A single mom thrives in the landscaping industry
By Stephanie Yoder
When Laura Niedziocha came for a first interview with David Gates of Best Buddies Landscaping in New Hope, he was surprised, and immediately impressed when he realized the depth of her plant knowledge.
Her resume showed a degree in exercise science and no formal training related to botany or horticulture. Gates was also struck by her nervous energy — it projected a person who truly wanted the new opportunity he was creating within his business.
It was when Niedziocha was given the chance to manage a garden nursery by a former employer that she quickly developed her expertise. Landscape professionals frequently put her on the spot with detailed questions about specific plants, their care and their applications. “When you are thrown into running a nursery, you just need to be able to answer the questions,” said Niedziocha.
She learned the trade this way, through direct experiences, and tried to carve a path for herself and her knowledge. Her lack of a formal degree presented challenges for her career growth, but her experience and reputation ultimately led her to that first conversation with Gates about a support role for his business operations. Gates recalls having concerns about the risk of investing in his first full-time staff position. He also recalls thinking that Niedziocha, with her drive to learn quickly, would be unlikely to fail.
As a single mom with a young daughter, Niedziocha does not consider failure of an option. Without support from her former spouse, she knows that everything is on her. “All the bills, the chores. It’s all on me. If I don’t bring home a paycheck, we don’t have a place to live. Being a single mom guides you. It forces you to make more strategic decisions. You can’t risk anything because your family’s livelihood is balanced on you,” said Niedziocha.
This sense of responsibility in her family life has translated to Niedziocha’s work for Best Buddies. Quickly moving from a back-of-house operational support role, she has earned her place as the primary sales agent and a face of the company. She has developed personal relationships with clients and takes pride in helping them create an outdoor sanctuary and treating their homes like her own.
“I see this company as a reflection of me. Dave and his family are great to work for, they have been understanding of my needs as a working parent, and I want to do what I can to help make their business a success,” said Niedziocha.
That success is in 18 months since Niedziocha joined the ranks. In addition to securing and maintaining a portfolio of clients, Niedziocha has also transformed the business operations by integrating new technology. Best Buddies was a paper and pen business throughout its nearly 10 years of operation.
Niedziocha found and introduced a service app that tracks activity on a particular property and integrates with their accounting software. It has improved the client experience, saved countless hours of data entry, and ensures accuracy.
“Since Laura joined us, we have seen our sales increase by nearly 30% for two consecutive years, a noticeable and sudden jump from the 10% growth we had for the five consecutive years prior,” said Gates. In his efforts to recognize her success, Gates has promoted Niedziocha and provided further professional growth opportunities.
As for Niedziocha, she is grateful to defy expectations. Often perceived to be younger than she is or asked on occasion when “the guy” from her company will be coming out to assess the property, she is proud to have established and proven herself in a male-dominated industry.
She thinks about the impact this will have on her daughter. “She is watching me be this person that is independent and able to provide everything for our family. It’s nice to be a role model for her.”