DeWitt, Mich. — DENTCO is commemorating its 40th anniversary this year. From working a sod field as a high school student back in the 1960s, DENTCO’s founder, Greg Dent, dreamed of owning his own company; little did he know that it would grow into a major national player in the retail store and restaurant maintenance industry.
"I had met a Colonel after serving in the Michigan National Guard and he was a pretty savvy businessman,” Dent says. “We worked out a deal together where I would use his equipment on large projects like planting trees for local golf courses and even the city of Lansing.”
After realizing he had a green thumb, excellent mechanical skills and was a stickler for quality assurance, young Dent opened shop as Trees, Inc. and within a few years had grown his small business into managing around 1,100 commercial sites. He quickly realized that in order to grow at the rate he needed, an acquisition would need to be in the near future. After much strategic planning, Dent acquired Benjamin Parking and got into a second line of business to accompany landscaping.
"Little did I realize, I was essentially creating the model for our Exterior Services Management® (ESM) business model for our contractor partners which DENTCO works with all over the country. The concept really hit me when I was at a meeting in Minnesota and I was talking with another contractor who was complaining about owning and maintaining too much equipment. I realized at this moment that the key to national growth was in partnerships with contractor partners."
From 1995 to 1999, Dent continued to grow the company and began traveling to different states to pitch large retail chains for landscaping, snow removal and parking lot services. It was at this point DENTCO became regional.
In 2000, shortly after Dent relocated to Tierra Verde, Fla., he engaged the services of HCP Associates, a Tampa-based marketing firm with expertise in national B2B marketing.
During the recession, Dent says the company dramatically increased its snow removal services and benefitted from large growth thanks to that decision: "In a way, those hard times turned out to be a pivotal point for our future growth,” he says.
Applying 40 years of exterior experience, DENTCO helps clients consolidate, centralize, reduce costs and realize the importance of quality-assured services. DENTCO employees' performance of hands-on ESM philosophies, supported by robust EQM application, allow facility managers to oversee thousands of sites nationally via the Internet.
"We've made substantial investments in technology and people and what we're doing now is light years ahead from just a few years ago,” says President Scott Milnes. “We adapt and change for our customers, daily."
DENTCO has seen considerable growth and has maintained a 99% customer retention rate. From this growth, the company has continued to reinvest in the three cornerstones of its business model: people, process and technology. According to Brian Wooten, DENTCO's longtime CFO, the company has grown 20% each year in the past 2 years alone.
"We haven't lost any customers and have a low turnover rate with employees and I'm proud of that," says Milnes. "My favorite part of my job is the opportunity to problem solve and find a solution that works for our customers."
After Greg Dent retired in 2000, his younger brother Kevin took the reins as CEO. In 2013, there was another shift in management and for the first time, a Dent would not be at the helm. DENTCO's chief operating officer, Scott Milnes, was named president and Greg Dent's son, longtime employee Justin Dent, was named the new chief operating officer.
One of Justin Dent’s first duties was to coordinate a 3,400-square-foot expansion for the company's corporate headquarters in DeWitt. The new space created 20 new workstations along with three new meeting rooms. Most importantly, it provided DENTCO teams with more conducive department cells and a better work environment.
DENTCO was named one of Michigan's coolest places to work by Crain's Detroit Business newspaper in 2014.
"It always goes back to the people we work with," says Justin Dent. "Being able to provide them a good place to work and keeping up with the team camaraderie even as we've grown into a bigger company."
According to Milnes, DENTCO plans to grow more in the next 10 years, growing 10% each year.
For more information, visit www.dentco.com.