We are celebrating our 30th Anniversary and I am amazed at the evolution and growth that Groundworks has seen. What began as a chance opportunity taken by a smalltime purchaser for a landscape contractor has evolved into an incredible journey; a path from yesterday to tomorrow that in reflection has taught us that if we choose to dream and then persevere in pursuit of those dreams, in this amazing America we share we can make our dreams come true.
In 1986, Groundworks was new born and George Nottingham was a 25 year old who set a course believing that he could do something special. At the time, he had no idea where his course would take him and he never imagined that 30 years later Groundworks would be alive & well having grown from a tiny operation headquartered in a closet at his home into a regional leader in the industry he loves. What a journey it has been; from obscurity to regional recognition, from near poverty to the position of respect we currently enjoy. It has been a wild ride and Groundworks has come a very long way but the journey continues and if you were to ask him, George would tell you that we are just getting started.
George is dedicated to creating success; with his every choice and with every action he takes, George is striving to find new successes and to grow a safer, more secure environment for his family and for all of us who stand with him in pursuit of our own goals. He has taught us that we can make our dreams come true and that all we need to do is to choose it for ourselves; to make that choice with passion & determination and to do it consistently just as he has done on all of our behalf’s since 1986.
The story of the success of this company is one that is rooted in some very simple concepts; Personal honor, integrity, honesty, diligence and professionalism. These are the predications & requirements that govern everything that happens here. These precepts form the foundation for our success and each of us understands that nothing short of willful adherence to these concepts is acceptable. We marry these ideals to some of the most beautiful Specimen Palm trees on earth and we offer this combination to the industry and to the public at large. The results have been stunning and the journey continues.
In 1990 George found, researched, introduced and began marketing Phoenix Dactylifera “Medjool” in the Southern United States. Since then his work has resulted in a broad based enhancement in the appearance of Landscapes across the region and the applications for this beautiful, exceptionally durable Specimen palm continue to grow. One has to drive only a short distance anywhere in Florida, Southern Louisiana or Southern Texas to see Medjool Date Palms lining roadways, adorning communities and adding a touch of mature elegance to homes & gardens. The more you see, the more you realize how truly amazing the Groundworks story is. Join George as he takes us back thirty years to a point in time when he was young, Groundworks was an idea and the first chapter of our story was written.
A Moment in Time
I don’t know why I still remember that moment but I do. It happened in the late afternoon on a hot summer day in the north bound lanes of I-95 near Lake Worth Florida. I had this idea and in that single moment in time, I came up with a name; “Groundworks”. Groundworks was incorporated in 1986 but it became real for me when an idea spawned by my imagination sparked to life on that afternoon in 1985. In those days I was working as a landscape materials purchasing agent and had developed a working knowledge of Florida’s ornamental green goods markets and the customer / supplier network within the industry. I was dedicated to my employer but I was also feeling progressively driven to try something on my own. By happenstance I came across an opportunity that gave me a shot at doing that but to try, I would have to step away from a secure job and commit myself to a course that could easily leave me unable to pay my bills. I didn’t know it at the time but that kind of make or break choice was to become very familiar to me and this first choice was just a warm up for what was follow. Everybody needs to start somewhere and my somewhere was a small closet in my house. I made that little closet into an office and I was driving a pick-up truck that was lent to me by my extremely generous former employer, Mr. Scott Brown. That first opportunity took the form of an abandoned 20 acre field nursery that was overgrown with brush but that was planted with maturing trees & palms. Having discovered who owned the land, I approached him with a proposition; in exchange for a lease on the land at one dollar per year, I would revitalize and market the existing inventory and pay him at the high end of the market as set by the Plantfinder magazine. The property owner was a real estate broker and he had no idea how to monetize the inventory on the land. Even though I was obviously starting a brand new business, I guess he decided that I was a better bet than no bet at all and with that agreement, Groundworks found its first home.
