Our Story

“What makes you come alive” is Birch Lake Landscaping’s mission statement because starting this company is how I answered that question in my own life.

Birch Lake Landscaping has been a twenty-year journey for me. It started the summer before my freshman year at Monticello Senior High, when I got a job with one of the most reputable lawncare companies in Monticello. We would all pile into this big shiny truck, week after week, mow most of the major business in town and the surrounding areas. The guy that owned that company was someone a young man like myself could look up to. He started a business with a small walk-behind lawn mower and one contract. I spent the rest of my teens working for him and loving every day I went to work. Season after season I learned more and took on a leadership role. In a time when all my friends knew what college they were going to and what types of jobs they wanted, I did too but it was a different path.   I ended up choosing the path that I could justify to my family and friends and left the job and purpose I loved.

I went out and got a “real job” for a good company and then on to another “good job” at big company. Blessed with employment but still not finding what I wanted. Until the day I met Charlie. I was working for the same home owner as he was. Me for a big company and him for himself and by himself, landscaping. I know it’s not very professional, but I gave him my phone number and said, “I hate my job, I can run any piece of equipment you’d need me too, and would love to work for you at any wage.”

Charlie called me a few months later and asked if I would like to work with him the upcoming spring and plow snow with him that winter when I could. I jumped at the chance. I prayed for snow and for an early spring. That first season was some of the most fulfilling work I have done in my life. The level of knowledge and skill I gained I still use today. For the next few years we chased the housing boom. We honed our skills, perfected our process and increased our industry knowledge. At the height of a thriving young company and what seemed to be the best year yet, the rug was pulled out and the housing market tanked. Here Charlie sat with three crews and all the equipment needed to take on the world and the phone didn’t ring. The day Charlie told me he had to close the doors is with out a doubt one of the hardest days both of us have had. I stayed on with him until the last skid steer was actioned off and the shop was cleaned.

I was now one of those “displaced” workers that the news talked about. I sought employment of any kind that remotely had to do with the unique set of skills a landscape foreman has.  I mowed lawns, drove truck, and worked for a few also struggling landscape companies.  Sick of fighting for a paycheck I knew I had to re-train myself and inevitably get “real job” once again.

I started working in a sheet metal shop on third shift. Knowing nothing about the metal industry and manufacturing process, I was a fish out of water. On the other hand, I did know how to read a tape measure and sort of knew how to weld. I dove head first with out looking and I was going to become the best welder I possibly could. It’s surprising how similar landscaping and welding are. I guess fabrication, whether it be in metal or stone is still fabrication.  Blessed again with stable employment something was still missing.

One of my favorite quotes, from an unknow author says, ”Don’t ask yourself what the world needs of you. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is people who are alive.” That quote loomed over me for years in that building when there was a beautiful day or when there would be snow in the forecast. I would ask myself “what makes me come alive?” Is it a pay check? Nope! Is it a new trade or skill? Nope! Is it a job title? NOPE! Determined to answer that question for myself, I did something I’ve never done. Took a huge leap and quit my “good job” for that big company, again.

“What makes you come alive” is Birch Lake Landscaping’s mission statement because starting this company is how I answered that question in my own life. Now you might be asking yourself what does this have to do with landscaping or lawn maintenance, I’d say quite a bit. Because the people that we service whether it be homeowners or local businesses, you have worked hard to create the home you can raise your family in and the business that you can be proud of and your employees can tell their friends they work there. That sure sounds like people who are alive. It is also our mission statement because that’s how we see your property, not just another job site but a home, a dream, and a future. In my twenty years of experience working in the trades, I learned that something was missing, that I wanted to change and that is not to treat your home or business like a jobsite, but like years of saving and hard work and giving you time to spend with your family and give you my expertise to help you come alive in your next project.

Mower Pic (2)Adam Vokaty
Owner, Birch Lake Landscaping