Native Land Design Blog

Celebrating Women in the Green Industry

Ben Collinsworth

Did you know March 8th was International Women’s Day?


Around the world, people celebrated women and the amazing social, economic, cultural and political achievements they have made and continue to make every day. They also recognized the strong influence and impact women have on the world around us.


When it comes to the world of landscaping, women also make an impressive impact. In the U.S., the first third of the 20th century saw the rise of women in the fields of landscaping. Today, they are thriving in various areas of the business.


At Native Land Design, we celebrate our amazing female team members. Here is a glimpse inside what some of them do and what they enjoy most about their work making your landscapes better places to work, live and play every day.


Employee Close-up: Todd Wilson

Ben Collinsworth

Todd Wilson loves water.

“If I’m not out on the water fishing, then I’m thinking about being out on the water fishing,” he says.

So it only makes sense that he’d end up in irrigation. Perfect for guy who can’t get enough water.

And a great fit for a guy who loves a new challenge every day.

“Every job we do is different from the last job,” says Todd, irrigation manager at Native Land Design. “There’s always a new challenge. One day we might be working on a house, the next day a big commercial office building. One day it might be a wire problem, the next day a broken pipe, the next day a controller.”

It keeps him on his toes, he says, and he likes that.


Employee Close-up: Chris Rhodes

Ben Collinsworth

Chris Rhodes spends some of his workdays delivering cookies or wine baskets, attending luncheons, golf tournaments and bowling outings.


You call that work? You bet he does.


“It's my job to be that person who people want to be around,” says Chris, director of marketing and business development at Native Land Design. “People buy from who they like. It’s a relationship-building job.”


Chris started this job at Native Land in January 2017. But he wasn’t exactly The New Guy. He was director of operations here from 2007 through 2010.

He left after that for a job in business development at a large landscaping company, then became a regional vice president for operations.


But when his position was cut, Chris was out of a job.


“I was 10 minutes out of my office and I knew exactly who I was going to call,” he recalls. He dialed his old friend and boss Ben Collinsworth, CEO of Native Land Design. He had gained quite a few new skills in the past several years — did Ben have a spot for him at Native Land?


Employee Close-up: Sandra Leija

Ben Collinsworth

When Sandra Leija thinks back to a great day at work, she only has to think as far back as yesterday.


"A guy came in and asked me for a raise," she says. "I asked him if he'd like to take classes to be an irrigation technician. He was so excited — you'd think I offered him a great trip to somewhere.


“He said nobody had ever offered him a chance to learn something, or thought he could do something like that,” she says.


She loves that she was the one.


"He asked me if I could find the class in Spanish. I told him yes, I would.”


Sandra has lots of happy stories, gathered during her nine years at Native Land Design.


She's done everything here from administrative work to marketing to managing accounts. She’s been instrumental in establishing the company’s branch in Mission, oversees work in the valley and does administrative work in Houston. Her degree from the University of Houston in business administration with a focus in IT prepared her to handle all kinds of tasks.


Soon, she’ll have a new title to reflect the scope of her work: regional manager.


Employee Close-up: Jose Ventura

Ben Collinsworth

Jose Ventura tried working at a factory once, making the sturdy pipes used in oil fields.


"I lasted two weeks," he says with a laugh. “I was not made to be inside. I need to work outside.”


So the world of lush landscaping, innovative irrigation and paver projects suits him perfectly, as director of operations at Native Land Design.


Jose has led the Houston branch for seven years, after coming to Native Land Design as an account manager.


“When we expanded into Houston, Jose was the first person I called,” says Stan Johnson, Native Land Design president, who knew Jose when they both worked for TruGreen. “He's the kind of guy you look for. He's done every job — he started at the bottom as a laborer and worked his way up. He knows every aspect of the business.”


That means he has lots of credibility with his crews, Johnson says.


“If Jose says a job can be done in three hours, they know it can be,” he says. “He didn’t read that from a book. He’s done it himself.”


Employee Close-up: Greg Yount

Ben Collinsworth

When Greg Yount isn't overseeing the latest high-tech software programs, he might be out taking cool drone photos of landscaping projects.


Or filming one of his kids' sporting events, editing it and posting it on YouTube for other families to enjoy.


Or pondering how to set up his house as a "smart home," with lights and music that operate with a click on his smart phone.


Seems Native Land Design picked the right guy to be chief technology officer.


Greg really loves this stuff.


Greg has been chief technology officer for two years, after working for several years as Native Land Design accounts manager, then director of maintenance operations.


It was a brand new position, "started from scratch," he says.


Why does a landscaping company need a chief technology officer?


He knows what you mean.


"Hardly anybody looks at the green industry and thinks ‘technology,’" Greg says. "People think landscaping is just guys pushing mowers. They think, ‘How difficult can it be?’"


Employee Close-up: Matt Davis

Ben Collinsworth

Have an idea brewing in your head about how your Texas commercial property entranceway or most visible area should look?


Matt Davis, landscape designer with Native Land Design, might be the one who can bring that vision living in your head to life in a whole new and creative way.


Taking a simple idea and transforming it into a space that gives a community its personality is his forte while designing landscape enhancements and creating estimates at Native Land Design.


“I really enjoy doing the designs around monument signs,” Matt says of his favorite jobs. “That might be for a commercial retail center or a neighborhood HOA, but no matter what type of property it is, the entrance landscape is usually someone’s first impression of a site, and I enjoy helping create that first impression.”


Employee Close-up: Facundo Rodriguez Miranda

Ben Collinsworth

Does your first hire still work for you?


Employee longevity and loyalty is rare today. And the cost of employee turnover is fairly high. Every employee you lose can cost a significant amount in lost revenue, time and training.


In addition to the significant savings in recruiting, hiring and training, the longer an employee stays with your company, the more they develop an understanding of your market, services and clients, translating into better customer service and product quality.


So it’s quite a gift to have employee loyalty in place at one’s company.


Facundo Rodriguez Miranda, crew leader/driver at Native Land Design, was the first person Ben Collinsworth, president of Native Land Design, hired more than 15 years ago.