Palazzi Landscape Gardening was founded by Italian immigrant Augusto Palazzi. He came to the U.S. in 1908 and settled in New London, Connecticut.
Palazzi had no skills at the time, so he worked as an iron molder. The owner offered his workers an opportunity to earn extra money by working as gardeners on his estate. This is how he learned his landscaping trade and started his business in 1917.
“He did this because no matter how hard he worked in the foundry, he was never given a promotion and faced constant discrimination so he looked to do something else,” says Lou Palazzi Jr., the current owner of Palazzi Landscape Gardening. “He reconnected with a woman he knew in Italy whose husband died in WWI leaving her with a 10-year-old son. They married, had my father, and moved to Dunmore (Pennsylvania) where my grandmother had three brothers and my grandfather needed to escape the constant prejudice and discrimination he faced in New London. Northeast Pennsylvania offered more opportunities due to the anthracite coal boom.”
While the company has officially been in business since 1917, Augusto Palazzi and his son Lou Palazzi Sr. say the first four years they were trying to get things figured out. They consider 1921 the true start of the company.
The company started out with a specialty in lawn renovation. Later on, they added on commercial and residential heavy landscaping. In 1975, they stopped heavy landscaping to focus on select gardening jobs.
“We stopped cutting grass, unless an emergency, 20 years ago,” Palazzi Jr. says. “We also stopped snow plowing 35 years ago. Our focus is now on plant and lawn care, pruning, renovation, and solving problems no other company will touch.”
In 1998, the company relocated to Newfoundland, Pennsylvania. This was because Palazzi Jr. had been living in New Jersey and commuting an hour each way. He returned to Pennsylvania but purchased 4 ½ acres of property to serve as a home and business.
“The tight confines of urban Scranton/Dunmore especially the streets, necessitated a move where there is more room,” Palazzi Jr. says.
Throughout the years, times have been tough for the business during the Great Depression and World War II but Palazzi Jr. says they’ve been able to survive.
“Last spring due to COVID we were very close to having to close,” Palazzi Jr. says. “Things then opened up and from mid-year to the end we made up a lot of lost ground. This year so far has been exceptionally good.”
Palazzi Jr. credits their success to focusing on quality, not growth. Family members work on every crew, including management. They also work to be the complete professional who can answer all client concerns.
“We have been able to stay in business first because it has always involved numerous family members doing different aspects of the business,” Palazzi Jr. says. “Secondly, we always have done things differently than all other companies such as stressing quality over growth and organics over chemicals, which we use as sparingly as possible. Thirdly, our main focus has always been problem-solving of pests, diseases and renovating existing landscapes not done properly.”
Because the company has been around for so long, they don’t advertise and haven’t since 1992. They have no company website. All their business is based on reputation, word of mouth and being on Facebook.
“We believe being in this area for 100 years that everyone has heard of us at some point,” Palazzi Jr. says.
As for passing the business on generation to generation, Palazzi Jr. says he remembers being three or four years old and handling his grandfather’s shovels and rakes.
“My father said I would do many things in life but remember my ‘permanent job’ which I knew better than any other, would always be there,” he says. “I have always been a gardener.”
He says the transitions have been relatively smooth in the past as only one child has had an interest in continuing the family business but now the company is being passed to two children for the first time. Palazzi Jr.’s children Rich and Danielle are both actively running crews right now and are in management. The business is being slowly transferred to them over the next 10 years. Palazzi Jr. says he will be involved with the business as long as he is able.
In the next five years, Palazzi Jr. wants to continue to focus on quality and shifting even more to organics.
“We’ve gone from 50 percent (organic) 40 years ago now to almost 90 percent,” he says. “Our results with lawns and plants are better than those synthetic-centered approaches. Our lawn program uses the same organic fertilizer since 1926 since we treat the soil, not the grass.”