The Bruce Company, Reliable build
future through strategic alliance


Middleton The Bruce Company, the nation’s 32nd largest landscape contract business and the largest in Wisconsin, today announced a strategic alliance with a well-known St. Paul-area company in a plan to help both partners thrive as the economy begins to grow again.

Reliable Property Services LLC, the seventh largest snow and ice management company in the country headquartered in Eagan, Minn., with offices and customers throughout Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, will combine its strengths with The Bruce Company’s national reputation and expertise in landscape design and construction, along with its 600-acre nursery operation in Verona, which will provide nursery stock to both companies.

Reliable will acquire The Bruce Company’s lawn maintenance, snow and ice management operations in Milwaukee and Racine, and its golf course maintenance division. Reliable already has similar operations in Madison and Milwaukee.

Bruce Company Logo   Reliable Logo

The Bruce Company, celebrating its 60th anniversary year, will expand its wholesale nursery sales and award-winning landscape design and construction practice to Minnesota and Iowa, where Reliable has year round clients. The Bruce Company will retain its landscape design and construction business in Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee operations, as well as its seasonal landscape maintenance and snow and ice removal services in the greater Madison area.

The Bruce Company’s destination retail Garden Center store at 2830 Parmenter St. in Middleton will continue its tradition of premier service and distinctive products. The company will also retain its irrigation and aquatics services for commercial and residential customers.

Bliss C. Nicholson, chief executive officer of The Bruce Company, said Reliable’s fit and similar values of exceptional customer care prompted the two companies to pursue this relationship. The partnership will allow The Bruce Company and its employees to serve a larger share of the market in its core businesses with a higher level of service.

The partners will remain separate companies but will “swap” or share some operations. For example, The Bruce Company will continue its residential, commercial and golf course construction efforts. Reliable will take over golf course maintenance operations.

Both Nicholson and James Hansen, chairman of Reliable, agreed they found the right partner.

“Our partnership will allow The Bruce Company to continue to provide exceptional services for current and prospective clients,” Nicholson said. “The Bruce Company plans to do whatever it takes for our business to grow its overall market and to provide more jobs ­— now and over time.”

Nicholson said he did not expect staff cutbacks at the Middleton or Verona locations. About 75 workers will be hired by Reliable, and very few staff changes are expected in Milwaukee and Racine, he said.

Reliable will retain the existing Bruce Management Team in Milwaukee and Racine. Dave Weber, a 35-year employee of The Bruce Company and a shareholder, will serve as president of Reliable’s Wisconsin operations. He will continue to be based in Middleton. Reliable also will make substantial new investments in equipment and systems.

Reliable Property Services LLC is a portfolio company of Private Capital Management of St. Paul, Minn., with offices in Des Moines, Iowa; New Berlin, Wis.; Crystal and Eagan, Minn.

The Bruce Company is a locally owned company begun in 1952, which offers residential and commercial landscaping, landscape maintenance, nursery stock, golf course construction, irrigation, ponds, outdoor lighting, holiday decor installation and snow plowing in addition to its retail garden center store. It is ranked as the nation’s 32nd largest landscape construction company and the state’s largest in June 2012’s annual report called the Green Industry’s 150 Largest Contractors supplement by the industry bible, Landscape Management.

The company recently offered to sell some of its land near Verona to preserve nearly three miles of frontage along the Sugar River in a proposed agreement with Dane County. The Bruce Company will retain more than 600 acres for its nursery operations south of Madison in the Townships of Verona and Montrose.