SURVEYING THE LANDSCAPE: DeCastro Landscaping President Gairad DeCastro started mowing lawns when he was 15 and launched his own company at 17. Now 23, he owns an expanding firm with two affiliated franchises.
At 23 years old, DeCastro Landscaping President Gairad DeCastro always has to be at the top of his professional game when he meets new customers.
“Here’s what I run into, and it happens almost daily,” said DeCastro, who started mowing lawns when he was 15 and launched his own company at 17.
“If I go out and look at a large job, people kind of look at me as if they’re thinking, ‘Why didn’t you send someone with more experience?’ These people are spending a lot of money – $30,000 for an average job or bigger jobs of $50,000 to $70,000 – and they want to know the job will be done right,” said DeCastro.
To assure potential customers he can complete a job professionally, he arrives in uniform, with references and a portfolio of projects his company has done, including pool and patio designs, waterfalls and outdoor kitchens.
He tops off the pitch with a lifetime guarantee, based on his certainty that he and his employees are well-trained and all work is done to industry standards. DeCastro started getting training and earning certification early in his career from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, the trade association representing the industry, and the National Concrete Masonry Association.
Keeping his employees up-to-date on training is par for the course, he said.
“If it’s installed the way we’ve been trained, a paver driveway installed to ICPI standards will last 40-100 years,” said DeCastro. “A retaining wall done to industry standards will last up to 110 years.
There are rare instances when the company returns to a project.
“We’ve gone back maybe a few times with all the jobs we’ve done,” DeCastro said. “Those are generally for minor issues, and sometimes not even because of our work.”
Occasionally it’s what DeCastro calls a “Mother Nature problem,” like some minor storm damage. Or it could be human error, not company error.
For instance, if a homeowner has a dump truck drive onto driveway pavers when it’s not intended to handle that kind of weight, the company will go back and do the minor repair of replacing a couple of pavers, at no cost, as a good-faith effort to maintain the relationship with the customer.
Although his company is still relatively young, DeCastro is finding his clientele building at a steady pace.