(Photo | courtesy of Newport Ave Landscaping)
Sterling West, the owner and principal designer of Newport Ave Landscaping, was not always in charge of a 90-person company. Back in 2005, West started a landscaping company called Turf, as humbly as anyone.
“I borrowed an old farm truck from my dad, bought a bunch of tools at garage sales and used craigslist ads to get landscape maintenance equipment,” West said. “In the beginning, it was just maintenance because I didn’t have the skill set to provide other services like installation.”
Running the business out of home on Newport Avenue, West decided to change the name to Newport Ave landscaping. When asked about his motivation to start the company, West says it was really just a straightforward way to make money.
“I worked for a local landscaper when I was in high school and saw that my boss had a good work/life balance,” West said. “My grandpa owned a large landscaping company in Orange County, my dad used to be a landscaper, it just made sense. It runs in our blood.”
West said that when he first began his company, he didn’t really know where it would take him, he just knew it was reliable, “I didn’t know what was going to happen in the future or how big things would grow, I was just focused on providing for my family,” he said. “Now, it’s grown to 90 employees and we are the largest landscaping company in Central Oregon.”
To explain the rapid and almost unexpected growth of the company, West stated that Central Oregon is a “unique market” where there is tons of demand for landscaping, but when he was starting the company, not much supply. Especially with the growth Bend has seen in the last two decades, landscaping companies have seen steady business with new developments.
“We’ve had tons of wealthy clients, homeowners and developers, who have come to the region with the goal of developing a property. With steady growth around town, we saw company growth, as well,” West said.
In dealing with clients, West ensures that employees provide the highest level of customer service and industry expertise as possible, “My rule with employees is to answer your phone. Always,” he said. “I ask that they provide our quality product, have good communication, punctuality and customer service.”
To ensure he’s working with the most qualified people, West pays his employees about 20 percent more than the local industry average. He said this attracts employees with more experience and professionalism.
As far as what’s keeping West and his team busy these days, he said that custom landscape renovations are a significant part of their overall work, “Custom landscape renovations are the big thing right now,” West said. “We focus on the custom renovation market here locally.”
However, in the last two years, Newport Ave Landscaping has taken on an increased number of commercial projects and new builder projects when compared to previous years. This increase can be attributed to a few factors.
First, many of West’s new employees that were hired in the past two years had extensive commercial experience from their previous positions, allowing Newport Ave Landscaping to accept more commercial work. Additionally, breaking into commercial and new builder projects allows the company to diversify their services and become less reliant on a single source of revenue.
“While we specialize in high-end, outdoor living spaces with hardscaping, water features and fire pits, we are becoming a much more well-rounded company,” West said. “With talks of a recession going around, diversifying our services helps protect the company, and my employees. If one area suffers, we can pivot”
These plans to diversify are taking Newport Ave Landscaping into a bright future where West employs a much larger design department that can handle larger, more prestigious projects. West said this would not only open more doors professionally but also help the company internally by having a more diverse team of thinkers to evaluate projects from every possible angle.
“In the future, we want to build up our design department by adding more designers and landscape architects,” West said. “This would allow us to work on larger projects and it would help add legitimacy to the company.”
West plans on growing as big as possible, so long as he and his team keep providing top tier service and products, “I always tell my staff, ‘We’ll grow as fast as we can, as long as we keep providing our quality of product and service,’” he said. “If that is hindered, we’ll have to reevaluate and stay where we’re at.”
1020 Paiute Way #100, Bend • 541-617-8873