When you’re the president of a thriving full-service landscape and design company, there’s a lot of pressure on you to serve your high-end residential and commercial customers well. What you don’t need is high-pressure salespeople contacting you daily. Stetson Hickman, Vermeer Texas-Louisiana sales rep, knows this so he employed his laid-back, friendly approach when meeting Matt Knick, president and founder of Willowgrove Landscape of Covington, Louisiana. Over just a few short months, Hickman, Knick and Knick’s landscape and design team have forged a rock-solid business relationship as well as a friendship.

Knick has been in the industry for more than 15 years and founded Willowgrove Landscape in the spring of 2017. Late last summer, Hickman introduced himself to Knick and asked if there was any help he could offer as an equipment specialist in the tree care and landscape space. Knick talked to Hickman, but he was pretty satisfied with his current equipment fleet that included many of Vermeer’s direct competitors. He told Stetson he really needed to sell one machine before he could take on any other major investments. Hickman responded respectfully, and he periodically checked in with Knick.

Knick noted, “Stetson wasn’t pushy, and he wasn’t trying to sell right away. He also had good follow-up.” True to his word, Hickman really did help out Willowgrove. Because of his established relationships in southern Louisiana, Hickman was able to provide some warm leads to help Knick sell the machine he no longer needed. “He really just wanted to help me out. It wasn’t like he was helping me sell the machine to buy a Vermeer,” said Knick.

Eventually Knick did demo a Vermeer S925 mini skid steer and made the purchase in November 2019. Knick recalls, “At the end of the day, the competitive machine was cheaper, but I didn’t just buy the machine; I bought the relationship with Stetson.” And the machine has helped Knick and his team with landscape jobs, irrigation work, moving of concrete and so much more. “It’s got the power, and the lifting capacity is above and beyond what we previously had,” Knick remarked. “It helps my guys out with reducing the amount of manual labor. We can also get into tight spaces with the mini skid where we previously could not,” he continued.

Willowgrove has broken in the machine with more than 200 working hours already, and Knick has purchased some cutting blade attachments to help with projects. When asked why he chose Vermeer Knick said, “When I make a major purchase, I look at who can answer my questions and who truly believes in their products. I got that with Stetson, and he saved me time in negotiating.”

Knick also shared some information about the spirit of his company’s team members. “We don’t just measure on numbers. We put an emphasis on culture also. Stetson has spent more time with my guys than any other [competitor] sales rep. He fits our culture and core values, and that’s why the relationship has worked out so well. Stetson has a lot of qualities I’d like to have. That’s humbling to say, but I truly mean it.”

Hickman continues to work with Willowgrove, even participating in one of their team-building days. His sales approach really isn’t a sales gimmick at all. It’s part of his personality, making him a valuable asset to both Vermeer Texas-Louisiana and Willowgrove Landscape.

Learn more about Willowgrove at www.willowgrovelandscape.com.


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