Success Stories

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    Dayton Crites

    Obviously, the economy has shrunk, particularly in the development sector, and that has hurt the profession significantly.  There’s enough chatter on this forum and others that I’d rather not speak of that.  There’s already a featured discussion on that topic. 

    What about success stories? Who is finding interesting projects? Who is really busy, and wishes they had more help? Who is expanding work? Maybe those folk don’t have a lot of time to respond to threads on Land8Lounge, but I feel it would be good to hear all the same.

    So if you’re doing interesting work, or simply lots of work and wondering when you get to take a vacation and spend some hard earned money, let us know below. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Well, my side business got much busier this year without anything that I’m doing to make that happen. I have the same un-updated website that I’ve had for a few years, gave up my basic yellow page listing four years ago, and do no other advertising or other activities to gain exposure. I can only attribute it to a small portion of the market shifting in their approach to improving their landscapes. What I do has not changed at all.

    You could call it landscape architecture light (should I trademark LA-Lt?). I have a full time job in a civil engineering office, so I’m very limited in my ability to get anything done outside of evenings and weekends. That means no contract administration, no project management, and very little more than interaction with the property owner and the site, and the production of a detailed layout plan. Essentially, they get a single sheet layout plan and do what they will with it. I charge a flat fee with very specific limits on what I will do and won’t do for that fee.

    The reason that it works is that both sides know exactly what they need to do and what they get in return. The client knows that I don’t get any benefit from blowing the job up or reducing it, no ways to get kick backs or other benefits from outside sources, and they are very free to follow whatever path they want while owning the plan. There also is very little overhead and investment in time involved making the profit margin on the high side.

    I have to qualify this by saying that it really only works well because I have another job. The expenses of my life are taken care of separately where that would all need to be recovered in my overhead otherwise. I do not think that I could replace my job by doing this, but it is a huge supplement.

    Anyone who is struggling with employment in the profession who is considering doing their own thing might want to do something similar to this as a side business while maintaining any kind of full time job instead of risking it all. The price tag is smaller on these jobs, but the market is far bigger and the investment and risk are low.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    Thank you for sharing your experience, it sounds promising…


    I take it the lack of postings on this discussion illustrates the disastrous state of this profession. Is Walmart hiring?

    Dayton Crites

    Landplanner, please save your gushing negativity for the threads more suited for it.
    It would be better if you were honest, rather than negative – that you’ve looked into X many firms, in Y many areas that are not hiring at all, or are not hiring unless you have A, B, and C skills.

    That sort of problematic, honest and straightforward review might be helpful (again, on other discussions) but your sarcastic negativity doesn’t do anything but pull people down.

    Likely, those with a lot of success stories are not spending much time on sites like land8lounge, as they are too busy working, designing, and living.

    But if they are, I’d still like to hear from them here.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I think that one reason that you are not getting an overwhelming response has to do with the fact that so many are looking for “out of the box” cures for what is not an “out of the box” problem. The problem is that there is currently less being built on the ground. It is not that we can do more to adapt to some new type of development because it is not different work. The solutions are limited and they are not exciting.

    In good times and bad times our profession is not an independent industry. It provides services to projects that are started by people outside of the design profession. The only thing we can do to be busy is identify what projects are being pursued and finding a way to be valued as a benefit to those projects. Right now a lot of projects are simple, low key, and driven by by current economics where keeping costs down is a very high priority.

    Anyone who can concentrate on economic design and get the word out should do much better than those spouting the benefits of some other treends that were catching on when economics allowed them in my opinion. Bottom line price of built work while meeting regulatory needs for permitting might not be the image and philosophy many want to strive for, but if that is what the market has to offer, that would be the sensible way to keep working.

    Meanwhile our profession markets itself more and more as sustainable and environmental. These are great things, but is that actually responding to the market or diverging from it. The market and environmentalism were converging in a fat economy. Any honest person has to know that in a down economy these become divergent very quickly in the market. It does not mean that you can’t be sensitive and responsible to the environment. It does mean that it might not make sense to market yourself as someone who will channel the site and monetary resources to benefit something other than where the client wants to direct the limited funds.

    I’d market cost savings and site efficiency over environment and sustainability in this market. The best thing is that most everyone else would be doing the opposite. Maybe these are the success stories and no one wants to let the cat out of the bag. Maybe a lot of LAs are uncomfortable to talk about it in the current philosophy in the LA culture.

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