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Growing Together from the Ground Up
George Bori and Family Find Achievement in Landscaping

By Jacqueline A. Soule for LC/DBM
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Beginning in the early 80s with an offer to maintain the grass strips along the entrance of an under-construction subdivision, George L. Bori Sr., with the help of a pickup, a lawn mower, some tools, and a willingness to work hard and get the job done right, built Groundtek of Central Florida into a landscape company with about 150 employees. Their services include landscape maintenance, design and construction, irrigation and pest management.


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About 5 years ago, Groundtek put in a bid to maintain the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Florida, a 325-acre campus: the second largest of its kind in the United States. The tasks included mowing the areas of turf, removing older leaves of plants such as ornamental taro, deadheading spent blooms of the many annuals and perennials, and even maintaining the water features to keep them clean, healthy environments for the aquatic life that reside within them.


George L. Bori Sr. did not set out to found a family-owned landscape company with million dollar annual contracts. He did not even set out to found a company at all. He just wanted to provide a good life for his growing family, and he wasn't afraid of hard work.

Accept the Challenge
In 1986 George was working for a golf course full time, moving up through the ranks from running equipment to managing the shop. He earned extra money cleaning medical offices in the evenings. When asked to also maintain the exteriors of those offices, George said yes, and there went his Saturdays. This led to more landscape maintenance business, and a growing name as a man who wasn't afraid to work hard to get the job done.

When asked what led to his success, George downplays his can-do attitude. "The good Lord had a lot to do with it," he says, and tells of his big break. An acquaintance introduced him to an out of town developer that needed someone to maintain the entrance of a then un-built subdivision. "An 18 inch strip of grass on both sides of a road - so close I could walk to it!" he reminisces. "So of course I said yes." This morphed into contracts for landscape installs around the exclusive homes as they were built, and more than full time work for George and his family. "I never said no. I rented the equipment if I had to."

Groundtek - A Family Affair
"My kids are so great. I am so proud of them," Bori says in shy, delighted tones. All three of his growing boys would come and help their father work on Saturdays and in the summer. The chance to work alongside their father and brothers for long hours was a great experience growing up, reflects son Gregory Bori. "We were lucky," he says. "It's not a common opportunity in today's urban society."

Other members of the Bori family helped in the business over the years. George's brother Albert had the equipment for excavation and site work, and teamed with George for a number of projects. When Albert wearied of outdoor work, the brothers opened a John Deere equipment dealership for Albert to run, and he moved on to that.

Pelegrin "Percy" Bori, George's father, joined the family team and managed crews when large Lockheed-Martin contracts offered the challenge of finding qualified workers that would pass the background checks and drug tests and do the varied work involved in maintenance on a 2,000-acre site with 13 miles of security fence, a 5,000-acre test site, and a 280-acre corporate office site. Family members often worked long hours themselves to get the work done.v

About working together with the family, George says, "Of course we disagreed sometimes, but we would discuss things, not fight about things."



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Signature plants, including ponytail palms and fan palms, anchor areas while easily replaceable colorful annuals such as begonia, and perennials such as bromeliads, schafflera and croton are planted for color around their base. Visitors use the space for up to 18 hours per day, every day of the year, leaving little downtime in which to do maintenance work. The compromise is to do noisy work in high-use areas early in the day before they become congested with visitors.


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George Bori (center) works together with his sons. Geoffrey (left) heads Groundtek Irrigation, which handles the water feature maintenance duties at OCCC. Gregory (right) is vice president of the landscape arm of Groundtek so is in charge of the grounds teams at the convention center. George Jr. (not pictured) has his own landscape company in Lehi, Utah.


Mid-size, not "Middling"
George reflects that not getting the Lockheed-Martin rebid after 24 years was not exactly a bad thing. Groundtek's deserved local reputation for hard work and getting the job done quickly led to new contracts for their workers and fleet of equipment, including a number of maintenance contracts along county and state roadways, and the large and highly visible Orange County Convention Center.

Employees currently number 145 and include 10 office staff and eight mechanics, with the rest being field workers. The equipment fleet includes 58 trucks, 170 mowers and 310 pieces of two-cycle equipment.

It's not just blood family that are part of the Groundtek "family" explains son Gregory Bori, vice president of Groundtek of Central Florida, the landscape arm of Groundtek. "We have some employees that have been with the company for 20 years. We have monthly safety meetings where we share breakfast and the latest on safety. We also have a big year-end party for employees. We give out awards for years with the company, and year-end bonuses. The bonuses are based on performance plus time with the company. Hard work is recognized and rewarded."

Gregory Bori knows about hard work from long years working beside his father. He is keen on safety not just from a business standpoint, but because he took the time almost a decade ago to become a certified arborist, a rating he maintains to this day.

A Look Backward
First George, then his sons, literally learned the landscape maintenance business from the ground up. Now all three boys work in the landscape trade. George Jr. has his own landscape business in Lehi, Utah. "He has done far better than I ever did," says George Sr. proudly.

When he turned 60, George started taking a less active role in the company, turning more and more of the work over to Gregory and Geoffrey. Geoffrey manages Groundtek Irrigation LLC, and as mentioned, Gregory is the vice president of the landscape operation; president in all but name, "And that is coming soon," avows George Sr.

Looking back over his career in a line of work that is filled with long hours, physical demands, staffing headaches, and all the other worries that owning your own business entails, George says, "I always enjoyed what I did. I would go to bed looking forward to the next day. I like to accept the challenge and find solutions."



As seen in LC/DBM magazine, February 2018.






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June 25, 2018, 3:09 am PDT

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