Ladies of LandCare: Cristi Cochran
Orlando Branch Manager Cristi Cochran has experience in nearly every aspect of the green industry, from working on crews, managing teams, and even owning her own business!
How did you get your start in the green industry?
I decided to move to Tucson, AZ from my home state of Florida when I was 22. I needed a job and was hired to install flowers for Cottonwood Landscape Company and I loved it! I educated myself on flower and plant names. Eventually, I was promoted to a mow crew and was trained on an edger, weed-eater, blower, and a walk-behind mower. I decided to move back to Orlando one year later and went to work with a local landscape company in their construction department. I orchestrated irrigation and plant installation projects with them for over two years. From there, I moved on to start my own business, which I operated for 8 years. I provided commercial and residential maintenance, landscape design and installation as well as an aquatic garden crew. My annual gross revenue in 2003 was $2.4 million. I sold my business that year and went to work for Brickman in 2004.
I’ve worked in this industry for 30 years as a crew member, supervisor, business owner, irrigation helper, Production Manager, Account Manager, and now Branch Manager. I absolutely love working outdoors and creating meaningful environments for our customers. Landscaping is a very satisfying job because of the beauty we create. I have enjoyed building close relationships with vendors, past customers, and employees in Central Florida over the years.
What, in your opinion, are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
Most challenging for me currently is rebuilding my client base. My mission is to prove to current and past customers we are the best national landscape company in my market today.
There are several ways to introduce our image to those unfamiliar with LandCare: #1 – DELIGHT OUR CUSTOMERS, EVERY DAY! #2 is obviously providing excellent quality and standing out above the competition. We are definitely focusing on this every single day. #3 is to communicate constantly with our customers, whether it’s during a scheduled Landscape Quality Audit, phone call, one-on-one meeting, or lunch.
The most rewarding part is by far promoting from within. I’ve had the pleasure of promoting 2 crew members to Supervisor and another from Supervisor to Production Manager this past year. Internal promotions create a positive energy around the office. I remind all team members constantly that we will grow our branch and more opportunities will be there if they are focused and want to grow with us. After all, it’s our responsibility as leaders to provide growth opportunities for all team members.
Do you have any advice for women who are currently looking for opportunities in the industry?
My advice would be to not be intimidated by landscaping because it is a male-dominated industry. Go for it! If you have the passion and love for this industry like I do, the sky is the limit. I can honestly say I’ve only had 2 or 3 negative experiences with a customer or other teammates over the years who didn’t want to work with me because of my gender. Most men couldn’t care less.
Who is your role model and why?
My role model is definitely my mom. She always encouraged me to do what I love. She was very happy when I entered the landscaping industry because she had a ‘green thumb’. My mom passed away in 2006, but I know she would be very proud of me today.