StockBIZ: Stockbridge landscaping businesses gear up for a long, busy season

by Mary Jo David

This is a great time to be in a landscaping business. According to an August 2020 CNBC article, the online Houzz home remodeling platform reported a 58% annual increase in project leads for professionals in June 2020. Of those, professionals working on outdoor spaces saw the biggest increase in demand.

Additionally, IBISWorld, an industry research company, is reporting that the 2021 revenue projection for the U.S. landscaping services industry is a whopping $99.7 billion.

After speaking with representatives from local landscaping-related companies, it seems they may have experienced some of that Houzz-reported uptick and are poised to respond to customers’ landscaping needs this spring.

“Last year I was busy all season long, I believe because of COVID,” reported Brian Mason, owner of 52 Landscape Supply. “My guess is people were stuck at home unable to go out much, so they put more money into improving their homes.” Mason is preparing for the start of a busy spring season and expects to spend it doing what he does best—grading and repairing driveways, performing light excavating, and delivering gravel, sand, and mulch.

The Gee family business includes Gee Landscaping and Irrigation with Steve Montgomery, a part owner of that business. Says Kary Gee, “The nursery is the busiest part of the business in May, but landscaping keeps us busy all spring and summer long.” The Gee business model accommodates both small-to-medium landscaping projects (handled by Gee Farms) and large residential and commercial projects (handled by Gee Landscaping and Irrigation).

“We have in-house designers, including a landscape architect to provide consulting services for any landscaping project,” Gee explains. “Our flexible design services enable us to cater to landscapers and DIYers, some who want to design and purchase everything for the job immediately and others who want to design up front and complete the project in a more phased approach as their budget allows.”

Stockbridge customer Patrice Johnson shared how Gee has helped improve the Johnson’s home landscaping, “I’ve seen Kary train her eyes on a setting and then rattle off the perfect species of shrub or tree for each spot. She grew up with these plants and knows their size, shape, bloom times, texture, and color. You want deer resistance? She’ll tell you your options. Hardiness? No problem. It’s like she’s painting a picture in her head.”

Talking history with Mason and the father-daughter team of master plant grafter Gary Gee and Kary Gee, it would seem these landscape businesses weren’t born—rather, they evolved.

Brian Mason opened his Stockbridge car wash in 1988, followed by excavating company Dirtworks in 1992. Responding to blips in the economy, Mason founded 52 Landscape Supply in 1995 and eventually scaled back on the larger excavating business. Now a one-man company, Mason has an impressive fleet of trucks, front loaders, and other equipment for tackling a range of projects. He also has a work yard full of landscape materials at 396 W. Main Street in Stockbridge. Mason has built a reputation for being extremely responsive, which explains why approximately 80% of his business is repeat business.

Stockbridge customer, Johnson, also has experience working with 52 Landscape Supply. “Brian has been delivering mulch in bulk to my house for years. When I stop in each spring, he greets me with a smile. He remembers I prefer cedar, knows where to deposit it, and his truck usually drops it that day.”

Since 1849, the Gee family has run Gee Farms, a fifth-generation, Sesquicentennial Farm located at 14928 Bunkerhill Road. Eventually farming led to opening their well-known Gee Farms nursery and greenhouse operation, and that paved the way for Gee Farms Irrigation and Landscaping in 1994. This division focuses on lawn seeding and sodding, irrigation, and large-scale hardscape and landscaping projects.

“We have a long history specializing in plants and trees, so landscaping and irrigation were a logical next step that enables us to serve both residential and commercial customers with expertise we’ve developed over many years,” Kary Gee explained.

“We started with veggie production 63 years ago,” Gary Gee recalled. In 1987 they sold their first trees, and later found the landscaping business was a natural extension to the business. “We’ve discovered that we sell more trees if we can also deliver and plant them for our customers.”

Showing her deep-rooted commitment to trees, Kary Gee also shared details about her involvement in a new endeavor called Re-Tree.org, a digital marketplace for repurposing trees that have overgrown their current space or would be eliminated during construction. “We use this online marketplace to rescue heritage trees as an alternative to destroying them,” she explained.

And while Mason’s 52 Landscape Supply cannot boast a family business dating back as far as the Gee family farm, he does come from a family that has enjoyed success in business. Mason grew up in Webberville pumping gas at stations owned by his parents. “The key is to enjoy what you do,” Mason said with conviction. “I enjoy going to work every day, and I know it sounds crazy, but I actually get a little sad when it rains and I can’t work!”

Contact information:

Sources:
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/07/pandemic-home-remodeling-is-booming-what-your-neighbors-are-doing.html

https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/landscaping-services-united-states/

Brian Mason of 52 Landscape Supply has an impressive fleet of trucks and equipment for light excavation, driveway repair and grading, and delivering gravel, mulch, and sand. Photo credit: Mary Jo David

Gary Gee, well known for his tree and plant grafting skills, daughter Kary Gee, and family pet Daisy. Gee Farms and Gee Farms Irrigation and Landscaping work together to provide the plants, design, and installation services for residential and commercial landscaping projects. Photo credit: Mary Jo David

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