We had the good fortune of connecting with Zachary Conti and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zachary, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I first started my business at 22 my attitude was work work work. I think in the first two years I was working consistently 70-80 hours a week. As we hit certain plateaus I found that working hard only gets you so far. Trying to do everything and not putting faith in my staff started to burn me out. I actually had to step back and stop pushing so hard and re group for a year while I figured out the direction of things. Today I have found a good balance of about 55-60 hour weeks and I rarely work weekends. I make time for exercise, I make time for friends and family and other important activities. I think if you find yourself neglecting other areas of your life to advance your business you will get diminishing returns. Early on its effective but at some point you have to hire people who do things better then you and you have to delegate. We are in the process of bringing on some important positions that will help grow services and parts of our business that I have not done well with. Its important to practice balance and then take time to see where you have strengths and where you have weaknesses. Nonetheless my attitudes and beliefs have changed since working for myself for 6 years…I am now 28. This is my current belief of where I am at in life. Work life balance is not a one size fits all.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Clients First Landscape Solutions is a Design/Build landscape company. I think one thing that separates us from our competitors is we are a very versatile company. We design in house, we have in house staff and we can complete commercial, residential and new construction projects. We truly have the makings to be a major competitor in the landscape industry. We have constantly put money back into the business for trucks, equipment, marketing and other things to lay this foundation. I think right now we are very excited to be launching our maintenance division which will focus on commercial, multi family, and residential garden management. We also will have a chemical applicator license and irrigation license so we can manage all aspect of the clients landscape without having to sub out any processes. This is another way we are constantly reinvesting money to grow services and add staff that will hopefully make us a leader in DFW and the country for landscape services. At this point our journey has not been easy. We started on a shoe string budget knocking doors for landscape jobs in Prosper, TX. Me and my business partner had an old pick up truck, some hedge trimmers and about $1500 together but we were hungry. I think getting organized on the financial aspect was the hardest so far. We had to hire someone with experience managing money and doing financial reports to help us get our bottom line right. We plateaued for a few years because we were unorganized growing from just us to a staff of 24-25 in peak season. I think also staffing has been the second challenge. This is common for the landscape industry and we plan on participating in the H-2B program as we expand in our company to properly staff crews and the maintenance division. I think the biggest lesson I have learned is just go with the flow and live in present moment. You can only compare yourself against yourself. I always ask am I better then I was last year. Have I managed my resources well. Have I stayed focused and followed through. I think your surroundings, your friendships and your health are great indicators as well.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I am a landscaper I would most likely go to the botanical gardens and also Klyde Warren park. I have a great appreciation for those parks. Also I think white rock area is one of my favorite parts of Dallas. I have always loved the landscape, the homes and the diversity in that area of Dallas. There are some great restaurants over there and I think stopping in Wabi house in lower Greenville for some ramen would be on the itinerary. Also design district, the new virgin hotel would be a great place to visit. If there were any concerts in Deep Ellum we would certainly try and go as well. I love music and all types of genres. Dallas has a great rotation of concerts through the year. There is so much to do and I am grateful to live in Dallas and do business in Dallas.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have contributed to my success. Looking back there have been greater forces at play that have helped us thrive and lay the foundation of our company in its first 6 years. I think number one credit goes to my business partner. Obviously we would not be where we are at as he brings strengths that I do not possess. Also I want to give thanks and credit to my office manager Diana Tyler who has been a solid rock in the office in times when I was feeling burnt out and losing focus. There are some other key people in my life like Karl Easley, Chico West, and Max Allen who have all helped in me on a personal level to overcome some of the pitfalls of life when we experience some success. Helping me implement a more go with the flow attitude and that security should not always be found in your business or in your bank account. Lastly my immediate family has always been a positive force and they have loved me the right way since I was child to help me be consistent and work hard even through tough times.
Bill Young Photography Jimi Smith Photography