Over the coming months, Claudia de Yong will be visiting members of the APL and going behind the scenes to ask - ‘Why did you become a Landscaper?’
To start the series, Paul Baker from Holland Landscapes, based in Colchester Essex, discusses how he joined his father’s landscaping business and what plans he has for the future.
1. What made you choose a career in landscaping?
My dad was running Holland Landscapes and I would help him on a Saturday morning and in school holidays. I never wanted to be a landscaper but I did enjoy being outside and helping out.
2. Some people find it tricky working with family. You have worked with your father for a number of years - what’s the secret?
We have a very open and honest relationship, if we don’t agree on something then we will say. While this can be a bit tense at times, we always come to a good resolution. This has always been the best way to work for us and we never fall out.
3. How has your father’s experience in the industry helped and influenced you?
My dad is a perfectionist. When I was younger he would always point out errors in my work or method of works. While this may have been frustrating at times it has made me the perfectionist I am today. Another big influence is my dad’s honesty and integrity. He wears his heart on his sleeve and always has our client’s best interests in mind, he would rather lose money than deliver a sub-standard project. This has transferred to me and has become the ethos of Holland Landscapes.
4. How have you seen the industry change?
When I started at 16 concrete paving and one of the only options available. Now, there is a massive variety and most of it from ethically sourced quarries. Technology has come a long way in landscaping as well. From garden lighting controlled by smartphones and new resin compounds.
5. What have you planned for the coming months?
I am looking for a new team leader, like everyone we really struggle to find good staff. Our team at the moment is amazing and my advice to any business owner is to really look after the good ones!
6. What has been your most memorable event?
This is an easy one, winning the Supreme Award at the APL awards 2011. This was such an amazing achievement!
7. What inspires you?
A few things. My dad has built an amazing company from nothing and I want to do my best to keep this going and improve on it even more. I would like to one day pass on the business to my son and keep the family name going. Also, there are a lot of amazing landscapers out there, many who I am friends with. The work they do is mind blowing. I am always learning from these guys.
8. Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into a career in landscaping?
Yes, listen to all the advice you receive and process it. This information is extremely valuable. And don’t run before you can walk, the big projects may seem prestigious but get it wrong and you can put yourself in a bad position.
9. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Still running Holland Landscapes and Tapestry Design Studios. I am happy with two build teams, but maybe we will have a maintenance team as well. Maybe Tapestry will grow and employ more designers. Watch this space!
10. How do you find being a member of an association like the APL has helped your business and what’s it like to be a committee member?
We joined the APL in the late 90’s and we have seen our company turn into a very professional organisation. The combination of the business tools available, networking with like-minded people and the CPD events on offer has really pushed us to strive for perfection on and off site.
Being on the committee is extremely rewarding. We have made some massive changes to the APL and the way it works over the last 5-6 years and it is really heading in the right direction now.
11. How will you be celebrating 30 years of creating beautiful gardens at Holland Landscapes?
We are doing a series of blogs throughout the year looking back and forwards to the future and we might even take the whole team out for a celebratory meal!
Paul and Chris Baker – Holland Landscapes winning one of their many APL awards