With what little money I had, I hired labor to assist me in cutting down the brush, erecting a sign and working to get the material ready for sale. Everything in the field needed trimming & root pruning and I wasn’t going to let anyone near the place until I had it looking like something more than an abandoned field. I poured every dime I had, every drop of sweat in my body and every hour of every day into that piece of dirt praying that someone would come along and buy some of the trees.
Those were long days often spent wondering why I gave up my secure job to come out to this muddy, bug infested field. Swarms of huge mosquitos, thousands of hungry deer flies and hard labor that was just plain endless; tripping over limbs, falling into old holes, being stung by wasps and asking myself again and again “What are you doing here George?” It didn’t take long before I reached a point where my resources were exhausted, “Groundworks” was still just a name on a small sign and our only real asset was a guy who just didn’t know how to quit. I was living hour to hour seeing Friday coming and knowing that I had to find a way to pay the guys. Day in and day out, scraping to buy ice & water and working to get trees ready that so far, no one was even looking at. As the days became weeks, I blundered along but refused to let the dream die. Like a sputtering engine starved for fuel and running on fumes, Groundworks survived because I had a knack for finding a sale at the very last moment and I put everything into keeping our tiny motor running. These were times of living hand to mouth with next to nothing in that hand; it was a beginning under construction but also, it often seemed at the time, an end in the making. It was a time when I understood that I really should fail but it was also a time when I would look deep down inside myself and choose to believe in what we could make happen if I just refused to give up.
During this time in my life and in the life of the business, I woke up on countless mornings with no idea of how I would pay any bills, buy food or even buy gas to get back out to the field. I kid you not my friends; these were days of deep insecurity for me; trials that pushed me hard toward surrendering and going back to the comfort & security of working for someone else. All day, every day I was surrounded by swarms of reasons for quitting and I was often convinced that it was the only thing I could do but each time I was on the verge of doing it, I would look at my little sign and a sliver of hope would stay my hand. Somewhere deep inside me there is something that drives me forward. I don’t know what you would call it but it is instinctual and it takes over when reason fails. It is that thing that breaths optimism into every circumstance and that causes me to look beyond the chaos of the moment and just say “No”; I will not quit, I will not surrender, I will not turn away from the tomorrow I have dreamt about. I resolved that if Groundworks were to fail, that failure would have to be forced upon me. I would not choose it so unless and until it happened; I would fight with every ounce of energy I had to make the business work.
“I trust you”
A few months passed and I became aware that a local landscape contractor called TreeLand needed 200 big Live Oak trees for a job. I had the trees they needed and they were all root pruned! I contacted TreeLand and was able to convince them to take a look at my Oaks. The owner of Treeland came out and he approved the trees having us tag all 200 of them. That was an absolutely incredible day for me and he left me feeling like a real businessman who was on his way to being a real business. I had made my first major sale and was so excited that it didn’t dawn on me until the next morning that I had a serious problem. I didn’t have any equipment so I didn’t have any way to pull and load the trees when the time came to do it. I remember that day very well; I was sitting in my closet (office) wondering how the heck I was going to get the trees out of the ground. We had sold a few trees and our neighbor had brought over his loader to help us pull them but 200 big oaks? I couldn’t ask him to do that and I couldn’t tell TreeLand that I didn’t have any equipment. I wasn’t going to let my first real sale get away so I was up against a rock and hard place. Let’s see; no loader, no way to pull & load the trees and no money either. I had to somehow lay my hands on enough money to get a loader and the only way I could think of was to ask Treeland for a deposit. We had endured weeks & weeks of misery out in that field and now we had a major sale; it was up to me to meet this challenge and come what may, I was going to find a way. I didn’t know it at the time but facing and defeating challenges was to become the common thread that has bound our decades in business together; we would face one challenge after another but we would always find a way.
I still remember standing tall but feeling very small in front of Mr. Earl Christenbury who was the President and founder of Treeland. At the time, Treeland was the biggest dog on the block and Earl was an icon in the industry. He was a guy I looked way, way up to and the opportunity to do business with him as a “peer” was nerve racking enough; having to get in front of him and ask for a big check up front was probably one of the toughest things I had yet done in my life.
