The slogan of Blackjack Horticulture is simple yet powerful — Think Outside. The folks at Blackjack want you to get outside and enjoy your yard, walking trails, or botanical gardens. But the Blackjack team isn’t afraid to “think outside” figuratively either. Betsy Hayes, vice president of Blackjack Horticulture, is a great example. Betsy is willing to wear many hats as vice president and is eager to learn new things and try new tactics. Thinking outside can also mean having a bit of fun in the office. Betsy is known to be the first to pull a practical joke. “I like to hide things in other people’s offices for them to find later,” Betsy shares with a laugh.
A Birmingham native, Betsy has loved spending time outside since she was a kid helping her parents and grandparents with their gardens. After sharing her love of plants and flowers with a college counselor, Betsy was advised to enroll in the horticulture program at Auburn University. She’s turned her passion for luxurious landscapes into a career and has worked with Blackjack for 16 years. We’re excited to introduce our newest FACE of Birmingham, Betsy Hayes of Blackjack Horticulture.
What do you love most about horticulture?
It’s ever-changing. There’s never anything that stays the same in horticulture. The plants change — you can have three plants right next to each other, and one might be well, and the others may not. There’s always something that you have to figure out, which is also the thing that we don’t always like about horticulture. But it’s fun!
What’s a typical week like for you as Vice President of Blackjack Horticulture?
I don’t have a typical week. Between all of our sales, marketing, recruiting, landscape design, and flowers, we have a lot of moving parts. I meet with clients to talk about the maintenance of their properties and proposals on those. I’m talking to our team, approving flower designs, making sure we’re hitting all of our sales goals, putting out proposals, and making sure that potential employees know that we’re hiring. Every week is different.
What makes Blackjack different from other landscaping companies?
We focus on the details. We want to make sure we’re not just another typical company. We get to know our clients and their likes and dislikes; we make sure we cater to what they need and want. I think many companies are struggling to get people — not just in horticulture but in all industries. Even with the struggles that we may have with that, we’re making sure we still put forth the product that we need to.
Most of us know that getting outside for sunlight and fresh air is good for our health and mood. What are some of the other benefits?
When you get outside, you can see that the world is bigger. You look at everything else going on in your life, and it’s not only fresher, but it gives you a different perspective. You realize there’s more than just you. Walking around outside, and stepping away from work or any issues you might have, provides clarity.
Blackjack’s “Think Outside” slogan urges people to get outside and enjoy nature. How does Blackjack “think outside” metaphorically?
We have to think outside the box in how we service our properties. There’s no shortage of landscape companies in Birmingham, so we want to make sure we’re doing things differently for our clients. We’re trying to stay ahead of the competition — both in what we’re doing quality-wise and in doing things that are not typical. We’re trying to figure out if there are different ways we can use technology to help all that we do. How can we communicate with clients in new and fresh ways instead of just calling and texting? Are there any other things (like apps!) that we can use? We have to think outside the box in every aspect of our company, including recruiting. How do you get people to hear about the company? How do you get them to come to you instead of the others?
How do you personally “think outside”?
I’ve always wanted to learn every aspect of the company. While I have a degree in horticulture, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help with recruiting and learn more about technology. That has stretched me a lot and made me have to “think outside.” I’m in the role that I am now — managing different parts of the company that don’t always relate to each other — because I’ve been willing (and have wanted) to do them. I do them as best as I can.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I have a husband and three kids, and I love being with them. My kids and I bake, and that’s been fun. And we have our own garden! We’re really excited to plant our garden.
My kids are six, three, and almost one, and being able to spend time with them is my joy.
Another favorite restaurant is Chop N Fresh in Mountain Brook. I eat there multiple times a week.
What’s the best advice you have to offer?
Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and learn as much as you can because you never know if that will be something you can use in the future. It also builds you into a better person.
Name three things you can’t live without.
Tea, scarves, and my nugget ice maker.
All photography by Kristen Carpenter of Kristen Joy Photography.
Meet more inspiring Birmingham women in our FACES archives.