Reflections on 30 Years in Business: How We Got Here

It’s not unusual to be asked about our history as we introduce our company to a homeowners association board of directors. I often start with the beginning, much of which can be found here at our website. But there is more to the history, how we tried, succeeded, changed course and discovered our identity as an organization along the way.

The story starts begins with our Founder Syd Stephan providing horticultural consulting to a couple key clients. One being the developer of the master planned Wedgewood development in Woodbury (still a customer of Horticulture Services to this day), and the other being a commercial property manager, which managed large properties in Maple Grove, Minnesota and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Syd advised Wedgewood about plants and techniques that would be successful in the Minnesota climate and Woodbury soil. At the same time he was also helping the commercial property management company strategize how the landscape at their newly constructed properties should be maintained in a horticulturally appropriate way while providing the most curb appeal and sustainability.


A Wedgewood Annual Flower Planting, early 2000s | Photo Horticulture Services

As these two organizations continued to develop their relationship with Syd they began inquiring about his role moving from consulting to a hands-on. They wanted to have the person they trusted provide services like trimming and annual flower planting. This is the point where the current manifestation of the company began, a shift from consulting to actually maintaining landscapes. Through the early 90’s Syd continued providing more and more services and more individuals and companies were approaching him about what he could do for them. In 1995 a new step was taken, Syd’s services were rounded out with mowing, IPM, irrigation and snow removal  With those additions Horticulture Services became a full service landscape maintenance company.

Since 1995 we’ve tried a lot: full service landscape maintenance for single family homes, commercial landscape construction, single family landscape design and installation, irrigation system design and installation, parking lot snow removal for commercial properties among others.  Although we tried providing those services, we ultimately didn’t continue because one thing became clear to us.  To quote Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, we realized that we could be “…the best in the world (page 95, first edition),” at commercial landscape maintenance, but we weren’t going to achieve that same level with the other services. We don’t consider those attempts as a failure, but part of the process of developing an understanding of who we are, and who we aren’t as an organization. 30 years after our founding, we believe we have a developed understanding of our organization: an industry leader providing full service landscape maintenance to multi-family and townhome associations.

Jeff Wilson | General Manager
Posted 10/16/2019