What is the first thing you think of when you think of Landscape Construction? Hard labour? Dirty work? Old school industry? I could see how you would think this, but after having worked in this industry for over 10 years, the first thing I think of is: opportunity.
L-R: Michael Bellows, Marc Elliott and Shireen Salehi at an investor pitch
GoMaterials Founding Team (left to right): Kunsheng Zhao, Shireen Salehi, Marc Elliott, Michael Bellows
At the age of 12, I got my first girlfriend, and wanting to take her out to a nice dinner, I asked my dad for some extra pocket money. My dad’s response was “if you’re old enough to have a girlfriend, you’re old enough to pay for your dates.” Challenge Accepted. The next day I dragged our lawnmower from neighbor to neighbor’s house, begging to mow their lawns for a couple bucks. Talk about learning the value of a dollar – it took everything I had to not bring my girlfriend to McDonald’s for dinner and pocket some of my hard-earned cash!
This is how my relationship with landscape construction began. A few summers later, I teamed up with my two brothers and we developed a landscaping company called Brotherhood. By the age of 18, we had grown Brotherhood to a full-blown landscape construction business with over 15 employees, offering lawn care, turn-key landscape construction services and commercial snow removal in the winter. At the age of 22, my brothers and I brought on partners who helped take our business to the next level. We re-branded the company to Group Northstone Inc and grew it to a 50+ employee business. These were some of the best years of my life, working alongside my brothers and close friends, growing our business to one of the biggest landscaping companies in Montreal.
Marc at a landscape construction tradeshow
About two years ago, I decided to leave all that behind to start from the bottom once again. As much as I loved my business, I couldn’t help but realize how much room for improvement there was in the procurement process for the industry as a whole. Ordering materials for landscape jobs was probably one of the most inefficient and unorganized processes I had to deal with. For those of you who thought of “old school industry” when you thought of landscape construction, I can’t say you are wrong. This is what I was seeking to change when I sold my shares in Northstone and co-founded a company that aimed to disrupt the traditional purchasing process: GoMaterials.
GoMaterials is a B2B procurement marketplace. We source materials for landscape contractors through our network of partnered vendors – guaranteeing the best quality and price. We save landscapers hours of work and thousands of dollars a year and help our material vendors find new customers and expand their reach online. While our short-term goals are to simplify and centralize the material purchasing process, long term, the possibilities are endless. I dream of the day we can integrate inventory management services, utilize data to predict purchasing habits and reduce waste and expand beyond landscaping to the construction industry as a whole. I dream of the day that words like “innovation” and “creativity” are associated to this industry because of first movers like GoMaterials.
What is the first thing I think of when I think of Landscape Construction? Opportunity. I think of hard work, creating beautiful environments, passionate people, but above all, I think of opportunity. I couldn’t be more excited about what GoMaterials has achieved to d