I will always remember that meeting; standing in front of Earl’s desk trying to be casual & confident while telling him that he needed to put up a deposit on the trees. Earl had a way about him; he was smart and he was shrewd, he exuded a presence & confidence that was palatable. He was a top dog industry leader and I held him in the highest regard. Earl looked at me, he knew that I was new in business and he said something that I will never forget; he told me that he trusted me and he gave me a check for $5,000.00. I calmly left his office, hopped into my borrowed pick-up truck and pretty much screamed with joy and exhilaration. I simply couldn’t believe that I actually had a check for $5,000 in my pocket; it was made out to “Groundworks” and it was real. I drove directly to the John Deere dealer in West Boynton and used most of that 5K as a deposit to buy our first tractor/loader, a John Deere 2040.
By that time, I had been joined by a man who was then and shall always be my closest friend in this life, Mr. Troy Porter. Troy and I met the John Deere delivery driver who brought the 2040 out to the field. We unloaded it and we just stood there looking at it. Talk about goofy smiles on our faces; we stood there with the bugs, the weeds and that beautiful brand new green tractor/loader. What a day that was; in that moment I knew that Groundworks was well & truly on its way and that the door to tomorrow had opened just a bit wider. I will never forget those days, never. I learned a vital lesson from the apprising look Earl gave me when saying those three magical words; that lesson became forever ingrained into my every thought and action to follow; Earl Christenbury looked into my eyes and he said “I trust you”. I heard him and I have never forgotten what he said or what he meant. I came to understand that Earl was telling me that integrity and honor were the essential building blocks of success. In that pivotal moment I knew that his trust was something I would never forsake (I never have, not once) and that if I was to grow a real success, a success that would survive the years and that would endure the countless challenges to come, that success would be engendered first and foremost by a steadfast dedication to being trustworthy and to acting with integrity in all things.
These concepts govern Groundworks and they govern my life. Earl has passed on but he is still in my heart and his words still ring clearly in my mind. I will never forget you Earl; I thank you for having trusted me and for having taught me this essential lesson.
Adapting & Innovating
As time passed, I found that while we were able to generate revenue through the sale of material growing on the 20 acres, we were also being solicited to provide trees and palms that we did not have on the property. These “brokerage” orders represented far more in the way of potential revenue than we could hope to derive from what we had on the farm and I pushed in that direction. Through the use of the producer network I had developed as a purchasing agent, I was able to fill many of those orders at a decent profit. This scenario generated so much cash flow that it became obvious to me that a new landscape materials brokerage was in demand and that Groundworks could be that brokerage if we could adapt and innovate. In late 1987 we pioneered a unique concept we called Groundwork's "Tree Center 1." The Tree Center concept was very successful and our current marketing strategy contains many components of that original concept. At the time that Groundworks’ Tree Center 1 was put into place, there was nothing like it in South Florida. We bought in and held mature field material above ground, hardened off and available for instant pick up or delivery. The concept has since been copied many times over and I am reminded and warmed every time I drive by a Tree Center type facility. Through hard work, innovative marketing and with strokes of incredibly good luck touching me at key moments, Groundworks survived its first two years, achieved a small degree of market recognition and turned a tiny profit.
By late 1988, the economic conditions had begun to deteriorate. Orders were slowing down and margins evaporating. I recognized that the strong construction market that had fueled our beginnings simply wouldn’t continue and that if we were to survive, we had to do something to set ourselves apart from the competition. It was apparent that the demand for brokerage services was declining and I needed to find a new direction or specialty that I could use to help us pay the bills.
