Family business does "anything that's outside -- landscape, hardscape, plantings.
By Lynn Hobbs
Steve Noles and his son, Blake, truly put the “family” in family business. The two are owners of Noles Landscapes, Lake Oconee Tree Farm, and Noles Maintenance
“We are great partners and great friends,” Steve said, noting that they both live on the tree farm with their families.
“We live together, work together and play together,” Blake added. "We've never had an argument."
The plan must work because their business has been growing since day one. What started as a plant material mail order operation in the 1970s quickly expanded into growing ornamental trees and shrubs just outside of Athens for the landscape industry. Several years ago, they purchased some acreage in Putnam County along Greensboro and Denham roads and expanded their tree farm. Steve said they kept adding to the Lake Oconee farm as land became available.
Today, Lake Oconee Tree Farm & Nursery and Noles Landscapes & Irrigation span almost 900 acres, including a newly built 15,000-square-foot office and storage facility.
Together, the Noles offer a one-stop-shop for all landscape needs.
“We do anything that’s outside – landscape, hardscape, plantings,” Steve explained. “It’s nice for homeowners because they have a builder to build their home and us to do everything else, from gas lines, water lines, outside utilities, plantings, stone and concrete, everything outside.”
Steve enjoys using his artistic abilities to design the landscape projects. He said Andy Crane also does a lot of the design work.
“I’m the person that makes your house a home,” he said. “It starts with mud and dirt, and we make it into something beautiful.”
To do that, Steve said he gets to know the customer and forms a relationship with them so the customer’s yard is reflective of the customer. Steve said he sets the design up in a display for the customer to see before it is installed.
“And we keep that relationship long-term,” he added; “we don’t just create the landscape and then leave.”
Which is where Blake’s side of the business – the maintenance – comes in.
Blake pointed out that the trees and shrubs used in their landscapes are grown on their own farm, so they’re of the highest quality and ensure savings for the customers. He continued his dad’s thought about not leaving after the job is done and explained the maintenance division of Noles Landscape.
“I like that we have the ability to design the projects and then see it all the way through, from beginning to end,” he said. “We grow it, design it, install it, and maintain it, start to finish.”
In addition to landscape design, maintenance and tree work, Noles also offers hardscape services including water features and ponds, pools and spas, boulder walls and steps, masonry, arbors, pergolas, bridges, outdoor lighting, drainage and irrigation systems, outdoor kitchens, fire pits and fireplaces.
“With the size of our company and because we have 200 employees, we can handle any size project as well as multiple projects at the same time,” Steve assured. He was appreciative that most of their business comes from word-of-mouth recommendations on the golf course as well as from builders.
Father... son... 200 employees... satisfied customers – definitely sounds like one big happy family.
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From the 2023 March-April issue of Lakelife magazine. No portion of this story or photos can be copied or used without written consent from the publisher.