Omar Squires-From Corporate to Designing Landscapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By N. L. Bowen

Omar Squires, the founder and owner of ‘Lawns and Landscapes’ has made an incredible leap of faith. Having worked in the typical office job setting both in Barbados and overseas, he did what some would call a ‘full 180’ and made a total career change. That change was his creation of Lawns and Landscapes, a landscaping business.

Located in Durants, Christ Church, Lawns and Landscapes was established in 2006. What first started as an outdoor maintenance company quickly expanded into an all-encompassing landscaping business. There is also a nursery, as well as services in landscaping design and construction. The company’s website is the only one of its kind in Barbados, offering online shopping for plants and other landscape items.

In addition to the expertise of Omar and his employees, Omar’s determination and ambition are credited for the company’s success and growth. Lawns and Landscapes captured the top award in the Barbados Horticultural Society’s Roundabout Beautification Competition. Its creation at the Sagicor sponsored Garfield Sobers Roundabout, was adjudged the ‘Most Attractive Roundabout’ in Barbados! For Omar, that was ‘the icing on the cake’ because it was always his desire to produce work that can be enjoyed by the public. His company was also awarded for maintaining the ‘Most Colourful Urban Roundabout’ at the Travel House sponsored Dame Nita Barrow Roundabout.

Omar leans heavily on his faith in God and credits this for his achievements. However, he is not complacent and is constantly looking to be innovative in his business so that it remains successful. With tremendous creativity and staff that is known to offer a reliable service, his company is therefore on the path to remaining one of the best landscaping businesses in Barbados. There is therefore no doubt that as Omar forges ahead with his company, he will continue to reap great rewards.

 Besides being the owner of Lawns and Landscapes, who is Omar Squires?

 I am the son of two proud parents, a husband, father of two children and an active member in my church community. I am also someone who is trying his best to live the way God wants us to live.

Why did you decide to create a landscaping business? What motivated you?

While I was at UWI pursuing a bachelor’s in Economics and Accounting, I worked with a small maintenance company for about two years. I then started a small operation but stopped to do my Masters at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. After graduating, I worked for one year [as a Financial Advisor] and can remember toying with the idea of returning to Barbados and starting a landscaping company, but at that time I was searching for a more professional opportunity based on my corporate mind-set.

A few months later I returned to Barbados to find a good job, which was more challenging than I thought. The idea kept popping up in my head again … and what made me ‘shift’, was the advice I got from my Dean at NSU. He had encouraged me not to limit myself to industries that are highly competitive, but instead to consider sectors that were underserved. While driving I agreed with God in a prayer that I would stop at the next house I see overgrown with grass. If the answer is ‘no’ I would go on with my life, if the answer is ‘yes’ I would take it seriously. There was a house where the grass was ‘up to your knees’, so I asked the owner if he wanted his lawn done. He told me to get my tools and start immediately!….I started the next day with a loaner weed whacker and I now employ 12 full-time employees and serve well over 100 customers.

List the best part of being in this business. Were there challenges?

 The best part of this business is being able to take a post-construction site that is ‘total chaos’… marl, grits, mountains of debris etc., and transform it into the ‘most amazing landscape’. The only thing that tops this is seeing the positive effects these services have on our customers.

Constant challenges are not working in a controlled environment. There’s the extreme heat – which can cause temporary discomfort and fatigue, rain – which can sometimes cause delays and sickness and of course there’s the ever climbing cost of delivering professional landscaping services to a local community whose average spending power decreases at the end of each budget.

In light of this as an employer who cares and values his staff noted a major challenge is striking a balance between keeping our price competitive and having enough resources to pay the wages that employees need to offset the rapidly increasing cost of living.

How do you balance being an entrepreneur with other duties in your personal life?

I pray and have faith as best I can and through God’s faithful response I have made it to this point and will make it as far as he allows.  I have come to see first hand how his miraculous power has saved me from harm and opened doors that I could never have imagined. One example was while I resided in Florida, the overheated radiator of my sports car blew up in my face and I received not one burn despite being drenched by the scorching hot water.

 What advice would you give to those who want to become an entrepreneur in general and in the area of landscaping?

 

  • Find something that you really love and are good at, for your greatest marketing comes from satisfied customers, as they will generate good referrals.
  • The need to establish strategic alliances and prudently build your staff to accommodate your rate of expansion. My father often cautions me “Omar, you must avoid rising to your own incompetence”.
  • No matter how much you love or how skilled you are at your trade or service, it’s important to know the business side of it. Tap into associations (e.g. Small Business Association) that can give you guidance.

 

Additional/ Fun Facts

 

– Omar admits that he hated gardening as a child and never had a green thumb. This developed because he was in charge of watering his mother’s plants when she worked as a flight attendant.

– Although he dedicates most of his spare time to family, Omar enjoys going to the Rally and go-cart racing with his friend. He also hopes to compete in a rally sometime in the future!

– Omar is also a Youth Leader within the Catholic Church!

 

 

 

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