During 1986 & 1987 I had become aware of the demand for field collected Canary Island Date palms. The state of the art at the time involved calling one of the “collectors” and then hoping & praying that they would actually show up on the right day (they rarely did) and that what came off the truck would meet the spec on the job. We had ordered these “Specimen” Date palms a few times while I worked at Raintree and I remembered what a crap shoot it always was. I figured that if Groundworks were to buy in and stock these palms (as we did all of the other trees & palms we were selling) then landscapers could easily hand select them with little or no notice and that we could guarantee that we would be onsite, on time. That was an unheard of guarantee at the time and to move in that direction meant to take a chance that was literally “make or break” for Groundworks. Once again, I put every dime I had or could borrow into the effort knowing full well that if it didn’t work out, Groundworks was toast. I made the choice and threw myself and my future into the effort; it was an all or nothing scenario and I was stepping right up to the edge of disaster once again but I was seeking survival and I meant to find it. Fortunately for me and my few employees, I had learned to be comfortable living at the pointy end of things, I was in motion and I was loving life. This decision evolved and by early 1990, we were fully committed to the highly specialized field of specimen Phoenix genus palms.
Initially, our emphasis was concentrated on Phoenix Canariensis. Canariensis had been utilized extensively in landscape design in Florida and elsewhere in the US for decades. As our commitment to this segment of the industry grew and we began to develop a “Specimen Palm” customer base, I initiated training programs that taught my field personnel about these peculiar palms and how to rectify the issues associated to transplant and establishment. The training material was primarily derived from my own observations and experiences with the palms and I soon found that I had a natural ability to understand what was going on with them. The need to understand the palms was driven by the warranty exposure I carried and by my need to reduce transplant losses. This in turn bred the creation of a post installation maintenance program that later became known as our “Establishment Assurance” Post Installation Maintenance Protocol. I had our people returning to the sites and servicing the palms throughout the warranty period at no additional charge. At the time, this service offering was unheard of and as the number of palms we had in the field multiplied, our experiences with them intensified and our understanding of them grew. In time, Groundworks developed a level of expertise that set us apart from other providers and our market share slowly expanded. Our intent at the time was to avoid debilitating warranty losses via our implementation of maintenance practices that were specific to recently transplanted date palms but a byproduct of the effort was a burgeoning reputation as an “expert” in the field.
As our reputation grew, we established a standard of service that forced our competitors to play catch up. The Landscape industry had never before encountered a Specimen palm provider who actually returned to the sites to service their palms for the entire year of the warranty and that actually understood the palms and the issues. During this time I was learning a great deal about these palms but I was also grasping the extent of the transplant loss rates associated with this species. For a variety of reasons, the loss rate at transplant for field collected Canariensis is high and no amount of post installation service was going to change that. Our maintenance efforts could and often did save palms that were on the edge but a certain percentage just never began the re-rooting process and we could not prevent some losses.
I don’t make excuses and we never dodge warranty responsibilities. During this time frame Groundworks was being nearly eaten alive by the loss rates and something had to change. Strongly motivated by the high cost of providing replacements, my eyes were open and always looking for an alternative specimen tree or palm that Groundworks could use to grow our revenue streams and secure reliable profitability. By this time, what has since become a life-long love of palms had taken hold of me so I never really looked at anything else but I knew that I had to do something.
A Miracle Moment
This part of the story is a condensed over simplification of what I will always see as a miracle moment in my life. One day in October of 1989 when Groundworks was walking a fine line between solvency and insolvency, a chance encounter in a health food store triggered a chain of events that has changed the face of Landscape Architecture in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. As it happened, while shopping for vitamins I noticed something that struck the budding palm enthusiast in me as very strange; If God only made one palm that produces edible dates, (a palm I knew to be Phoenix dactylifera) why was I standing here looking at three different kinds of dates? I mean a date’s a date, right? At that point I began looking much more closely at P. dactylifera. This was for me a life changing miracle of a moment; I had no idea that it would lead to a success story that would exceed even my wildest dreams or that because of this single interaction, the face of Southern Landscape Architecture and the look of Florida’s and then other southern states landscapes would be forever enhanced. I was just a guy with a struggling business looking at three very different bags of dates and wondering what it meant.
Driven initially by curiosity more than anything else, I did some research and uncovered a simple yet astonishing fact that was unknown to Florida Landscape professionals at the time. I discovered that dactylifera was the only species within the Phoenix genus that had true sub-varieties. This revelation carried startling implications and triggered a storm of questions in me. What did various varieties look like? Was it possible that they would perform well under South Florida’s wet conditions? If so, was there a sufficient quantity available to have an impact on our markets? My curiosity blossomed into a new dream and that dream spawned action, lots of action.
