Joe Kresl

Joe Kresl
President and CEO
Hawks Landscape Inc.
12217 W. Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa
www.hawkslandscape.com  
Industry: Landscape design, construction and maintenance services
Employees: 30 – 100 (varies by season)
Family: Wife and two children

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
“The smartest thing I did was to exit retail. As much as I enjoyed having a garden center, my energies are best spent focusing on design, construction and maintenance. I am doing what I love most – designing landscapes.”

What’s new at your company?
“Operationally, we’ve been refining our systems and streamlining the way we do business, thanks to ActionCoach of Elm Grove. We’ve also been developing better training and safety programs.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“Yes! We are always looking for good, hardworking, skilled people. Sales have been steadily growing over the last three years, so we have been adding more production staff. In addition to expanding our crews, we have added new designers and will add a new support person. We are looking to hire about 15 to 20 new people.”

What are the hottest trends in residential landscaping right now?
“The hottest trends in residential landscape are fire pits and outdoor kitchens. People have always loved water features, but more and more customers are asking for outdoor kitchens and fire pits. Landscape lighting is evolving with technology, and new to the market are outdoor lighting systems that can be controlled with a smartphone.”

What are some of the most interesting landscape projects your company has tackled?
“Some of the more interesting landscape projects Hawks has tackled recently (included) designing and installing the enrichment yard for the new Gorilla Exhibit scheduled to open this spring at the Milwaukee County Zoo. There are a lot of things to consider when designing for animals vs. humans. We’ve also recently designed and installed a multi-level patio for North Hills Country Club that was instrumental in building membership.”

How do you stay busy year round?
“It’s easy for us to stay busy year round. There’s never a slow time. If winter is upon us, snow removal is our specialty. Winter is also a great time for planning, training and improving systems, as well as repairing equipment. With spring right around the corner, our construction and maintenance crews are gearing up for our busiest season.”

Do you have a business mantra?
“Our vision statement is to consistently provide the best landscape services and customer experience in southeastern Wisconsin.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“From a business standpoint, I look up to Roy Reiman. He claims he’s just an old farm boy from Iowa, but I consider him a creative genius. I respect his honesty, his humility and his ability to communicate with anyone. Every time I’m around him I learn something new.”

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned during your career?
“The most valuable lessons I’ve learned during my career are that you can’t do everything on your own, you need to surround yourself with good people and, finally, no matter how long you’ve been in business, there’s always more to learn.”

What do you like to do in your free time?
“I enjoy traveling, gardening, boating and spending quality time with family and friends.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“Finding good, quality people to hire as well as retaining our skilled employees.”

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