January 2021

Phil Steinhauer, Designscapes Colorado

Happy New Year! We’d like to introduce you to ALCC’s 2021 president, Phil Steinhauer, CEO and owner of Designscapes Colorado. He’s also a licensed landscape architect. We spoke with him about his background and his hopes for the future.

From mowing lawns to designing landscapes
Steinhauer’s first exposure to the landscape industry began as a teen. He mowed lawns and took care of yards in high school and college. At college, he knew he had a talent for the arts, but “didn’t know how to channel that.”  After taking some horticulture and art classes, where he created a landscape design for a farm, he realized that he could combine his work with landscapes and his artistic sensibilities. He transferred from University of Wisconsin to CSU’s landscape design program.

While he’s from Red Wing, Minnesota, Steinhauer’s family has roots in Colorado. His great grandfather ran the first drugstore in Denver, and his grandfather was an engineer who served as a director of Denver’s mountain parks. After his stint at CSU, Steinhauer left the state for a job in Westport Connecticut. But Colorado lured him back, where he worked for Wilmore Nursery.

“I always knew I wanted to start my own company,” says Steinhauer. “CSU prepared me for that, and in 1992 I started Designscapes Colorado.”

Industry involvement
Prior to Designscapes Colorado, Steinhauer had become involved with ALCC. “I wanted to know what was going and on get involved.” He sat on committees like the trade show (now ProGreen EXPO) committee and attended events. As his own company became established, he became more actively involved in industry advocacy and volunteering.

Vision for 2021
During his year as ALCC president, Steinhauer hopes to build upon lessons learned during the 2020 pandemic. Recruitment and retention efforts related to workforce diversity top the list.

When his company learned that they would receive none of their usual H-2B workers for the season, they developed weekly hiring events to bridge the gap. “We have hired a lot of folks from unemployed industries,” he notes. “Many more women applied where they didn’t apply before, and they work on some of the best crews we’ve had.”

This increased interest in landscape work among women has been encouraging. “It opened my eyes; there is untapped potential in better marketing toward women.” He also acknowledges that there are issues of inclusivity and training that are necessary when increasing the number of women on landscape crews, but there are many benefits to addressing those issues.

Additionally, he wants to improve industry culture for Spanish-speaking employees. “We are reliant on the Hispanic community,” Steinhauer observes. “We need to foster a better relationship with them, a better working culture with them.” Understanding cultural differences and how they affect working relationships has helped Designscapes Colorado develop a company culture that respects the diversity of the workforce, and it has helped them with recruitment and retention. Offering communications and training in Spanish are also key. He hopes to improve upon that in 2021 and to encourage and support other landscape companies in doing the same.

After the workday ends
Outside of work, Steinhauer enjoys spending time with friends—especially when it involves fly fishing. He also spends a lot of time with his team. “The Designscapes Colorado family is important to me; I spend a lot of time with them. But I don’t think of myself as a workaholic. As the saying goes, if you enjoy what you do, it isn’t really work.”

Phil Steinhauer
Designscapes Colorado, Centennial
ALCC Board President