Armstrong Garden Centers Photos
“Overall, Armstrong Garden Center was a great experience that offered me a platform to jump start my career. ”
- Work/Life Balance
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
- Comp & Benefits
- Senior Management
I worked at Armstrong Garden Centers full-timeNo opinion of CEONo opinion of CEO
Overall, I loved working outdoors, and being with plants. I was a Landscape Designer and enjoyed the flexible schedule. Raises were offered with each promotion, but you definitely have to hold firm for what you feel you are worth. They're going to low-ball you initially, so you need to be able to negotiate.
Being a Landscape Designer overall was a great experience. I was there from the inception of the LD program and saw many changes over the course of a few years. Sean Rand (LD manager) is a great person and great manager. Never do you feel micromanaged, but he is always there for you when you need him. He allows you to do your job and give your clients the best experience possible. If it weren't for Sean being the backbone of the program, I feel that it would have been a totally different experience.
It enabled me to create a wonderful portfolio and work with some really great clients, creating beautiful designs. I was ultimately picked-up by another company where I was compensated double right off the bat and could be a true designer, not a "Salesman" with a "Designer" Title.
I feel that Corporate does not fully understand what a Landscape Designer does, because none of them are Landscape Designers and/or Architects. They try to put what we do for residential clients into a box. i.e. "it should only take you 6 total hours to do a 5000SF design for a client (including meeting times, measuring, drive-time, and any changes to the plan). If more time is needed you are to sell clients extra hours" I was constantly having to tell the customer onsite that I could not perform "what they paid for" for $325. The price of the program set up a false expectation that the homeowner was able to do this project on the cheap. Also, a $100 gift card is not enough to keep the customer loyal to Armstrong. Once the design is done, they have the ability to take your design and plant list to a wholesaler or box store and purchase the plants for a fraction of the cost. Because most of your living wage is commission, it is discouraging, frustrating, and happens a lot more than corporate realizes.
During Spring it is borderline chaotic. Imagine getting 10-12 new Landscape Design clients a week and having to get their designs out in 14 days. This is pretty much steady from Feb/March - June/July, so be prepared to be working around the clock (much like a realtor). Because AGC does not provide you with a phone, you will be using your personal phone and receiving calls around the clock and at crazy times (i.e. 9PM on a Sunday). Their solution was to send an email out saying "I can be reached via email" This is not a solution. Clients want to talk to you, and some do not use email effectively. I was told at one point I could drive to one of the retail locations to use their phone. Absolutely ludicrous.
We had 3-4 meetings a year for all Landscape Designers and were supposed to bring our thoughts/concerns/comments to the open forum. If anyone said anything that was overly negative, seemed like a complaint, or deemed inappropriate by management, they were reprimanded. I know several associates that were called back to the Corporate office to be lectured. It was unprofessional and unworthy. Don't tell your people to come with concerns and then slap them on the wrist when they do.
Compensation. Of course, I believe that everyone feels they are making less than what they should be, but AGC is notorious for under-paying their employees. If we're going to be the Nordstrom of the plant world, then store managers, landscape designers, etc should be making more than 30-40K. We live in Southern California, not Nebraska. We charge the clients top dollar for our plants, so why are employees barely scraping by? If I was on my own and didn't have a spouse to support me there is no way I could have made it at AGC. They don't pay for your car, your phone, your computer, scanner, fax, printer, printer ink, so keep that in mind when budgeting for a career here. It's well below industry-standard, and this is evident in the turn-around of the LD program.
Advice to Management
On average we had about 30-40% Landscape Designers turnover per year. That says volumes. If they compensated at industry-standard and provided a living wage for SoCal I would probably still be with the company. Ultimately I was offered a position I couldn't refuse.
Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
- Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceEasy Interview
I applied in-person. The process took 3+ months – interviewed at Armstrong Garden Centers in November 2014.
Picked up an application in store and came back the next day to drop off and take a test to qualify for the Nursery Professional position. I was contacted later for a more formal interview. Very relaxed and friendly, walked around the garden center and was assessed for basic knowledge on how one would help a customer while working.
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Armstrong Garden Centers has been taking the guesswork out of gardening since 1889 and is the largest California independent retail nursery company with thirty-one locations in California. Armstrong Growers is a wholesale grower of quality plant products and programs, serving independent garden centers, commercial landscapers, maintenance companies, hotels, and resorts in...
Mission: We, the employee-owners of Armstrong Garden Centers, are committed to our customers' gardening success by providing the highest quality and finest selection of new and...