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Local landscaper gets national recognition

WATSONVILLE — K&D Landscaping has spent more than three decades improving ground cover for homes and businesses throughout the Monterey Bay. Now, they have a cover of their own: Emblazoned across the front of the August edition of the nationally distributed Lawn & Landscape magazine is Justin White, CEO of K&D on Hangar Way.

“When you get on the cover it’s a whole new level — it’s very rewarding,” White said. “It is validation that we are on a path that is having impact. Our mission here is that we are raising the bar. A lot of this revolves around being involved with the community and creating a relationship between the landscape industry and the community we serve.”

The feature article dives into the company’s philosophy and roots and explores how K&D shifted from residential design/build landscaping efforts several years ago toward commercial design/build projects. But now they’ve come full circle to provide commercial and residential landscape design, installation and maintenance. Basking in 30 percent growth in the residential design/build market, the article delves into how hard work, knowledge of the industry and hiring the right team are paying off.

The 33-year-old company, founded in 1986 by Justin’s parents, Kendel and Dawn White, performs maintenance on about 50 percent of the shopping centers around Santa Cruz County with a crew of 80 workers. Service spans from Scotts Valley to the Carmel Valley.

White, an Aptos High graduate, class 2007, said his parents were born and raised in Watsonville and graduated from Watsonville High.

“People are surrounded by managed landscape every day; any facility you go to has some form of landscape program and developed areas,” White said. “But a lot of people don’t recognize this; when you have that beautiful landscape around you it changes your mood. It’s a way to impact the community in a positive way.”

The magazine article, “Grow What You Know,” also highlights K&D’s approach of learning from its community, its customers and largely relying on word of mouth as opposed to splashy advertising.

White emphasized that “hard work speaks for itself,” a principal in which the company was founded on. His father decided to supplement his income by picking up a lawnmower and cutting lawns. Word quickly spread and the business blossomed from there.

“The amount of people that come in this office every day and jump in the trucks, go to work and change the community to make it a better place is incredible,” White said.

He stressed the importance of his staff, underscoring the addition of project manager Josh Ross and his brother Jeremy Ross, project manager and estimator.

“There are times that these folks don’t get much credit for what they’re doing,” White said. “So it’s cool to be recognized by our peers in a magazine of this scale. It’s a company-wide thing that we’ve all worked for.”

For several years K&D has taken up the task of giving back to its community through ongoing Community Beautification Projects in which they spruce up the landscaping of area schools, parks and care facilities.

Recent projects include the Pajaro Valley Historical Association, Bradley Elementary School and the Aptos Village Park.

“It’s things like this and staying in touch with the latest in the green industry and drought-resistant landscaping that is helping us grow,” White said.


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