By Stephanie Yoder
When Laura Niedziocha came for an initial 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 listed a degree in exercise science and no formal training related to botany or horticulture. Gates was also struck by his nervous energy – it projected someone who really wanted the new opportunity he was creating within his company.
It was when Niedziocha was given the chance to run a garden nursery by a former employer that she quickly developed her expertise. Landscape professionals often put her on the spot with detailed questions about specific plants, their care, and their applications. “When you get started in nursery management, you just need to be able to answer questions,” Niedziocha said.
She learned the craft that way, through first-hand experiences, and tried to carve out 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 supporting role for his business operations. Gates remembers having concerns about the risk of investing in his first full-time position. He also remembers thinking that Niedziocha, with his willingness to learn quickly, was unlikely to fail.
As a single mother with a young daughter, Niedziocha doesn’t see failure as an option. Without the support of her ex-spouse, she knows that everything rests on her. “All the bills, the chores. It all depends on me. If I don’t bring home a salary, 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 depends on you,” Niedziocha said.
This sense of responsibility in her family life has translated into Niedziocha’s work for Best Buddies. Quickly transitioning from a background operational support role, she earned her place as a senior sales officer and face of the company. She has developed personal relationships with her clients and takes pride in helping them create an outdoor sanctuary and treat their home as her own.
“I see this company as my reflection. Dave and his family are great to work with, they understood my needs as a working parent and I want to do what I can to help make their business a success,” Niedziocha said.
This success dates back 18 months since Niedziocha joined the ranks. In addition to securing and maintaining a client portfolio, Niedziocha has also transformed business operations by integrating new technologies. Best Buddies was a paper and pen company throughout its nearly 10 years in business.
Niedziocha found and introduced a service app that tracks activity on a particular property and integrates with its accounting software. It has improved the customer 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 previous five consecutive years,” said Gates. In his efforts to recognize his success, Gates promoted Niedziocha and provided new opportunities for professional growth.
As for Niedziocha, she is grateful to defy expectations. Often seen as younger than she is or occasionally asked when the “guy” from her company comes to appraise the property, she is proud to have established herself and proven herself in an industry with male predominance.
She thinks about the impact this will have on her daughter. “She looks up to me being this independent person who can support everything for our family. It’s good to be a role model for her.