A third generation of the family business, Adam has been a part of Salisbury Landscaping for 25 years, but spend the 10 years prior to that working in the Greenhouse. He went to college for marketing and business administration but, after getting out of that, found his place in landscaping.
What drew you to working in landscaping?
I know it’s part of your family business, but did you still have a passion for it regardless of the family ties?
I developed a passion for it. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I started doing it as something new, then I started building landscaping projects, and then running the whole landscape division!
Was that always your plan when you were studying business?
I knew I wanted to take part in the family business, but I didn’t know where. Landscaping was relatively new at Salisbury when I got involved, it was only about one year old, so I was able to grab it and build it. I’m not a designer, but I just love the idea of a team designing and building a whole landscape and doing everything in-house.
What’s a typical day in the life for you as the director of the landscaping department?
Well, right now, I’m driving out to go look at a project—we’re pricing it out, so I’m helping a designer with that. After that, I’m doing a site walkthrough with my operations manager, and then I’m meeting a builder that we do work with, alongside another designer, just to catch up and see what they’re doing.
It sounds like you do a lot of coordinating and helping to keep things together.
Well actually, this is somewhat atypical today. I have an operations manager who manages my team, as well as a design manager and sales manager, so I’m more the figurehead. I’m in charge of the culture, keeping everyone strong and feeling good about the company, and making sure things are going in the right direction. I support my staff, so instead of doing all the work myself, I support them to do the work as a team.
What’s one of the earliest landscaping projects that you remember working on?
For the first year, I ran landscape crews as a foreman, and I did everything from people’s homes and yards—front yards, back yards—to paving stones, retainer walls, and plantings. And then I even did some commercial work, as well.
Do you have a favourite project that you’ve worked on to date?
I’d say no specific favourites, but the idea of a favourite type of project for me is one that the customer is involved in and excited about, and we get to work with them. It’s nice when there are not as many budget restrictions, and my designers can be pretty free with ideas, and it’s nice when the customer gives us freedom. But it’s also nice when they’re involved, collaborating with our designers and installation crews as they build it—those turn out to be awesome projects.
Hypothetically, if you had unlimited resources and full creative freedom, what would be a project you’d love to work on?
It would probably involve really cool custom home with a decent-sized yard in need of some elevation changes. So, lots of steps and a terraced landscape. You know, I like traditional landscapes, but I really like modern landscapes, as well. Full freedom would be a very cool thing to be able to do.
What’s your process like when working with someone who comes into Salisbury and wants a landscaping design project?
First, we find out what exactly they are looking for. We establish and talk about budget early in the process to make sure everything aligns. Then, we pair the customer with one of my designers—we have four here, so we like to make sure there’s a good match. Next, the designer goes out, does the initial site visit and comes back with a conceptual landscape—usually a few ideas with different budget numbers to work with. Once we establish our design and our cost, then we start ordering materials, and getting into more precise material selection. Then we hand things over to the installation crews!
Throughout the whole process, the designers stay in contact with the crews and customers to make sure we’re all on the same page, and when the landscape is all done, we make sure to their satisfaction. We love when they’re thrilled about it, and we have a lot of touchbacks with customers through our one-year warranty program. We want to make sure that everything is in top-notch shape, so we come back for visits to evaluate the project the following year, and make adjustments if any issues have arisen.
Do you have any advice for folks who are considering hiring a designer or taking on a big landscaping project?
Try to look for a contractor with a real track record and a proven process. We all tend to put in similar materials, and they may look the same in the end, but the smoothness of the process is very important to your peace of mind. Trust me, you’ll be a lot happier when a contractor arrives when they say they will, does what they say they’re going to do, and there aren’t a lot of hidden or surprise costs. Reliability is ultra-important.
The cleanliness, too— contractors that make a smaller disturbance in the neighbourhood and get in and out quickly is important, especially in infill landscaping projects. Their warranty is also important. How much do they stand behind their product? The customer shouldn’t have to call, and call, and call to get them to look at a dead tree or something. That contractor should just automatically come out there, no questions asked.
Now, you mentioned before that it’s your job to maintain company culture and make sure your team is on the same page.
Can you describe what the culture is like at Salisbury, and what your company values are?
Well, I kind of mentioned one, which is doing exactly what we say we’re going to do. We do that in our company, with customers and suppliers, and everyone involved. We say something and then we stick by it. We also really look at trust— how trustworthy we are to each other, building strong trust and a strong team. We all work together as a team and I want to make sure everyone on that team has a strong passion for landscaping. Yes, it’s a job—but it’s a little more than that. You have to really love it. I mean, right now, it’s raining and wet and gross outside, so they have to get to work in the nice conditions, but sometimes they’ve got to work through ugly conditions, too. You gotta love your job to do that.
What we’re trying to do for our customers at Salisbury Landscaping is give them the best possible experience with their landscaping project. The most reliable, the most worry-free, and the most secure. Our customers don’t have to worry about us not following through.