GardenScape Pros honors Ted Collins

March 29, 2013 -  By
President Jeff Hathorn, left, presents a lifetime achievement award to Ted Collins.

President Jeff Hathorn, left, presents a lifetime achievement award to Ted Collins.

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Ted Collins has been a pioneer in the tree and landscape business. His innovative ideas won his firm national acclaim, as well as recognition in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y.

On March 18, family, friends and former employees gathered to honor Collins with a lifetime achievement award at the GardenScape Professionals Association’s spring membership meeting. GardenScape Pros is Region 5 of the New York State Nursery & Landscape Association.

Now 84, Collins founded Ted Collins Tree & Landscape in 1957, while still working as an arborist at the famed Oak Hill Country Club. In the 1970s, Collins mounted an aggressive marketing program that was unheard of in the industry at that time. Some elements of his marketing campaign included:

  • publishing advertorials in local newspapers;
  • buying all of the advertising space on certain suburban commuter buses, hiring hostesses to serve coffee and donuts, and then riding those buses to answer customer questions; and
  • converting his entire fleet to operate on propane, then heavily publicizing this environmental initiative.

The innovative tree and landscape contractor was invited to speak at many industry conferences and trade shows, as well as to write marketing articles for national trade magazines. He shared with peers how he used marketing to build his business into the largest tree and landscape company in the Rochester area. During this period, he also spawned many other companies as employees took what they learned from Collins and started their own businesses.

Collins sold his business to an employee in 1991 and “retired” to his lilac nursery behind his home. Soon he became the sole vendor of lilac plants at Rochester’s annual Lilac Festival. This is where he gained the nickname “Doc Lilac.”

Lilac Hill Nursery is still thriving, thanks to Collins’ drive. His son and grandson are also very active in the business, selling up to 300 varieties of lilacs at the nursery and online.

With good humor, GardenScape Pros President Jeff Hathorn incorporated a roast into the presentation, along with the accolades. Collins responded in kind by incorporating a poetic roast into his acceptance, proving that age is a state of mind.

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LM Staff

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