Writing my Bio gave me some time to reflect, and also a glimpse into ‘how’ I managed to get to where I am today. It also reminded me of the ‘what & why’ that were turning points in my career and it especially reminded me of the ‘who’ that were guiding lights along the journey without whom I would not be here today typing my career summary.
I’m often asked “What got you started in this business?”
Bottomline is that I loved growing up on a farm. Working to earn money was ever present so I guess that is part of the ‘what got you started’, the desire to work and earn my keep. Back when a bicycle was my means of transportation I remember splitting Daylily, Iris and Monkey Grass for folks, then hauling pinestraw out of the woods and spreading into neighbor’s flower beds and then I graduated to mowing yards (I use the word ‘yard’ loosely for in rural Mississippi the only thing that separated the mowed from the unmowed was a bean field or a fenceline). Fast forward several years to mechanical drafting classes in high school – that was a pivotal point for me when at career day I found out about a curriculum at Mississippi State called Landscape Architecture, finally a path that could allow me to color outside the rigid lines of mechanical drafting. So in a sense that answers the ‘how and the why’ from above. I am a 1985 graduate of MSU, while there I was a co-op student with Oyler Bro’s Landscape Company in Orlando, Florida where I worked on various Disney and resort projects. My advisor and mentor at MSU was Bob Calloway and he was a big influence for me while I was there, and beyond. Upon graduation from MSU, Rebecca Thornton and I were married in June 1985 and we moved to Palm Harbor, FL where I started my professional career with Hughes Nursery – a design/build firm where I worked for 2 years prior to joining Cornerstone Landscape Design/Build in 1987. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the owners of each company, George Hughes and John Faulkner, for their insight into customer relations, logistics, finance and business development.
In 1989 we started Landforms of Tampa, a Design/Build/Maintain Company were we focused on high end residential design & installation coupled with commercial design/installation/maintenance for community developments. The ‘who’ all along the journey has been my wife Rebecca – helping support a young startup company with her time and talents while working full time in corporate America.
1995 was a new beginning for our family as we moved to Woodstock, GA where I joined an amazing group of people at Lifescapes, where we daily turned design/build dreams into reality with creativity, teamwork and the ‘Wow Factor.’
In 2001 we established Goldleaf Farms with our first growing operation located in Pontotoc, MS. Along with John West and Kent Townsend we created a mission: to provide our customers with the best possible value in ornamental trees and customer service while providing a safe, challenging and rewarding work environment for our team members. Our Ball Ground, GA growing operation soon followed in 2003 where we saw an opportunity to better serve the growing markets in Atlanta and surrounding metro areas.
So, in a nutshell that’s my Bio. A special thanks to Rebecca, Claire & Cole for their inspiration and support throughout the years and to my parents Paul & Ann (my work ethic comes from her) for providing me the opportunity to go beyond. To Bob Calloway, George Hughes, John Faulkner, Bill Kilmer & Joe Skelton I appreciate you for allowing me to glean from your experiences and leadership.
Today Goldleaf Farms is a thriving company and a dream opportunity 20 years in the making.
Mississippi Farm Manager
Kent Townsend has been with GLF since it’s inception in 2001. A graduate of Pontotoc High School, Kent worked in various industries prior to joining GLF and is, and has been responsible for the implementation of all infrastructure, planting, maintaining and harvesting of our trees at our MS farm. His hands on approach in everything he does is instrumental to the development and growth of our diverse mix of trees and he ensures that Goldleaf Farms upholds our reputation in our community and our industry. Outside of GLF, Kent has been a lifelong friend to myself and to many. When not at the farm Kent’s wife Beth has him busy biking and hiking all over the country. He is an avid deer hunter, arrowhead collector and support to his family, church and community.
Georgia Farm Manager
Enrique started working with GLF in 2003 at our GA farm and has established himself in the industry as a quality grower, manager and customer service guru.
It takes a unique person, and team of people, to be able to accommodate such diverse daily activities in the tree growing industry. Enrique along with his brother Santos Cabrera and his nephew Henry Lorenzo each exceed expectations with their effort and all around positive attitudes. I am often complimented by our customers for their customer service, speed and the care they take while loading and tarping. Outside of GLF Enrique and his wife Santa spend as much time as possible with their 3 kids, Enrique is also instrumental in their community and their church environment.
Robbie Wright and Kent Townsend working at our Mississippi farm