Texas Landscaper Wins NALP’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Neil Bales went to college to study wildlife management, but his older brother, a landscape architect, talked him into a different career path. So Bales added a minor in both horticulture and biology, learning as much as he could about plants. And following graduation at Texas Tech, he went into landscaping.
After working for several other companies, Bales joined the team of LandPatterns in Dallas, Texas, where he now serves as COO and partner. The full-service firm has more than 30 employees and serves both high-end residential and commercial clients.
“I’m most proud of the people I’ve gotten to hire and train and be alongside, seeing them flourish in the industry,” Bales said in his NALP award video.
Like a good leader, he has a knack for finding talent and helping employees grow and develop.
“Labor is a commodity that is so valuable, and finding a good workforce is challenging,” he says. “We aren’t just mowing lawns or trimming trees. Our industry is much more than that. We need to train our people to be more specialized then provide them with a better pay scale, supplementing some of our labor with technology like autonomous mowers.”
Bales says his company is currently looking into possible partners.
“More autonomy is the future of the green industry, whether you’re looking to reduce emissions or supplement your labor force,” he says.
Bales laughs that his 10-year-old son keeps him on his toes—pointing out that he knows more about technology than his dad.
“I’m hoping our firm can lead the way and not follow behind—we don’t want to come to the party late,” he says.
According to Bales, 2020 has been a banner year, both for residential and commercial projects.
“Residential clients are spending money they had earmarked for vacation on their homes, where they spend 98 percent of the time,” he says.
But Bales says even before COVID, LandPatterns was already increasing green spaces for their commercial clients.
“In the past four to five years, our firm has put a lot of emphasis on outdoor spaces and sustainability,” he says. “For our multi-family projects, our clients can charge 10 percent more in rent when they offer quality outdoor spaces, whether that’s dog yards, lounge areas, pools, firepits or green spaces for pitching horseshoes.”
LandPatterns has several projects in the works, in Dallas as well as Plano and San Antonio that they are excited about.
“Texas is really business-friendly and we’re seeing more corporations coming in from the Northwest and California,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to 2021. I’m always enjoying looking for the next idea and how I’m going to get there to achieve it.”