As a young mother, Gerry Crouch loved working on landscape designs for
friends. She and a garden club friend, Judy Drake, would bounce design ideas off
one another. Gradually by word of mouth their skills became known to an
ever-widening circle of friends. The two decided to form a partnership which has
survived more than 30 years and resulted in a thriving business with a yearlong
waiting list of clients.
Crouch attributes much of the success of Sunscapes Landscape Design to a UNF
accounting degree. She returned to finish her college education after a divorce.
“It’s difficult when you go back to school and have three teenage children to
raise.” She said going back to school actually made the children more
responsible and mature, because the entire family shouldered the household
She obtained her accounting degree in 1987 and discovered, even before
graduation, that her education had practical day-to-day applications in her
business. “They (the accounting faculty) not only taught me how to keep the
financial statements, but also how to control cash flow, ensure profitability
for each job, and analyze what’s going right and what’s going wrong.”
Crouch said professors would occasionally “cut me some slack” because of her
family responsibilities but didn’t compromise on the quality of her education.
She knows quality, having completed two years at an Ivey League school before
leaving to marry and raise a family.
The key to Crouch’s success has been treating clients as family. “I think one
of the reasons we’ve grown so much is that we make a huge commitment to each and
Specializing in residential landscaping, Crouch and her partner discovered
early on they needed to control the quality of construction. “Most contractors
simply didn’t care about the intricacies of our designs, and wanted to plant our
selections any old way.” The company eventually hired a contractor who, under
their supervision, installed the landscaping exactly as designed. “When we
became involved in controlling the contracting, our business increased 400
percent in one year.”
Crouch has also been involved in a number of professional organizations. In
2004, the Association of Professional Landscape Designers presented her with a
service award. The association said Crouch “spent countless hours working on
financials and assisted in the development of realistic budgets that would help
the organization grow.”
Her vision for the future was apparent to the association. “Gerry truly moved
the organization into looking at the big picture and we would not be where we
are without her guidance and direction.” Crouch feels this award was a tribute
to her UNF education.
It was one more accomplishment in a long list for a Fab Grad who just wanted
to make use of her “green thumb” talents.
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