Winsted family landscaping firm celebrates 35 years
WINSTED — A romance sparked in 1981 paved the way for a family-owned landscaping business that so far has endured for 35 years.
Before he met Darlene Murphy, Bryan Bentley had his eye on her friend; they all met while roller-skating as teenagers, more than 40 years ago.
“But Darlene and I hit it off, and we actually have been together ever since,” Bentley said.
“One thing led to another,” Darlene said. “We dated from ’81 to ’86, five years, prior to getting married.”
For about two years, Bentley built houses with Darlene’s father, Francis Murphy, owner of F. Murphy & Sons in Winsted. He found the landscaping aspect of home-building to be especially gratifying, so he did landscaping on the side, he said.
On Jan. 1, 1988, the Bentleys took the plunge and started B&D Landscaping, based out of their home.
“At that time, I was just all by myself, you know, no helpers,” Bentley said.
Meanwhile, their family was growing: they had two daughters, and then son William. Known also as Bill or Billy, he’s now the supervising foreman on job sites.
In 2016, B&D Landscaping moved from a home-based business to an industrial complex at 227 Rockwell St., where the latest in landscaping equipment is housed in more than 7,000 square feet of garage space.
Bentley said he specialized in residential work in the early years, doing grounds maintenance.
“And then we gradually moved on to tree work and hardscapes and excavating,” he said. They build pools, patios, retaining walls and more, he said.
“He definitely has an eye for design, and he likes things to look nice,” Darlene Bentley said. “One thing that our customers really like about us is that he takes pride and has our guys take pride in the work that they do, because he wants it to look as if it was done for us.”
The company’s customer base is not limited to Winsted. “We do a lot … in West Hartford and East Hartford and Farmington and Avon and Salisbury,” Bentley said. They have performed work out of state, as well.
“I guess my biggest challenge is probably help … getting an adequate amount of help, like everybody else,” he said.
He blames the COVID-19 pandemic for that. And, he said, “We need a few more people like our son William here.”
William Bentley said he enjoys running the equipment and just being outside on the job.
“I started full time when I was 18. I’m 32 now and work full time. I do everything outside the office. I oversee all the guys that run everything out there,” he said.
Darlene Bentley is proud of her son’s performance in a contractor competition when he was 18.
“He out-showed all those other men in this, how to run this Bobcat around this obstacle course,” she said.
“He was number one out of 600 men of my age that have been running equipment their whole lives,” Bryan Bentley said. “Billy took top place when he was 18 years old. He loves it just as much as I did when I was younger, and just couldn’t stay away from it.”
A few years ago, Bryan Bentley stepped down from the physical work and focused on job quotes and paperwork.
“I took the leap of stopping and doing that part to keep more and more guys busy,” he said. “So Billy took on that role of, you know, that head foreman, and he runs, like he said, the whole shop, everything in the shop. He runs the whole landscape construction department, and then he’ll oversee the other foremen that do grounds maintenance.”
Darlene Bentley works afternoons, doing accounting and payroll, she said. She also works for Winchester Public Schools as executive assistant to the superintendent and as a benefits specialist.
Bentley said, “When I first started this, I watched other companies … grow and then stop. I actually have watched a couple of companies when I was younger and wanted to be just like them. And I actually outgrew them, passed them right out, and they’re (not) around anymore.”
As for why B&D Landscaping has endured for 35 years, he said, “You know, I just love doing it, I love the outcome, what the jobs look like. It’s just, just a passion.”
For more information, go to bdlandscapers.com or call 860-379-9651.
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