Lou Seoane, Co-owner of Seoane Landscape Design, reflects on 45 years in businessBy Richard Trust | Photography by Seoane Landscape Design and Kris Hughes
When Lou Seoane started his landscaping business in 1972 he had a sage green Volkswagen bus and two people working with him. He drummed up some of his first accounts by knocking on doors in affluent neighborhoods. Seoane later partnered with his brother, David, who has a degree in landscape design, and together they turned Seoane Landscape Design and Garden Center into one of the South Shore’s preeminent garden centers and landscape construction companies. Headquartered on Route 18 in Abington, the company now has 65 employees, including many who have worked for the company for more than 20 years. The company will commemorate 45 years in business with a celebration in early September.
You graduated from Stonehill College with a bachelor’s degree in child psychology and secondary school teaching certification. What prompted you to pursue a career in landscaping?
I had worked for a local landscape company for two summers and really enjoyed it. In the fall of 1972, I actually had an offer to teach psychology at Weymouth High. It was full-time work and it would pay $5,900 a year. I already had a few landscape accounts, so after weighing the pros and cons I went back to the high school principal and told him that I was appreciative and honored, but I was going to start my own landscaping business.
How has the business changed through the years?
When I was starting out, landscaping basically meant cutting grass. Now people want to improve the look of their home and they want to live outdoors more of the time. Stonework is very popular now, including patios, waterfalls, stone walls and fireplaces. Rocks and boulders also serve as natural accents to pools and are utilized as dry riverbeds.
Are your customers aware of the latest trends and innovations in landscape design?
Yes. Most of my customers have done research and many have owned more than one home so they have experience with landscaping. Having the customer’s input gives me a good jumping-off point on the design.
What is Seoane Landscape Design best known for?
We’re known for our creativity and for doing great work with quality plants and stonework that fits naturally into the landscape. We do residential landscaping jobs and also maintain landscaping at such sites as Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham, Legacy Place in Dedham, and South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. We also plow commercially in the winter, working with such places as nursing home and assistant living facilities and South Shore Hospital.
What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
I spend quite a bit of time coming up with creative designs to enhance outdoor living. We provide sketches of proposed landscaping and pictures of projects we’ve done in the past. This gives the customer confidence that we can get the job done.
What’s your advice to someone just starting in the business?
Work hard, stay in shape and learn how to communicate with people. You can’t be arrogant and you can’t be shy when you walk into a nursery for plants and flowers, shrubs or trees. Tell the owner you want the best quality at the best price.
You’re also an artist. How did that come about?
My wife Jane decided to take up painting 15 years ago. She took lessons from Andrew Kusmin, a renowned watercolorist from Plymouth, and came home with these beautiful oil paintings. It inspired me to take lessons too. Jane and I go out every Wednesday evening and paint together and on Sundays I paint with my friend, Bob Beaulieu, an illustrator/graphic designer from Scituate.
What is it about painting that captivates you?
I love the action of putting a brush to canvas and then standing back and looking at the painting to see if it’s going in the direction you wanted. I’m always trying to do a better job than the last time, trying to put what I’ve learned into my next painting. You always think the next painting is the one that’s going to be perfect.
How has being an artist influenced your landscape work?
I think painting brings out a sense of perspective. When I come up with ideas for landscape construction, I have an easier time sketching out the proper spacing of things.
Seoane enjoys the artistic process of planning how different elements in a landscape design will fit together.