As the weeks passed I learned more about this peculiarity within the Phoenix genus. The Phoenix genus is comprised of many species that we in Florida previously believed to be singular, meaning without true sub-varieties. A sub-variety is a plant of the same genus and species that carries different characteristics as a result of hybridization. It was sensible to me that if there was more than one kind of date, there must be more than one kind of date palm. Logically, the individual sub-varieties would carry the genealogical characteristics of their individual predecessors so if any of these had originated in a tropical, sub-tropical or even semi humid environment, perhaps that sub-variety would do well in Florida. I reasoned that while one sub-variety may not be suitable for a given set of cultural circumstances, another might. It wasn’t all that long before I unearthed a critical question and its magical answer. That question was: Is there a sub-variety of Dactylifera that was a product of an environment at all similar to ours? The answer came with time & trial but the condensed version is that indeed there was. This variety is a native of the Atlantic coastal region of Morocco and it is called Phoenix dactylifera “Medjool”. I eventually came to know that the “Medjool” produced a thick tropically appearing canopy and that it might be growing in the date groves of Southern California and Arizona. Were they there? Was there enough of them to build a market around? Could I build that market? I was immersed in the possibilities and I was driven by another truly astonishing fact; no one was using them in landscaping, no one at all and no one in Florida even knew what they were!
Holy shit, talk about goose bumps. Now my only tasks were to locate the palms, make a deal with the grower and find the money to buy some. With all of that done, I had to get them to Florida, convince skeptical, conservative landscape architects to put them onto Landscape plans, get them out onto sites and then prove to myself and the industry that they would thrive in South Florida. The challenge I took on was to make the impossible, possible and to do it with naysayers at every turn in the road. It was often discouraging and failure seemed to almost always to be reaching out for me but I was young, I was passionate, I was convinced that I was right about the Medjool and “tomorrow” was screaming in my face demanding that I step into my future.
An Uphill Battle
I woke up one morning knowing that I was heading back to that place at the very edge of the cliff where it would be make or break/ live or die for Groundworks but whether or not I was going to try was never in question. By that time in the life of the business, I had made that cliff edge into a comfy second home and nothing on earth was going to stop me from trying to make this palm work. Was I scared? Of course I was; I knew that to have any shot at all of making a success of the Medjool I would once again have to risk everything; again. Shit.
It was late 1989, I had basically no money, a brand new barely recognized reputation and just a hair more than zero credibility with Landscape Architects. 95% of the industry was saying that dactylifera would not work in Florida and that no one should even try to use them. Balanced against these realities there was me and little else but I knew that I was on the right track. I knew it deep in my heart and so with clarity & purpose I was once again in motion and yes my friends, I was absolutely loving life. I wasn’t going to give up no matter what anyone said because I knew the Medjool would thrive here and I was determined to show everyone that indeed it would and that they just didn’t understand. Understanding and broad market acceptance would come with time but in those early days, I am pretty sure that I was seen as a nut case salesman who was peddling something that nearly everyone knew wouldn’t work; everyone except me.
The naysayers had good reason to be skeptical; Dactylifera is a species that had been experimented with in Florida during the early seventies and it had been a dismal failure. Landscape professionals at the time determined that the species did not acclimate well to high moisture & humidity and Landscape Architect’s didn’t like the thin appearance of the canopies. These experiences more or less metamorphosed into a commonly held belief that while the other Phoenix genus palms worked well here in Florida, P. dactylifera did not work and was undesirable. That was the prevailing attitude when I began chiming on about Medjools and as I found out, I was in for the ultimate in uphill battles. Dactylifera had been written off and was completely ignored until when in October of 1989 I walked into that health food store and walked out burning with new curiosity.
