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Amherst Landscape, other valley landscapers respect and admire each other's work

There are lots of landscapers in the Pioneer Valley, and competition for work can be intense.

But, Steve Prothers of Amherst Landscape and Design Associates has successfully developed a business that respects and cooperates with his colleagues, rather than competes with them. In the process, he has found a number of other landscapers and others related to the business that feel the same way, and many of them have become good friends.

“That kind of respect between colleagues is an honor,” Prothers said. “I wanted to become more cooperative with peers rather than go head to head. There seems to be enough work for all of us. I never felt like I had to get all of the jobs. You can't do it all.”

Earle Shumway, owner of Shumway and Sons Tree and Landscaping of Amherst, has been friends with Prothers for years. He shares the same philosophy as Prothers on the landscaping business in the area.

“Steve and I are in the same business, but I don't feel like we're competing,” Shumway said.

Although Shumway does some landscaping, his company is mostly in the tree business. As a result, he said the two don't really cross paths on jobs, but he is certainly aware of the superb quality of work done by Amherst Landscape.

“He's a nice guy who is easy to talk to,” Shumway said. “Steve has a great personality and that allows him to deal well with his customers. I know a few of his customers and they are very pleased with him and his work.”

Brian Gordon worked for Prothers for two seasons when he was a student at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture more than 20 years ago. Now the owner of Summit Landscaping and Lawn Care of Amherst, Gordon learned many lessons from Prothers, but the most significant was how to run his own company, and that the personal touch with customers is a key to success.

"Steve has a great personality and that allows him to deal well with his customers."

“The biggest thing I learned was how to be a boss,” he said. “He treats his employees great and is a fantastic salesman. The result is that the growth of his business has been steady through the years.”

Prothers' and Gordon's companies largely offer different types of landscaping services. Summit Landscaping is mostly involved with large property management and Amherst Landscape offers more comprehensive landscaping solutions for residential and commercial customers. However, Gordon feels the same way about Prothers when it comes to cooperating and respecting fellow landscapers. “I never have a conflict with Steve,” Gordon said. “If I hear he's bidding on a project, I won't bid on it. There's a respect for each other in this business.”

John Bardzik, owner of Tarnow Nurseries of Chicopee and Enfield, CT, has know prothers for 20 years, when he started buying plants from him. The two have become friends and even live on the same street.

Bardzik said Prothers not only takes good care of his customers, but he also takes care of the people he does business with. “Steve carries over that respect he shows his customers to his vendors, and I'm sure to the people who work for him,” he said. “There's a courtesy to how he treats everyone in my organization. He's respectful of what we do.”

Chris Hall of Hall and Sons Landscaping of Belchertown respects Prothers' professionalism and admires his artistic abilities.

“One attribute Steve has is his ability to design,” Hall said. “He has a great eye for design, whether it be for plants or a hardscape.”

The two have known each other for 15 years and he agrees with Prothers that “there is plenty of work” for quality landscapers in the Valley. And the two share a mutual respect.

“If you do good work at a fair price, there will always be work,” Hall said. “I include Steve in that category.”

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Steve Prothers • PO Box 1014 • Amherst, MA 01004 • 413.256.0666

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