By: The Constructivist | 10/27/2016
Dan King is the co-owner of Sterling Landscape company and oversees the landscape maintenance side of the business, including Christmas light installation and snow removal operations. Dan started his career with Sterling Landscape Company as a transplant from Los Angeles and has been employed in this business since his college days at Cal Poly Pomona, where he earned a degree in Park Administration. He took a small fledgling part of the business back in 1991 and built it into the major contributor it is today.
Q. How did you get into the landscaping business in Idaho?
I moved to Idaho from Southern California shortly after graduating from college largely in part for my love of the outdoors. Backpacking, fishing, outdoor photography and living in a four season climate was high on my list of priorities. And what better place than Idaho? Finding a job was secondary. My experience/education was in the landscaping business, so naturally I gravitated towards the industry. Once I settled in, I asked around town who the best landscaping company in the valley was, and several people responded Sterling Landscape. So here I am 26 years later.
Q. What differences did you notice in the landscaping side of the business living in Los Angeles vs Boise?
The changes are dramatic. In Boise there is a nine month growing season and finding something to do during the other three months is challenging. That is where the Christmas light and snow removal services help fill that void. Another major difference is the limited selection of plant material to choose from in comparison to L.A.. This climate limits what we can grow here, and sometimes it’s difficult to design a landscape based on the client’s wish list. We have several clients from California and finding substitutes for plants that grew in California can be challenging.
Q. You manage the maintenance side of the business. Was that an easy transition?
It took some getting used to. First, I had to learn about a few of the common problems associated with this climate…different insects, different diseases. However, the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices are virtually the same here as they are in Los Angeles, so it didn’t take long to adapt. Occasionally a new pest will show up in the valley, but we have some of the best minds in the valley to curtail these problems.
One thing I noticed immediately was the lack of attention to detail on properties. There weren’t many landscape maintenance companies in the valley, and it seemed like the same level of service was being offered. But at the same time there also didn’t seem to be a market for the level of service I was used to seeing or providing.
Q. Is that how Sterling became one of the leading landscape companies in the Valley?
Sterling has always had a reputation of providing quality work and quality customer service. It was my intention to continue with that reputation and change the way maintenance services were provided throughout the valley. We would offer the same high level of care for all properties, be it residential or commercial, and we would specialize in full service. Through the years we have become even more specialized by offering our Personal Gardener service which takes that next step towards providing that attention to detail I mentioned earlier.
Q. What was it about Sterling that made you want start and build a career there?
From the very beginning Lynne and John Sterling have treated me like family. Even after I had a few wrecks that first winter not knowing how to drive on icy roads they didn’t fire me. That showed me that they truly cared about me as a person and believed in second, and in my case, third chances. I also enjoyed the people I worked with and it truly was a family atmosphere.
I respect Lynne and John for giving me their complete trust, and allowing me to grow the landscape maintenance side of the company. I was a dedicated and hard working employee who didn’t need encouragement. I pushed myself, but always kept foremost in my mind that quality and customer service came first, allowing those values to dictate our growth process and our success.
Eventually the time came when the passing of the torch arrived. Lavon Webb and I purchased the company from Lynne and John and vowed to continue to uphold their tradition and name. We are much larger than we were back in 1990, but the values of quality and great customer service remain vital. We consider all of our employees as family and we all work together to make this a great place to call home.