Edmir Sokoli is a self-made entrepreneur who has successfully converted his passion for landscaping into a healthy and growing business.
Born in Albania, he moved with his family to the United States when he was twelve years old. Neither he nor his family could speak English, but Edmir never let his circumstances slow him down. He quickly developed a love for sports in general and American Football in particular and played on his high school and college football teams.
After college, Edmir found success in landscaping and paving. He worked in the industry for nearly 20 years, honing his craft and developing contacts and friendships along the way. After several years of working for a close friend’s landscaping business, he decided to venture out on his own in New Jersey.
Through local advertising and a clear focus on quality and customer satisfaction, he has been able to steadily grow the company since its inception, and he remains optimistic about the future.
What do you currently do at your company?
I would say that I’m the project manager. I talk to our customers to make sure they’re satisfied with what we design for them, and once we have a design that the customer likes, we follow through with the project under my leadership. We specialize in patios and the beautiful landscapes around them.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
My father owned a construction company when I was a child, and I often went out and worked alongside him. We did a lot of work with landscaping and pavers, so I was kind of brought up into that environment. That experience turned me on to landscaping as a career choice, but it also instilled a desire to have my own business. My father firmly believed that success was the ability to work for yourself, to be your own boss and make your own money doing what you love. So, with all of that in mind, starting my own landscape business almost feels like an inevitability.
What defines your way of doing business?
Being honest and forthright. I try to be straight up, clear cut, and I don’t beat around the bush. I’m honest, and I do great work. There’s not much more to it than that, and there doesn’t need to be.
What sets you apart from your competition?
I think it’s a combination of our designs and our design process and approach for each individual project. We work very closely with our customers, to make sure that we give them exactly what they want for the amount of money that they’re paying. We don’t just tell them they’ll get one thing, take their money, and deliver something different or inferior. We aim to please our customers, because whatever makes the customer happy is, in turn, good for us as a business.
What keys to being productive can you share?
When I’m on the worksite, I set the pace by example. I’m out there working and leading the pack. When we’re working together, we often function a lot like an assembly line, so when I set the pace, everyone follows. So, I guess my key to productivity is to lead by example.
How do you measure success?
Longevity of the business, I suppose. That’s how I measure success. If you’ve been working at something for a long time, and you’re always getting referrals from people who like your work, then your company succeeds. A company that can’t do that is a company that won’t be around for very long.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
I guess the advice I would give is to focus on consistency and persistence. There will be times when you’ve got plenty of customers calling in and plenty of work to do, and there will be times when nobody is calling even after you put the work into advertising. You’ve got to be consistent, take the bad with the good, and keep putting the work in if you want to succeed.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
More than anything, spending time with my family. I try to take my daughter out to the park often. Spending quality time with my family is one of the most important things I can think of. Time is a precious commodity, and I’d rather spend most of it with them.
How would your colleagues describe you?
More than anything else, I think they’d describe me as extremely hard working. No matter what the job is, I’ll be out there giving it my best.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
To be honest, well, I don’t. I work so much, and I’m always running around, even on my days off. I’m always trying to get work done. Having your own company is a crazy thing.
I have taken to setting schedules for myself. I can write stuff down on a notepad, so I know exactly what I need to get done on any given day. It helps to keep me organized, so I’m not bouncing around inefficiently from one thing to the next and wasting time.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
I don’t want to sound cheesy, but my phone probably helps me more than anything else. It connects me both to my customers and my work, and it puts the internet at my fingertips, so I can buy supplies or do research from anywhere. It’s an absolute necessity.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
Probably just trying to adapt when I came to this country with my family at 12 years old. We didn’t speak any English, and overcoming that language barrier when I went to school was one of my biggest challenges.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
When I was little, before I came to the US, my grandfather used to tell me to always make time for the people who would make time for you. I think that advice applies to all facets of life, whether personal or professional, and it’s something that I try to live by.