Two Landscape Awards Winners Share Secrets

Ohio Valley Group's Award Winning Project "Rock and Role Garden"
Ohio Valley Group’s Award Winning Project “Rock and Role Garden”

“Entering projects in NALP’s Awards of Excellence program is a great way to showcase our company’s work and talent,” said Kathleen Dangelo, Vice-President and General Counsel for The Ohio Valley Group, Inc., in Chagrin Falls, OH. “It is a great source of pride for our team to win national landscape awards, and clients are impressed. Furthermore, the quality of all the entries in the program is amazing. They demonstrate fabulous workmanship and design that is appealing to the eye and indicative of the very high level of professionalism within the industry.”

Over the last five years, her company has won eight grand or merit awards and been a consistent winner of safety awards since 2008.  “Each year, we schedule time with a professional photographer to capture some of our best and most interesting projects,” added Dangelo, “with the thought they will be entered into the program. We feel it’s imperative to use only professional photos that showcase our work in the best possible light.”

Burt DeMarche, president of LaurelRock Company in Wilton, CT, employs an in-house photographer to record potential award-winning projects.  “The process begins early,” noted DeMarche, whose projects have won more than a dozen awards, including the prestigious 2013 Judges and audience award.  “We start with a fall meeting to select projects for the next year’s awards’ cycle. At that time, we will either choose some appropriate images from current files or schedule future photography. Our intent is to enter two properties in design/build and two in landscape management.”

He continued, “Properties have to be beautiful, but they should also demonstrate some significant challenges. Competition is very keen and winning projects need to be special.  That holds particularly true in the maintenance category where projects are not as easily differentiated visually as they are in design build. For example, one of our award-winning maintenance projects featured 175 light fixtures along with a 92-zone irrigation system, both of which presented substantial challenges for our team.

This project by the LaurelRock Company won a 2015 NALP Award of Excellence.
This project by the LaurelRock Company won a 2015 NALP Award of Excellence.

DeMarche had been in business 10 years before entering his first project. “I wanted our company to stand out among area competitors and felt that winning a national competition was one way to do it,” he recalled.  “In a sense, I wanted potential customers to say, ‘wow, their projects are among the best not only in the state but the country.’”

That realization helped sell an account this year.  DeMarche explained: “One of our award-winning maintenance projects was recently sold. When meeting with the new owner to propose our services, we indicated the property had won a national award because of our service.  That sealed the deal.”

Just as Dangelo’s company, LaurelRock also enters the program to instill a sense of pride among team members and, yes, customers, too. “For our grand award-winning properties, we present clients with a duplicate award and often take them out to dinner, sometimes with their property manager, estate gardener, or whomever may be involved with their landscape.”

LaurelRock’s service offering is divided almost equally between design/build/install and landscape management. As mentioned, he enters projects in both categories to not only give team members in both sides of his company a chance to have winning projects but also to demonstrate to all customers, those in design/build and maintenance, that his company excels in all its service offerings.

One other tip from DeMarche? He thinks it’s important to photograph a property throughout the year, to demonstrate the landscaping or the maintenance is not just award-winning for one season alone.

Although entering projects take time, energy, and planning, DeMarche and Dangelo both see it more of an opportunity than a chore.  Dangelo said it best when she remarked, “Every year we are grateful for the opportunity to submit projects for consideration. It is very gratifying and humbling for our entire team when projects receive recognition. These awards validate the creativity, workmanship, and hard work that defines our team.”

Entries for the 2016 National Landscape Awards of Excellence are being accepted through July 29th. 

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