On the campus of the University of Maryland is a giant M created entirely of flowers. The striking floral M, in a circular sea of emerald green lawn, is one of the most photographed spots on campus, with families regularly hopping out of their cars to snap a photo of their smiling college students posing next to it.
Creating the giant plant-filled M is up to Jose Reyes, Level Green Landscaping maintenance supervisor.
In the spring he painstakingly plants it with 1,000 sturdy red begonia plants. In the fall, he swaps those out for 1,000 cheerful yellow pansies.
Jose’s work on the iconic M gets noticed — and not just because it’s huge. University of Maryland horticulturalists ask for Jose, because they know he’ll do the job perfectly.
One day, as Jose planted flower after flower, a campus photographer stopped and asked to take his photo.
Jose was honored. But he had a request.
“I said, ‘First, take a picture of my guys,’” he recalls. “‘Then you can take a picture of me.’”
That’s typical Jose, says his supervisor, Level Green operations manager Jose Ruiz.
“He treats his crew like family,” Jose Ruiz says. “He’s very proud of what he does, and he’s a really hard worker. And he always treats everybody fair.”
“I like to have a good relationship with my crew,” says Jose, taking a midday break from spring clean-up. “I really like this job. Of course, I like making money to pay my bills, but it also makes me happy knowing I’m doing a great job for our customers. When they tell me how much they like our work, it feels good.”
He hears that a lot.
“Jose does an excellent job of laying out the annuals in a way so that they’re attractive from the moment they’re installed,” says Sam Bahr, horticulturist at the University of Maryland Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where Jose and his crew have done landscape maintenance work.
Everybody likes him, Bahr adds.
“He’s respectful, courteous and listens to the customer,” Bahr says. “Jose doesn’t ask his crew members to do anything that he isn’t willing to do himself. He’s often the last one working at the end of the day, the last one to bring his mower or other piece of equipment back to the truck.”
Away from work, Jose likes to relax with his family, watching TV or heading to the mall to buy clothes. He loves soccer and is goalkeeper on an area team. Jose’s wife and sister also work at Level Green Landscaping, and he has two sons, ages 18 and 20, who work in the D.C. area.
Jose’s native El Salvador is famous for a host of delectable food.
Pupusas – the Salvadorian national dish — are hand-made corn tortillas stuffed with beans, pork and cheese and served with sour cabbage salad.
Empanadas de leche, a sweet breakfast food, is ground plantain shaped into small oval balls and stuffed with vanilla custard.
Jose must make these savory dishes here to remind him of home, right?
“Well, sometimes I cook food from my country, but what I really like is Chinese food,” he says. “Shrimp and broccoli.
“And I love chicken wings.” He laughs.
Feel free to ask him about that. Jose loves a good conversation.
“You always know when he’s in the office,” says Level Green account manager Scott Rupert, who used to supervise Jose. “He engages people. He loves to chat.”
Jose started out working on crew six years ago, then moved up to driver before being promoted to maintenance supervisor.
“What I really like about Level Green is the opportunity to grow with the company,” Jose says. “Everybody at this company is like family. Everybody is willing to help you.”
Want to Join the Team?
Jose is just one of the dedicated team members we have here at Level Green Landscaping. And we’re always looking for hard-working, talented people to join our team.
Are you ready to work for a company where employees feel like family?