Will Dalzell, owner of Dalzell Design Landscaping in North Augusta, South Carolina, says that he has always worked outside. Early on his jobs were always working on golf courses and when he went to school for Landscape Architecture at the University of Georgia, he assumed he’d ultimately get into designing golf courses. Instead, he fell in love with residential landscape design and has been passionate about designing and building outdoor living spaces for homeowners ever since.
“I love designing spaces that clients will use to enjoy time with their families,” he says. “I’m inspired by taking a blank slate of nothingness and creating something beautiful out of it. I love the transformation process.”
Currently his company has two branches, the one in North Augusta, as well as one in Bluffton, South Carolina. Dalzell hopes to be adding a third, as well.
We recently caught up with Dalzell to find out more about his landscaping experiences and why he finds value in being part of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
What has been your proudest moment in business?
I think my proudest business moments have always been those that have helped us run the best that we can. Right now, it’s that we’re almost finished completing our standard operating procedure manual. Getting that done has been really important to us. We had a business coach for a year and are working through processes and just trying to streamline our operations. We have two locations so a goal has been about making them both run the same so that they have a franchise mentality and everyone knows the proper procedures.
What has been your biggest business challenge?
No different than anyone else, it’s been trying to find good, reliable, and hardworking people that like to dig holes and cut grass, still. It’s the missing link in our industry. It would be an easy job if we had more interest. We made some big commitments to H-2B last year but the coronavirus pandemic has really hurt us as that has fallen through. We’re looking into some different avenues for better recruiting.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
I produce a state of affairs video at the start of every week using Loom. It goes out to my direct team super early on Monday via email. Then they show it to all their team members when they do their management meetings with them. In the videos I talk about what’s new, what we’re doing, any cool projects we’re working on, and then I challenge them on personal stuff for the week, too. Maybe some little tips they can do at home to balance their work and family life. I’ll also talk about the weather, particularly if we are going to have a bad week. This state of affairs video gets me in the mode of being a good leader and coaching the team. I started it a little over a year ago and it’s been working well for us. It’s also efficient in that it eliminates me having to repeat myself over and over again with the same message.
Who has been a business mentor to you?
My business coach Scott Beebe, the owner of Business on Purpose. He was really instrumental in taking us from a relatively small company to a decent-sized landscape construction business. Finding a business coach can feel like a challenge. There are so many out there. You have to find one that lines up with your morals, values, and vision. Scott really helped us in all aspects of the business.
What is a great landscape life hack you’d be willing to share?
It’s just about starting my mornings off right. Making sure I fit in my devotion time, my exercise, and eating a quality breakfast. Setting my day off on the right foot — with my mind in the right place — really makes a big difference in terms of how the entire day goes.
What does it mean to you to be a member of the NALP?
I love the opportunity to learn from other businesses; from their experiences, their successes, and their failures, too. I love the trips and the meetings and getting to see the leadership from these huge companies that have been really successful. I appreciate the resources and the certifications, too.
What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?
I think our mission, our core values, and our vision at DDL defines a true landscape professional. Our mission is “creating your beautiful outdoor environments through core values and teamwork.” Our vision is to be the multi-generational premier landscape design, construction, and maintenance company; to grow but remain small enough to service our customers with unparalleled customer service; to properly grow the company in a responsible way, by increasing revenue through maximum efficiencies, processes, and procedures. We recognize that our number one asset is our team members. If we provide an exceptional workplace environment, it will directly affect the company in a positive way. Our employees will help us build our company’s reputation that will create a brand that separates us from the competition. We will challenge our employees to take the initiative to grow with the company. Their growth will translate into company growth that will create future opportunities.
Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
In five years, hopefully we’ll have one more office in Lexington, South Carolina. We’ve been working toward adding a branch but obviously, the economy could impact that. Currently, I’m really working in the day-to-day aspects of the business but in five years I would like to see myself in more of a coaching and mentor type of role in the company. I would also love to see my older son get more involved.