An Interview with Eric Robertson – NRD Landscape Design Build

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Landscape Contractors

We would like to publish an interview style article for you online. Kindly answer the mandatory questions listed below. We would also suggest answering the “Recommended” ones too. The more questions you answer, the better your interview article will look.

Please try to avoid “cliche” answers.

Also, please send in a high-resolution photo (preferably head-shot) with this interview if you have one. If you can send additional photos (of your company) that would be great too. Thank you!

Q – 1) Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

A – NRD Landscape is a complete design build service offering pretty much anything exterior of the home a client could want. Our approach starts with something simple, listening to our clients. Our goal is to determine what challenges may exist for someone on their property and design a solution for them. We achieve this by combining creative thinking with over two decades of experience and executing with today’s best methods and materials available. Our team is devoted to providing our clients with their dream landscape, an extension of their home so that they can realize the outdoor potential they deserve for spending quality time with friends and family. The NRD Landscape office is located in Minnetonka and we proudly serve a large portion of the metro area.

Q – 2) Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

A – I am lucky enough to be married to a wonderful woman and have two amazing children, 12 and 15 years old. We live in the Shorewood community and enjoy attributes the area offers like lake activities, bike rides on the trails and the various events that seem to always be happening in downtown Excelsior. I moved from the Twin Cities in 1997 to a coastal town in Connecticut for school. While there I met Brad Painter, a talented landscape designer who owned a firm nearby, and soon I accepted a position with them. The experience was amazing and within two years not only had I expanded my landscape design knowledge more than I anticipated, I also learned that I had an entrepreneurial side to me and even though I was thrilled working at his firm, I would only be happy running my own business. From there I decided to move back to Minnesota to start my own entrepreneurial journey.

Q – 3) What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

A – See question above.

Q – 4) What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

A – 1. Develop your core business idea, and believe in it. I feel when you believe in yourself, your process and your idea, other people will want to be a part of it. This is a great way to surround yourself with the right people to build a strong team.

2. Learn how to assess the difference between risk and results. There will be risks you take that don’t work out and it’s there where you can learn the lessons from it, gaining the experience that will become an asset for you in the future.

3. Know your industry. Always strive to learn and be a part of how your industry grows and adapts. Don’t be afraid to befriend your peers and learn from one another, looking at them as positive contributors to your field, not as competitors.

Q – 5) What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

A – 1. Time management skills: The ability to break tasks down into manageable pieces allowing you and your team to keep the process, effectively moving forward.

2. Business management skills: Chances are you started the business because of your passion about the field, it is critical however to understand there is an actual business side to your business and you’ll need to run it like one.

3. Critical thinking skills: There will inevitably be moments where things don’t go as planned. Being able to look at problems, situations and operations from various perspectives can be vital for decision making and problem solving.

Q – 6) How many hours do you work a day on average?

A – This is a funny question; I wouldn’t want to even admit how many hours I worked with I started my business! Now I try to keep a healthy balance between work and family, usually working about 8 or 9 hours a day on average.

Q – 7) To what do you most attribute your success?

A – The value system my mother instilled within me. Being honest, fair and always trying to be a good person in both my personal and professional life.

Q – 8) How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

A – To be honest, marketing has been an evolving challenge for me. Overall our marketing is a mix of organic; like word of mouth, referral, and continued business with existing clients as well as planned efforts such as Google search ads, local magazines, and home and garden shows. In terms of the most successful? A combination of all sources seems to be working the best.

Q – 9) Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

A – 100% of all funding needed as my business grew was generated buy the business, by re-investing into it. At times this was challenging and I am not certain I would recommend it to all newer startups. As rewarding as it can be to build it from within, it does affect the timeline of growth as well as the goals set at the beginning of the business.

Q – 10) What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

A –  A well developed plan from the beginning. There are many different avenues for success, if you thoughtfully prepare a detailed plan, set goals and regularly reassess where your plan is at, where it is succeeding and where it is not, then make adjustments as needed. Also, and just as important, make sure you are surrounding yourself with the right people and building a strong team, one which shares the same core values of your business goals.

Q – 11) Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

A – In 5 to 10 years I see the business continuing to help area clients develop their outdoor spaces to better suit their needs and offer them, their friends and family an area to enjoy.

Q – 12) Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

A – There are so many companies just within our field I admire very much, especially the countless vendors we have been lucky enough to partner with and establish long term professional relationships. One that stands out to me right now is Orijin Stone. From the ownership down through every team member; the constant professionalism, communication, knowledge of their products and the relentless pursuit of providing top tier service is the perfect embodiment of the passion they have for this industry.

Q – 13) How important have good employees been to your success?

A – The team members that make up our organization have been vital to the success of NRD Landscape, that is for sure. I truly believe I would not have the company I have now without the help everyone on the team!

Q – 14) How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

A – Tough question, and it really depends on the idea. For the most part, as long as there is some sort of spark left inside the core of the idea, I will likely still pursue it.

Q – 15) What motivates you?

A – The creation of a project, start to finish. Knowing it is the realization of our team collaborating with our clients’ dream and making it a reality for them.

Q – 16) What are your ideals?

Q – 17) How do you generate new ideas?

A – By getting outside of my normal routines, engaging with people outside of my normal circles is a great way to generate new ideas. It’s easy to migrate towards the normal day in/ day out type of routines but doing so will create a bit of a vacuum over time, so I definitely try to mix it up from time to time.

Q – 18) How do you define success?

A – Being a good person to others and bringing something of value to those you touch along the way.

Q – 19) How do you build a successful customer base?

Q – 20) What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Q – 21) What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

A – The first time I brought my children to one of our larger projects and saw how captivated they were with all the various things going on. Lot’s of different guys working, all kinds of equipment running around, and lots of things for them to explore. It was really rewarding because they had always known what I did at work, but when they were able to see it in person, see the transformation, it seemed like they then understood what I did, and that was definitely satisfying to me.

Q – 21) What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

A – It seems that those who work for someone might seek direction and an entrepreneur seeks to create the path. An employee is likely to be better at executing tasks while the entrepreneur is better at executing a plan.

Q – 22) What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

Q – 23) In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

A – Adventurous

Q – 24) If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Q – 25) How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Q – 26) What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Q – 27) How did you decide on the location for your business?

Q – 28) Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Q – 29) If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?

Q – 30) Who has been your greatest inspiration?

A – My Grandfather. He was an entrepreneur himself, and I admired him from a very young age. He embodied a strong work ethic and even stronger family value system. Kindness, strength, humor, passion, and humility were just some of his traits. Every part of him was an inspiration to me.

Q – 31) What is your favorite book?

A – Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow

Q – 32) What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

Q – 33) How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?

Q – 34) What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

A – I love to cook and have a great time learning about all the various types of cuisines throughout the world, then making them for our family to enjoy. When time allows, I really enjoy golf and fishing as well, trying to get out at least one evening a week during the summer. Hiking the different areas around the cities is also something I try to squeeze into my spare time as well.

Q – 35) What makes you happy?

Q – 36) What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Q – 37) If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

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