By Alli Breighner, Marketing Intern
Last week I visited Chris Imlach, the owner of the landscaping company located at 14 Graf Road in Newburyport, MA. Below is the interview for the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce’s #portpeople campaign which is a weekly profile of members of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry!
Alli: How long has your company been open?
Chris: My company has been open for 15 years. I started it in 2004.
Alli: What inspired you to start this company?
Chris: I grew up in a family of contractors and had done some landscaping prior to starting the company, and it was something that I wanted to pursue. After college I had a sales job that I didn’t like and realized I wanted to work for myself so it seemed like a natural fit to start a company. My goal was to have a company that takes care of employees the way that I wanted to be taken care of.
Where did the name Swazy & Alexander come from?
Chris: My father’s company is Swazy & Alexander Carpentry, his middle name is Alexander and his former partner’s middle name was Swazy. When I started out I was a division in my father’s company that I got up and running. We ran it that way for a couple of years before separating into different companies and I kept the name.
Alli: What are your customers like? Do they come in knowing what they need?
Chris: It can be a mix. There are some that know exactly what we offer and what they need. A lot of them may not know some services that we provide or how we can solve their issues with certain services here. As we pioneer new organic options for fertilization we find ourselves doing a lot of educating because most people have never seen or heard of these options.
Alli: Is there anything you would have done differently when starting Swazy & Alexander?
Chris: We recently eliminated our landscape construction division and that was so we could put more focus on our Property Care and fertilization divisions, and if I had to do that over again I would have made that decision a lot sooner.
Alli: What do you find most successful in your business? Are there any challenges that you never expected?
Chris: Once people know us, and the service we provide we are very successful at being a resource for them for the services we provide and our network of other vendfors we can recommend. The people that work for us without a doubt are what makes us a successful company though, they are pretty phenomenal guys. Some challenges include staffing in general because we are always looking for new people although our current staff is fantastic. The weather also plays a large factor because we don’t have control over it.
Alli: What services do you provide?
Chris: Under our Property Care divisionwe do spring and fall clean-ups, mulching, lawn maintenance, enhancement work, plantings and pruning. Our fertilizer division is named Green Sphere and it looks like a different company but it is part of Swazy & Alexander. Under Green Sphere, we do lawn fertilization, organic, chemical, and combinations of both so that we can control weeds and grubs, and basically everything else we put down is organic. We do a ton of organic tick and mosquito control as well. We try to be as environmentally friendly as we can. We don’t spray trees, we do tree injections to treat the insects which is a lot more environmentally friendly and can be done in sensitive areas like near water or conservation areas without any concern of pesticide contamination.
Alli: What do you enjoy most about Swazy & Alexander?
Chris: Being able to grow a company that provides opportunities for our employees. My goal is to grow careers here not have people working a “job”. Secondly it’s being on the forefront of the organic fertilization movement. We are quite a bit ahead of our competition and I believe that at some point in the not too distant future pesticides won’t be an option for us and we will be the most experienced and knowledgeable source for these services, that’s exciting for me.
Alli: What do you enjoy most about being in Newburyport?
Chris: Definitely the convenience of everything. Downtown is a great area, our clients all live here, and Newburyport people tend to be a good fit for us. I really like the community.