Ivan Giraldo, Clean Scapes
Ivan Giraldo came to the United States in 1985 to join his brothers in their Florida landscaping business. Roughly one year later, curious as to what other job opportunities might be available in this country, he moved to Texas. Four years after that, Giraldo found himself back in Florida working with his brothers again. Then he got married—to a Texan nonetheless. Giraldo and his new bride headed back to Texas to start their new life together.
This time when arriving in the Lone Star State, Giraldo knew exactly what he wanted to do: landscaping. He landed a job with a sizable company in Austin and worked there for several years, moving up the ladder to foreman and eventually supervisor. That company ended up getting acquired, prompting Giraldo to begin looking for another place to work within the landscaping industry. He found one in a smaller, residentially focused company.
"I loved our clients and the work we were doing," Giraldo says. "But I wanted more opportunity for advancement. I ended up working there for about a year."
Everything changed in 2005. The co-owner of that original company in Austin contacted Giraldo with the offer of going into business together. They started a new company with just seven employees. By 2008 they had roughly 200. Clean Scapes now employs more than 500 people across its three branches in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.
"We've built something that is positively impacting our community and our employees' lives," Giraldo says. "That's what is most rewarding to me. This is a real business with lots of opportunity to make a difference. Even our front-line employees have often said to me, 'Ivan, thank you for this job—it has helped me buy a house.'"
Giraldo has been a member of the NALP for many years. He says that the support network it provides has been instrumental in helping him to navigate business challenges.
"When I go to different events, I talk with peers from all over the country," Giraldo says. "Clean Scapes has implemented so many things I've learned from other NALP members. Networking with such an elite group of industry professionals keeps me sharp and allows me to continue growing."
Giraldo sees value in involving his employees as well. "I've brought junior managers with me to different events, along with sales and marketing staff, and even my CFO. They need to see how big and influential the landscaping industry is—not just to our communities and customers, but to the entire U.S. economy."
Giraldo says other NALP members should get involved just as he has. "Meet as many people and learn as much as possible. I've been in this industry for over 30 years and continue to learn from others. You need to be able to adjust to changes in the market because they happen fast. Talking with peers from all over the country helps you see those changes coming. It has definitely helped us achieve the successes we've been blessed to have achieved."