What drew you to landscaping in the first place?

My father was the lead foreman of grounds maintenance for North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. This included the Governor’s Mansion and legislative building. In addition, he and my mother would work on weekends doing small landscaping projects for homeowners all over the city. As a small child I was always on site. I grew up in landscaping. 

At first, I didn’t want to follow in my father’s footsteps, so in high school and my first attempt at college I focused on graphic arts. I worked at a large printing company through school. After a while, the work became tedious and after a year of college my brain and body quickly told me I needed to be back outside. I knew there was no way I could be happy staring at a screen all day! 

I changed schools and went to Sandhills Community College originally to get my degree in turfgrass maintenance because I thought the Pinehurst area would be full of opportunities with 50 golf courses within the county. During my first year I saw the similarities in class requirements with a Landscape Gardening degree so I got both degrees while there. 

What’s the some of the most valuable experience you’ve had thus far in your career?

While still attending Sandhills I had an internship at Forest Creek Golf Club, which is actually right across the street from the college. I worked there for 20 years as a horticulturist and my career grew with the club. There were only seven houses there when I first started. Right before I left Forest Creek, I was in charge the landscaping and property maintenance of 72 villa homes, 4 club buildings, the course, roads, the entrance, POA and HOA – basically everything above the grass was mine! 

Forest Creek had everything from native trees to the same azaleas you see at Augusta. It was a great place to grow! I learned how to manage a garden long term.

What brought you to Heffner Landscaping?

I knew Colby through my wife. He approached me about coming over to Heffner Landscaping early in 2016, and after several months of talking he had me convinced and I made the move that same year. I wanted a new challenge and to see another side of the business. Now I am a liaison between customers and employees. I manage our maintenance accounts and their year-round, weekly schedules instead of putting plants in the ground.

What’s makes Heffner different from other landscaping companies?

Other landscapers – good luck trying to find them! At Heffner we go looking for you. We try to be proactive and come to our clients with their needs before they find them – this is what sets Heffner apart. It’s a much higher level of service. For example, in my role as Account Manager of Landscaping Services, I meet with each of our maintenance clients once per quarter to plan and stay on top of things.

As an employee, I like the networking. Heffner is part of a big network so I can talk to other account managers and learn from their situations. It affords me the ability to grow without always having to ask my boss. There also are paths for people to grow in their careers – for example, we just promoted an enhancement employee to account manager. I like that Heffner is a family-owned local business, and I value that it also is a full-blown, efficiently running company with big benefits to both customers and employees.

What keeps you in the landscaping industry?

Some people set out to live the same life of their father, but I thought I was going to get as far away from landscaping as I could. When I was younger, I saw his struggles and thought I would find my own way around them. What I didn’t see then that I do now was his love for the job. Now we both share it and that’s what keeps me in landscaping today.

Employee Profile: Lee Bunch

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