Add-ons: Create custom boulders for continuous revenue over the winter

Updated Oct 11, 2019
Photo: Boulder DesignsPhoto: Boulder Designs

If the seasonal nature of the landscaping business is proving to be a challenge for you and services like holiday lighting and snow removal aren’t appealing, there is another option you can consider.

The franchise Boulder Designs allows companies to work all 12 months a year by creating custom boulders from sand that can be any shape and size. Boulder Designs also has a sister company called Border Magic, which specializes in creating continuous concrete landscape edging, walkways and curbing.

Border Magic was started by founder Eldean Bergman around 1987 and he originally expanded the company through dealerships but then switched to franchising in 2003.

Bergman added the Boulder Designs model in 2002 to provide his franchisees something to do over the winter but quickly discovered it could stand as its own as a franchise. Boulder Designs became its own franchise brand in 2008.

Later on, landscape veteran Butch Mogavero stumbled upon Border Magic when looking for a new curbing franchise and Bergman eventually offered to sell Mogavero both of the companies.

Photo: Boulder DesignsPhoto: Boulder Designs

Since Mogavero acquired the company in 2015, he has grown the company from around 50 franchises to 120 Boulder Designs franchises and 60 Border Magic franchises across the country. He credits his growth to his past franchise experience with the Dwyer Group, a holding company of 21 service-based franchise organization.

“I have a strong history in franchise sales and marketing and then I’ve hired some of the best people, I think, in the world that work for me,” says Mogavero, president and CEO of Boulder Designs/Border Magic. “We have a very, very strong background here. We’ve got well over 400 years of experiencing in franchising just in this one building.”

He hopes to reach 300 franchises across the nation eventually. He says his keys to success include simply working hard and having the right people to help support the franchises.

For those interested in the Border Magic and Boulder Designs franchises, Mogavero says the franchising fees are $74,000 and $79,500, respectively.

Companies do not have to buy into both franchises to operate and Mogavera says as long as a franchisee has a 20’ by 30’ room with an overhead door, Boulder Designs can be run just by an owner-operator. For Border Magic, he says you need at least two other people to run it, but you don’t need a building.

Aside from a half-ton or three-quarter ton pickup, Mogavero says everything else needed to get the job done comes with the franchise, including tools, trailers and equipment.

“I must say our margins are really, really good for rocks because it’s mainly sand, and we have a proprietary product that nobody else has, so we don’t really have any competition per se,” Mogavero says. “Other than someone finding a natural rock and engraving on it, which it’s very hard to even find one that would work and if you do, you’re confined to the area of that rock to put the advertisement on.”

Photo: Border MagicPhoto: Border Magic

For those operating a Border Magic franchise, they are provided a patented BM-2000 extruding machine, which compacts the proprietary concrete additive mix. This combination allows Border Magic’s products to withstand 5,000 PSI and is backed by a 10-year limited warranty.

“The border, when you put it around a landscape job or flower bed, just sets it off or finishes it,” he says. “You can weed eat right against it. It doesn’t hurt it. It keeps the moisture in longer, so you don’t have to water as much, and you can match the house because we can make any colors we want.”

Mogavero says Boulder Designs doesn’t just create boulders but it can also create objects such as mailboxes, fire pits, memorials and signage for neighborhood entrances and businesses. Commercial signage is currently the most popular and Mogavero says using a huge boulder for sign helps clients stand out in their customers’ minds.

“Ours fits in a lot better,” Mogavero says. “The longevity is there. It lasts forever; it looks like landscaping. It’s all-natural products, so there’s nothing that can hurt the environment. And when you have storms and stuff like that, they’re not affected, whether it be tornados or hurricanes.”

Mogavero says that their ideal franchisee doesn’t necessarily have to have the most money, but they do need to have good credit and be an honest team player.

Franchisees do not need any certain level of experience, as Mogavero says they have people from almost every walk of life operating franchises.

The company offers bi-monthly webinars as well as an annual meeting. There are three training coaches who work with the franchisees up to a daily basis, if necessary. When franchisees first come in they will have a coach who works with them on pre-boot camp matters such as getting their LLCs done so they are ready to hit the ground running when it is time for boot camp training.

Photo: Boulder DesignsPhoto: Boulder Designs

Boot camp is a one-week training course that covers the technical side, the marketing, social media and every other aspect of the business.

“We have a flat rate royalty system, which is really great for the franchises but not that great for the franchisor,” he says. “We only charge their first year $395 a month and their second year it goes to $495, and that’s when it caps off, so they’re not penalized for doing more work. They get to keep all the revenue.”

Because of this, franchisees have the luxury of deciding how little or how much time they want to put into that side of the business. Mogavero says landscapers can easily cover their royalties by simply making one medium sized rock a month.

“It’s another revenue stream,” Mogavero says. “It’s a lot higher margins. It’s a good add-on to what they’re already doing.”

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