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Manchester Landscaper Named Forbes Small Giant

Published Thursday Oct 3, 2019

Author Judi Currie

Mark Aquilino of Outdoor Pride Landscape & Snow Management. Photo by Christine Carignan.

Outdoor Pride Landscape & Snow Management in Manchester was one of two NH companies and 25 nationally recognized by Forbes magazine as a “Small Giant.” Outdoor Pride was noted for its emphasis on “people, planet and profit” and for strengthening staff members’ connections to each other, which has resulted in the company increasing its annual employee retention rate from 45% to 85%.

Founded in 1988 by husband and wife team, Michael and Dale Aquilino, the company has grown to more than 70 full-time employees and 300 seasonal providing snow management, landscape installation and ground management services in southern and central NH and northern and eastern Massachusetts. In 2015, the couple handed the reins to their son Mark Aquilino, who oversees Outdoor Pride as one of a five-member leadership team.  

Aquilino says he likes to joke that he has been working in the family business since he could walk and working there professionally since the age of 16. Along with the brand his parents built, he inherited an appreciation for the importance of customer loyalty and a strong work ethic.

During the past five years, Outdoor Pride tripled its revenue with total revenue exceeding $10 million in 2018. Aquilino credits the success to having the right team in place. “We have a great group of people that are accountable to one another,” he says. “When you have accountability to one another, everybody tends to have a little more buy-in and feel they are a part of something bigger, rather than just doing a job.”

He says he’s particularly fond of the quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” by legendary management consultant Peter Drucker. “You can have the best-laid plan, but if you don’t have the horsepower to carry it out, you will be met with constant roadblocks and won’t get anywhere,” Aquilino says.

Along with one-on-one meetings, monthly company outings and celebrations of milestones, the company is moving to open-book management in the first quarter of 2020 to create financial transparency and make it easy for people to understand the health of the company, how things work and “how they win.”

At town hall meetings, employees are encouraged to ask questions. “Now you don’t just have this top down narrative running the company; now you have buy-in on all different levels,” he says.

Outdoor Pride employees at a commercial landscaping job. Courtesy photo.

The company services large corporate campuses, hospitals and universities and does so with a commitment to sustainability as Aquilino says they are being entrusted with protecting a client’s second biggest asset. “We are not just there to make it look good; we want to add value. How can we have practices that do good for the environment? Sustainability is a big part,” he says. “Our investment into electric [equipment] and reducing the chemicals we use, we believe, is the way of the future and a win for everybody.”

This past February, Aquilino established a foundation that awarded its first grant of $10,000 to the Manchester Boys & Girls Club. The company is also engaged in Project Green Care, which provides lawn care and snow removal for families of enlisted military members who are deployed.

Keene-based Filtrine Manufacturing was also named to the Forbes list. With 2018 revenue of $17.7 million and 95 employees, the company makes custom water systems such as a chiller to cool a Boeing rocket and parts of Varian’s medical radiation devices.

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