Austin-based TreeHouse, which touts itself as the world’s first home upgrade company, recently opened its newest location at the northwest corner of Preston Road and Park Boulevard in Plano. The retailer also stepped farther outside than ever before thanks to a recently announced partnership with a local landscaping company.
“TreeHouse is really a company on a mission to improve ecological health as it relates to homes,” TreeHouse president and co-founder Jason Ballard said.
Over the past six years, the company has steadily grown, first at its flagship Austin location, and then a second Dallas store that opened last summer. However, despite the success, Ballard believed his company still needed to improve its outdoor sustainability efforts.
Enter Southern Botanical, a long-time Dallas landscaping company known for handling high-profile landscaping projects for SMU, Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Museum of Art. Last year, Ballard met Southern Botanical CEO Jason Craven at a retreat for Conscious Capitalism, a group that brings together business leaders interested in doing more than just making money.
“We were really on the same page. They do a lot of commercial work and wanted to find a way to work more with homeowners,” Ballard said. “TreeHouse wanted a service and product partner to help us deliver our vision of human and ecological flourishing. The rest, as they say, is history.”
When the Plano TreeHouse opened in January, it featured Southern Botanical’s first retail location inside. The Dallas TreeHouse that opened last June is already being remodeled to accommodate a second Southern Botanical location set to open this spring.
Ballard cited three factors that motivated him to focus outdoors. In many American cities, homeowners actually consume more water on landscaping than they do inside. There is also the fact that human development disrupts local ecosystems, but steps can be taken to offset the damage. Lastly, one of TreeHouse’s core missions is to help people reconnect with nature.
“I don’t think you can disconnect some of the environmental issues we are facing with the fact that some people are disconnected from nature largely,” Ballard said. “We want to make their outdoor space a place where they want to spend time.”
Ballard traces his love of the outdoors to his Southeast Texas roots and a childhood he compares to Huckleberry Finn. As a kid, he spent days exploring the expansive Big Thicket, an ecologically diverse area where the piney woods converge with the coastal plains. However, the area also borders one of the world’s largest concentrations of petrochemical plants. It made him ponder how people could live in a wonderful place without ruining it. When he left for college, he vowed to do something.
“It wasn’t until later that I realized this was like a political hot potato,” he said. “Really for me it was just that simple childhood thought that this place is amazing and I want to take care of it. That became my life’s mission.”
When looking for a site for his third store, Ballard said he wanted to choose a suburban location because it would present new challenges. The company chose Plano because of its high percentage of owner-occupied homes, the fact that many homes are a few decades old and in need of some maintenance and, of course, the booming economy. He’s been blown away by the city’s response and predicts that this will likely be TreeHouse’s best performing store.
“Healthy, clean air and clean water are not something that only a small subset of people care about. I think that’s one of the big stereotypes we are trying to bust,” he said. “The work that TreeHouse is doing is not for a special sort of person or a special sort of home. Our market is anyone who lives in a home.”
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