Chad Beidel’s varied experiences set a foundation for success
Whether he was preaching the Gospel in Honduras or laying stone for a patio in Maryland, Chad Beidel’s work has always been about building strong foundations for those around him.
Beidel, owner of Outside Solutions in Sykesville, Maryland, started his career as a landscaper, moved into missionary work for a while and then traveled full circle back to the landscaping industry. Both professions focus on building strong relationships and listening to the needs of others, he says.
“My missionary work has given me a great respect for all types of people. I have always enjoyed helping others. With landscaping, I get to use my hands and creative designing and building skills to help others,” Beidel says.
Beidel has parlayed his skills into a thriving business, which grosses around $300-500,000 a year, handling residential jobs throughout the Baltimore metro and D.C areas of Maryland. The company handles a variety of jobs, such as landscape design, outdoor living, water features, plantings and even synthetic golf greens. The fact that 80 percent of Beidel’s clientele are repeat customers is a testament to the quality of his work.
Hitting the green running
An avid golfer, Beidel started his landscaping career straight out of high school, caring for the greens and tee boxes at a local driving range. He also did mowing for neighbors with a push mower, trimmer and broom. After a year at Bowling Green State University and a couple of years at Ohio State University, where he studied business, Beidel decided to venture into something new by creating his own business, CB Landscape, in Columbus, Ohio. “It was a lot of fun. We added new accounts pretty rapidly, and I would get friends to help me keep up with the demand. I added a new truck and crew every year for the first few years.”
After working out of his parent’s garage for the first couple years, Beidel made a deal with an acquaintance who owned a farm to cut the grass on the property, in exchange for use of an old chicken coop to store his tools. There, he spent many hours talking with the farm’s mechanic who “taught me a lot about taking care of the heavy equipment,” he says.
Each year, the projects expanded, stretching Beidel beyond his level of expertise. So after making some mistakes, he decided to enroll at Columbus State Community College’s landscape design, horticulture and operations program. While attending classes, Beidel teamed up with a classmate who was a freelance landscape designer. This relationship allowed Beidel to expand the company, offering more unique design and installation projects to his portfolio. His business was soon booming. He carried a two-way radio to class to communicate with his crews and moved out of the chicken coop into a bigger office. “I would get things going in the morning, go to class, run calls and in the evening do my homework and run estimates for projects,” he says.
The hectic schedule eventually began to take a toll and “to be more about business than about the landscaping,” he says.
After a seven-year run, Beidel sold the business in 1997 and joined Great Commission Ministries as a minister to students at Ohio State University. He was looking for new inspiration and wanted to help others. “I traveled the world, met all types of people, led groups, built homes, taught English and preached. The experiences I had during this time will stick with me forever,” he says.
After years of doing ministry work full time, Beidel moved into a part-time position and started working again in the landscape industry. For about six months, Beidel worked as an account manager for Brickman’s Columbus, Ohio, office. While with Brickman, one of Beidel’s college professors referred him to a businessman looking for an experienced landscaper to care for his residential estate and manage a start-up company called Riverpoint Estate Management. “My heart was still with doing the ministry work, but the landscape work helped make ends meet financially,” Beidel says. While running Riverpoint, Beidel was asked to move to Clarksville, Maryland, to be the pastor of a young adult ministry at a local church.
He and his wife, Shalise, also a missionary, “stepped out in faith” and moved to Maryland. However, after some unforseen circumstances, Beidel decided to leave full-time ministry and focus on starting a new life and a new business in Maryland.
He and Shalise started a company, HomeScapes Landscape and Estate Management. “We were really making good contacts and doing nice work,” Beidel says. After two years, he sold the company but stayed on as its general manager of a new landscape and outdoor living division. “It was the right decision for us at that point in our lives. We were having children, and the security of being with a larger, established company made sense,” Beidel says.
He took the division from a start-up to $900,000 in sales in three years. At the end of his fourth season, Beidel decided to strike out on his own again. “I had learned so much and made so many great relationships and contacts that I could not help but do it on my own again. What I learned with this other company made me a smarter businessman,” he says.
So in the fall of 2009, he started Outside Solutions. He has carefully positioned and structured the company in such a way that they are able to handle large-scale, multi-functional projects and still maintain the personal attention and touches he finds important.
To fulfill varied requests, Beidel works with subcontractors on many jobs. “I have teamed up with some of the best masons, carpenters and landscapers in the area. So, instead of having to pay out large salaries to employ the best, I am able to just use them when I need them,” he says. “I have a great relationship with the guys, and it is a win-win for everyone, including the customer.” He is on every project and manages them in such a way that the subcontractor “stereotype” is never an issue, he says. “We can best serve our clients by offering a variety of trade services and keeping it all under the management of one company”.
No matter what crew or subcontractor is working a job, Beidel starts the job, knows the client and his family members by name and walks them through the project.
For example, he’s worked with Gina Merritt on her property near Baltimore, Maryland, since 2008, first designing and installing her front landscape and then building a large deck off of the back of the house. “I love working with Chad,” Merritt says. “I’m particular in what I want, and he really listens.”
Beidel doesn’t forget his clients once a project is completed. He typically sends thank you notes and occasionally a small personal gift such as grilling utensils to accompany a new patio.
The most challenging part of his job is that it’s seasonal. “It’s tough to have to work your tail off for nine months and then take a long break for three. I like to take the break, but it gets tricky with the cash flow, and it’s easy to get out of the groove,” he says.
A family affair
Beidel’s favorite part of the day is when he pulls his truck into the shop at his home, where he also maintains his office, and is greeted by his three young children and wife. “The kids love to climb all over the trailer and get in the truck. They like helping me unload tools or extra materials,” Beidel says. Recently, his youngest, Rayna, 4, helped unload some bricks after a day of playing dress up. “It took every ounce of muscle to pick it up, but she did it, high heels and all,” he says with pride.
Beidel admits he hopes someday his children will be involved in the family business. “But if they choose to do something else, that is fine. As long as they are doing something they enjoy. My dad and mom were instrumental in encouraging me to stay in the business when I was first starting,” he says.
What’s next for Beidel and Outside Solutions? “Staying the course,” he says. “I want to continue in the direction we are headed and improve all aspects of the business.”
Next year, if all goes well, Beidel plans to hire a design/sales person who can also serve as a project manager. Adding another member to the team will allow him to increase his networking efforts. “And within the next five years, the plan is to be a well-established brand for landscaping and outdoor living in the Baltimore metro and D.C. areas. I often consider adding a mowing and maintenance crew to the company, but right now we are content with focusing our time and energy on the design and installation projects.”
Whatever course he chooses, Beidel is confident he will succeed. “I’m a man of faith. God has always provided for me and my family,” he says.