From the August 2023 Issue
As North America’s leading distributor of shipping, industrial, and packaging materials, Uline is known for its iconic crisp red polo shirt uniform, customer service, and its promise of same day shipping on thousands of items. In business for over 40 years, Uline supports this work by owning and maintaining hundreds of acres of land that comprise an intricate network of corporate campuses across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Each location includes a combination of office buildings and giant warehouses. And while warehouses and picturesque landscaping don’t often go hand in hand, Uline is an exception.
Uline views its grounds as an extension of company culture — with 13 meticulously maintained branches that feature expertly designed landscapes for the enjoyment of employees and visitors.
“Our landscaping is a very important part of our Uline culture. It is the first thing you see as you approach our buildings and the last thing you see as you leave,” says Brian Leutz, Georgia branch manager. “It sets the tone for the excellence that we put into everything we do and is a reflection of who we are.”
Indeed, the Braselton, Georgia branch is one of the most beautiful.
Beauty In Braselton
Nestled 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, Uline’s Braselton Campus spans more than 108 acres, including a 1 million-square-foot+ warehouse facility and 87 landscaped acres of turf and prairie. Within these grounds are more than 700 trees, 16 planters, and seven flower beds overflowing with locally-sourced native plants.
Landscaping “sets the tone for the excellence that we put into everything we do and is a reflection of who we are.”
— Brian Leutz, Uline
Designed by Vance Barnes, Professional Landscape Architect, LEED Accredited Professional (BD+C), the Braselton landscape took nearly five years to complete. Uline CEO Liz Uihlein worked closely with the design team and together, the team turned its vision into a reality.
Drawing on inspiration from local golf courses and botanical gardens, the Braselton campus prioritized green spaces to create a haven for employees, customers, and wildlife, as opposed to the paved hardscape common in front of warehouses. However, the landscape installation came with challenges. Uline’s facilities team was tasked to bring new life to a once barren area, including working with varied topography. The team dealt with rolling hills, steep slopes, and various soils in installing the proper plants and hardscapes to create a flourishing environment highlighting the land’s natural beauty.
A Diverse Ecosystem
Today, the property contains a wide variety of tree and plant species, creating a diverse ecosystem. Among the trees are the elegant Dawn Redwood, a fast-growing tree that can reach heights of up to 160′, and the Teddy Bear Magnolia, a compact southern magnolia that blooms with white 8″-wide fragrant flowers all Summer long.
Interestingly, Braselton and Japan share the same latitude and thus a similar climate, which allows many Asian varieties to flourish. Trees such as the Japanese ghost pine, Hinoki cypress, Chinese fringe tree, and a unique Japanese hybrid evergreen oak were all strategically selected for the campus.
Other interesting plant species include:
- Vitex. A deciduous shrub that bears clusters of purple flowers in the Summer;
- Fothergilla major. A shrub with deep blue-green leaves that has a spectacular range of Fall color;
- Pink muhly grass. A perennial ornamental fast-growing grass that adds a soft, feathery, pink glow to a landscape.
- St. John’s-wort. A flowering plant with yellow, star-shaped flowers; and
- Japanese plum yew. A dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a shapely form and arching branches.
Surrounded by other warehouses with minimal landscaping, Uline’s green space provides a sanctuary for wildlife in Braselton. Local ducks and loons cool off in the campus pond while hawks fly overhead scouring the grassy slopes for a snack. Roaming deer can be seen, and even a bobcat has been spotted.
Walk The Walk
To enjoy this lush landscape, a 1.5-mile walking path with benches encourages relaxation and outdoor breaks. Not limited just to Braselton, the walking path is a consistent feature across Uline locations—and for good reason. It helps the company prioritize the health and wellness of its more than 9,000 employees. A Walking Club initiative, in which employees log the number of miles they walk on Uline grounds—be it walking trails or the fitness center—awards prizes at the end of the year.
At Braselton, it’s common for employees to come in ahead of their shift to get some exercise before the workday or go outdoors for fresh air on their lunch break. On warmer days, employees enjoy lunch on the benches along the path, highlighted by life-size bronze horse and tortoise sculptures. Sculpted by Georgia Gerber, and hand-selected by Uihlein, the outdoor art installations are intentionally placed to complement the sur- rounding landscape and be accessible for all to interact with and enjoy.
The Facilities/Grounds Team
Maintaining numerous plant species on 87 acres requires facilities/grounds managers to be well-versed in landscaping through experience and formal education. While Uline partners with local landscaping maintenance teams for cutting, watering, and weeding duties, the Uline facilities team contains a small core group of employees with landscaping or agricultural backgrounds who are committed to maintaining the beauty of the campus.
Scott Kempema, Uline’s Georgia facilities manager, works closely with Brent Kitchen, Uline landscape specialist, to perform weekly audits of the grounds and ensure that every square inch meets Uline standards. Through this process, any issues are identified and addressed before becoming a larger challenge. Together, they regularly discuss topics such as soil pH levels, adding microbials within the turf, non-toxic solutions for pests and weeds, or how to approach any issues that come up when managing a site of this scope. During their biannual flower plantings, once in the Spring and once in the Fall, the team oversees seasonal soil testing across the entire property.
With 13 branches across nine climate zones in North America, Uline also assigns four regional managers to regularly visit each location. During the visits, they help local teams troubleshoot issues and share best practices and techniques from other branches. And though each location is separated by hundreds of miles, the teams stay connected with occasional friendly competitions. Kitchen says his employees regularly exchange photos with the other branches, claiming, “My grass is greener than yours!”
Like many other areas, the job market in Georgia is competitive when it comes to filling educated Green Industry positions. Yet Uline is able to attract quality talent with benefits and year-round salaried positions, ensuring the team is qualified to maintain the company’s unique eco- system. In addition to hiring those with a depth of experience in the field, Uline also encourages facilities team members to take continuing education courses.
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Recently, with Uline’s support, Kitchen took watering and irrigation classes at Georgia Southern University through Rain Bird Academy. At Braselton, the topography is broken up into high and low areas, and the team needed to plan and construct the right combination of rocks, topsoil, organics, and plant material to stabilize embankments. Through these courses, Kitchen learned to set up and schedule multiple watering zones to ensure the turf and other plant varieties receive the correct amount of water and nutrients without encouraging erosion.
Long-Lasting First Impressions
The beautiful campuses at Uline are a point of pride. Going to work at a well- maintained and manicured facility with flourishing grounds has a positive impact on employee wellness and morale. Employees have even commented how it helps them maintain a higher level of productivity and organization in other areas of their lives too.
Visitors, customers, and passersby also reap the benefits of the inviting green space. In Braselton, and companywide, the grounds team works hard to set a new standard for warehouse landscaping and proves there can be beauty beyond the warehouse.
Uline is North America’s leading distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging materials. The family-owned company currently employs more than 9,000 people across 13 branch locations and 14 sales offices in North America. To view job openings, visit uline.jobs.
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