Every year I ask several employees to write a few articles for this blog. With the wide variety of experiences and skill sets I can get an equally wide variety of articles. This submission is not your typical “horticultural tips” kind of article but rather a personal experience of one Account Manager that exemplifies her passion for her work. Thanks for this submission Jamie.
By Jamie Sloan
Account Managers in the Landscape Industry are a unique breed of people. Not everyone can perform consistently well under the stress and demands that are inherent to the job. The basic fundamental aspect of this position is to take care of the beautification needs and desires of many clients. We take on anything from challenging irrigation systems, seasonal pests and diseases, the occasional unruly pet, and even a child’s Fairy Garden. However, there is one aspect to the personality of many Account Managers that is usually over looked. Account Managers also have to listen to the needs of the landscape, which may sometimes override the desires of the client. This can be a delicate task that requires a certain amount of competency in psychology, and empathy.
I once met with a client who had obvious emotional attachments to certain landscape features on her property. I didn’t know the reasoning or stories behind her bond with these specific shrubs or trees; but, I could tell that some things were just special to her. I proceeded as usual, taking mental note of these various plants, and continued listening to her requests for rejuvenating the aesthetics of her gardens. Upon the walkthrough of the property, we came upon a mid-sized garden bed crammed with large, overgrown rockrose bushes, and a scrawny looking tree planted smack-dab in the center of the beastly shrubs. I inquired about the aesthetic value of the shrubs versus the tree. My client’s gaze dropped to the ground and said that it was a Laburnum (aka Golden Chain Tree) that had never bloomed because of the impeding Cistus (aka rockrose). Her mood shifted at that moment and she finished by saying, “I guess the tree will die anyway, so just remove it.”
The tree was already dying…suffocating by the surrounding poorly placed shrubs, and my client had verbally given me the axe to cut it down. I asked if she was attached to the Cistus, which she was not; then I asked if she was attached to the tree. She said yes, but that she had already prepared herself to let it go. I told her I’d let her know my ideas of a new design.
After my client left, I crawled under the Cistus shrub and examined the bark and trunk. It was damp because sunlight could not penetrate the thick canopy of shrubbery, but it was also very much alive. I knew that the dampness was detrimental to the life of the tree. I also knew that this tree was a hidden gem, yet no one had seen its potential. As an Account Manager, I wanted my client to be happy. As a Horticulturist I wanted the tree to live to its fullest potential.
Later that evening I called and asked my client if she’d allow me to modify the entire garden bed, with attempts to save the tree. She agreed with mild excitement, and hopes that I could make it work. The next day I went to the site and began my plan to not only save the tree, but make this garden bed a focal point to the landscape. After many arduous hours, the bed eventually transformed into a new garden for cutting flowers. The removal of the cistus opened the entire face of the property and the tree branched out like a willful skeleton reaching for its potential that was carried in the sunlight.
By the end of spring the flowers were blooming, and for the first time ever, so did the Golden Chain Tree. My client and her daughter met with me, and rejoiced at the abundance of fragrance and flowers. The newfound strength and splendor of the tree caused my client to leave tears on my shoulder hugging me with appreciation. She quickly excused herself because she was overwrought with emotion and joy. The daughter stayed behind and thanked me again, and asked if I knew the story behind the tree. I did not. She proceeded to tell me that it was a memory tree planted for her brother who was killed in a tragic accident.
Now it was my turn to shed some tears. I thanked her for letting me know and left them to their newly rejuvenated gardens. This experience was the epitome of the DeSantis mission statement, and I realized then that I was the epitome of an Account Manager. With that, I leave you with the actual mission statement of DeSantis Landscapes, Inc., one that we truly live by:
Create and maintain environments of lasting beauty. Gain the trust and respect of our community. Continually improve ourselves, and our company.