In 1985 brothers Brian and Garrett Ham made a career decision to start a Tucson landscaping company and called it Santa Rita Landscaping, named after the Santa Rita mountain range they lived near. As Garrett went through high school, Brian was finishing his bachelor’s degree in Watershed Hydrology at the University of Arizona. Both brothers worked side jobs doing small landscaping installation and maintenance projects in the retirement community of Green Valley, Arizona during their schooling. They learned a great deal about the field of landscaping and the high standards and integrity demanded of them by their customers.
Brian and Garrett, both needing employment and more importantly a career, decided to expand their ‘side jobs’ and formally started Santa Rita Landscaping. Garrett was in his last semester of high school and Brian still in college when Garrett received the firms first contractors license with a $1,000 loan from First Interstate Bank of Arizona, co-signed by their father, to cover the bonding requirements. Garrett may have been the only graduating high school senior in 1985 with a contractor’s license!
The business began in their parents’ barn, which served as their first contractor yard. During the day both partners worked the physical aspect of a landscaping business, installing brick, irrigation, plants and trimming shrubs and each evening they would handle the business side of the company, returning phone calls, drawing plans and doing book work.
The company began growing, with emphasis moving from residential maintenance to installation, growing from one truck and a few tools to multiple trucks and the need for a construction yard to store the equipment. As a result of the additional business, office help was needed and in 1987 they hired an answering service and a small construction yard was rented in Green Valley. 1988 saw more growth and a step up to a new construction yard in Green Valley that included a plant nursery area and combination office and shop space.
Santa Rita Landscaping started working on larger jobs and more of their work was coming from the Tucson area, so Brian obtained their current contractors licenses. A small satellite lot was leased in Tucson at this time to help with the homebuilder and commercial contracting needs. In 1990 with the growing opportunities for Tucson landscaping and the addition of their first builder’s contract with US Homes (now Lennar Homes) it was decided to consolidate the Green Valley and Tucson yards. It was around this time that the decision was made to drop the residential landscape maintenance division because it was no longer a good fit for the company. Their first Tucson address was 790 W Green Street on the frontage road near downtown Tucson. At this point SRL employed 30 people and Brian’s responsibilities were operations and managing growth while Garrett focused on sales.
In 1995, prompted by exponential growth in their custom residential and builder divisions, 1.5 acres were purchased at 1790 W Sahuaro and construction began on a 2000 sq ft office and shop building. From 1995 to 2000 growth in the design build and builder division and the addition of a commercial construction and commercial maintenance division drove the decision to add an additional 2000 sq ft to the office. In 2005, bursting at the seams with many satisfied customers and 125 employees, SRL bought 4.6 acres at 755 W Grant Road and remodeled a 7500 sq ft building that serves as their headquarters today. In 2006 SRL grew to over 190 employees when they added a fifth division, Santa Rita Environmental, serving the storm water compliance needs of their customers.
Over the years most of the companies’ growth was organic as a result of customer demand and client referrals. Santa Rita Landscaping homebuilder customers needed their community and common areas landscaped and maintained, thus the commercial and landscape management divisions were started. The custom residential design/build was built through referrals from their many satisfied and loyal customers.
SRL found the true strength of the company and their employees in 2007. With the realization of the oncoming recession, they had to guide major changes. Brian and Garrett reduced their workforce and sold some of their equipment. Though this process was hard, the team shined through and turned the corner in mid 2009. Wanting to strengthen their vision of being “Southern Arizona’s Landscape Solution” in 2012, Brian and Garrett merged with Richard Spross, owner of Southwest Enviroscapes Inc. All together, the three owners have over 75 years of landscaping experience and have created one of the best Tucson landscaping companies.