Yount, Hyde & Barbour Client Spotlight: Blue Ridge Landscape and Design, Inc.
Blue Ridge Landscape and Design, Inc. specializes in providing commercial landscape and installation services and year-round maintenance. Customers include the Federal government, local governments, construction companies, and real estate developers. While the Company is based in Winchester, VA, they perform work throughout the state of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
YHB manager Chris Frye discussed the Company’s business environment, challenges, and success with President and owner Carl Thomas during a recent meeting.
Chris Frye: What prompted you to start your own business?
Carl Thomas: “I love plants and plants are my passion. I began growing and selling lettuce in my parent’s garden at age six and have been self-employed ever since. I started working in the landscaping business while in college. I knew it would be hard to earn a good living in the horticulture industry, and landscaping provided the best opportunity. I started Blue Ridge Landscape and Design, Inc. 23 years ago. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.”
Chris Frye: What are some of the challenges to running and owning your own business?
Carl Thomas: “I’m a worrier at heart and have a hard time turning it off. I knew that as our business grew, employees were counting on us to provide for their families. As the owner, I must always be looking for the next wave to offer new services and products to keep our business competitive.”
Chris Frye: What is the most rewarding aspect of running and owning your own business?
Carl Thomas: “I get a lot of gratification from doing a good job and having satisfied customers. I take great pride in having employees that are always growing and learning.”
Chris Frye: Are there any unique characteristics to operating within your industry?
Carl Thomas: “We are always battling mother nature which is both a blessing and a curse. Our work is year-round and not just seasonal. We work with live plants and trees which can only be dug and planted during certain months of the year. Scheduling for these types of activities must be coordinated well in advance.”
Chris Frye: What is something about your business that the general public might not readily know?
Carl Thomas: “Most of our work is done at least two hours away from our office which requires a lot of travel and varying work schedules. We installed 188 security planters on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. which required us to work only at night. We have four large national cemeteries where we provide ongoing turf and weed control.”
Chris Frye: What are your thoughts on the economy and where do you see things headed in the future?
Carl Thomas: “The economy has forced us to focus, stay lean, and keep overhead low. We have landscaped over 10,000 apartments. That sector appears to be strong for the next couple of years. Nevertheless, we need to look at other ideas and opportunities to diversify going forward.”
Chris Frye: What is your best piece of advice for someone starting their own business?
Carl Thomas: “Find something you enjoy doing and are passionate about. Make sure you enjoy coming to work every day. Know your strengths and surround yourself with a team that compliments your weaknesses. Develop company-wide systems to enhance operating efficiencies. Always keep an open mind when looking at new work. Don’t be afraid of failure. You will strike out occasionally, but the grand slams you hit make it all worthwhile.”