by Kristy Como Armand
For Landscape Management Services, a company committed to growing and making Southwest Louisiana more beautiful, the impact of Hurricane Laura on August 27, 2020, resonated on multiple levels.
Owner Doyle Pennick, who stayed in town during the storm’s landfall and aftermath, said it was a gut punch to look out over his retail yard and nursery. “It was completely annihilated. After buidling a business for more than 30 years, seeing it literally leveled is not something you could ever prepare yourself for, but after the initial shock wore off, I rounded up members of my team who were in town and we got back to work. Our customers needed us.”
All 19 of the company’s service vehicles were under a collapsed building where they had been moved before the storm. Five of these were destoryed completely; those not destroyed had varying degrees of damage. Pennick says the first step was getting the vehicles out. “We used cutting torches to remove pieces of the metal building and then a lift to raise the roof enough to drive the vehicles out from under it.”
As they worked to clean up debris, the team also had to figure out how they could service their clients – more than 100 across the community. “We were getting calls from customers asking for help in clearing fallen trees and damanaged landscape,” says Pennick. “We were committed to both restoring our facility and helping our clients, and I’m proud to say we were able to do both simultaneously. It’s a credit to our team and their work ethic.”
Fortunately, the main office of Landscape Management, across the street from the retail yard and nursery area, escaped the storm with barely any damage, giving them a base of operations – one without working phones or electricity for several weeks – while working on clean-up and repair.
Procuring replacement vehicles, in the midst of a worldwide inventory shortage druing the pandemic, was daunting, but Pennick said he scoured the country and was able to get his fleet restored within 90 days.
“We approached each challenge as it presented itself and worked our way through it,” says Pennick. “And as we planned the rebuild, we turned this disater into an opportunity to make improvements we already had on our ‘wish list.’ We built back better and stronger than we were before.”
The structures destroyed were over 20 years old. Pennick used this opprtunity to expand and modernize operations. Their new buidling was ordered in November of 2020 and delivered in July of 2021. It expanded the retail yard from 8400 square feet to 14,000 sqare feet. The new truck shed can house up to 28 vehicles. Much of the exterior of the retail yard is now concrete and a new fence was also installed. Convenient drive-thru service is now avialble for customers when loading plants and landscape materials.
“What was most rewarding about this entire experience was seeing our community come together in the face of overwheliming adversity,” adds Pennick. “We provided fuel to many contractors when most of our local gas stations were still closed. These contractors helped us remove debris and clear our site. Customers and even complete strangers showed up with food to share with our crew. It’s amazing how God provides when you need it the most. The resilience of this entire community is humbling as we look back and reflect on how far we’ve all come. We’re proud to be a part of it.”
Since 1991, Landscape Management Services has provided Southwest Louisiana with leading commercial and residential landscape installation and maintenance. They offer a full range of landscaping, design and maintenance services, along with a fully stocked retail nursery and landscape supply center. They are located at 5005 Cobra Road in Lake Charles. Call (337) 478-3836 or visit www.landscapemanagement.org.