The man who dreams of digitising lawn care

Barely two years after joining the company, Arnaud Dugast bought Sitoflor from his former boss. He set himself the new challenge of digitising the turf grass business for individual customers.

In 2007, Arnaud Dugast joined Sitoflor as Head of Sales. The company had built a flourishing business selling turf grass to professionals, and was particularly well regarded among landscape architects. Two years later, when his boss tasked him with finding a buyer, he presented himself as a candidate. The purchase took place smoothly between a seller reassured of the company’s continuity and a buyer fully aware of the strengths of the business he was taking over. On the financing end, things went very quickly as well, thanks to the confidence of Societe Generale and its immediate support for the new project. “I’ll always remember July 1st 2009, the day I became an executive. I immediately felt a new responsibility; I understood the stakes of my risk-taking and the impact my management would have on the company’s development. Managing a business is not an innate skill. Some people are made for it, others not. It’s best to be completely aware of this going into a purchase that involves a long-term personal financial commitment.”

Buying a company -- with an insider’s view of its potential

“My time as Head of Sales gave me the tools to identify opportunities for the company from very early on. This clearly reassured the two associates who participated in the round table. One of them was a former customer!” As soon as the purchase was completed, Arnaud Dugast provided an enormous boost to business. His strategy: strengthen existing positions while using innovative offers to position the company on the individual customer market. Sitoflor, too strictly identified with the sale of rolled turf to professionals, became Covergarden, extending its services to individual customers. The company is now a leader in its historic market as well as in synthetic and natural sod. Its new challenge? Bringing lawn care into the digital age.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed by work, I’m careful to maintain a perfect balance between my professional life and activities shared with my family and friends.

Arnaud Dugast, Chief Executive Officer of Covergarden

The first company to offer a connected lawn

To the question “Does digitisation affect all fields?” Arnaud Dugast replies, “Yes,” with a twinkle in his eye. Covergarden is currently developing a new offer in collaboration with its partners, including the French Ministry of Food and Agriculture, aimed at inventing the connected lawn. The idea consists of helping individual customers to care for their lawn, with two main priorities. The first is aesthetic: having an attractive green lawn. The second is social: eliminating the use of crop protection products. “We’ll offer our individual customers solutions ranging from online advice on lawn care to automated lawn-mowing that operates completely on its own. At the same time, we’ve launched a concept store in Bordeaux that we will gradually roll out across a network of franchisees. We are reinventing our business by combining the proximity of a physical network and the interactivity of a digital network.”

Work-life balance

To ensure the sound development of his company, Arnaud Dugast relies on personal balance. “At 43 years old, I’m still just as passionate about life. To avoid becoming overwhelmed by work, I’m careful to maintain a perfect balance between my professional life and activities shared with my family and friends.”

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