Meet Services Division Manager, Ralph Edge
This month, we resume our employee spotlight series in this interview with Bonick’s larger than life personality, Services Division Manager, Ralph Edge.
Bonick Landscaping owes its success to the commitment, creativity, and expertise of our employees. Our staff is our largest asset and our biggest differentiator, and we love taking the time to showcase them.
Interview by Tammy Vanderkolk
Tammy: Hi, Ralph. For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about your role at Bonick Landscaping.
Ralph: I am the Services Division Manager for Bonick. This includes residential property maintenance, pool cleaning and pool services, irrigation services, and plant health care.
Tammy: Wow! You wear a lot of hats. What does a typical day look like in your world?
Ralph: My assistant arrives bright and early just before 6:00 AM and we go over the appointments for the day. Every day, our crews roll out by 6:30 AM. Each day varies, but my goal is to conduct site visits and check in with at least one crew and one garden manager per day. Some days, I meet with clients to assess their needs, review garden manager’s proposals, analyze irrigation or pest issues, or even send plants off to Texas A&M for diagnosis.
Tammy: Sounds like you have a lot of variety. What was your background before Bonick Landscaping?
Ralph: Yes. I love it. I spent many years in the retail industry—I managed the retail division and sales division for a local horticultural retailer and I also worked for a professional irrigation company for several years.
Tammy: Interesting. What inspired your passion for landscaping/plants?
Ralph: Since junior high, I wanted to be a physician, and I spent my entire college “time” as a Pre-Med major. My senior year, my advisor illuminated me to the fact that I had to take some botany courses to fulfill my degree requirements. The first course offered that summer semester was Biology of Weeds, a graduate-level class taught by a Ph.D. who controlled weeds for the railroad. I loved the science of it, I loved the chemistry and everything just fit. I knew that the other road was not to be taken. Many horticulture courses later, here I am!
Tammy: That’s amazing! So what is the most rewarding part of your job?
Ralph: I love both the science portion and interacting with people. The meet and greet is the best—walking someone’s yard and listening to their vision, their challenges, and then matching a solution to what I have heard. Sometimes I encounter garden enthusiasts and I’m able to share new ideas like the latest irrigation trends, chemicals, pest control, etc. I also enjoy working with our garden managers and sharing experiential knowledge that they can hopefully impart to others in the future. I also love helping to develop their confidence in dealing with people. It’s so important to be confident and knowledgeable in this line of work, but also humble. Most in our industry are very humble and hard-working and it’s refreshing.
Tammy: I bet! So you’re a combination science nerd and a people person! I love it. What do you find to be the most difficult part of your job?
Ralph: Office work, a necessary evil (laughs)— it’s not that evil. I have a great team and a superior support staff. Without them, I could not be the best me.
Tammy: For sure. So, what important factors help you to best meet your client’s needs?
Ralph: 1. Listening 2. Listening 3. Really hearing what they are telling me. The great poet, Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I also I like this one by Ernest Hemingway, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
Tammy: That’s huge—I’m sure your clients appreciate that. When listening to them, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve had to steer them in a different direction? How do you go about that?
Ralph: Yes. I ask questions and provide alternate solutions. If they request a correct plant, but in the wrong place, I work with them to inform them about plant survival in shade vs sun and explain how planting in the correct location improves plant performance. Sometimes I also have to provide plant alternatives. For instance, if the client wants Oleander, but has small children, I steer them in a different direction, since oleander is highly poisonous if ingested. Or, if they love agave, but want to plant it where dogs or children play, I remind them of the plant’s sharp, pointy leaves. Some things look great on paper but aren’t always the most practical solution.
Tammy: You mentioned earlier that part of your role includes solving a client’s challenges—what has been the most challenging dilemma you have faced on a job site and how did you solve it?
Ralph: Earlier this summer, we noticed some patchy turf previously seen in St. Augustine was suddenly developing in Zoysia and even Bermuda. We weren’t sure if it was a fungal issue, an irrigation issue, or what. My garden managers and I performed extensive research and we were stumped. I finally camped out in the county extension office of Texas A&M. Agent Stephen Hudkins was extremely helpful—kudos to Steve for helping us formulate our “magic mix”. Together, we devised a multi-pronged treatment plan in combination with irrigation and fungicide to lower the pH. It took some time, but it worked. Many thanks to Glenn for believing in us, and allowing us to “formulate our solution” and put it into action! This is a continual learning environment for us all as individuals and as a green industry community. It’s all about persistence and inquiries.
Tammy: Love that teamwork! Glad to hear you solved that mystery. We’ll delve deeper into the puzzling turf issue and your magic mix in an upcoming blog article. Ok, one last question that everyone is dying to know: What are some of your favorite plants to use?
Ralph: Oh boy! That is a loaded question. The most beautiful plant in the wrong place can be a distraction. I like agaves, catmint, lemongrass, geraniums, Achillea…yeah, I really like them all!
Tammy: I bet it’s hard to choose. Thanks so much, Ralph! I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and I’m excited to feature your horticultural discoveries and tips in our upcoming blog features.
Stay tuned this fall as Ralph explains more about the mysterious fungal issue in Dallas lawns, debunks common cold weather myths, and provides some helpful tips and tricks for your maintaining your landscape in the upcoming winter months.
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For over 30 years, Bonick Landscaping has served Dallas area clients with the highest standards looking for out-of-the-ordinary luxury landscape design and pools. We pride ourselves in offering the best in service, workmanship, and plantings. Services include landscape design, construction, garden management, pools and collaborative projects with landscape architects and other industry professionals.
For discerning clients in Dallas who want to express their own distinctive style through their landscaping, Bonick Landscaping can help you realize your dream. Call us at 972-243-9673 or email us.