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Molly Wins 2023 Women in the Green Industry Award!

As the landscaping industry plugs away through the labor crisis, supply chain issues and inflationary pressures, there are numerous leaders in the industry that work tirelessly to elevate the industry.

Many of these leaders are women: Women whose achievements and success stories have helped move the needle for other women in the industry; women who promote safety, sustainability and workforce development; women who work toward advancing the green industry as a whole.

These are the types of female leaders Green Industry Pros would like to honor with its second annual Women In the Green Industry Award.

Green Industry Pros' Women In The Green Industry Award recognizes outstanding female leaders whose accomplishments embody what it means to be a woman in the industry. Their successes also offer a road map for other women looking to shape and advance the green industry.

This year's winners have already made waves in the industry, and we're excited to see where they take their respective companies next.

What does Molly's day-to-day look like?

Molly is the co-owner and president of M.J. Design Associates. Molly’s day-to-day tasks change as the seasons change. In the beginning of the year, Molly is getting in touch with clients and renewing contracts. She makes time to review all the company’s financials and work with employees to assist them in meeting their individual goals. During spring, the office may not see Molly much—as she is in charge of all our seasonal enhancements. Flowers and plants are Molly’s passion, and her talent of selecting combinations for beautiful, unique container arrangements each season is well-known by all our clients. She generally has to rent a larger truck to haul all the flowers and annual plants that she installs! Even with all this going on, Molly does take the time to attend weekly office meetings, review any financial issues and is available for any staff member. When summer comes, Molly gets a short break before preparing for fall color displays—and then she is outdoors installing the fall color and decorations for clients.

Being the CEO of the company, Molly is looking at key performance indicators, reviewing data, and is continuously looking at ways where the company make improvements. Molly is still often in the field year round, working with the crews to make sure all clients taken care of. After the fall annual season, Molly starts to dive into planning for the next year. She is closing one year while still looking ahead to what needs to be accomplished for the next year. Forecasting is an important part of her job. With all this being said, it doesn’t even summarize half of what Molly actually does day-to-day. She is always willing to jump in and help any employee complete a task while helping them learn. She also attends advocacy meetings, weekly trainings, and is an important part of obtaining new clients.

Maybe her job description should actually read, “Do whatever is needed—be flexible and a quality leader.”

What makes Molly a female leader in the green industry?

Molly is a tireless advocate for the Green Industry. One of her priorities is to attend the “Fly-In” to Washington D.C. each year to explain issues and areas that need improved within our industry to political leaders. Molly continually sends letters and makes calls to our politicians to encourage positive change in the industry. Advocating for the green industry on the state and federal level will hopefully lead to the return of work exemption in the H2B program. This would help multiple employers across the United States.

Some of Molly’s leadership initiatives include:

  • Ohio Green Industry Association – President 2022 and current Board Member since 2018

  • NALP – Advocacy Contact Team

  • Columbus Landscape Association Garden Tour – Co-Chairman

  • Advisory Council for Tolles Career Center

  • Terms as President & Treasurer of her Sorority, Nue Chapter of Delta, Delta Delta House Corporation

  • Member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce

  • Committee member for the Ohio High School Landscape Olympics, organized by the Ohio Green Industry Association

  • Member of the Coffman High School Girls’ Basketball Booster Club

  • Member of the Coffman High School Track Booster Club

Her leadership roles with local High School Career Centers, Community Colleges and The Ohio State University have also achieved quality internship experiences with M.J. Design Associates every summer. Having interns gives us a chance to help young people get excited about the Green Industry.

Three sentences to describe Molly:

Molly is an inspiration to others in her company, community, and the Green Industry. She leads and teaches others by working side by side and leading through example. Molly is passionate about the Environment, particularly plants, the Green Industry and moving the landscape industry forward.

Something worth noting about Molly is:

Since Molly started M.J. Design with her husband, Joel, in 1998, she has grown with the company into her current leadership position as CEO. Molly instills the importance of community in her staff by giving back through landscape donation services throughout Union County, The Ohio State University, and her local business park. She is a role model for peers, clients and staff when it comes to green, specifically horticultural practices. M.J. Design employs Americans and augments the staff with H2B visa workers. Molly supports the H2B program and advocates for the people affected by it. She travels to Washington D.C. to educate our politicians and show support for the program and the Green Industry as a whole.

As an employee of Molly’s for the last nine years, I see Molly put her heart and soul into the Green Industry. If Molly can do something to help someone or promote the Green Industry, she does it – no questions asked. I feel lucky to experience her dedication on a daily level.

What has Molly done to mentor and develop other women in the green industry?

Molly is passionate about educating female students, both at the high school and college level, on proper horticultural techniques and positive stewardship of the environment. She accomplishes this through internships and the Ohio High School Landscape Olympics. Each year, Molly reaches out to encourage women through job fairs and local connections. She invites them to come intern at M.J. Design or even to shadow her for a day. She will give time to speak to interested women and show them different career paths that are available in the Green Industry. Molly also educates older women that are interested in the landscape industry as their second career. Molly just enjoys having women of any age join the Green Industry.

How did Molly get her start in the industry?

Molly is passionate about plants! When she started her college education, she knew she wanted to be in the Green Industry. She started working each summer at various companies to ‘get her feet wet’. Molly graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture. She was hired as a Designer at Keller Farms and work there for 9 years. Molly and her husband, Joel, decided to open their own landscape business. They started working out of their house, moved to a small office warehouse and then, in 2002, purchased land and built a pull barn with a small office and enough room to store 4 trucks inside. That land has blossomed with the addition of a separate office and a building. They have developed the 3 acre parcel into a beautiful gardens where they host different events from fundraisers to community education events. The garden is also used for company training. In 2022, Molly and her husband purchased 4 more acres for additional room to store stone, paver, soil, compost and mulch.


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