Sometimes one business venture leads to another. Such is the case for brothers Chris and Mike Long. The pair has owned and operated Long Forestry Consultation for a dozen years, offering forestry services throughout west central and Southern Illinois. Looking to branch out, the brothers expanded into a related industry: weed control.
“We chose the industry because there’s a lot of synergy between forestry and vegetation management; between brush control and weed control,” explains Chris Long, who serves as president of the second business, Vegetation Management Company. “We already had most of the equipment, we had the licensing and the insurance already in place.”
The Anna company, which goes by VMC, focuses on providing bare ground weed control, Long says, eliminating weeds from gravel lots and preventing growth from cracks in parking lot pavement as examples.
He adds, “We can treat building edges, areas under cell towers, electrical right-of-ways. Our customers include car dealers, trucking companies, storage facilities, lumber yards and such.”
Long says professional weed control is economical for other business owners.
“This service decreases maintenance costs significantly,” he says. “Maybe the customer goes out themselves and sprays their gravel four or five times a year or more, just trying to keep it clean. We do it once and they get good control all year long. Most of our clients call when they are tired of dealing with it. They often will spray and it will kill the weeds, but it won’t keep them from coming back.”
Long says VMC usually returns to a customer’s site during late summer to ensure there is no growth and do spot treatments if necessary. He says often clients who are happy with the bare ground control also will have the company treat edges of buildings, fence rows and other areas.
“That way they don’t have to weed-eat or trim anything anymore,” he says, adding that unwanted weeds can not only causes businesses to look unkempt, but also can be damaging to foundations and structures.
Long says the key to VMC’s weed control is the use of new chemical technology and having the knowledge and experience to use the herbicides correctly, carefully planning the type of chemical mix and timing of the application. He adds that employee safety and environmental care are top priorities for the company, and reminds that by contract services, business owners are free from the hassle of buying and storing weed prevention chemicals.
Customers seem to be pleased with the service.
“We have been able to retain 100 percent of our business clients,” he boasts. “We’re in our third application year and we have not lost a single customer.”
The company has clients as far north as Peoria and services property in southern Indiana, western Kentucky, southeast Missouri as well as throughout downstate Illinois.
“Many of our clients first come to us for the aesthetic value, but the really big benefit is the decrease in maintenance costs,” Long explains. “We’re treating areas for an average of a penny-and-a-half per square foot and they don’t have to worry about it.”
Long says a majority of his clients are commercial businesses but he does have a few residential clients as well. In addition to the weed control, he explains that VMC also offers brush control in wooded areas, invasive species control and the elimination of unwanted plant growth in ponds and lakes.