Mandy Moreland first got into the landscape industry working at a local nursery. Those experiences drove her decision to major in landscape management at the University of Maryland.
More than two decades later, Moreland is the Director of Operations and Nursery Management at McHale Landscape Design. For the last 18 years, Moreland has worked her way up the ladder at the Maryland and Virginia-based family-owned firm–from plant purchaser to operations coordinator, to the leadership role she holds today.
According to a recent study by Data USA, women made up just 9.86 percent of the landscaping workforce in 2018. Females in leadership roles in landscaping are even fewer. Despite the numbers, Moreland feels excited about the career path for women looking to get into the industry.
“I’m lucky I landed where I am,” Moreland says. “McHale has been an amazing place to grow and evolve not only my experience in the industry but my entire career. Regardless of gender, or age, or race, this is a firm that gives their team equal opportunities to grow.”
Moreland oversees the entire Operation Division, which consists of a team of more than 20 professionals whose roles range from Nursery Manager to Logistics Manager, to Director of Material Recycling and Equipment Specification, to mechanics, drivers, and crews at the farm. In addition, Moreland manages McHale’s 25-acre farm, a unique asset the company uses to raise its own plants for its in-house nursery. On any given day she will go from purchasing plants and vehicles to assisting crews and visiting nurseries.
“I take pride in not only supporting our Operations Team in achieving our service goals but also giving superior service to our own colleagues – whether it’s helping them find the plants they need, or simply making myself available and approachable to make projects run smoothly,” Moreland says.
“I truly enjoy knowing that every day I walk onto our farm or into our nurseries, it will be very different from the day before,” Moreland adds. “I welcome the challenges that come with the role. One, in particular, I focus on overcoming is delegating tasks to others – simply because caring for plants is more of a hobby and a passion for me. I don’t mind doing the work, but I know I need to stay focused on the bigger picture.”
“I’ve always been the type of person that will get out there and help,” Moreland says. “When I first started at McHale, I drove the delivery trucks, picked up plants and I planted them. I worked side-by-side with the crews and I believe that goes a long way – I wasn’t going to stand back and watch others work.”
The behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating beautiful outdoor spaces is often not something that is discussed. Moreland says she wishes the public knew there was so much more to landscaping than plants.
“McHale is a one-source design-build landscape company,” Moreland says. “That is something we are so proud of and it’s truly unique in our industry. We have in-house carpentry, masonry, maintenance – all working to make these spaces come to life – and stay alive. It’s so much more than just planting plants – so much talent and time goes into a successful project.”
In five years, Moreland still sees herself managing McHale’s Operations Division. However, she will be growing her knowledge of more aspects of the business. As for her advice to other women considering entering the industry, Moreland says honesty is key – especially with yourself.
“As with any career, put in honest work, ask lots of questions and listen,” Moreland says. “If you focus on listening to as much as you can and asking smart questions, it’s amazing what you can learn.”
When it comes to women gaining more experience in a male-dominated industry, Moreland encourages women to be true to who they are and what they are looking to achieve. Women do not have to act more masculine to fit in the industry and raising a family should be a welcome possibility too.
“Thinking about my two young children, I believe it’s important for women to know you can be a mom and have a successful career,” Moreland says. “It’s a balancing act at times – but if you choose a workplace that values you and your career path, it will all fall into place.”