Case Studies

Terra Pacific Landscape

Innovation in sustainable landscapes places southern California company to compete at a high level

Innovation and effective landscape management, while maintaining the lowest total long-term cost, has propelled Terra Pacific Landscape to the forefront of the Southern California landscaping industry. Headquartered in Santa Ana, California, with offices in San Diego, Anaheim and Gardena, California, Terra Pacific specializes in providing premier landscaping and consulting services for premier Class A commercial office and industrial properties.

Terra Pacific was founded in 1988 by Rich Wingard. Wingard set out with a goal of bringing a high level of professionalism to the industry. “We were still known as ‘gardeners’ back then,” he says. “Landscaping is actually a challenging sector of the construction industry.” Along with its construction services, Terra Pacific also provides landscape management for commercial properties, which involves numerous horticultural regimens such as arbor, turf, shrub and seasonal color care, soil structure and fertility, fertilization, irrigation system management and pest/disease control.

Terra Pacific Landscape

Regardless of industry, market or sector, many successful companies look to establish a niche market. In order to compete with the national landscaping firms and carve out his position in the market, Wingard chose to pursue contracts with high-end Class A commercial office properties. With an abundance of these types of properties in Orange County and throughout the Southern California region, Wingard was able to build a foundation for his company and eventually branch out and extend its geographical footprint.

Sustainable landscapes

“I’ve always tried to bring innovative ideas on how we format our services and work with our clients,” says Wingard. “We are doing a lot of work that involves transitioning ornamental landscapes into sustainable or high-performance landscapes.”

Wingard also notes that for decades many of the presidents and CEOs of companies that developed or were tenants in these properties chose to have ornamental landscapes for their commercial properties. “In years past when water was plentiful and operating budgets were less constrictive nobody worried about installing water-thirsty, resource-intensive ornamental landscapes in a semi-arid climate,” says Wingard. “These type of landscapes not only require a lot of water, but also manpower, material, equipment, hazardous chemicals and green waste, all of which are very expensive.”

Approximately 15 years ago, Wingard began to recognize that budgets were not able to keep up with the rising costs of managing these types of landscapes. He began conducting his own research and hired in LEED consultants to perform industry outreach within the commercial real estate industry. With information he gathered, Wingard began reaching out to clients and other people in the industry as an advocate for sustainable landscapes that requires fewer resources.

This approach has led to Terra Pacific focusing on transitioning older style ornamental landscapes  to more contemporary and less resource-intensive sustainable landscapes  relying on drought tolerant plant palettes and drip style irrigation to reduce the costs to maintain sustainable projects, such as green roof systems and green walls. This new approach to landscape design has introduced elements that were never considered in the past like green roofs and green walls.

Some of the company’s more notable projects recently have been the installation of green roofs on the iconic Los Angeles City Hall and the Edison Academy for the LAUSD.  Most of the landscape renovation projects Terra Pacific has been working on in the last couple of years have also involved the reimaging of properties with the intent of catering to tenants that have millennials as a significant part of their work force. “Because millennials want to have collaborative spaces we have been creating a lot of these areas for them to congregate in the landscapes and introducing tenant amenities such as pergolas, bocce ball courts, fire pits and shade sails,” says Wingard. “After years of not getting much traction for these new types of landscapes it is really hitting stride now. We are doing some of the most exciting projects that we have ever worked on.”

Competing at the highest level

As a relatively small company in such a competitive industry, Terra Pacific faces multiple challenges in an environment of ever increasing state regulations and human resource compliance “We have to compete with companies that do more than $1 billion a year and have the resources to take on all those administration and management challenges with ease,” says Wingard. “That being said, we are utilizing technology, which can be a great equalizer. We have a brand-new interactive website that we are getting ready to launch and we are expanding our client list.” Terra Pacific currently works with numerous Fortune 500 real estate companies.

The desire to perform landscaping services began for Wingard as a child when he began mowing lawns in his local neighborhood. Later working in commercial interior design doing space planning and open-office designs, Wingard took this client base and started his own interior plantscaping business that culminated in the installation of what was the largest commercial office installation of interior plants in the area at the time for the new Taco Bell corporate headquarters in Irvine.

Through his work in this sector, Wingard was introduced to a client base that sparked an interest to start his own business in interior plantscaping. Aiming for the board rooms of corporate clients, Wingard landed his first major contract with a 12-story, midrise building owned by Pepsi.

“Eventually, I was working for a client who had six properties who asked me about doing her exterior landscaping,” recalls Wingard. “I looked into it and started to notice that the numbers were a lot bigger in landscaping.” With some startup money from a partner, Wingard launched Terra Pacific Landscape.

As he expanded the company over the years, Wingard learned that the most important thing is to put the customer first. “My future success will always be determined by what I do today and how I continue to take care of my clients,” says Wingard. “It may cost me money to back that up sometimes, but that’s what has brought us to where we are today.” This philosophy will propel Terra Pacific Landscape into the future as it remains a leader in the Southern California landscaping industry.

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