Bill Goddard has always loved creating. “My dad says I played in the sandbox when I was a kid, and at 52 years old I’m still playing in the sandbox,” he says with a grin. Only today, the sandboxes he plays in are the $5 million to $25 million estates in and around Woodbridge, California, where Goddard Construction Services (GCS) is located.
After years working in marketing, Goddard decided to pursue his dream and launch his own construction company. But he wanted to find a niche to make his own. And he found that niche in what he calls “dreamscaping” – the art of bringing a homeowner’s fantasy landscape to life.
“Our clients don’t want to travel anymore with all the unrest in the world,” Goddard explains. “In past years, our clients would have had homes all over the world. They don’t want to do that anymore. They want to walk out their back door to their everyday vacation home.”
Combining his passions for creating, marketing and education, Goddard pursued the dreamscaping market with GCS, convinced that it is going to grow from a segment dominated by wealthy homeowners. “You’re going to see this dreamscape movement grow from our current niche market into the middle-class markets, too,” he says. “My belief is that people are not going to build homes in the future as large as they do today. Instead, they’re going to put more money into landscaping than ever before.”
Complete control and a full-service package for customers
Today, GCS is a full-service landscape company offering clients everything from lawn maintenance services to full-blown dreamscape design-and-dig operations. But waterfalls are GCS’s specialty. The company excels at installing dramatic, colorful and exciting waterfall features in residential yards – generally for wealthy clients. “It happens that all of our landscape projects are centered on water, but we do everything,” Goddard notes. “We made the decision to offer a full-service package in order to separate ourselves from our competition – but we also wanted ensure that we have complete control over the project.”
A typical design-and-dig project for GCS costs about $200,000 on a sizable piece of estate property. The last job the company completed, for example, was on 4.2 acres. “We found the hard way that if a homeowner gets a landscape architect to put that project down on paper, there’s no way they can anticipate everything we’ll find once we get to the jobsite,” Goddard notes. “There is always something you don’t expect to find there – whether it’s a pipe in the ground, changes made by the client, or there maybe a tree that you want to keep and have to move things around to accommodate.”
Goddard says he tells his crews to try and build better than anybody else. “I tell my guys they have to be creative,” he stresses. “The people that get into this industry get into it because they love it and they’re creative and they’re good at plant selection and visualizing the outcome of a project. We like building water features and try to learn something from everybody we come in contact with.”
It’s that discipline of constant education that served Goddard so well when he began his landscaping business. “One of the things we did when we started building is I went to the guys that were recognized as the best in the design-and-dig industry and just asked to talk to them,” he says. “I was never going to be competitors again with them – and never would if we were in a project and they bid on it. These guys have been so good to me that I would never compete against them. It’s amazing how the people that are recognized as the best will spend so much time with you because they want the industry to get better.”
At the same time, Goddard constantly reads and researches construction techniques, landscaping trends and naturalist settings to improve his operations and his services. “I’ve got a huge library in my office. I read and read and read. We try to figure out the best way to do it, not necessarily the way that everybody else is doing it, but the best way to do it.
“We are very selective in the type of clients we do work for,” Goddard continues. “We’re not interested in being the biggest company around. We want clients that demand and appreciate quality. It’s not just that they have money. There are lots of people that have money that we would not do work for. We want the client that says, ‘I’ve worked hard. I want something special!’ And I want them to be excited about their project.”
Goddard’s enthusiasm for his creations allows him to go the extra mile for his clients. Most contractors, for example, hate changes to a project already under construction, Goddard says. “A lot of my competitors view changes as a way to charge the client more money,” he notes. “But we do a set design fee on our projects, no matter what changes are made. If we’re ready to start up the next day, and the client comes to me and says, ‘Bill, I’ve been thinking