Magazine Feature / People

Alumnus digs dirt


DU alumnus Brian Brandy and business partner Ben Scharf recently completed this landscaping project. Photo courtesy of Higher Ground.

Brian Brandy (BSBA ’01) is into dirt. Literally.

As co-owner of a new Denver-based landscape company, Higher Ground, Brandy finds himself in the dirt a lot. And there’s no place he’d rather be.

“I absolutely love being outside,” he says. “I’ve had a couple of suit-and-tie jobs and they seemed superficial. I didn’t see an end result. With landscape projects, I see a tangible, finished project. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.”

He and business partner Ben Scharf, a University of Wisconsin alumnus, started their company in December 2006 and had a good summer this year. They brought on a crew of laborers and a landscape designer.

While they acknowledge that Denver is thick with landscape companies, they believe they stand out due to their hands-on approach to customer relationships.

“I feel it’s real important for home owners to be comfortable with the people who are in their yard every day,” Brandy says. “If there’s an issue, I want them to have clear paths of communication and not ever feel bad or uncomfortable if something doesn’t look like they thought it would. 

“Nine days out of 10, Ben, myself or the designer will be at the worksite, which is different from big companies where the owner gets the job and the homeowner never sees him again.”

Scharf says their hands-on approach also leads them to hire great laborers because they end up working with them every day.

“If I’m going to be working side-by-side with someone all day, I want to personally enjoy them while they’re here,” he says. “We hire quality people.”

Brandy and Scharf have designed and landscaped yards all over the Denver Metro area and hope that word-of-mouth keeps their business growing. But growth is not their only objective.

“Half of our paycheck is the actual job we get to do,” Brandy says. “Being outside and working in the dirt … there’s value in that. I don’t see us building a huge company and retiring early; we just want to live comfortably and do what we love.”

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