Last year we did some interviews with well-known landscape designers. One of our long-term clients sent us an email to say “I love your newsletters/blogs. Very informative and interesting. I was just thinking could we have a top ten gardeners. They are the ones who actually keep it all looking good for years. It would be nice to recognise them as well. Just a thought”.
He had a good point, so we thought we would start with him and invited him to an interview and to give his thoughts.
Raymon Basha, the director of RB Kanangra Landscapes, has been in the landscaping business for more than 20 years. He has grown RB Kanangra Landscapes into a solid business he is proud of. But how did he do it? What is the secret to his success?
Keys to Success
Ray’s dedication to his craft is clearly seen through the success of his company. He believes managing a successful landscaping business is based on three things: being reliable and consistent in quality of service, choosing the right marketplace, and understanding the changes in the economy to our way of living such as smaller backyards.
Ray was inspired to start a career in landscaping largely because of his mentor Merv Dunn. He describes his mentor as a highly intelligent person who is unafraid to experience and try new ways. Merv Dunn created award-winning gardens at Annangrove in the early ‘80s. He taught Ray all he knows about landscaping and in looking after plants and gardens. Merv Dunn also taught Ray his ‘special brew of chicken manure and sawdust’ for fertilizing and conditioning soil. The garden never needed pesticides or fertilizers.
When it comes to managing his staff, Ray believes in the concept of mutual respect.
“My basic philosophy is based on mutual respect. I try to motivate them by setting goals and feeding ‘the good things’ and not the bad. I try to get staff to reflect on their work and behaviours. We have a program for apprentices that hopefully develops their skills and abilities to deal with people.”
A Typical Day in the Life of a Landscaper
A typical day for this landscaper starts early. He grabs coffee in Darlinghurst, talks to his supervisors and checks on clients. His day won’t be complete without ‘real work’, but he still finds time to ring his team and reconcile the day.
A Long List of Satisfied Clients
When asked about his favorite project, Ray mentioned Kincoppal at Elizabeth Bay, an exclusive waterfront apartment complex in Sydney. He’s been working with Kincoppal for 18 years as a designer, landscaper and gardener.
“It’s an incredible garden, large in scale and complex in its many different environments. We have a sub-tropical garden, a Japanese themed garden with large ponds, a rainforest then a coastal garden on the waterfront. I was allowed to redesign this garden in the late nineties when it was just azaleas and conifers. Of course we had many trials and successes over the years however the owners have always kept a faith in me and what I was doing so long as it looked good and improved values. I’ve worked very hard at establishing this trust and never take it for granted,” he said.
RB Kanangra Landscapes has a long list of satisfied clients. This is a testament to Ray’s diligence and skills in listening to and following through for his clients. He has faced many challenges as a landscaper, but these did not stop him from providing quality work.
Landscapers and Landscape Designers?
Ray believes that the roles of a landscaper and landscape designer are equally important but sadly landscapers aren’t recognized as much as landscape designers.
“I’m not sure landscapers get the recognition they deserve, whenever I’ve gone on garden tours, it’s usually the designers that get the claps not the person who constructed it or nurtured it. I just think the roles of a landscaper and gardener are equally important in the success of a garden.”
Tips for Aspiring Landscapers
With his experience in the industry, Ray could offer some advice to aspiring landscapers.
- Get to know your plants and growing conditions as well as your retaining walls and paving.
- Keep improving your skills and knowledge.
- Read a lot of books, not just picture books.
- If you are going to own a business, treat it as a business not as self-employed. This way it will grow.
If you are interested in working with Ray and RB Kanangra Landscapes on a project, you can reach them at their website.
Do you know of any other successful landscapers deserving recognition? Let us know in the comments.