From Maryland to Colorado

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    Tanya Olson

    I worked for a firm that had a really good construction administration person who had no LA degree – started out as a draftsman worked up to C.A.. With his knowledge he would be qualified for licensure, but he can’t sit for exams because he doesn’t have a degree and our state required a degree. He has been an incredible asset to the firm as a guard against shoddy construction practices with a keen eye for everything a contractor might try to skim over with someone who has less field experience.
    The point of this, Josh, is that with your experience plus your degree you could arguably step into a position in the 10-year experience range especially in C.A. even before you are licensed. I think your field experience is a huge selling point. As we all know, without proper installation the best project will be a disaster. No, I’m not the person who hires for a firm, but I have started my own and when I get around to looking for partners or employees (about a million years from now!) a good picky CA person will be at the top of my list.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    There is a strong potential benefit in getting a B(S)LA over staying in the design/build that you started while in high school. As I close in on 50 having worked in many laboring roles from maintenance to hardscape and design build from small scale contractors to high end, working for others and myself in those roles, then going and getting my degree at 35 and getting into the places that I could not before, I see one very consistent thing. That is very few landscape design/build companies progress to higher markets than those that they start out in whether they are in Maryland or Colorado and whether they have degrees or licenses or not.

    The degree and/or licensing gets you in the offices/contractors that are in the higher markets. You build portfolio material, learn the broader aspects of design/build, become familiar to others, and are able to step off the elevator and restart in the market that you would not easily enter by climbing the stairs.

    Design/build is profitable because you are selling materials as well as design, but there is a whole skill set of managing laborers that is THE limiting factor in success. You can’t learn it. You can’t buy it. You can’t hire it out. You either have it or you don’t. Most people don’t. Because they don’t, they struggle trying to grow by buying more and more equipment and still can’t get past three or four workers.

    There are plenty of people working in both big and small offices as employees in our industry who do still have jobs and are making a good living. There are also lots and lots of design/builds struggling to survive and many failing right now. The grass is not always as green as you think and sometimes greener than you think.

    There is no entitlement in any part of our industry. It is all about available opportunity, recognizing those opportunities, and finding ways to add value to those with the opportunites, and finally having the ability to be recognized as being valuable to those people. It is a profession without identity, but it is full of individuals and companies that have made identities for themselves and have and are prospering well because of it.

    Josh Burwell

    Andrew,  I realize the response is a bit tardy, but I simply wanted to say that you nailed it with your comment.

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