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Growing Together

Mace Landscape Group has been a feature of Auckland’s landscaping industry since 1975 – with Michelle Mace continuing to grow its legacy as the second generation of the family business. Now Michelle is putting her passion to work as a Registered Master Landscapers board member

Michelle Mace grew up in the landscaping industry – her parents started the family business as a nursery 45 years ago, and gradually expanded to include commercial and residential landscaping.

“My school holidays were spent working in the nursery and accompanying Dad on site visits,” says Michelle, who initially took a change of direction to study interior design at polytech after leaving school.

“I worked in interior design for a few years, but I always knew I would join the family business.”

Michelle did so 13 years ago and hasn’t looked back.

“Our business is based on the same property in Drury that I grew up on and I still enjoy coming here, probably because it has a great feeling of home for me and I get to work with great people.

“I’m one of three directors alongside my dad, Neville, and Brent Carly, who has been here 15 years. We have a fantastic team. It’s very much a ‘work family’ business, and a team effort.”

Michelle learned the workings of the business in an administrative and finance role, and has grown this to include more HR and strategic development duties.

“My background in project planning and dealing with customers and suppliers as an interior designer has certainly

helped, and I’ve also learned a lot on the job.

“Although I work in the business side of things, I still have a passion for design and I love to catch up with our architects and see what they’re working on.”

Good things take time

Michelle believes one of the most rewarding parts of landscaping is seeing customers’ appreciation grow as the

landscape itself does.

“One thing I really like about what we do is seeing how a

landscape evolves – and, as it grows, the overall concept becomes more evident. To go back 12-24 months after the job is complete and see how the plants have established, the area has developed, and how people are enjoying it in a way that wasn’t necessarily obvious when the job was just finished is really rewarding. Especially in commercial environments, good landscaping provides balance to the harder elements of building.”

Mace Landscape Group has a wealth of experience in the

commercial side of landscaping, including big, complex projects.

“One of the biggest would be Sylvia Park retail centre, which was a breakthrough project for the company. Since then we’ve tackled multiple projects of this nature, such as schools and retirement villages – the sorts of jobs that are often staged over quite long build phases, often many months.

“We are also in the residential market, where we have good word of mouth and have completed some fantastic projects. We also do large residential work, where we are on site for several months. A lot of our jobs include more technical construction work,” Michelle says.

Industry challenges

Michelle explains that resourcing forward work is a common challenge for many of the companies she speaks to and that, post-Covid, they are keeping a close eye on their pipeline of work.

“We’ve recently had quite a bit of work accepted into the new year, so, while we are still approaching 2021 with some caution, so far we are looking positive and are confident to keep moving forward.

“In terms of how we resource this, we will need to consider a range of recruitment options and we always have apprentices, so we can continue to develop our own staff to bring up.

When asked what has changed in the landscaping industry, Michelle explains a greater focus on quality and safety are two of the biggest changes she’s observed.

“There is a big push right now for higher standards of work across the industry. Landscaping has become a diversely skilled trade and with that comes the need to maintain quality across all aspects.

“We work alongside more architects and consultants in our job now. And improved health and safety is a big development too, which is positive, because we all want our families to come home safe at the end of the day.

“Continuing to develop our industry in this positive way is one of the main reasons that I wanted to get involved with RML.”

Why RML?

One of the other things that attracted Michelle to RML is that landscaping isn’t always recognised as a trade in the way other trades such as builders and plumbers are.

“Landscaping can be undervalued at times. RML is working to address this by raising the profile of landscapers and landscaping as a highly skilled trade.

“When you see examples of work from RML, you can see the craftsmanship in good landscaping. Of course, from a business point of view, Mace Landscape Group being a member also helps to provide extra credibility and confidence for our clients.

“While our company has been in the landscaping business for over 45 years, we are relative newcomers to Registered Master Landscapers, so I am looking forward to promoting the profession and connecting with like-minded people.

“I’m thrilled to have been appointed to the Master Landscapers’ Board and I’m really looking forward to getting involved with the industry, making connections and helping to work towards an improved industry for all of us.

“With well-respected, professional members, RML is well-placed to pull everyone in the industry forward in a positive direction.”


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