In time I came to understand why the previous attempts to utilize P. dactylifera in Florida had failed. I realized that most likely, the sub variety utilized in those early applications was a date palm known as Phoenix dactylifera "Deglett Noor". The Deglett is a sub variety that produces a very thin appearing canopy and that is native to the deep Algerian desert where humidity is basically none existent. Today the Deglett Noor comprises about 70% of all dactylifera produced in the United States but in the early 70’s it was closer to 90%. While the Deglett Noor sub variety does very well under desert conditions, it was unsuccessful when introduced into our high humidity and heavy rainfall. Deglett’s simply did not appear to acclimate well and they tended to shed fronds soon after transplant. The Deglett Noor variety produces a very thin, almost wispy looking canopy under ideal (very dry) growing conditions so in a humid ornamental marketplace that wanted “lush”, the palm couldn’t hold a candle to its cousin Phoenix Canariensis. The Deglett was a failure and because no one in our industry knew that there was more than one kind of Dactylifera, the consensus became that Dactylifera didn’t work here. End of story, for a while anyway.
WD Young & Sons
It was at this point in our history and in my life that I came into contact with some people who would become some of my dearest friends. They are Darl, Duane and Gregston Young and with their father, Mr. Dale Young, they own and operate a diversified agricultural entity in Southern California known as WD Young & Sons.
WD Young was then and remains today the largest dealer of palms in the United States. I became aware of them on one of my scouting trips out west and I had met up with one of their employees. I was literally overwhelmed by seeing grove after grove of Date palms and I one day found myself out riding around with Mr. Paul Anderson who worked for the Youngs. He had taken me out and shown me palms they had for sale but what he showed me were tall Degletts. Seeing those tall, skinny headed, gangly trunked palms I knew for certain that I could not sell them. We were headed back to the Youngs office when I crossed the bridge I had actually set out to cross and I asked him he had ever heard of a dactylifera called “Medjool”. He had not only heard of them, he had some he could show me but he warned me that they were very expensive and that the Youngs didn’t have anywhere near as many of them as of the other variety, the Deglett Noor. He took me to a field he called “100 palms” and I laid eyes, for the very first time and in living color on what would become the creator of my future success. I took one look at those thick lush canopies and I about wet my pants.
Place Your Bets
After having seen the palms, I knew in my heart that they could be a smash hit in Florida if I could just get them there so I asked to meet the owners. He set that meeting up for me and the very next morning I was at a Dennys restaurant in Indio California at 4:30 in the morning sitting in front of three very serious looking guys. They were the Young brothers and we had a discussion I will never forget. I explained that I wanted to sell their Medjool date palms in Florida. They were very polite, very knowledgeable and obviously market savvy. They explained to me that they had never sold a single Medjool to anyone in Florida and that they actually only grew that variety for the fruit it produced. I asked them if they would sell Medjools if I could create demand and they agreed that they would. I was overflowing with enthusiasm and I was deeply inspired; I instantly believed that I could indeed create demand and what came out of my mouth next was totally unplanned and purely off the cuff; it surprised even me. I told the Young’s that I would give them $10,000 dollars. I told them that they could hold this $10,000 as a deposit and that I would buy $100,000 worth of their Medjool palms during the coming 6 months. I told them that I would pay for the palms on a COD basis before they left the desert but that there was a single string I wanted to attach. I told them that if I failed to buy at least that 100K in Medjool’s during the initial 6 months, they could keep my original 10K and we would part friends. On the other hand, if I succeeded, I wanted them to apply that 10K towards follow on purchases and award Groundworks with an exclusive purchasing contract which would guarantee that they didn’t sell their Medjool palms to anyone else if the palms were to be utilized in Florida.
They reminded me that no one had ever used Medjool’s in Florida and I believe they may have thought that I was completely off my rocker but they had nothing to lose and $10,000 to gain so they agreed and a relationship that has endured the passage of decades was born. This was a time of pivotal change for me and for Groundworks. I was once again faced with a series of choices that carried the risk of complete, abject failure. I knew that once committed, I would either make the Medjool a success or me and Groundworks would go down in flames trying. I didn’t tell the Young’s that at that particular moment I had no idea where I would get the $10,000 dollars and I remember my employee and closest confidant at the time, Mrs. Ann Billings, looking at me like I had lost my mind when I came home and told her what I had done but the course was set, I was determined, I was once again in motion and I was truly loving life.
