Joseph King is the owner and operator of King Lawn and Landscape in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His firm works in landscaping design, installation and maintenance. He’s currently the president of the Baton Rouge Landscaping Association.
What inspired you to get into the industry?
Luck. In high school I worked in a plant nursery, Clegg’s Nursery, and wanted to do something outside and get exercise. I worked for two to three years there and realized that I could identify lots of plants in everyone’s gardens and started to visualize what I could do with their space. So at age 23, I went to get an associate’s degree, then went to LSU for turf and landscape management, all while keeping my business running. This fall, I start LSU’s landscape architecture program.
What’s the best part of your job?
I like to walk away from a job knowing that I’ve created something that the client is so happy with!
Formal or casual?
Marriage of both.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s in between the rainforest and the beach—you’ve got mountains, humpback whales, jet-skis, and monkeys. It’s very diverse.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Staying on top of everything! And weather is always an issue.
What’s the one thing that would make the industry better?
Finding good laborers. However, I’ve never met anyone in this industry that wouldn’t help me. People are very supportive.
Who do you most admire in the industry?
Mr. Tom Fennell, the business owner of Clegg’s Nursery. I really learned a lot from him and his business before I started my company. I have a lot of admiration for him. Also, Dr. Jeff Beasley at LSU. He’s very supportive.
Where’s your happy place?
The beach or on a landscape project that is ahead of schedule.
What’s the key to great design?
Being practical but also incorporating diversity in plant selection.
What’s your ideal Saturday?
Doing my own landscaping and spending time with family. My wife is pregnant with our first child!
What is your favorite phrase?
Making it happen!
What is something not many people know about you?
I was born in Frankfurt, Germany.
What’s your advice for new start-up companies?
The first job I ever did, I didn’t get paid for it. Someone asked me to dig out their two sago palms and I said yes. The client thought we wanted the palms and were willing to dig them out for free. This was a huge lesson in communicating with the client, and I’ve learned to detail out as much as possible in quotes and communicate much better with clients from the start.
Don’t quit! Seek out advice and information from those with experience—don’t be afraid to ask!