This is part one in a two-part series. The sequel article will publish on TLC tomorrow.
Like many landscapers, Tim Lindgren grew up working outside from an early age. At 12 years old, working for his father was just a job but as he aged he soon came to love transforming a bare lot into a beautiful yard.
Lindgren’s father was a Bible professor and a basketball coach at a college in Denver, but he would also landscape in the summer to help pay the bills. Eventually, he left teaching and became a full-time landscaper and Lindgren grew up working for his father’s landscaping company.
After graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in construction management, Lindgren decided he could either become a home builder or a landscaper.
“I figured I already knew everything in the world there is to know about landscaping because as a kid you think you know everything, so I thought ‘I’ll try landscaping because I already know it all and see how it goes,’” Lindgren says.
So, with his newly-wed wife Ami, Lindgren established Lindgren Landscape in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1995.
Lindgren had asked to partner with his father, but he said no due to a multitude of reasons. Lindgren says the primary reason was because his dad did not believe in partnerships. Despite this, Lindgren and his wife decided now was the time try while they still didn’t have any kids and didn’t have a lot of debt.
The building that Lindgren Landscape operates out of was originally the family home for Tim and Ami.
While they lived in the house for around five or six years, half of it served as the office. After they moved, they converted the entire home into an office space around 15 years ago. Later on, they also renovated a detached garage into an office space for the company’s five landscape designers.
The couple took advantage of their different strengths with Ami handling the bookkeeping and Tim managing the designing and installation. Lindgren says they’ve worked well together by not getting in each other’s way.
When first starting out, Lindgren would go door to door with flyers trying to get work. During the ’90s, the company enjoyed the construction boom in northern Colorado and could pick and choose whatever job they wanted.
“Well, then the recession hit in 2007 and we were humbled by all of a sudden this faucet shut off and there was no more new construction, and then this is kind of one of those God things that you talk about when there’s no new construction and we had never done remodels,” Lindgren says. “We were like ‘What on earth are we going to do?’ And so that’s when we started to use my construction degree that I had 12 years earlier. We thought ‘Well, let’s start doing this outdoor living thing.’”
The business almost exclusively did remodels during the recession and also started offering maintenance toward the end of the recession.
The company now offers both design/build and maintenance services, but Lindgren prefers residential clients for design/build projects and commercial clients for maintenance work.
“It (commercial design/build) doesn’t really appeal,” Lindgren says. “That’s more about cost. There’s very little creativity in it, in the sense that the commercial properties just aren’t connected to their landscapes like residentials are. They really care how it looks and they’re ready. They’re willing to invest in it to be unique, to be different and better.”
About 70 percent of the business is design/build while 30 percent is maintenance. Lindgren Landscape has a 45-mile radius for design/build projects and a five-mile radius for maintenance jobs.
Currently, Lindgren Landscape has a fleet of 25 trucks and 60 employees during peak season on its 24-acre property.
Not afraid to blaze a trail
For Lindgren Landscape, it is all or nothing when it comes to design/build. The company will only install its own designs.
“The philosophy behind that is, when someone drives by and sees our truck on the site, we want to have complete control over the outcome of that project,” Lindgren says. “If we install somebody else’s drawing that doesn’t function or doesn’t look good, the public thinks we did that. We want our brand to handle it all the way to the end of the project. We want it to be something that we have control over the quality and the artistic features. We want it to be unique to Lindgren.”
He also understands the values of the designs themselves and charges $75 an hour for design work.
“We don’t give away designs,” Lindgren says. “Every design is bought and paid for. We value design and we never give it away. We always charge.”
Lindgren says the last thing the company wants to create is a cookie cutter landscape for customers. He is committed to keeping his team innovative by having sales reps visit and make presentations on the latest products and is constantly doing in-house training on topics like outdoor lighting and outdoor kitchens.
“Our guys, especially our designers, are not afraid to try new things,” Lindgren says. “We’re always trying new things and they’re not afraid because we don’t condemn failure. If we mess something up, they don’t get chastised. We want them to learn new things and get better and take risks.”
Georgia Perry, a senior designer, has been with Lindgren Landscape for 13 years and says her favorite thing about working for the company is having clients that trust them to create something that is custom and unique.
“I think we are so creative and are able to think outside the box,” she says. “I have a hard time thinking inside of the box, so (I like) the fact that we get to work someplace that allows us to express those ideas and flesh it out and build it when it’s not the easiest thing to do. Our production team is constantly trying to innovate how we can build things that are not in every landscape, so our landscapes are different from other landscapes because we’re implementing things that haven’t been done before, which is really cool.”
Check back tomorrow for part two of this article, where we’ll cover how Lindgren Landscape maintains quality control and its keys to success.