A less than satisfying law career and a joy for garden led to the creation of The Fockele Garden Company 20 years ago.
In 1990 after 10 years as an attorney, Mark Fockele felt he needed to find work he could take pleasure in. Having always enjoyed working outside on projects and in the garden, he moved in that direction and The Fockele Garden Company was created.
“When I worked as an attorney, I spent every spare minute outside working in the garden,” Fockele said. “On Saturdays, I would stand in the driveway waiting for the first light.”
Fockele started small with two employees working out of an office on Green St. and a shed at the old Chambers Lumber Company property. Over the next two decades, the company grew to 42 employees with clients in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Florida under Fockele and co-owner Julie Evans.
During that time, The Fockele Garden Company, has designed, built and maintained gardens – at first just locally and now throughout the southeast – for residential and commercial customers.
In the beginning, Fockele learned about the landscape business through seminars and studying at home and used word of mouth to promote his new business. His first customer was Jane Eve Wilheit for whom he built a brick walkway and added some plantings.
Focusing exclusively at first on residential design and installation, The Fockele Garden Company began to grow. It expanded into commercial design and installation with its first significant commercial project for City Plumbing in Gainesville in 1995.
In 2000, Evans joined company as a designer. Evans and Fockele met while working on different aspects of a project in Atlanta. Both are University of the South graduates but were not classmates. When they met, Evans owned a landscape company Ecocentric that worked on ecological restoration projects.
“We were each overextended running our small landscape companies,” Fockele said. “We felt each would be able to produce more by working together. We could divide up aspects of the business and be more productive.”
Evans brought a strong background in horticulture to The Fockele Garden Company. She spent nine years at the Atlanta History Center working with all aspects of public gardening and developed specialties in native plants and historic plants from different eras in Georgia. She had also worked for a wholesale perennial grower and it was through these experiences she developed idea of working in the field of ecological restoration in residential settings. So she started her landscape company.
“I was always interested in ecological restoration and in plants,” Evans said. “After working at the history center and nursery, I wanted to become involved in landscaping through ecological restoration.”
Evans became vice president and co-owner with Fockele in 2005. That same year, Todd Brown brought in as general manager as the company continued to grow, reaching 18 employees.
Brown, who has been in the landscaping business since 1985, led the way as The Fockele Garden Company began putting an emphasis on its maintenance business. The company has grown from 1½ maintenance crews to eight as the volume of maintenance work has increased 600-700 percent over the last five years.
In 2006, FGC began work with Lanier Village Estates, its first large scale commercial client, providing installation and maintenance work for the 87-acre ACTS Retirement Community. They also maintain another ACTS community Magnolia Trace in Huntsville, Ala.
Also that year, The Fockele Garden Company started working with UHS-Pruitt Corporation, building a garden and water feature for the corporate office of the healthcare provider. The relationship with UHS-Pruitt has grown building gardens at its skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Building gardens for healthcare campuses has become a specialty of The Fockele Garden Company. FGC installed a garden at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Women’s and Children’s Pavilion and Anne’s Garden at the new North Tower. It will begin work soon on an entry garden at the North Tower.
The Fockele Garden Company has grown from three employees in 1990 to 42 today by developing a quality that is unique to small landscape companies. FGC offers the complete set of services. Most have to hire subcontractors for some elements of a project. FGC designs, builds and maintains commercial and residential gardens. It provides services such as irrigation systems, cisterns, custom water features, and stone work. And The Fockele Garden Company does it all internally.
“With a staff of 42 it is unusual for a company our size to do so many different landscape functions in-house,” Fockele said. “We control the work from beginning to end. This allows us to guarantee the quality of the project as a whole as well as the individual components. This gives the customer one company responsible for everything.”
Based in Gainesville, Georgia, The Fockele Garden Company serves clients throughout the Southeast. The company focuses on the maintenance and installation of commercial landscapes and residential gardens, and provides services such as irrigation systems, cisterns, custom water features, and stone work. For more information about The Fockele Garden Company, please call 770-532-7117 or visit www.fockelegardencompany.com.