It's been more than a few years since the LCA Landscape Leadership Award was presented, and that's because it's only given to those individuals who have made a significant contribution to LCA and had a positive impact on the landscape industry in this region. This year, Ray Gustin III will be honored at the LCA Awards Dinner and presented with LCA's 2017 Landscape Leadership Award.
Ray has been a strong force in the Green Industry in the Metro Washington D.C. area for almost 70 years. Ray’s father started Gustin Gardens as a retail garden center in its original location at the corner of Route 355 and Montrose Road in Rockville, Maryland, prior to Ray’s birth. Growing up around the business led Ray to a degree in horticulture from The Ohio State University and a leadership role in developing a broad customer base for Gustin Gardens through the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s.
Ray’s initiative in developing a strong team of retail garden center experts, residential and commercial design/ build talent, and property maintenance leadership resulted in a legacy still felt today throughout the local Green Industry. From a new location on Woodfield Road in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Gustin Gardens delivered a long history of outstanding customer service from the retail garden center that provided one of the area’s first and finest Christmas shop experiences. The Design Build and Maintenance teams helped fuel the demandfor Commercial and Residential needs for Montgomery County and contributed to the early growth of Fairfax, Reston, and Tysons Corner, along with Northwest D.C.
Ray set a great example for his team and the Industry by contributing his time and leadership to promoting and giving back as a volunteer. Ray has been a longtime LCA board member and served as past president, along with a similar history of participation nationally through the board and as past president of ALCA (now NALP).
A longtime friendship with the Brickman family and their mutual involvement with ALCA resulted in Ray being associated with the Brickman Group for 17 years. Ray continued to serve his passion for sourcing plant material for the company while providing his excellent communication and writing skills for both internal newsletters and external public relations efforts, including coordinating photo shoots of award-winning landscapes and the LCA Awards program submittals for Brickman.
Ray has continued to serve the Green Industry with his company, Plants and Praise. Ray still sources one-of-a-kind plant material for the most discerning of clients. Ray and his wife, Evelyn, have enjoyed their journey together while raising their family in Etchison, Maryland, and spending time with their sons, Ray IV and Todd; their daughter, Beth; and their seven grandchildren.