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Family Business Success Story - Wright Landscape Services

by Rick Baker
On Oct 28, 2010
When you sink that absolutely amazing putt at the Conestoga Golf Course do you think of the Wright family?
 
Well, if I ever manage to sink a long putt then I will think of the Wright family. Without the Wright family that putt would not be possible.
 
Here's the Wright family history…
 
James Wright came to Canada from England, where he was a haberdasher. When he arrived in Canada James became a gentleman farmer, and politician. Two of James’ sons, George and John, were born on the family farm in Guelph. In 1867, the year Canada was born, George and his brother John bought the farmland now occupied by the Conestoga Golf & Country Club, then known as the Bend Farm. The Wright family farmed the land for almost 100 years: George passed it to his son William who passed it to his son Oliver.
 
In addition to all the work put into his farm, Oliver Wright helped build our community. Oliver served as president of many agricultural organizations, reeve and warden of Waterloo County, and he was a founding member and president of the board of the Doon Pioneer Village Foundation.
 
In 1960 Oliver Wright sold the farmland and that led to the development of the Conestoga Golf & Country Club.
 
That’s why that absolutely amazing putt would not have happened without the Wright family.
 
Oliver Wright’s son John carried the family’s deep passion for the land…our green environment.  John Wright attended the University of Guelph and began his career by working pest control in Toronto where he ended up focusing on weed control. In 1967 John created Wright Lawn Care in Bloomingdale, not far down the river from his hometown. John has always been a conceptual thinker who has a knack for hiring skilled workers to deliver the services.
 
The Wright Family Home - 1967
The Wright Lawn Care Fleet – Early 70’s
 
While all of this was happening on the work front, on the home front John and his wife Ruth brought another generation of the Wright family to our community. Following shortly after an older sister their son Dave arrived in 1972.
 
The same year Dave was born, John Keenan joined Wright Lawn Care. John Keenan has been with the Wrights ever since…more about John Keenan later.
 
Dave Wright grew up in Bloomingdale, surrounded by his father’s bustling lawn care business. As a university student, Dave worked at other local landscape businesses. Dave suspects his Dad might have had a hand in getting him those jobs. Certainly, that could have happened…John was and still is well known in the landscape industry, not just locally but throughout Ontario. John helped create the Hamilton Chapter of the industry association ‘Landscape Ontario’ in the early 1970’s and John championed the founding of the Waterloo Chapter of Landscape Ontario.
 
In recognition of his long-term contribution to Landscape Ontario, John Wright was awarded a lifetime membership in 2007.
 
Another proud Wright achievement
 
Dave, like his father, ventured from our community to seek work. But, this time the son travelled even farther. After obtaining a landscape architecture degree from the University of Guelph, Dave Wright spent 7 years consulting on major landscape projects in North America and Asia, including exotic places such as Dubai. Dave worked out of offices in Cambridge, Houston and Vancouver.
 
Then, like his father before him, Dave returned to our community. In 2002 Dave joined the family business and the Wrights began succession planning. The succession plan was completed and John Wright retired about 4 years ago.
 
Now, some more about John Keenan.
 
John has been a vital part of the Wright family business since 1972. John illustrates the important role key, valued employees can play in family businesses.
 
John Keenan is one of those straight-up fellows who says what’s on his mind. He has analytical skills and he knows how to take care of the details. In the early years John Keenan worked in the field and later made sure the operations were kept on track while John Wright used his vision to build an entrepreneurial enterprise.
 
As the Wright family-business succession happened and the company was passed from John Wright to his son Dave, John Keenan provided stability.
 
John Keenan
Dave Wright
 
John Keenan had been a part of the leading-generation success and he was excited about the prospects for future growth. Today, John Keenan runs the operations in all divisions of the Wright family business. And the Wright family business is doing very well, tripling in size since Dave Wright and John Keenan pooled their skills in 2002.
 
The 2010 Wright fleet
 
Dave Wright carries on the Wright family tradition of building our community. Dave is past-President of the Waterloo Chapter of Landscape Ontario, where he now serves as the provincial board representative. Dave is also a director of the board of our community’s Centre For Family Business.
 
The Wright family has a 5-generation tradition of making our community a better place to live. They cared for the land and paved the path for the Conestoga Golf Course. Then they created beauty throughout our community…and at our homes.
 
Here’s a sample of terrific Waterloo Region landscaping…
 
Quality work, a Waterloo Region project by Wright Landscaping
 
Well done Wright family!

Tags:

Entrepreneur Thinking | Family Business and CFFB | Succession

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