Neither BrightView’s interim CEO nor the landscaping giant’s owners in New York could be reached Thursday to talk about the privately held company’s performance, but the sudden departure of the man who became chief executive when BrightView was formed can’t be a good sign.
Owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP, or KKR, BrightView was formed when KKR bought ValleyCrest – one of two giants in an industry packed with small and midsize businesses – in May 2014, and immediately set about combining it with the landscaping industry’s other giant, Brickman, which KKR had acquired the year before. Andrew Kerin, who had been with Brickman since 2012, was tapped as CEO of the combined entity.
BrightView’s statement about the resignation of Kerin and the appointment, effective immediately, of an interim chief executive (as a search for a permanent CEO begins) stated little else. Because the company is privately held, its financial data is confidential.
Fred Jacobs, BrightView’s vice president of communications and public affairs, said this morning that the interim CEO, Pat Velasco, was unavailable Thursday.
BrightView’s statement about Kerin’s departure quotes KKR executive Paul Raether, referring to him as chairman of BrightView’s board of directors. KKR’s website, however, says the firm’s oversight of BrightView is managed by another executive in the New York office, Joshua Weisenbeck, who is referred to there as BrightView’s chairman.
Jacobs confirmed that Raether is the current chairman of the board.
Neither Raether nor Weisenbeck could be reached Thursday. A spokeswoman for Raether said via email he “respectfully declines” to discuss BrightView’s performance at this time. A telephone message left for Weisenbeck was not returned Thursday.
According to BrightView’s statement, Velasco, the interim chief executive, previously served as CEO and then as chairman of Capital Safety, now part of 3M, and grew that company’s sales at an average annual rate of 10 percent. KKR’s Weisenbeck was a member of Capital Safety’s board during the time that KKR owned it – from 2012 until the sale to 3M last year.
With more than 22,000 employees, the landscaping company established by KKR two years ago is usually described as doing more than $2 billion in annual revenue. What the immediate change in leadership says about the company’s post-merger performance was left out of the BrightView news release.
Until executives or owners decide to talk about what the change at the top means with respect to performance, little else is likely to become clear about BrightView’s situation – such as whether the company is losing revenue, clients and/or talent, or even whether the combination of two giants is simply taking longer than KKR finds acceptable.