It all started for us in 1996 when I graduated from our local Lansing High School. During my high school years I had a job working for a well known Inn just minutes from my house. It was a grounds keeping gig, and that is when I realized what I wanted to pursue as a career. After high school, I went on to further my education at the State University of New York at Morrisville where I studied landscape design and construction. I continued that education back home at Cornell University where I majored in Plant Science and minored in Business.
I received a ton of practical and book knowledge from college. However, a major source of education came from field experience after I founded Elegant Estates while attending Cornell. Not necessarily in a practical day-to-day operations standpoint, but more so in what the industry was lacking kind of way.
Funny story - when I first founded Elegant Estates I wanted nothing to do with stone work at all. It wasn’t until I noticed something very disturbing. Everywhere that our crews went for property maintenance, we found that there was a tremendous need for paver and stone repair. Our landscape clients mentioned time and again that they have to periodically get their projects repaired by their installer. My perspective was that if it was done right to begin with, there shouldn’t be such a need for repair. Unfortunately, this continues to be an epidemic in our area.
So, I set out to do some research. I found that there were courses that were offered by ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute) and NCMA (National Concrete Masonry Association) that taught contractors and their staff how to properly install pavement and wall systems. This was the tipping point for Elegant Estates as a company. I thought to myself that our niche in the local industry was to actually design and install projects the proper way. Our staff was on board with this, and learned that installation of these systems was a strict science. Who knew that in order to install a front paver sidewalk you needed to know the soil structure on which you were building, the gradation and moisture content of your base material, the gradation of your setting bed, the aspect ratio and density of your paver that was selected? Not only that, but you would also need to analyze the site to deal with how you will drain the water from the area. And the list goes on.
Since we have realized our niche, our company has committed to certifying any of our foremen who will be installing stonework with ICPI and NCMA. We have received a level of accreditation that very few contractors can, or have, achieved. We have secured certifications in standard paver, permeable paver, and segmental retaining wall installations. Maintaining these certifications require yearly class time which keeps us well ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever evolving stone industry’s trends, installation methods and product implementation.
Clients have enjoyed coming to us since 1999 knowing that we will navigate all of the project site challenges for them, and provide a beautiful design with a functional and long lasting end result. They also enjoy the fact that they can use one company for all of their project’s components. This often includes design and installation of decking, pavement surfaces, retaining walls, water features, tile and veneer elements, as well as interior home improvements such as flooring and remodeling projects. They enjoy the fact that we often times provide maintenance for the projects that we install if they so choose.
We found it necessary throughout the years to install office displays for our clients in order to make the design process more seamless. This display has morphed into over 5,000 square feet in size and showcases many different manufacturers and products. Now our business consists of 80%+ design and installation of interior and exterior spaces. And we are loving every bit of it!
I want to thank you for visiting us online, and we look forward to meeting you in person! If you would like to know more about us, please consider following us on our social media platforms.
Chris Negley, President