President and Co-founder of the Gleason Johndrow Companies
You might call it the ‘snowball effect.’
That’s one poetic way to describe what has happened since Anthony Gleason started his own landscaping business when he was 16, and especially since he was honored as a member of the Forty Under 40 Class of 2010.
Things have… well, snowballed. And in all kinds of ways.
The landscaping company he started with a $1,500 pickup truck and a lawnmower has grown into one of the largest snow-removal contractors in the country — the 32nd largest to be exact, at least according to the latest rankings in Snow Magazine, with more than $10 million in revenues in 2021. It now boasts a number of large contracts including the city of Springfield (250 locations), UMass Amherst and its 157 parking lots of various shapes and sizes, Western New England University, and many others, and has extended its geographic reach well beyond Western Mass.
“We’re servicing the entire state of Massachusetts — we’ll go out to Worcester and Boston — and go south into Hartford,” he told BusinessWest. “We just keep trying to grow wherever we can with the kind of work that makes sense.”
Meanwhile, the real estate portfolios of the many companies he’s now involved with continue to grow. The combined portfolio now boasts properties valued at more than $25 million, he said, and it includes office, industrial, self-storage, and other properties.
“We’re servicing the entire state of Massachusetts — we’ll go out to Worcester and Boston — and go south into Hartford. We just keep trying to grow wherever we can with the kind of work that makes sense.”
And Gleason’s involvement in the community — both on a personal and company-wide scale — continues to snowball as well, especially in Springfield. Indeed, both Gleason personally and Gleason Johndrow Landscaping have become huge supporters of the Spirit of Springfield, as both a sponsor and with in-kind donations, as we’ll see, but his work to give back extends well beyond the SOS to several other causes and organizations.
To sum it all up, Gleason, 36, who was also a finalist for the AAA award in 2019, travels back in time to when he was just getting started with that pick up truck while still in high school.
“I started with a few accounts … and I just went after it,” he said, adding that this is the mindset that has propelled his landscaping company — and many other business interests — forward, making it a force not only within its highly competitive industry, but within the community as well.
As he talked about his landscaping company and its status among the largest and most successful in the country, Gleason said it is well-positioned within that competitive market. It is large enough — with 150 employees and more than 75 vehicles — to handle the needs of large-scale clients like the city of Springfield and UMass Amherst, but also nimble enough to handle assignments of any size.
“Snow services is our largest offering and it’s what I think sets us apart,” he explained. “I do believe we’re really good at it, and we’re well-equipped. We’re going to continue to grow, but we’re going to try to do it modestly and do it the right way, with the accounts that make sense for our business model.”
With all this success in business comes a responsibility to give back, said Gleason, and he does this in many ways, perhaps most notably, and visibly, with the Spirit of Springfield and its many endeavors.
Since 2015, Gleason Johndrow Landscaping has been heavily involved with the SOS’s annual pancake breakfast, touted as the largest in the world. A team of 20 from the company provides help with logistics and operations — everything from loading batter onto a refrigerated truck to dispensing supplies to three cooking tents and 10 beverage stations.
Starting that same year, the company has been a sponsor of Bright Nights at Forest Park’s ‘Happy Holidays Springfield’ display. In 2017, the company was the lead sponsor, and Gleason the co-chair, of the City of Bright Nights Ball, the SOS’s largest annual fundraiser. In the years that have followed, it has supported the gala as a Golden Circle Sponsor.
But, as noted earlier, Gleason and the company have given back in many other ways as well. Examples include the donation of labor and resources to Southampton’s Norris Elementary School playground project, support for the Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan Park in Springfield, and ongoing support to a host of agencies, including Empty Arms Bereavement, the Mayflower Marathon, Springfield Cultural Council, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and many others.
While doing all this, Gleason has become an inspiration, role-model, and cheerleader of sorts for employees and others in the community, said Judy Matt, president of the Spirit of Springfield, who is one of many who nominated Gleason for the AAA award.
“He continues to inspire others by meeting with employees, colleagues, and friends to assist them with personal financial management, budgeting, and retirement investments,” she wrote. “He has encouraged employees to purchase homes or multi-family buildings, and often has helped them reach their goals of home ownership. He is always willing to donate his time and knowledge and to share his story of success so that others can achieve even greater accomplishments; this has been one of his main objectives throughout his career.”
You might say this objective is just part of the snow-ball effect, a success story that has many chapters still to be written.