Christy Webber, owner of Christy Webber Landscapes, based in Chicago, Illinois, says she’s a country girl and her love for the outdoors drew her to the landscaping industry.
“I grew up in the country, but I wanted to live in city because I’m gay and wanted to be around people like me so that just seemed like a natural fit,” she says.
She incorporated her business in 1994. She says she had no training whatsoever when starting out, but she ended up taking some horticultural courses at the College of DuPage. Now she employs over 400 employees.
What is your proudest moment in business?
My proudest moment was when I got the United Center. United Center was one of the hottest joints in town because it was where the Bulls played and at that time, they were on championship number five or something like that. Brickman had it and they were a big company. I had one pickup truck and one dump truck. I’m very still proud to have that since 1997.
What is your biggest business challenge today?
For me right now, just because I’m almost 60, I’m tired. The biggest challenge is just to stay in it. I want to come to work every day, but I just want to do what I want to do. I do love putting the teams together and making it all click. I’m a production person.
What motivates you on Monday mornings?
I work on Saturdays and some of Sundays, so I don’t have to come to work on Monday. So, my Monday might be Wednesday. For me right now, I want to close out somehow a winner and I want the business to continue on. I don’t know how exactly that’s going to happen right now.
What business worry keeps you up most at night?
Never in one million trillion years would I ever thought I’d be the size of the company I am now. I’ve learned the more you got, the more you worry and the more you worry about losing it.
What is a great landscape life hack you’d be willing to share?
Pay attention to your numbers and don’t take no for an answer, meaning that if your CFO doesn’t have a spreadsheet for you, you need to ask for it. Don’t think that you can just step away and let others run your business because it’s just not the same. At my size, I need everybody for sure, but they also need me as their leader, as the person whose name is on the door. You got to watch your business and you have to understand business a little bit. You have to have common sense and look at your numbers and see whether you’re on track.
Who is your business mentor?
My CFO has always been whispering in my ear. My biggest growth spurt came when he came on board. I sputtered and stopped out at $5 million. He came on board and borrowed money. I never did that before.
What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?
That’s changed for me. It used to always be winning jobs and uniforms. Now, it’s really just do a good job. Let’s do a professional job, not some sloppy install.
In five years, where do you see your business going
I hope retired! I really think that some of the people who work for me could run this thing, not into the ground, but even run it better. I need to figure it out.
This article was published in the Sept/Oct issue of the magazine.