The Level Green Culture Blog

Behind the scenes and insider information for landscaping careers and green industry jobs.

Lynn Garris has been to every Level Green Landscaping holiday party since the first one, back in 2006.

“There were only about 10 of us back then,” recalls Garris, the company’s office manager. “We didn’t even have chairs or tables. We just stood around in the little shop area.”

She laughs.

“I think we may have had KFC.”

This year, 130 partygoers — supervisors, drivers, corporate staff, branch managers, operations managers — settled in at cloth-covered tables, in an expansive shop festooned with shimmering garlands, twinkling lights and a decorated tree.

The celebratory lunch: savory homemade Mexican food. The Upper Marlboro East branch took on the cooking, with operations manager Hector Diaz in charge of the grill. On the menu: marinated and grilled chicken and beef; tortillas; beans; rice and a salad. 

Bill Hardy swims with sharks and shoots off an astonishingly large display of exploding fireworks every Fourth of July.

So when his friend and former colleague Doug Delano asked if he wanted to go into business together, honestly, it didn’t seem too scary.

Plus, they were at Red Lobster at the time. Those cheddar biscuits have a way of making everything seem just fine.

“I call it the day Doug proposed to me,” Bill recalls cheerfully. “A business partnership is a lot like a marriage. It has to be based on trust. You’re not always going to agree on everything, but you still have to figure out how to solve issues.”

He laughs.

“I accepted his proposal pretty quick.”

Most days, Level Green Landscaping managers, supervisors and crews are hard at work for clients — laying pavers, planning projects, ordering 11,000 liriope plants.

But some days, they take their time and talent out into the community.

They help kids plant an herb garden for a senior center. They teach affordable housing residents how to plant a rain garden. They landscape a student-built house — no charge.

They do good. And feel good.

“We get a great deal of satisfaction from it, especially when we work with kids,” says Bill Hardy, managing partner at Level Green.

Here’s a look at some of the good that happens.

It's time to get a job. Are you ready to meet with a recruiter?

While you might assume getting a job in landscaping is a more casual situation than in other industries, recruiters in landscaping are looking for some of the same qualities that are valuable in any profession.

James Kole, branch manager at Level Green Landscaping, knows his way around the recruiting table. He and his colleagues visit several colleges and universities, collegiate competitions and professional conferences each year, looking for prospective new employees.

What impresses him?

He'll tell you.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make you feel good driving home at the end of the day.


Scott Rupert has worked on sprawling commercial enhancement projects and luxury, high-end residential landscaping, but it’s a simple M created from flowers that he mentions when he tells of the rewards of his work. 

 

On the campus of the University of Maryland, a Level Green Landscaping client, is a giant M created entirely of flowers. Crews plant the striking floral M, in a circular sea of emerald green lawn, with 1,000 sturdy red begonia plants in the spring, and swap it out with 1,000 cheerful yellow pansies each fall.


“That M is a very popular place to stand in front of and have mom and dad take your picture,” Scott says. “It's neat to see folks stand next to it with their buddies and get their picture taken, and know we have a part in that.”


Scott, an account manager, has worked at Level Green Landscaping for six years, after three decades in the landscaping business at companies around the country.


He worked with Level Green co-owners Bill Hardy and Doug Delano years ago at Ruppert Landscaping. (No relation— note the number of p’s.)


He graduated in 1985 from the University of Maryland with a degree in horticulture, then got a full time job at Ruppert, where he had worked part-time during school.


But his landscape experience goes further back than that. He was one of those kids with a lawnmower who knocked on neighbors’ doors.

When Amanda Holmes moved to her new job in accounts receivable, her new desk was tucked in a corner.

“I was pregnant, and I guess I was in a mood,” she recalls. “I said I didn't want to be in a corner — I wanted to be by the window.”

People listen to you when you're pregnant, so Amanda got her desk by the window – right next to Level Green co-owner Doug Delano's office.

Is that good or bad?

“I guess it depends what kind of mood he's in,” she says with a laugh. “But I like it – I'm right in the middle of everything.”

Brooks Lee discovered he loved landscaping by working for an electric company.

The next thing he knew, he was covered in dirt and helping to plant 11,000 liriope.

Fate works in mysterious ways.

While studying environmental compliance at the University of South Florida, Brooks spent his summers working at Pepco, an electric utility serving Maryland and the DC area.

Last September, as he started his senior year, the company offered him a full-time job.

“You’d think I’d be excited,” he says.

But he wasn’t. And that worried him.

“I had a sit-down with myself,” he says. “Is this really what I want to do?”

While working at Pepco, Brooks supervised the installation of a garden to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

“Nobody at the electric company knew how to install a garden, so I had to teach myself from the ground up,” he says. He loved it.

As he researched landscaping, Brooks discovered the Level Green Landscaping website, and the more he read, the more he was impressed — with the company philosophy of “Do the right thing,” the steady growth, the owners’ commitment to efficiency and safety.

“I was sold before my first day,” Brooks says.

When you hear about another company that pays a dollar more an hour than your current job, or offers a few more hours a week, it’s tempting to duck out the door for that “better” opportunity.

When the snow starts to fly and the temperature drops, an indoor job sounds a lot better than shoveling snow.

We understand your instincts. But you’re missing out.

Stay at the same company for a while, and there are lots of benefits that frequent job hoppers don't get.

Let’s take a look.

The sand was warm, the grilled sausages hot and the atmosphere laid back at the annual Level Green summer picnic for managers and supervisors.

About 70 managers and supervisors gathered to celebrate their hard work, setting that work aside for an afternoon of fun.

“It’s mainly just to thank our guys for working hard,” says Level Green co-owner and founder Douglass Delano, who hosts the annual party with business partner Bill Hardy.

While the company’s different branches are naturally competitive with each other for sales and production, the event reinforces the fact that everybody works for one company, with one common goal of success, Delano says.

“I see my role in this company as a coach, more than anything,” he says. “I love encouraging people.”