When Loriena Harrington was working on the golf course at Franklin’s Tuckaway Country Club at the age of 13, she loved watching the field team work.
At 14, she wrote a business plan for a neighborhood lawn mowing service in a notebook.
Now, over 30 years later, the Menomonee Falls woman’s business acumen and passion for landscaping have earned her the title of Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Since 2001, she has owned, developed and grown the Menomonee Falls based business. Beautiful flowers, which provides comprehensive lawn care and maintenance services.
Only around 8% of landscape professionals are women, and even fewer are business leaders, according to one study conducted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. More than 40,000 employees from 272 companies in 47 states participated in the study.
When she was a teenager, she said, it didn’t matter if it was a male-dominated field or that she didn’t have female mentors to prepare for her career path. She always wanted that kind of career.
“At first I felt like I had something to prove. It was difficult, but not intimidating,” she said.
Loriena Harrington “intrigued” by landscaping while growing up
As a teenager, Harrington loved watching the pitch team mow lawns, do landscaping and whatever else was needed to keep the pitch looking its best.
“I was so intrigued,” she said. One of her regrets is that she doesn’t have that business plan notebook she created as a teenager.
But Harrington remembered mowing her neighbors’ lawns and the thought that if she recruited a friend to help her, she could make more money by doing more lawns. As a boss, she earned more, but she also gave her friend, her employee, a fair wage.
Harrington recalls asking Pat Shaw, then superintendent of the Tuckaway Country Club golf course, “What do I have to study to get your job someday?”
After graduating from Franklin High School in 1994, Harrington earned a degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota.
During his university studies and for four years afterwards, Harrington tended lawns on the side and worked on a golf course. Ironically, Harrington discovered that she had learned that she was allergic to weed. It was then that she decided to start her own business and work on the commercial side.
She has an all-female management team
Although there are few women in the landscaping field, Harrington said she has an all-female management team and her staff is 66% female.
“We have a diverse group of people,” Harrington said. “They are proud to work for a woman-owned company, and we have broken industry standards.”
“We didn’t do it on purpose; we have a very welcoming and friendly culture. It is a lesson in humility to be an employer, ”she added.
Harrington said she has helped people who had never worked in a landscaping company by giving them the chance to work in her business.
Harrington said she works to train people who love to work outdoors, roll up their sleeves and appreciate the difference their work makes.
“You will see a transition take place,” she said. “People said they were looking for a different kind of job. Everything went well.”
Harrington, his employees are constantly learning
Harrington said all the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated field are solved through education. She relied on her college degree, workshops and seminars, as well as other types of professional development opportunities.
“As soon as I was able to show that I knew what I was talking about and that I was qualified, I was able to overcome any perceived obstacle,” she said.
Harrington also said she had built into the company’s budget to provide employees at all levels the opportunity to attend seminars, workshops and attend a conference at the national level.
“As a business owner investing in them through education is pretty cool and deep,” Harrington said.
Harrington said she shows her staff the passion she has for their work.
“No one gets rich; it’s fueled by passion,” she said. “All my life, whatever I do, I need to be passionate.”
How she overcomes challenges
Harrington said the most difficult obstacle she faced was when she was injured in a skiing accident in the spring of 2918. The injury required surgery and she missed her sales season.
“It almost bankrupted me,” she said.
But looking back, Harrington said she’s learned to make decisions quickly and figure things out. She has also learned that the business cannot rely on itself alone.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were “scrambling to figure it out,” Harrington said, “I was like, I did this (challenged) once, I can do it again. “
During one of the most difficult times for the industry, Harrington said, thanks to the hard work of its employees, the company achieved a net profit of 20%, well above the average for the industry.
Today, she faces another challenge, dealing with the employee shortage that has plagued many industries. Part of his solution is to seek help from a recruiter.
“We have to find the right people to fit into our culture,” she said. “We are going to grow up and not let the challenge stop us.”