jr. to brainstorm how the two businesses could help each other.

“We have two companies that are struggling,” McMurray says.

She has extra space at her company’s headquarters at 1727 E. Second St., so McMurray proposed they combine work spaces – without combining business.

“We’re not merging … but we will be operating out of the same facility.”

McMurray, who says the move means a savings of at least 60 percent annually for each company, says it’s an approach that other landscaping companies are taking nationally.

“It’s just completely thinking outside the box to try to save overhead costs,” Ackerman says. “I would have never thought this would happen.”

Ackerman, who owns Michael’s with his parents, Connie and Mike Ackerman Sr., has 11 full-time employees and anywhere from 35 to 60 employees during peak season. He leases 15,000 square feet of space in three buildings at 2320 S. Mead.

McMurray, who has 23 full-time employees and about 100 during peak season, has two 7,000-square-foot buildings, one of which she’ll continue to use and one that Ackerman now will use. He says he especially likes that there’s lots of exterior space, which helps for all of the company’s large equipment.

The two businesses also will begin using each other as subcontractors.

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Law firm files suit against Complete Landscaping citing breach of contract

WICHITA — In a lawsuit filed last week, a Texas law firm claims Wichita’s Complete Landscaping has failed to pay more than $143,000 that it last month signed a consent agreement to pay.

Loewinsohn Flegle Deary filed the lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court.

According to the suit, Complete Landscaping hired the firm in 2009 to represent it in another lawsuit, which “was successfully settled in approximately October 2010.”

An exhibit in the current lawsuit shows that Complete Landscaping president Laura McMurray signed a consent agreement on Sept. 9 to pay $143,251.45, which is the balance for the law firm’s services.

The lawsuit says Complete Landscaping also owes $1,574.19 in interest.

McMurray and her in-house legal counsel declined comment.

No one with Loewinsohn Flegle Deary returned a call for comment.

SodShop owners expand to Lawrence with purchase of Pine Family Farm

WICHITA — Wichita homeowners may not be buying sod like they once were, but other Kansans are, and that’s why the SodShop is expanding.

Owners Tony Wilbur and his brother, Ted, have purchased Pine Family Farm in Lawrence.

“We’re trying to diversify,” Tony Wilbur says. “We’re trying to expand . . . our sales area.”

The Wilburs, whose Wichita shop is at 3601 N. Hillside, also have a SodShop south of Olathe and a sod farm north of Wichita that they own with Tony Wilbur’s son, Wade.

Commercial and government work is still strong in Wichita, Wilbur says, but residential sales aren’t.

“The housing’s down terrible here, which means a pretty good drop in Wichita.”

He says he and his brother are expanding in order to keep up volume.

“Fort Riley has been very good to us, and there’s a lot of building going on in Manhattan,” he says. “We sell a lot of grass up there.”

He calls north Manhattan and Junction City “a real hotbed area for the last couple of years now.”

“We’re thinking about that direction also,” he says of expansion.

In addition to selling sod, the company also sells stone and bulk materials, boulders, patio stone and rock bubblers in Wichita.

At its other locations, the company sells sod only.

“We’re trying to bring all of the office work here to Wichita and do just the field work there,” Wilbur says. “We’re kind of trying to consolidate that and see if we can’t be a little more efficient.”

Since taking over Pine Family Farm Sept. 1, Wilbur says it’s been going well.

“It’s busy right now,” he says. “We’ve been very fortunate.”

Overland Charters and Custom Lawn Service to have new corporate headquarters at K-96 and Hillside

UPDATED — After years of sacrificing by working out of a mobile office, Kelly Fankhauser is ready to build a new headquarters for his OverlandCharters.com and Custom Lawn Service businesses.

“We’re building a heck of a nice building,” he says.

Fankhauser bought two acres at K-96 and Hillside across the interstate from the Kansas Humane Society five years ago. While saving to build the headquarters, he’s been running his businesses out of temporary space there.

His new 14,000-square-foot building will have a two-story office and four service bays.

Fankhauser expects it will take five months to build.

“We are going to continue to grow quite a bit after completion,” he says. “This is a pretty high-dollar location for this type of business.”

OverlandCharters.com, which opened in 1997, charters motor coaches. Custom Lawn Service, which started in 1977, does lawn fertilization, weed control and tree and shrub care.

Fankhauser likes being along K-96 for the visibility.

“I guess the main reason why I roughed it without a shop facility is I just didn’t want to be off the beaten track where nobody knew where I was.”

Two more Peachwave Self Serve Frozen Yogurt stores coming to Wichita

WICHITA — At first we were kind of joking about the weekly yogurt report, but it looks like that’s the reality.

Yes, there are another couple of yogurt franchises coming to town.

Hong’s Landscape & Nursery owner Ilsik Hong and his brother, Jaesik, are opening a Peachwave Self Serve Frozen Yogurt at 2404 N. Maize Road.

That’s across from NewMarket Square in the same building where AT&T and Frozen In Time, A Scrapbook Boutique are.

“I happen to know the people who (are) distributing this yogurt franchise,” Ilsik Hong says.

His brother, who also works at the nursery, will own the yogurt business, but they’ll both operate it.

“He wants to have a side business, so I’m working with him,” Ilsik Hong says.

The nursery is on 31st Street South between Rock and Webb, which Hong says he realizes is a long way from the Peachwave that will be “way out west.”

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Artistic Transformations owner hopes to add a greenhouse

WICHITA — Artistic Transformations owner Kathy Bagwell hopes to transform her business just a bit, if she’s allowed.

Bagwell started her Delano business in 2004 to provide gardening and light landscaping, mostly to residential customers.

Now, she’d like to add a greenhouse next to her warehouse at 419 S. Osage St.

“I’m trying to develop my business a little bit more,” Bagwell says.

“One idea was that I could store plants in the greenhouse over the winter for folks. Another idea was to grow, from seed, some plants I could then sell to my customers.”

First, though, Bagwell needs approval for a zoning change from multifamily to limited commercial.

The greenhouse would not be a retail outlet for customers.

Bagwell got the idea for her business after she was laid off as a computer analyst.

“I decided, well, this is what I like to do as a hobby, so I might as well expand on it.”

She’s glad she did.

“It’s a whole lot better than the computer job.”