Landscape Leader: Rich Arlington, III


Richard Arlington has come a long way since he was a homeless 16-year-old kid living on the streets of Erie, Pennsylvania. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur, business owner, consultant and educator with more than 25 years of experience in landscaping and snow and ice management practices.

Arlington is involved in a triple crown series of landscape businesses. In 1987, he started Arlington Lawncare in Erie that has grown to a 30-person staff and 200 subcontractors. He is also the national business manager of Affiliated Grounds Maintenance Group, which operates in 44 different states. Finally, he runs a consulting practice called Rich Arlington & Associates that started in 2005 conducting business training, risk management and financial expertise to exterior maintenance service contractors, facility owners and property managers. Over the last 25 years Arlington has started more than 20 different companies ranging from outdoor service companies to day care centers to two different trucking companies.

Arlington is author of “Why Not You?” His book takes readers through the challenges he faced throughout his life and how he emerged as a successful entrepreneur.

I do what’s best for the company even if it’s not very good for me personally. I always put the company first and use a pro versus con approach for all major decisions.

I learn by talking with other leaders. All of us are really good at certain things and weak at others. I seek out leaders who are good in areas where I am weak. I learned early on to surround myself with people who are strong in areas where I am weak.

My motto is: “Knowledge is only valuable when taught to others. Keeping it to yourself is worthless.” I am committed to giving back to others. The landscape industry has given me and my family the success that very few enjoy. I have a passion for seeking out business owners who have the drive and desire to succeed, but just need direction. Those are my three D’s of success: drive, desire and direction.

What gives me great pride personally is being a father to my children and watching them now make their own decisions only to realize they truly think it through and always ask themselves, “What would dad do?” Professionally, I love being a trailblazer and helping other business owners by guiding them and watching them grow. It’s as fulfilling as raising children. This allows me to lead the next generation through the business and help them not repeat all the mistakes I made.

My best advice: Find someone to whom you can relate who you believe has achieved similar goals and learn as much as you can from them. There are no hidden secrets to this industry or on how to build a successful company. We can all learn from others if we seek them out and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes along the way.