It’s a wonderful day to Meet the Team! For July, we are putting a spotlight on our Sales Manager: Ian Parker. Ian’s strong leadership skills, great sense of humor, and wealth of knowledge of the industry make him a fantastic leader for our Sales and Design Team. This September will be his 8th year with us and we can’t imagine our team without him!
1. How did you get into the landscape industry?
I had a passion for art and was already pursing a degree in graphic design at a local community college. I liked the idea of being a graphic designer, but found the thought of being trapped indoors in a competitive industry may not be for me. I had always enjoyed being involved with construction work, and had held several summer jobs helping on job sites growing up, so I started to think that this might be something worth pursuing. One day my Mom came across a brochure for Cal State Northridge’s Extended Learning Program, which described their Landscape Design curriculum. It sounded like the perfect blend of creative and hand-on practices, so I enrolled. I started looking for a low-level landscape labor job and was quickly hired on by a landscape contractor in Malibu: I was hooked on the first day. The sunshine, the smell of fresh cut grass… ahh it still gets me excited to this day. Now ~20 years later I’m still excited about my work, and every day seems to be a new adventure!
2. What other positions have you held within the landscape industry?
After spending a few years working in Malibu, I founded a small landscape company in Los Angeles where I was able to incorporate my own designs into my work. I learned the business of being a Landscape Contractor during this time, and gained some experience doing real-world designs. I made a lot of rookie mistakes and learned a lot through trial and error. This was a lot of fun, but it also showed me how stressful being an independent contractor can be. Around 2008, at the height of the recession, I made the difficult decision to shut down my business and move to the Central Coast. I landed a job as Maintenance Department Manager for a local landscape firm that managed a variety of large maintenance accounts. This exposed me to a whole new level of the landscape industry that I hadn’t seen before. In 2012, I made the move over to Madrone, and spent the next 5-6 years managing landscape construction projects. From there, I’ve gone wherever Madrone has needed me; I jumped in as a Designer for a short period, and ultimately ended up as the Sales Manager in 2018.
3. What does a typical day as Sales Manager look like?
Most of my days are spent providing support for our landscape designers, estimators and construction staff. As my job title says, I manage our Sales Department – which means lots of consultations and site visits. More often than not, I am the first person that people meet when talking with Madrone about a potential project. Between meetings, my days are very reactionary based on where I’m needed. I regularly work with our designers on plan reviews and conceptual analysis ensuring that our ideas are buildable and properly described on plan. I also spend a lot of time bridging the gap between design and construction, and I try to make myself available to both our clients and our project managers. I attend most of our design review meetings, so I get to know our clients pretty well through that process, and enjoy being involved in the construction process as well. Occasionally I still get to go help out with difficult builds in the field!
4. What about your sales process sets you apart from other firms who offer similar services?
I think that being a design/build firm is really what makes us special within our industry. Last year, over 65% of our construction work came from in-house designs. Through our design process, we are able to really listen to our client’s needs and desires and ensure that their projects are properly planned before ever breaking ground. Our design process includes several rounds of revisions, which are each accompanied by an in-depth budget analysis. This information allows clients to properly prioritize their needs, and ultimately leads to great projects that fit within a client’s desired budget. Some competitors simply send prospective clients construction bids with minimal information, and it’s basically “take it or leave it”. With our process, we really take the time to sort out all the details and create a dialogue that builds a trusting relationship with the client long before breaking ground.
5. What inspires you when working on landscape designs?
I’ve been a student of landscape design for close to 20 years now. In my daily life, I’m constantly analyzing everything that I see in search of inspiration. What works? What doesn’t? What is it about a landscape or natural space that makes me feel a certain way? I draw from this experience to help guide our clients and designers, but ultimately, it’s all about listening to the client. Everyone is different, so our goal is always to take their initial vision for their property and mold it in a way that will be beautiful and sustainable for years to come. The old saying ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ is so true in our industry, so I just try to share my experience with my team and our clients to help them make the best decisions possible.
There’s a lot to love about Madrone, but my favorite thing is the commitment to our Core Values. It’s so important to me that we stand behind our work and treat all of our employees, clients, and the community at large, with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Some companies out there cut corners to make a buck, both in terms of how they treat their employees and how they treat their clients. But in my 8 years with Madrone, I’ve found that from top to bottom, we consider ourselves members of our community first, and it’s our reputation that matters more than anything else.