After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in horticulture, Faulkner Bell began his professional career in the industry working for two local companies — one as an account manager for a residential-focused firm and one as the director of operations for a large commercial firm. The latter being the most recent, Bell learned that commercial work was not his passion. In fact, he briefly pursued a career as a financial advisor with a well-known investment firm. While he was incredibly impressed with the intensive training he went through, Bell says he couldn’t shake his desire to be back in the horticulture world and was still moonlighting with landscape work on the side, using his grandparents mini-van to get it done.
As that side work grew, Bell took the leap and launched Bell Outdoor LLC, specializing in design/build and enhancements as well as full-service residential maintenance. The St. Simons Island, Georgia-based business has seen rapid success since opening its doors in June 2016. He gladly traded in the mini-van for his first truck — a black crew cab F250 diesel — and splits his time in the field and in the office. He says his truck gets him around the island with ease and is well-suited for towing loads and other outdoor hobbies.
We chose the color black for our trucks, and that’s helped us stand out. The majority of commercial trucks are white, at least in our area. Our logo really pops against the black trucks and we get a lot of compliments — more than I would have ever expected.
We don’t have any full truck wrap or an elaborate logo. Simply, we have our business name and logo on both doors along with a tailgate that reads: “Quality from Passion,” which is a motto I always thought defines our team and what we do.
Maintenance of our fleet is very important. We perform regular inspections of our trucks every Monday morning. Each crew has an inspection checklist and they go through each item one by one. We check everything including brake lights, body damage, wipers, oil levels and tire pressure. It is basic, routine stuff , but a preventive approach to our daily operations. Keeping trucks in top shape certainly contributes to our image, not to mention performance.
What would a client think if they peeked inside of our trucks? We believe that how our trucks are cared for says a lot about who we are. We hope that when people see one of our trucks on the road, they will know we are serious about attention to detail.
One thing I’ve learned is that things can change overnight in this business. There are a lot of uncertainties and, of course, we’re always dealing with changes in the weather. To be successful in the landscape business, you definitely have to be adaptable.
I always have country music playing in the truck — occasionally a podcast or an audiobook — but usually country music.
Swag — We have some company logoed camo hats, lens cloths, tumblers and other swag we selectively hand out.
Measuring wheel and marking paint — This is essential when you do a lot of design/build work.
Cabela’s Polar Cap Cooler — Filled with bottled water and Gatorade. It has been able to hold ice longer than other similar competitors, and it can get hot on the island in the summer.
My iPad — I only really use it on the go, and it’s a great tool for estimating, checking email, pulling up job photos or referencing material with customers.
Felco 13 Pruners — My favorite pruners. I won’t use anything else.