Business owner Jason Decker creates paradise in back yards
At age 14 Jason Decker hung a poster of a Dodge Ram flatbed truck on his wall and wrote on it, “To achieve your dreams you must believe in them.” At age 15 he started working in the lawn and landscaping business managing his own crew and learning how to build retaining walls and installing patios by reading do-it-yourself books. At age 17 he started his own landscaping company, which he built over the next 15 years into Elite Landscaping with more than a dozen employees and an average of 20 high-end, one-of-a-kind projects that showcase his creativity.
School didn’t come easy for Decker, but working hard did. Whether it was helping at his uncle’s farm or detailing cars, he enjoyed putting in a full day’s work after school and on weekends. He attributes his work ethic to his parents, saying he appreciated how hard they worked to give the family what they had, and he knew from an early age he wanted a career that allowed him to be outdoors working with his hands. He was also creative as a child, taking art classes in drawing and painting, which translated to his ability to design entire landscaping projects.
When he started his business at 17, Decker mailed letters to family and friends announcing his new venture, and hired friends to walk neighborhoods, passing out flyers door-to-door. He accepted any job that came along and recruited those same friends to help work on projects. “He never walked away from a job,” said his mother and office manager Rose Decker. “We never contributed to his business financially either. It’s always been his, and he’s always done it all.”
Decker’s business grew, with him accepting more and more work, requiring him to hire even more employees. Unfortunately, sometimes too much growth can be a liability, and he saw the quality of the work begin to decline. “It wasn’t to my high standards,” he said. “So I made some adjustments and focused on quality, attention to detail, and having good relationships with my customers. Personal design and professional installation has been my motto ever since.”
His favorite part is the creativity—pushing to come up with something new. Inspiration comes from his travels, especially to larger cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles where warmer climates allow for a larger variety of materials. “I’m fascinated by hardscaping, such as building out pools, waterfalls, or fire pits,” Decker said. “I watched a waterfall in Colorado wrap around massive boulders. That’s what I want to do—emulate nature in someone’s backyard.”
He has a bucket list of ideas and photos, and when the right client and project presents itself, he takes the opportunity to work with them on something truly unique. “I love it when I have an open-minded client who is willing to trust in me and take a chance with a creative idea,” he said. But all of his projects are unique. He doesn’t want to have two jobs that are identical. “It separates us from our competitors when we’re willing to take a risk and think outside the box.”
After being in business for 15 years, Decker doesn’t want to slow down. In fact, he’d like to expand into additional markets. “I want to be here another 30 years, continuing to create cutting edge projects using top of the line materials,” he said. “You’ll get an amazing installation that we stand behind, as well as attention to detail.” In fact, an initial consultation could last two to four hours, as Decker is willing to drive clients around looking at projects, bringing them sample materials, and explaining the process. “That’s why I enjoy having my own business. Client become friends by the time we’re done.”