By Nancy Moffett

“We nurture nature” is Plantique’s motto. And, they’ve been doing exactly that since Ted Fritzinger started this landscaping business in 1948. He was fresh out of Cornell University with a degree in Landscape Architecture and Design, after serving in World War II. At that time, he named the business Better Homes Landscape Company.

Sixty-four years later, Ted is almost 90, and his legacy has grown to a business that employs 100 people (and more seasonally) and is widely recognized for excellence in landscape design and installation. The name was changed to Plantique® in 1970 to eliminate confusion with Better Homes and Gardening magazine. The name and its distinctive logo have become instantly recognizable across the Lehigh Valley.

Today, four partners work together to keep the business blooming. Ted’s son, Bruce Fritzinger, Senior Vice President, is a registered landscape architect who heads up the design team. He trains and works closely with designers, evaluates new design software and brings more than 30 years’ experience in residential landscaping to the mix. On the business side, Mike McShane, President and CEO, takes care of financials, human resources and marketing. Jeff Amici, COO, supervises the outdoor staff, works with partner contractors, outdoor building, materials and pricing. Tim McGinley joined Plantique® as Vice President in 2001 when his company, Forevergreen Tree and Shrub Maintenance Company, merged with them. He handles maintenance, which includes tree services and pesticide application for commercial and residential customers.

“We each have our own passion and niche,” says McShane, “which mesh well to give the business its strength.”  Both McShane and Amici joined the company in the late 1970s as laborers, learning all aspects of the business through the years. Indeed, Amici came up with the Plantique® name which spawned some imitators because it was so distinctive.

After outgrowing its origins on South Seventh Street in Allentown, the company moved to Pennsylvania Street in Whitehall Township. Foreseeing the need for even more space, Ted Fritzinger bought a 17-acre farm on Schantz Road in Upper Macungie Township in the late 1960s. Plantique® moved its operation there in 1971. Today, the farmhouse is used as the company office, while the barn houses equipment. The rest of the acreage is a nursery where they grow specialty plants, shrubs and trees. McShane says having this large nursery allows clients to visit and see the material and what it will look like when it’s fully grown. The Pennsylvania Street land has been retained as a bird sanctuary, while excavating equipment and boulders are kept at a separate commercial/industrial site.

The staff consists of landscape designers and architects, a horticulturist, 15 installation crews, a nursery crew, an excavation team and several specialty service and maintenance divisions. With the addition of the Forever Green division, Plantique® now offers year-round tree, shrub and lawn care service, including snow removal.

According to McShane, the company really took off in the early 1990s, growing from a staff of 15 to 20 to 100+ in 10 years. He attributes much of the growth to an aggressive business plan that restructured the company into five divisions. “Each division has a senior designer, associate designer and support person. We promoted five long-time employees to the supervisory position, each responsible for three to five crews. We then outfitted each team with the trucks, equipment and manpower needed to make them into manageable teams,” he explains. They also implemented in-house-built cost accounting and estimating software, along with 3-D design software that better helps customers envision the results of plans. “This model allowed for rapid and controlled expansion,” McShane continues. The business in 2012 is mostly residential with 25 to 30 percent commercial work.

Although Plantique has won numerous awards from such entities as the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association, the Lehigh Valley Builders Association and more, McShane and Fritzinger agree that customer satisfaction and giving back to the community are more important than awards. “We spend our spare time and money working with non-profits and charity events,” Fritzinger says, such as the Hispanic American Organization, the Environmental Club at William Allen High School, the Wildlands Conservancy and many others. “This is something Ted did from the outset,” McShane says.

Plantique’s services cover all aspects of landscaping: annuals and perennials; water features; building and garden structures; patios, walkways and walls; trees…all designed to complement the home or building and its surroundings. A look at installations on their website shows styles that range from natural to formal. They take pride in keeping the plants in their nursery healthy and making sure there is a wide selection available to suit every project. They also offer an extended warranty on trees, plants and shrubs with a maintenance agreement program. As their name implies, designs are unique to each property. According to their website, “All factors are taken into consideration to make each and every project distinct… [and] plans are created to exactly match homeowner preferences.”

“Our goal is to give the client an unbelievable experience,” McShane says. “They’re the ones that matter to us as a company.” Fritzinger agrees. They credit Ted with instilling them with the values that made for a successful business from the beginning. “We want to continue to flourish and be around for another 62 years,” McShane says.

Plantique Landscaping
6344 Schantz Road
Allentown, PA 18104

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