Lisa Fiore, founder and CEO of LandscapeHub, grew up in the nursery business. In 1916, her great-grandfather started Charles Fiore Nursery in Chicago. Fiore spent her childhood roaming around the nursery fields and falling in love with the industry, as a whole. In early 2000, she joined the business, learning all aspects from buying to selling to business operations. and actually grew the business despite the hardships. It was then that she learned how technology could help her business and the industry.
“I had a really great vantage point and was able to see all of the inefficiencies we were struggling with through the supply chain,” Fiore says. “That’s when I started to conceptualize this idea of a software solution that could streamline the way products were bought and sold. In Fall 2016, the idea became a conviction and I knew I had to leave the family business to pursue LandscapeHub. The rest is history.”
NALP recently caught up with Fiore to find out more.
What is your proudest moment in business?
There have been many moments where I felt that I had reached a milestone or met personal goals, but it’s so hard to pick out just one that I’m most proud of. It also implies I alone did something, and I can’t take credit solely for anything I’ve achieved. Everything I’ve accomplished has been through the help and support of others. A lot of people have helped open doors for me, given me their time to help me develop an idea and challenged me to execute at a higher level. That said, a special moment that does stand out is around the effort to raise funds to make LandscapeHub a reality. The idea of LandscapeHub was not even a year old and we’d raised $4 million dollars. I would call that a most “gratifying moment.”
What has been your biggest business challenge?
In my former life, some of my biggest challenges came in weathering the recession. The whole industry got punched in the face. It was really challenging to see so many amazing operations needing to scale back and re-adjust. And it was painful to see many not be able to do that successfully. Sadly, there were many that had to close their doors. Recently, my greatest challenge has been launching LandscapeHub and building trust within the industry. Having come from the industry, I feel that I’m a good steward and trying to put this business in a position to bring solutions. But first I must earn their trust and prove we are here to be an agent of change in a positive way, not a disruptive way.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
I have a mentor and then someone I look up to. I look up to Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn because he leads a massively relevant business and one that is in everyone’s lives. Although he leads a multi-billion-dollar business, he consistently talks about the importance of leading with compassion in the workplace and I love that. You don’t hear sentiments like that at big corporations, and you can tell he means it. Leading with compassion is an idea I try to bring to my job every day. I think in order to be effective business leaders, we have to have compassion with coworkers, customers and employees.
As far as mentors, I would say my father, Charles, has been my lifelong mentor. The greatest lesson he’s imparted to me is the importance of leading with integrity and treating people the right way. Coming into the business that he led, I always tried to fill his shoes, yet I never felt like I totally could. I think many people who come into next-generation businesses feel that way. But I’ve always admired the way he has conducted himself and tried to follow suit.
What is your favorite business book?
Right now, it’s “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of USS Jeanette,” which is not a business book at all and yet I have gained so many business principles from it. It’s about a true polar exploration—a journey to the North Pole that was tragic and did not go at all as planned. Why I think of this as a business book is because it’s about human perseverance, grit, leadership and surviving terrible trials and tribulations.
As a former small business owner and operator and now as a start-up operator, I feel like what we’re doing is hard. So, I think I took inspiration from this book in terms of how to be resourceful. It made me think about being driven to carry out objectives of a mission. I read a ton of business books, of course, and there are many great formulas out there on how to be successful in business. But sometimes it’s a nonfiction story like this that teaches me the most.
What does it mean to be a landscape professional?
It means that we are a part of the best industry on the planet—an industry that makes the world a more beautiful place. It also means that we are a part of an industry that is going through an exciting period of change. We are faced with many challenges: labor, lack of technology, lack of resources and so many others. It’s tough, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
What does it mean to you to be a member of NALP?
It means being close to the pulse of what’s going on in the industry. As a business owner and leader, it’s important to know what is affecting other industry stakeholders. NALP is my bridge to that information.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lisa Fiore is on the Women in Landscape Network advisory board. Learn more here.