At this point in the story, time speeds up; having proven to myself that the species would work, I became convinced that through intensive marketing and educational efforts this obscure sub variety could become a real game changer in Florida landscape design. During 1991 - 1995, Groundworks spent tens and then hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing and research. During those early days, I was forced to argue my beliefs about the Medjool with influential Landscape Architects and other industry players on an almost daily basis with most of them insisting that this species had "not worked then and it won't work now". I persevered, waking up every morning determined to change at least one person’s mind and no matter how many times I was scoffed at, I simply refused to quit.
Eventually, design and installation professionals, seeing with their own eyes the accuracy of my assertions about the Medjool began using them in increasing numbers. Though nearly broken by the effort, I succeeded in lighting a fire that has spread across five states and the Caribbean and that has established Groundworks as a respected leader in our field in the Southeast. Since 1990, this newly available variety has generated tens of millions in revenues and has become the most sought after and highly regarded Specimen palm ever used in the Southern United States.
The Nunez Family of Yuma Arizona
During 1998 I met the Nunez family of Yuma Arizona. The Nunez’s are a family of hard working, honorable people who own and operate Imperial Date Gardens in Bard California and Yuma Arizona. This incredible family built a business from basically nothing and that business has become the largest single producer of Medjool Dates in the United States. Mr. Isabel Nunez is truly a visionary. He took what was open desert and turned it into the finest grove of Medjool Date palms in the world, bar none. Today, this nearly 3000 acre grove is populated by tens of thousands of exceptionally high quality palms but back on day one, the ground was scrub desert. That ground was walked by someone very special, a man with a vision that no one else could see and a degree of tenacity that is extremely rare. He took this barren land and what he and his family created is the most amazing piece of natural art that I have ever seen. Every time I look out over the Mesa groves and think about what that land must have looked like before he started I am deeply inspired. Mr. Nunez saw what could be, he threw everything he had into the effort and he created something that is just plain amazing. His accomplishments have had a positive impact on all of our lives and on the industry in general; a truly amazing accomplishment and a truly amazing man. After meeting this honest, hard-working family, hearing of the challenges they had fought so hard to overcome and seeing the future they were creating, I was immediately drawn to them. I sought and was awarded an exclusive purchasing contract that has acted further guarantee Groundworks unfettered access to high quality Medjool Date palms and a relationship was born that has become one of the mainstays of our business. I am blessed and honored to be associated to the Nunez family and to this day we work together to propagate professionalism throughout the industry we serve.
A lot has happened since those early days; Groundworks has grown into a regional operation with farms and facilities in Alvin Texas, Spring Texas, Moorehaven Florida and Boynton Beach Florida. We still specialize in Specimen palms but have also originated and now operate various synergistic business units that include Texas American Tree Farm, a 250 acre production farm growing a wide range of cold hardy palms, Landscapers Partner Services (LPS), a Florida based landscape materials brokerage specializing in exports and Ecotreat International, a business that uses technology I invented & patented which allows us to ship field produced material into countries and environmentts that do not allow native soil imports.
Our business has survived through some of the toughest times this industry has ever seen and today, we are poised for growth across the regions we serve with plans to open new distribution facilities in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and California. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Groundworks core strength lay in the quality & integrity of its personnel. I am very proud to lead this team of tough, compassionate professionals. Though my attention is fixed on the tomorrows we will create together, I will never forget or forsake the lessons of the past and the people who have helped me give birth to and nurture the dream that has become Groundworks of Palm Beach County Inc. Our story is still being written and as today becomes tomorrow, we will continue to grow. My story is not really all that unique; it is one of many similar tales that form the fabric of this great nation. Storys that begin in relative obscurity with the dreams of just one person. Dreams that are exercised by people who simply refuse to quit in a land where anything is possible. That’s us, we are proud Americans and you can believe me when I tell you that we don’t know how to quit, we never have and we never will.