Landscape Concepts in New Terrain (as seen in the Northwest Herald - April 13, 2006)

Company moves to Richmond, brings 100-plus jobs

RICHMOND - Pete DeVore does not look like an acrobat. But the owner and president of the nation’s 12th-largest union landscape contractor, Landscape Concepts Construction Inc., has mastered the balancing act.

For one thing, he knows how to share. DeVore recently took full ownership of his company after two decades in a successful partnership with Grayslake-based Landscape Concepts Management. His share of last year’s revenue was about $30 million.

Betting on growth in the Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin markets, DeVore relocated to Richmond- drawn by its proximity to main thoroughfares.

The company’s employees now sit in a two-week-old natural-stone office building.

Uneasy with the unbalanced layout of the company’s last headquarters, DeVore insisted on a single-floor design. Here, the truck dispatcher works alongside the human resources department and the plant buyers.

But DeVore’s keen sense of balance is most tested and best revealed when he is juggling work projects.

Charged with excavating enormous tracts of land from some of the nation’s largest commercial and residential developers, including Pulte Homes Inc., KB Home Inc., and D.R. Horton Inc., DeVore’s employees often are the first to land on development sites.

Landscape Concepts is one of nine U.S. landscape contracting companies certified by the National Association of Home Builders, and the second certified for excavation.

But the company also does big business in municipal ecological restoration -- mitigating the impact of humans on nature and repairing vulnerable ecosystems and soil bio-engineering.

The company has done a number of projects for the Lake County Forest Preserve, including a recent ravine restoration at Fort Sheridan, the former Army base.

Randy Seebach, land development manager for the preserve, said Landscape Concepts routinely has “the lowest, most reasonable big” but credits it with remarkable efficiency “It’s just a very good company,” Seebach said, noting that the erosion-control work on the ravine was “cutting edge.” DeVore said he expected to see McHenry County in need of similar ecological restoration in the future, as it begins to open up its public lands to responsible public use.

DeVore said that he had maintained a 98-percent retention rate with 100 full-time and 200 seasonal employees.

Glenview-based Edward R. James Homes has been a repeat client.

The group has contracted for mass earthwork, sewer and water installation, excavation, backfill and landscape installation, said John Lifka, director of land development.

Lifka said he came back because of DeVore’s can-do attitude.

“You name it, he’ll take care of it,” Lifka said.

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