Glenn Rieker

Mequon, Wisconsin, United States

Landscape Designer

MKEGreenworks LLC

There is nothing like the fragrance of freshly turned soil in a garden or the smell of rain in a perennial nursery. I love my work because it is different every day, I get to meet very interesting people and I’m a part of making the world a prettier place.

I have been in the landscape architecture business since 1968 and started MKEGreenworks in 1968. We are small by choice and focus on designing, building and maintaining high-value residential gardens. Our projects range from $10,000 to $300,000.

What I love about our industry is that our basic product has not changed since the Gardens of Babylon. You don't have to worry that White Birch 2.0 will become obsolete with the next release of 2.1. However, we’ve fully embraced technology and new media to market our business and stay in touch with our customers.

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I started working in a nursery when I was 13 years old and knew that working outside and drinking ice cold water from the well pump on the farm under clear blue skies was for me. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and never looked back.

We’ve learned to embrace technology and that has separated us from other landscape contractors. We run our business on our iPad. Our iPhone allows us to tweet about our passion and sometimes we even stream live videos from our projects. Our Blogtalk radio show further positions us as experts in the field. And of course, all of these streams are embedded into our multiple websites.

By combining technology with our extensive understanding and skills in garden construction over the past 25 years, and we have been able to build a sound, profitable business model which also allows us a tremendous amount of freedom.

Our long time mentor, Gene Coughlin, a senior retired officer of the former Alco Standard Corporation, has taught us the only reason to be in business is to be the best at what you do. For us this means providing the best product or service, sharing our knowledge and providing outstanding customer service and to do this as humbly as possible.

One of the best parts of being my own boss is my ability to live a truly balanced life. I have time to follow my passions, enjoy time with my family, sail, bike and travel. You can often find my wife and I sailing on Lake Michigan or riding our road bikes on Tuesday at 1 PM.

To get into this business you need to have a basic understanding of horticulture. There are many ways to obtain this knowledge including local colleges, master gardening programs and association workshops. There are also many entry points into this profession: design/build, maintenance, container gardening and the list goes on and on.

You can expect to earn anywhere from $25 to $75 an hour depending on your geographic location, expertise and customer service. We can coach you through the numbers side of the business as well as the design side. We can show you how to incorporate technology into what you do and help you set up a profitable business model.