Teamwork drives success at Red Valley Landscape & Construction

July 29, 2016 -  By
Mike Freeman (center), founded Red Valley Landscape & Construction in 2012.

Mike Freeman (center), founded Red Valley
Landscape & Construction in 2012.

Taking on a diverse array of new endeavors, Red Valley Landscape & Construction is growing quickly, with no signs of slowing down.

Mike Freeman’s company, Red Valley Landscape & Construction, has experienced the kind of growth that many contractors can only dream of.

Since its beginning in 2012, the $5.3 million company in Edmond, Okla., has grown more than 220 percent, exceeding its five-year projections in just two-and-a-half years. The staff has expanded from five people to 20. In 2014, the company added commercial design/build work to its service offerings. It plans to add a home construction division this year and a commercial maintenance division in 2017. In addition, Red Valley Landscape & Construction recently broke ground on a new 80-acre facility. How is Freeman keeping all of these balls in the air?

“At the end of the day I’m the owner, but I have other teammates, and we work as a team,” he says. “When we have successes and failures, we learn from that, continue on and keep growing.”

Freeman went to school for business and marketing but has worked in the landscape industry since 1997, starting out “at the bottom of the ropes.” He began working in maintenance then transitioned into landscape design and installation. His job descriptions included tasks as diverse as sales, marketing and project management, but he soon discovered his true passion was designing and implementing outdoor living spaces for homeowners to enjoy.

Taking what he learned over the years and fulfilling his desire to spend his days outdoors, he started Red Valley Landscape & Construction in late 2012. The company provides 90 percent design/build services and 10 percent irrigation services to a 55 percent commercial, 45 percent residential clientele.

“I wanted a high-end landscape company that goes above and beyond and delivers things homeowners couldn’t even imagine, and I wanted to be in charge of it,” Freeman says. “The next progression was to start my own company and take what I had learned over the years and make it what we’ve become.”

Red Valley has become known for creating outdoor living spaces that include beautiful landscapes and stonework, kitchens, pools and fireplaces—eliminating the need for clients to have to work with several contractors to create their ideal outdoor environment. Freeman said the company started out doing strictly residential projects with the intent to add commercial work by the third year.

With significant growth taking place in Oklahoma and Texas, the company was presented several commercial job opportunities and started its commercial construction division a year early, in 2014. Red Valley’s commercial division has since grown by 40 percent, and it already has a backlog of contracted work going into 2017.

Homeward bound

Part of Red Valley’s success can be attributed to Freeman’s ability to seize an opportunity and run with it. The company’s next goal is to launch a home construction division later this year. The endeavor is an extension of the company’s design/build division, Freeman says. The plan is to build 3,000- to 9,000-square-foot homes on lots owned by homeowners and to partner with a residential development community breaking ground in the next year and a half.

Red Valley intends to work with the contractors, electricians and plumbers it already partners with on design/build projects. Plus, the company plans to provide the landscaping and irrigation systems for each home. There is one home construction project on the schedule for late 2016 and others in the planning stages.

“We do a lot of projects with large outdoor buildings, so the home construction side segues from doing these structures,” Freeman says. “It’s really no different than what we do on an everyday basis. It’s just bringing on the right team of builders and tradesmen and building a few more walls.”

In 2017, Freeman plans to continue the company’s growth into the commercial maintenance sector, either organically or through acquisition. Red Valley Landscape & Construction also broke ground on its new 80-acre facility last July with construction slated to be completed by the end of the year.

In addition to its offices, display gardens and a 14,000-square-foot production warehouse, the facility will house a fueling station, training site, three greenhouses, a holding yard and a tree farm. Freeman plans to add a stone yard and a nursery in the next few years.

Red-Valley-1

Red Valley will soon expand its landscape efforts to include home construction.

“I decided to build a new facility to be able to expand as the company continues to grow, and after looking for the right location for three years, I couldn’t find anything (existing) that was right,” Freeman says. “This will provide our employees an incredible place to work and be an environment that attracts future team members as we continue to grow.”

Hands off

Freeman understands these team members are an integral part of his company’s success. He strives to manage all his new undertakings by hiring the right people and putting them in the right places. He looks for people with specific strengths—not just in landscaping but in areas like business and accounting—and sets them up with the tools and equipment they need for success. Freeman is a big proponent of hiring and promoting from within. He has several guys who have been with him from the start.

“I bring in the right people with the right talents, put them in charge of departments and let them be successful,” Freeman says. “I try to hire people looking for a career, rather than people just looking for a job.

“Allowing employees to have a say in how the company is built so they are part of the team is important,” he adds. “Any employee can come to work every day, but people get excited about being part of the decisions.”

Since starting Red Valley Landscape & Construction, Freeman has continued to learn the ins and outs of running his own business. He’s learned that creating a business plan is one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do. He’s learned to be proactive and always to be thinking three to six months ahead. He’s learned that having a diverse clientele is a good way to stay afloat when certain markets struggle. And he’s learned how to cut his losses when things don’t go as planned.

For now, it seems things are going even better than planned for Freeman and Red Valley Landscape. The most significant blip on the horizon is, surprisingly, the decline in oil and gas prices. It can hurt the economy in Oklahoma, which is driven by the oil and gas industry. But Freeman continues to look ahead and work toward making his company exactly what he wants it to be.

“I think if anyone said they weren’t nervous about all of these new endeavors, they would be lying,” he says. “But I see the direction the company is going and will continue to go, and we are building our team for the future.”

Photos: Red Valley Landscape & Construction

Emily Schappacher

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

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