City Kid or Country Boy
You might think that being a landscape designer/contractor; I grew up in the country. Not so – I grew up in the city. But my path from city boy to tree-loving landscaper covered both city and country ground. Let me explain.
As a kid growing up in Salt Lake City, life was pretty normal for a city kid — school, church, paper route, riding bikes, and hiking in one of the nearby mountain parks. Oh, and skiing as often as possible — Snowbird’s my favorite.
Weekends were entirely different. That’s when I became the country boy. My dad, brother, and I went to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm and spent time helping out with chores and projects. (And occasionally a surprise mud pie in the face — my brother had a really good aim and an impish sense of humor.)
It wasn’t all work, though. Some of my favorite memories on the farm were racing little stick boats in the irrigation ditch with my brother. He always won … it’s like he knew the stick boat secret. Riding on the tractor was always a highlight, too — especially if I got to steer.
But my fondest memories are of working with my Dad. He and I planted tons of seedlings together — seven acres worth. Yup, that’s right, seven acres of trees on the family farm. I really loved helping Dad plant all those trees.
It was during those early years roaming and working and playing on the farm that I developed a love for trees and a strong sense of fulfillment working with the earth. I don’t think either one of us could have foreseen what those trees would mean to me later. . .
But back to working with Dad and the reason we planted those trees.
See, his dream was to take Mom on a trip to the French Rivera. He loved that part of France. He had spent some time there during WW II before earning a purple heart fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.
His plan was to earn money for the trip by teaching violin and by growing trees to sell as Christmas trees and for people’s yards. And although he did teach violin to thousands of elementary school kids, the biggest part of his plan was the trees.
During my early teens everything tragically changed. Dad’s life, and his dream, came to an untimely end. Nothing was the same after that, and we missed him terribly. I still do. But his trees lived on, and in time a new dream emerged, as you will see.
Five years later I was a high school sophomore. With lots of fear and faith, Mom gave me the keys to a 1969 light blue Ford F150, four-on-the-floor stick shift, coolest dash ever, six-cylinder, pickup truck. Boy was I excited! I’d just gotten my driver’s license and couldn’t wait to drive it. It sure came in handy with those trees. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
By that time, Dad’s trees had grown tall and beautiful and, oh yeah, sellable. I wanted to pick up Dad’s dream so I could go to college, so I drove out to the farm and started pruning, watering, and digging trees to sell. I hand-painted a sign on an old 4’ x 4’ sheet of plywood, “trees for sale,” added my home phone number, and proudly displayed it on Main Street. Presto! A landscaping entrepreneur with a new dream was born.
As time went on, sales increased, and so did requests to do other types of landscaping. My friend Nick and I became creative, and professional. I learned a lot from Nick. He inspired me to always deliver more than is expected. I’ll tell you more about “Nick the Lift” and how he inspired me a little later in the story.
I quickly learned a lot about trees and business and made some sales. I delivered trees in the truck Mom gave me. Speaking of Mom, she always told me to be careful, be polite, act accordingly, always do what you say you are going to do, and keep your name in good standing.
I didn’t fully appreciate the depth and wisdom of those words at that time. But with experience, knowledge, and hard work, those words of advice became the basics of my business philosophy today! The funny thing is she still gives me helpful advice, only now I listen with gratitude and appreciation.
I earned enough to attend a local private college and continued to run my tree business at the same time. When I graduated with my BS in business, I knew I had to make a career choice — business or landscaping. I discovered that my love and passion for landscaping was stronger than ever, so making that choice was easy – do both. I chose to create a business as a professional Landscape Contractor/Designer and I’ve never regretted it.
I am the founder and president of one of the area’s prominent and premier landscape companies. I sell, design, and supervise all work in progress, and manage daily administration of the business. All employees are well-trained with the LaytonScape philosophy:
- Respect each other and respect each client’s property
- Use teamwork and innovation to deliver the highest standards of quality and workmanship possible
- Always do more than is expected
That last one is the one I learned from my friend, Nick. He was an enlisted Air Force serviceman stationed at Hill Air Force Base not far from the family farm. Grandpa had already converted two areas of their house into apartments, and as luck would have it, Nick rented the upstairs apartment.
One day we met at the farm and I offered him a job digging trees. He was excited and jumped at the opportunity. To properly dig a tree and keep it alive was a lot of work, but Nick was strong. In fact, Nick was downright awesome.
Lifting the tree out of the hole is just plain hard work. It usually took two or three of us to dig around the tree, put a tarp under the root ball, and pull the corners of the tarp and the tree up to ground level.
Well Nick had to show off a little. He said, “Watch this.” Then he proceeded to squat next to a 150-pound tree and root ball, pick it up, step out of the hole with it, muscle it over to the truck, and set the whole thing down. See what I mean by awesome? That’s how he got the name “Nick the Lift.”
Well as you can guess this is only half the story. As I went to pay him for his first two weeks of work, he said he didn’t want any money. He only asked me to do three things; pass the favor onto someone else . . . help people when they need it . . . and to remember him . . .
Remember how I said I learned a lot from Nick? And how he inspired me to always deliver more than is expected. Well now you know why. And here’s what that means to my clients.
In my business delivering more than is expected could be putting in additional plants, cleaning up daily rather than at the end of a project, repairing something broken around the house without being asked. Or extending a guarantee and replacing plants after the warrantee has expired, or following up for two years after the job is done.
Nick taught me to just take that next step – not the one most people will see – but the one most people won’t think of, or will ignore.
As of today LaytonScape is one of the most knowledgeable, dedicated, and friendly landscape companies around. That means our clients will enjoy working with a company dedicated to providing great service, fun and friendly employees, and a landscape to enjoy forever!!!
So that’s how a city kid became a country boy with a dream. That’s how those early years on the farm with Dad developed in me a love for trees and a strong sense of fulfillment working with the earth and with good people. Now you know how my history led me to build a business around trees and land, and how my business philosophy of integrity and outstanding service came to be.
I’d love to share my dream with you and help you create a landscape that will inspire you and your loved ones. Let’s work together to fulfill both our dreams.