Keeping it in the Family

Updated Feb 6, 2013

Good reasons why landscaping is often a family affair

 If you missed Sean Wimble’s excellent article last issue, “Up-selling Residential Sprinkler Systems,” page 31, it’s worth retrieving. Wimble, Branch Manager at Ewing Irrigation Products in Cedar Park, Texas, outlined innovative ways you can increase profits on your next installation.

Richard YorkRichard York

Unfortunately, we erred by not crediting Wimble’s connection to Ewing, which is now celebrating its 90th year as a family-owned business. Mea culpa.

The landscaping profession is filled with family-run businesses, from husband and wife teams to those that have passed through several generations of family owners, such as Ewing, now run by its third generation of family members and headed by Douglas York, President and Richard York, Chief Operating Officer.

Of course there are many pitfalls to keeping it all in the family, so I asked Richard York to share his views and experience on the topic.

What are the pros and cons of working for a family-owned business?

Family dynamics are a challenge. However, if you have good relationships and common goals, you can get a lot accomplished. The business will be at the center of most family discussions, 24/7; this can be a pro as open dialogue can lead to faster progress, or con if you don’t strive to maintain balance with other interests and activities.

What advice would you give those poised to take charge of family-owned businesses in the landscaping industry?

Have a transition plan that enables you to transfer the knowledge, including guidelines as to what aspects of the business will be transitioned, according to what timelines. An agreed-upon plan is essential, and can guide discussions and decisions that impact the future of the company.

Ninety years as a company… what was the key to this success?

I attribute our success to having a good service model, and our mantra established by my grandfather and Ewing founder, King Ewing: “Treat your customers right; the best advertising you can have is a satisfied customer.”

For another success story of a landscaping business also in its third generation of ownership, check out “New Generation, New Ideas,” page 21.


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