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The Advantages of Working with a Family-Owned Business

Does your Landscape Contractor provide the level of service you expect, or do you feel as though you are being “managed” for the benefit/profitability of a large corporation?   You have a lot of choices in Landscape Providers and they are all not created equal.  Yes, we all mow grass, prune shrubs, and apply mulch but is your Contractor invested in your property for the long term?  Cheap contract prices and the necessity to post corporate profits that will appease stockholders often leads to short-cuts and deferred maintenance items that will be an out of contract extra cost later down the road.  Chapel Valley is invested in the Community, committed to our employees and we hold ourselves accountable to our Customers to fulfill our contractual obligations completely and avoid the unnecessary and unexpected costs to rectify service items that should have been done in contract all along.

Chapel Valley has been in business since 1968 and for over 50 years we have remained a family-owned business.  While our Founder, Landon Reeve, passed away last year his legacy is being carried on by his son James who shares the same ethos and beliefs of always doing the right thing for each and every customer and employee even if it might cost the company money and sacrifice some immediate profits.   At our core, we operate by the Golden Rule and this is what has driven our success and our profitability.  Treat people like you would want them to treat you, do what is right and profits will naturally flow.

Family Owned Businesses, like Chapel Valley, enjoy the flexibility to implement new ideas immediately and adapt to changing situations that may be needed with either our employees or customers.  As we have all seen with COVID-19, the secret to success and reducing the spread was a quick and immediate response.

When selecting your next Landscape Provider ask yourself, do corporate profits drive the level of service you will receive?  Chapel Valley is driven by its dedication to Family Values that infiltrate every aspect of the Work Culture.  We do what we say we are going to do and we do it well.  We may make mistakes but we will own them and take the steps necessary to resolve the trouble.  You have our word on that.

Four Season Landscaping Plans

While we can see an increase of interesting trends for commercial properties, there are still many sites with overgrown evergreen vegetation and a few pockets with annual flowers. Landscape enhancements can improve the appearance of these properties, including more than just a flower rotation when adding color. With the right landscape design, commercial sites can transform into beautiful spaces with plants that thrive in each season. 

Currently, with COVID-19 shaping the way we live and work, we recognize the importance of spending time outside. This especially relates to a workplace, where employees can benefit from spending time and work outdoors. Working in a natural environment allows for a connection with nature, therefore it is important to provide the right plants that will continue giving attention throughout the whole year. The idea of all-season interest is to include the plants that provide ornamental attributes in one season and overlapping with another group that provides interest in the following season. Certainly, most plants display an interest in spring and summer, however, there are multiple plant options to make fall and winter attractive as well.  

Spring and summer interests are known for providing showy blooms and interesting textures. After the winter is over, people want to see colors, so the earliest blooms are found in spring bulbs. The swaths of early blooming Daffodils and later drifts of Tulips add a desired color to the landscape. We also like to use the spring-blooming ornamental trees, like Cherry and Magnolia to bring eye-catching flowers. Dogwoods and Redbuds are also popular spring-blooming native trees that we use in commercial landscapes. When it comes to shrubs, many commercial sites are still covered with the popular old-fashioned Forsythia, but we like to often replace it with native Fothergilla and Itea. These shrubs also offer a beautiful fall color.

By late spring, many trees and shrubs are leafed out, giving way to blooms. One of the popular shrubs in April and May is Encore Azaleas. There are multiple varieties of this relatively new species which provide a multi-season interest and require less maintenance than the traditional Azaleas. Besides blooming in spring, Encore Azaleas re-bloom in fall and stay evergreen through the winter. We have tried and can recommend other newly introduced plants are Dwarf Lilacs for late spring color and Little Lime Hydrangea for early summer stunning flowers. In addition to shrubs, we like using the long-blooming perennials, like Daylily, Russian Sage, Catmint, Coreopsis, and late summer blooms like Sedum, or Rudbeckia. 

In fall, a must-have color comes from Red Maples, but also shrubs like Nandina, Oakleaf Hydrangea, and Spirea can provide beautiful fall foliage. They provide an outstanding mix of contrasting colors and textures in combination with ornamental grasses and fall-blooming perennials. There also are a few plant options for winter interest. We often use a multi-season Red Twig Dogwood with attractive red stems, Winterberry, known for its bright red berries, and ornamental trees like Paperbark Maple, or River Birch with peeling bark. Ornamental grasses still look beautiful and soft in winter before being cut back in early spring.  

We all want to enjoy the outdoors and work in a pleasant environment.  By making a few changes to the property, it is possible to provide an attractive and thriving landscape with multiple interests throughout the whole year. 

Operational Excellence

Finding a landscaping vendor that has every cylinder firing is getting more difficult to obtain these days. With so many more contractors to choose from now than ever before, there is a higher possibility of choosing the wrong one. Every now and again you will find a vendor that seems to be performing at the top of their level. Those are the ones you will do anything to keep. Throughout my career, I have noticed most of these top performers have one major thing in common: operational excellence.

Is the vendor professional in the most basic forms? As in, do they have a clean, presentable service vehicle and uniform? Something so simple, almost petty, is extremely important. If your landscaper pulls up to your job site every week in a dirty, unmarked vehicle with no formal uniform, how can you safely determine if those are the people you think they are? Not only does it not look professional, not knowing who or what those workers belong to could intimidate some of your residents or tenants. Your renters have better things to focus on. Do not allow your vendor to draw negative attention to themselves, because eventually, it will become a reflection on you.

Organization is key with any successful vendor. Let us start with scheduling. Does the contractor show up as agreed upon in the contract, consistently at the same intervals for each service? Or do they seem to be showing up when they can and having to perform make up services or “IOU” favors for lack of consistent service? A lot of this erratic behavior is stemmed from a poor organization or structure at their company. A great vendor will have a consistent schedule for the season, always having the correct equipment and people to perform the job. Of course, there will be times where something will go wrong even with a “perfect” vendor. Maybe a few folks called in sick or they had a breakdown on the highway which caused them to stray off schedule. What makes them a great vendor is that they let you know, and they communicated that to you and let you know the new plan. That brings me to the next point: communication.

Do you hear from your vendor once a month, once a quarter, or every week? Depending on the type of work performed and how often they are contractually required to visit your property, you may need to hear from one vendor more than another. Are they being proactive in communicating: schedule changes, pricing for enhancements, hazardous items, general cost-saving measures, or general notes of the property each week? Or are you having to reach out to them for every item? A well-oiled contractor will always have their communication down and you will know their every move.

These points discussed are some of the common trends or habits I have noticed that can separate a great vendor from a poor one. A vendor with operational excellence will be your eyes and ears for your property and will be a true partner. One should desire a company that makes your life easier, not harder. Make sure you choose one that fits your mold and takes your property to the next level with excellent operational fluidity. You won’t regret it.

Mike Bauer
Chapel Valley Landscape Company

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