A change sprouts at Red Barn Trees and Landscaping
Longtime Park City company has new owners
April 21, 2017
Michael Cornu gets wistful when thinking back on the last 38 years and the company he built.
He planted it in Park City, then carefully cultivated it. Eventually, after years of hard work, its roots grew deep.
Now, he's leaving the work of tending to it to someone else. Cornu recently sold Red Barn Trees and Landscaping, marking the end of a chapter for the well-known business, which over the years has landscaped hundreds of properties throughout the area.
When he began the company in 1980, Cornu never imagined it would still be in business all these years later. He said starting it was a matter of passion, followed by nearly four decades of hard work. He's proud when he considers everything it took to make the company last this long.
"One of the legacies in this business is you look back and see things that were planted 38 years ago, literally," said Cornu, who came to Park City in 1973. "When you look back and reflect, it gets emotional. When you're in the grind of every day, you're surviving and making payroll. But it's different when you look back."
Cornu is confident he is leaving the company in capable hands. He sold it to Parkites Willie and Christine Eschenfelder, who own another landscaping company, as we well as a pool installation company and a yard maintenance business.
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Willie Eschenfelder said he purchased Red Barn Trees and Landscaping because of its long-established reputation in Park City and the expertise of its employees, many of whom have worked for the company for more than a decade.
"It fit well with what we are trying to do," he said. "… Michael has done a really good job of building relationships with his clients. I competed against him on some projects for people I knew pretty well. I'd be like, 'Hey, let me bid on your landscape,' and they'd be like, 'Oh, no, we've got to have Cornu do it.' They wouldn't even talk to me. That made me have respect for him."
Cornu said part of what's allowed the company to thrive for 38 years is the belief that customer service should be valued over all else. In that regard, he said, longtime clients should expect little to change now that the Eschenfelders are running the business. In fact, the belief that Red Barn will continue operating with a similar philosophy played a crucial role in Cornu ultimately deciding to part with the company.
"That's the key point," he said. "That was absolutely huge. Reflecting back, it's a little corny but it's a match made in heaven. I really think that. The core cultures are similar: passion, quality, attention to detail. I learned that about Willie having worked with him on a job site."
The Eschenfelders hope to take Red Barn to the next level. After getting a feel for the company during the rest of the year, they intend to begin working on expansive residential projects, whereas Cornu focused largely on commercial projects. Ideally, Willie Eschenfelder said, the company will complete only roughly five or six jobs a year due to the scope of the work, which will include everything from landscaping to pool installation.
"We do all-inclusive exterior projects," he said. "We take care of everything. That's a good thing for builders in town because they only have to come to us, and a good thing for homeowners because they're like, 'You can take care of all of this? Great.'"
Christine Eschenfelder added that the company intends to continue as visible members of the community, offering support to local nonprofits, such as Eat Awesome Things at School.
"I don't think we're interested in becoming a huge company," she said. "Willie is incredibly passionate about what he does. … so we're just excited to have a place to run our business out of and grow our roots deeper in the community and be a part of things here."
Cornu, for one, is eager to see where the company is headed.
"It's ripe to go to the next level," he said, "and mature in the next 40 years as Park City grows."
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