Michael Hupf, Lifescape Colorado
Michael Hupf is a CPA with an MBA from Stanford. He'd worked in the entertainment industry in both New York City and Los Angeles. He owned a wine company in Napa Valley. But something was missing. He needed a little excitement and a new challenge. So he bought a landscaping company in Colorado.
"Given my background, I saw landscaping as a perfect fit," Hupf says. "I'm a farm boy from Nebraska. At age 7, I was in charge of mowing our large lawn. My family started a local farmer's market that I was heavily involved in. That was my summer job for years. When you combine that with my business experience, it actually makes a lot of sense."
Landscaping is where horticulture, business and entertainment converge. Hupf saw that very clearly in 2004 when he began looking for a landscaping company to invest in. He joined the NALP and began networking. He happened upon a company in Denver, Colorado, called Lifescape.
"They'd been in business since 1976," Hupf says. "They had a tremendous core competency in design. With my business background and passion for systems and processes, I could see a lot of potential. I became a partner in 2006 and began the process of a four-year, phased buy-in. I became sole owner in 2010."
Over the past eight years, Hupf's belief in the investment potential of the landscaping industry has been validated—and then some. Lifescape Colorado has grown 500%. Hupf says they're not done growing either, nor is he done learning.
"Remaining a member of NALP is an easy decision," he says. "It's also an easy decision to attend the LANDSCAPES conference every October. The education is excellent, but it's not just about that. I really like the networking aspect."
Another annual event Hupf is a huge supporter of is the National Collegiate Landscape Competition. Landscaping students from around the country gather to network, attend a job fair and participate in a skills competition. "It's a great venue to recruit new talent coming into the industry," Hupf says, whose growing company is always in need of trained people.
Hupf has also led NALP's education committee in the past. His advice to other members is to get involved themselves, with committees and by attending events. "If you don't get involved, you won't get as much out of being a member," he says.
"This is a fantastic industry," Hupf continues. "Of all the industries I have been a part of, the landscaping industry is by far the most open and honest. Everyone wants each other to do well. In a great organization like the NALP, you can keep making yourself better, which encourages your competitors to get better, which makes the entire industry better. A rising tide brings everyone up, and separates the best companies from those that are not taking the necessary steps to become a more professional organization."