Landscape Forms, Inc. - 2020 John G. Thodis Large Tier Michigan Manufacturer of the Year
From the beginning, Landscape Forms has been as much about its employees as it has been about its premium site furniture, LED lighting and structure products.
“Landscape Forms is about people,” says Tim Woolley, VP of Operations. “Back in 1969, landscape architect John Chipman, Jr. started our company because he wanted to keep his employees busy through the winter. To John, his employees were valuable and he didn’t want to lose them. So, he started building benches.”
The rest, as they say, is history. For over 50 years, Landscape Forms has cared for its people while creating beautiful, functional landscapes that enhance the experience of outdoor spaces.
“It’s all about creating a sense of place in the outdoors so people can enjoy being outside more,” says Landscape Forms CEO Margie Simmons.
It’s a timely objective, given the many COVID-19 restrictions that are compelling people and businesses alike to look for new ways to move indoor activities outside. And Landscape Forms is poised to respond with a steadfast commitment to design, culture and craft, which Simmons considers a competitive edge.
“We’re a design-led organization,” says Simmons. “Design is our identity and our first priority.”
After the design comes the craft. “It’s excellence in all things, from the merging of art and technology to our skill and precision, all the way through to the manufacturing of every product,” says Simmons.
With a history of success already under its belt as evidenced by 50 years of sustained growth, Landscape Forms appears well-positioned for the future.
“The next 50 years should be even more exciting than the last,” says Simmons. “We have a goal of doubling our company every six years. So, if you do the math, we could be a $40 billion company in 50 years!”
That said, Simmons also stressed the importance of continuing to nurture and expand Landscape Forms’ family of brands. “Our goal is to build a portfolio of brands that possess a unique collection of products and accessories that create a sense of ‘place’ in the outdoors.”
There’s so much about Landscape Forms that makes Simmons proud. Near the top of her list is the company’s culture and commitment to excellence — both of which are core values.
“We understand the importance that culture brings to our organization,” explains Simmons. “We have a culture of shared passion, responsibility and participation that drives everything we do.”
“We think of culture as a way of thinking, but also a way of feeling,” says Jim Marshall, VP of Culture. “For our people, Landscape Forms is more than just a job and a paycheck. It’s about bringing your very best every day and being passionate about what you do — to the point of making it a competitive advantage.”
But culture like this doesn’t just happen. It takes years of trust and investment — and a leadership team dedicated to always making decisions that benefit everyone in the company. For instance, when the pandemic hit, Landscape Forms had to shut down manufacturing operations for the first time ever.
“We weren’t sure what was going to happen,” says Marshall. “We didn’t want to send people to the unemployment line. But we knew we couldn’t pay people endlessly.”
In the end, leadership made a bold decision. They paid everyone throughout the entire five-week shutdown period. And the decision worked. Landscape Forms has come back stronger than ever. Partially because of their highly motivated and grateful employees. And partially because everyone — including the executives, engineers and managers – all came together out on the floor to help build and catch up.
As tough as 2020 has been, Simmons and her leadership team know they’re exactly where they belong. “It’s our people that make all the difference,” Simmons says. “Their ability to look past a tough day, week or even a rough month and pull together to focus on our long-term goals is remarkable.”
To Simmons, receiving the award is a testament to how hard her Landscape Forms team has worked.
“It’s just incredible, the recognition is just amazing. I know how hard our team works and I know they deserve this. It’s just such an incredible honor to be recognized in this manner. We’re just thrilled. We’re over-the-moon happy about receiving this award this year.”