A pergola would be just the finishing touch for the outdoor living space, the landscape architect believed. However, the customer just couldn’t see it.
But a visit to Eichenlaub Inc.’s new The Outdoor Living Studio, where a pergola is featured, captivated the client and closed the deal, said Ryan Johnson, manager of business development. The showroom, which also serves as a conference room for potential clients, is an outdoor living space built indoors by Eichenlaub’s master craftsmen.
Sales have doubled from this time last year for the Pittsburgh area landscape contractor. The company outgrew its offices in Cheswick, so it opened a second location about 15 minutes away in the town of Millvale at the end of February.
“We’re seeing a major uptick in sales,” Johnson said. “I can’t attribute it all to our new showroom, but it definitely helps us close sales and speeds up the sales process. Sometimes it’s hard to convey what we do with just words or even with pictures. When we bring people here, they can see what a space will feel like, and that makes them excited.”
The conference room is one of Eichenlaub’s typical outdoor patios, built inside to circumvent Pittsburgh’s mercurial weather. The space features the materials the company uses, including the pergola, an outdoor fireplace and low stone walls. Customers can feel what it’s like to walk on a flagstone floor, and see the different ways it can be set. Outdoor furniture replaces typical office chairs and tables so clients can test them out in the space.
At the push of a button, automatic blinds at the windows close, darkening the room to show off 51 outdoor light fixtures that could illuminate a back yard at night. Clients also are wowed by the water feature in the reception area, which depicts a contemporary water wall as well as natural boulders, Johnson added.
“People come in the door and walk right over to see the fish, and it ends up acting as an icebreaker for us,” he said. “Most of our business is residential, and being able to see what we do creates a lot of emotion for people. They really want it.”
Dan Eichenlaub, the company president, noted that customers used to be able to see what they would be getting at local garden centers. However, the era of big box stores, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, has limited that ability. “This is a way for us to connect with our customers,” he said.
Being in the growing Pittsburgh market made Eichenlaub comfortable with taking the risk. The company has grown an average of 15 percent in each of the last five years, and expects similar figures for the next five years, he said.
Johnson had been dreaming of a showroom for about two years, looking to the kitchen and bath industry for inspiration. After getting the go-ahead from Eichenlaub, Johnson began searching for real estate in June 2016. He drew lines on a map of the business’s primary service areas and discovered the center was the small borough of Millvale, just north of Pittsburgh.
The new location, at 517 Lincoln Ave., was a car dealership 50 years ago, so it already had large windows and concrete floors, making it ideal for his purposes. The landlord began the renovations to make it a viable office space before Eichenlaub’s team completed the showroom, which includes a natural stone reception desk and an outdoor kitchen.
Eichenlaub rents about 3,000 square feet of space in Millvale. The showroom, which is open by appointment, is about 1,000 square feet, while the rest houses offices and a design studio for the six-person sales team and a landscape architect. The other half of the building houses a diner.
“At our original location, we were running out of places for people to sit,” Johnson said, noting that that building is about the same size as the Millvale location. “This new space gives us room to grow for the next 10 years.”
Eichenlaub, which currently has 65 employees, does landscape design, construction, maintenance, irrigation and lighting. The company joined the LandOpt network in 2005.
For over 30 years, Eichenlaub has provided premier installation and management services to a diverse residential and commercial clientele. The company’s extensive experience with residential properties has enabled them to handle everything from confined urban gardens tofull-scale estate property management. Eichenlaub’s commercial customers include businesses, institutions, government agencies and conservation organizations. They have the knowledge, staff and equipment to make any landscape flourish. Eichenlaub’s complex allows for the most extensive care of plant material and equipment management. The on-site plant storage area combines the appropriate needs of irrigation, sunlight, and protection to make sure that the plants acquired for each project are kept thriving and looking their best when installed. Another section of the complex is dedicated to the storage of thousands of cubic yards of compost, mulch, topsoil and other regularly required materials. Every job by Eichenlaub is performed with environmental stewardship at the forefront. They use the best ecological methods and assure that the organic debris is recycled. Their commitment to the environment is an integral part of every job.