Scott Neave is the president of Neave Group Outdoor Solutions, a Wappingers Falls, N.Y.-based business that opened its doors in 1973. The business was started by Scott's father, Bill, who instilled in his son his personal values: honesty, integrity and consistently delivering on customer promises. Read more about Neave's proudest moments in business, Monday morning motivation and why he loves speed bumps in business ... "because they make you appreciate the journey so much more.
50% commercial and 50% residential
Design/build work (including pools, hardscapes, planting, irrigation, lighting, etc.) - 35%
Snow & ice management: 30%
Landscape management: 24%
Irrigation & pool service: 3.5%
Holiday décor: 4.5%
Lawn care: 3%
Business motto: The Neave Way
Proudest moment in business: I have so many proud moments. To start, every time our business grew by $1 million or reached another level. I'm so proud of my staff and how far they've come. When we broke $1 million in snow sales since I started that division from nothing. Breaking $2 million in installation work. When we built a 25-foot waterfall for a college in 30 days. Building our first swimming pool from start to finish. Our websites. Our range of services and expertise. All of it makes me proud; I couldn't pick just one.
Biggest business challenge today: Insurance and the government.
Best sources of landscape design/build inspiration: Our best inspiration comes from seeing what works and what doesn't. Traveling to other parts of the country or the world provides new ideas, as well as experience. Collaborating with people from inside and outside of the company brings new ideas. Finished jobs, magazines and websites are also incredible resources.
Favorite plant or plant combination: I think this all depends on the setting or style of the house, but I love herbaceous perennial plant combinations with different textures, colors and seasonal interest, such as grasses, roses, lavender and sedum. Also, here are some favorite plant combinations that members of our design group prefer:
- Dave Ciotoli: Shade gardens are my favorite. The foliage textures and flowers in shade gardens create an atmosphere that is different than any other part of the landscape.
- Corey Bittner: My favorite plant combination includes small ornamental grasses behind low-growing perennials. The variation in color and texture is so different that it is very eye-catching and works well in so many different situations.
- Kris Schmitt: My favorite plant combination is 'Endless Summer' hydrangea and 'Happy Return' daylily.
- Mike Gulla: For a formal or modern design, I would say my favorite plant combination is a tightly trimmed boxwood hedge as the backdrop with roses or 'Endless Summer' hydrangeas. For a gardenesque design style, I really like fountain grasses and coneflowers planted tightly together. My current favorite tree is a 'Forest Pansy' redbud.
Monday morning motivation: What inspires me on Mondays is the idea of being a better person and company than we were the previous Friday. I love building this business. It is like a lifelong art project. It truly is my passion - that and golf, of course. And it just seems to get better. There have been plenty of speed bumps along the way, sure, but the older I get the more I appreciate the speed bumps - they are part of the path and make you appreciate the journey that much more.
Business worry/fear that keeps you up at night: My biggest worry would be having a company with an apathetic culture and environment. That would not be what I consider a success.
I have two business mentors: my father and my father-in-law. My father taught me the value of doing things right. He also taught me the value and importance of customer service and to never make excuses for not doing what I am supposed to do. My father-in-law taught me how to look at things from a completely different point of view. He taught me to be critical of my environment - from contracts to designs to business deals. The idea is simple: If you don't ask a lot of questions and are critical of everything placed in front of you, you will not learn anything, get any real answers or discover a better path. Both of these men have had a tremendous influence on who I am today as a businessman and a person.
Favorite business book: I think "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, which tells stories of how good companies can become great companies, sticks out to me as my favorite business book. This book really changed the way I view what I want my business to become and helped me better understand and articulate what kind of business I am trying to create.
Describe your business in five years: I suspect Neave Group Outdoor Solutions will be a larger company in terms of revenue than we are now, but that is not my main goal. My goal is for us to be an even more special company than we are now with the people we have now, as well as new team members performing at levels I could have only dreamed of. I really can see that happening as we continue to move forward. I would not want to continue to grow my business without the right people and systems in place. Those elements are so important in making this business work.
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