Notes by Sam, Nov. 2010
Earthscape was born in the fall of 2005. Fall is not necessarily the best time of year to start up a landscape company, but for us, it was perfect. Mark & I had worked together in landscaping for a couple of years already, and we had been encouraged to get together & start up our own firm. Mark, being an engineer, had been in the corporate world about 20 years, so he understood business as well as science. It was his bold sense of creativity that attracted me to think that we could start something up that was out-of-the-ordinary. I had enjoyed working in landscaping since I was 14 and was looking to get into my own business, so having worked with Mark, I felt teaming up with him would be a good way of getting started. Together with Mark & his wife, Rosely, the 3 of us took the winter months to research and work on establishing trend-setting principles in design & construction. We took advantage of high technology and found 3D design tools that offered an edge into the landscape design industry that was fairly new at that time. By handing out free designs in our 1st year, we tried to educate the public in understanding the value & wisdom of getting a design made up before starting their landscape project. It really does pay off in the end by cutting down on changes and construction errors. And it didn’t take long for the public to see that what we offered made a lot of sense.
A lot of things have happened since we started up in 2005. Mark got some excellent tutoring in design under internationally reknown Keith Davitt of New York. I got my horticultural training through Humber College, and also got training in stone work by working under stone masters. We took advantage of any opportunity to learn new skills to expand our horizons, and kept an eye on the trends that were being set in western US & Canada. We are now able to offer services in outdoor construction, horticulture, water, stone, lighting, custom landscape art, as well as roof-top & balcony landscaping, way beyond what we had first envisioned doing.
In 2009, Zac Wolochatiuk, a grad from University of Guelph Landscape Architecture, joined our forces to expand our offerings in the area of design & construction. With his keen interest in childrens’ playgrounds, Zac’s knowledge & skills have now led us into the world of natural playgrounds: playgrounds that combine educational play and natural elements to encourage children to want to be outside.
With the size of our operation, Mark hasn’t been on site as much as he’d like to be over the last couple years. He’s trapped back at the office, taking one for the team and looking after a lot of the Project Management and design. Office photos are kind of boring (and so is working there, Mark tells me) but we found a few pictures of him getting dirty.
What is your earliest memory of gardening?
I have lots of early memories of gardening. Funny, but they’re mostly all negative – weeding my mother’s giant vegetable garden, cutting 1/3 acre lot with a push mower (upgraded eventually to electric). As soon as I left home, I developed nostalgia for all gardening activities – and I even enjoy weeding!
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Don’t tell people this …I wanted to be a firefighter, with the nickname of “Sparky”. When I got older, I couldn’t decide whether I should be an Engineer or a Farmer, so I flipped a coin …it fell on Engineering. Even though I enjoyed the world of engineering, I craved to be outdoors. I finally decided to embark on my other passion (agriculture) and now I can honestly say that I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds.
What do you do all winter?
In theory, Rosely and I get to relax and take long vacations. So far we haven’t been so successful with that since we’ve kept busy designing, cleaning up last year’s business, and starting the new year. This year we’re taking 6 weeks off and going wind-surfing. No, really Rose!
Mark here. I’m not sure why, but in most of the photos, we found that Sam doesn’t wear a shirt. I believe that Sam is one of the top Landscape Foreman and Construction managers anywhere. Most of our guys love working with Sam because they learn a lot technically, as well as how to work efficiently. On the other hand, he can get a little testy if we’re running late – even by an hour or two.
In January 2010, in addition to balancing the responsibilities of an advancing business, Sam joined the ranks of the married. Welcome to the club, Sam!
What is a memorable outdoor space for you?
My parents’ backyard. Lots of great memories with the family, and I also proposed to my wife in my parents’ vegetable garden.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
Not being able to leave the work at work.
What do you do in your spare time?
Sports – baseball and biking in the summer, and my favourite would be hockey in the winter
Zac is the most detailed, anal(ytical) guy I know in the landscaping business. If he hadn’t gone into landscaping, he’d probably have ended up as a Chartered Accountant or an Actuarial Scientist. We’re OK with this. The scope of the projects we’re designing we needed someone systematic and thorough. Zac combines his methodological approach with wildly creative design abilities.
Who would you most like to create a design for?
This may sound selfish but, myself. I can't wait until I can design my own property which will include a pool, putting green, and a pond (mostly so we can play hockey on it in the winter).
What made you choose Landscape Architecture as a career?
I kind of stumbled upon Landscape Architecture. While I was at the University of Guelph for Geography I was always jealous of the L.A. students who had their own building, studio space, and free lunch during presentation days (which seemed like a couple times a week). I also liked how with design there isn't really a right or wrong answer. I was able to be creative while problem solving rather than memorizing answers from a textbook.
What do you want to do when you retire?
Of course, Mark, Zac, and I can't do all the work. Rosely, Tim, and Kathy run the administration and do all the office work that we don't like doing. Scott runs the maintenance crew (nothing wrong with cutting lawns!), and we have new guys every year to work on the construction teams with us.