by Tracey McCurrach, Administrative Assistant
Have you met Molly John? As the Vice-President and co-owner, with her husband, Joel, of M.J. Design Associates, Molly wears many hats. On any particular day, you might find her meeting with clients, reviewing contracts, planning for next year and beyond, or managing the company’s financial analysis and control systems. Molly loves plants and is in charge of seasonal and holiday enhancements for our clients—including containers, color refreshes, and decorations. She is also a leader in the Green Industry and an active role model and mentor for others in the profession. She spends countless hours working with individual employees, including advocating for our H2B workers. As a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture, Molly somehow still finds time to be an avid Buckeye supporter!
This year, Molly and Joel are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of M.J. Design Associates. We thought it would be a good time to catch up with Molly and ask for her perspective on the company’s growth and success. In 1998, Molly and Joel decided that, if they were to realize their dream of building their own business, they had better do it! Molly and Joel share a passion for the profession of landscape design and maintenance. While it may take different forms, this passion has never waned and has sustained the founders through the company’s ups and downs. Today, M.J. Design prides itself on its ability to design, install and maintain high-quality custom landscapes for our clients.
When asked if today’s M.J. was what she envisioned when they started the company, Molly said no. In the beginning, they worked out of their home, later moving to a small office/warehouse. In 2002, they purchased 3 acres and built a pole building. They subsequently added a separate office building and, in 2022, bought 4 more acres for expansion. Molly said they did not envision getting to the size of today’s organization, which has about $4 million in annual revenues and 35 employees. “One million seemed to be really ‘out there’,” said Molly about the early goals of the company. “Reaching that milestone would have been ‘it’!” Yet the company has seen consistent measurable growth, and it passed the $1.5 million in revenue mark in 2015.
What are the toughest problems? Molly says it has been challenging to find good workers for the business. This led Molly to work diligently to bring workers to the U.S. from Mexico on H2B visas.
“The roughest times were ’09, ‘15 and ‘21 when we couldn’t get enough visas. These individuals are more to us than just employees. They become our friends. We are like family.”
Molly spends a great deal of time working with government processes to support the workers, including informing and educating policymakers and politicians both locally and in Washington on the role the workers play in the business. The result is an outstanding group of employees who work tirelessly on behalf of M.J. Design.
Molly attributes the success and growth of the company to the core principles that drive everything the company does. These principles have never wavered and affect every business decision that is made. Molly has always held to the belief that treating your clients and employees with the upmost respect is what leads to success. The company has never wavered in its commitment to always do the right thing and to maintain high standards of work.
“We were never in this for large growth,” said Molly, “Joel and I both love what we do. He loves designing and installing landscapes and seeing the vision come to life. I love flowers, working with our clients, and working on our business details.”
Molly is a staunch advocate for the Green Industry and strives to keep M.J. Design as a leader in environmental sustainability. The company has even created a position to place emphasis on the importance of earth-friendly practices to the whole team and our processes. What is Molly most proud of as her company celebrates their accomplishments this year?
“I am proud that people in our profession know who we are, and recognize the value of what we do.”