Hesitation gives way to sustained
success for colored mulch producer
When Shawn Nutter bought Apollo Wood Products in 2014, he didn’t see much of a need for colored mulch products. But success would quickly change his mind.
The colored mulch market had been relatively slow to mature in southern California and there were already several competitors producing colored mulch in the area. As a result, Nutter didn’t even take the wrapper off his new ColorTrom machine for the first few months.
“To be honest, I kind of thought colored mulch was like putting lipstick on a pig,” Nutter said.
But after receiving a large order for a new parking lot project, Nutter decided to give colored mulch a try.
“When we finally decided to do it, we went a certain way,” Nutter said. “We were going to do it right.”
Business takes off
The team at Apollo decided to only use conventional wood and premium Amerimulch colorant from ChromaScape, resulting in an architecture grade
“It allows us to say, ‘We’ve got a better quality product,’” Nutter said. “It keeps me from fighting to the bottom for pennies with competitors.”
The investment in quality paid off.
“We started getting into working with landscapers and it just kind of grew,” Nutter said. “Next thing you know, we have a lot of distributors we’re selling to.”
Nutter said that colored mulch now makes up a significant percentage of his business. He was able to attract some luxury developments and resorts who appreciate the high-quality product. One client in particular, situated in the desert, has been especially happy with how well the colored mulch performs. Because the colorant was specially formulated for wood fiber, the mulch has retained its vibrant color despite the harsh conditions.
“We’ve been out there for three years and they are very pleased,” Nutter said. “I don’t have any complaints from customers."
Quality equipment, outstanding service
After not taking his Amerimulch ColorTrom out of the packaging for several months, Nutter said the machine is now a prized piece of his organization. He said it’s incredibly reliable, durable and easy-to-use, and he appreciates the fact that it allows him to color on-site, something his competitors can’t do.
“The ColorTrom is perfect for the remote processing that I do,” Nutter said. “It’s simple, it’s efficient and it’s low maintenance.” As much as he loves the product and the equipment, Nutter said the most important part of his colored mulch business may just be his ChromaScape representative, Matt Cox. He said Matt’s industry, product and equipment knowledge makes him a great partner and resource. Not only that, but he said Matt responds almost immediately to any request, and he knows he can depend on him to deliver orders quickly and professionally.
“Matt’s just amazing and he’s become a really good friend,” Nutter said. “The company support is outstanding. I’m very pleased.”
Nutter projects large growth in the southern California market in the next few years, which should allow him to expand his business even further. Once hesitant about the viability of colored mulch, Nutter now says it’s one of his most profitable products, and he’s excited about the future while enjoying all the success he’s seen so far.
“There’s so much room for growth that we expect landscaping products are going to grow exponentially over the next few years,” Nutter said. “If you’re not making money at it, you’re not doing it right.”