J.R. Thomas, President & Landscape Artist
The roots of J.R. Thomas Landscaping and its methods are grounded in J.R., beginning when he came out of high school in 1974 with no immediate sense of direction. A Cincinnati native with a mechanic background and a love for working on cars, it was another entrepreneur and horticulturist who set him on his green path. Phillip M. Meyers, Sr. gave J.R. the opportunity to join the landscape crew for Williamsburg of Cincinnati, a townhouse development not too far from the Evendale neighborhood he grew up in. Working under true nurserymen who taught him grounds care, planting and harvesting, garden maintenance, machinery and so much more, the seed that guided J.R. to go out on his own was firmly planted. Starting his business with only 1-2 other people, J.R. Thomas Landscaping has flourished and currently operates in Loveland on the 13-acre property purchased to house the company’s office and his family’s ranch home.
Ruth Ann Thomas, Vice-President & Controller
Steve Jancsics, Operations Manager & LED Lighting Specialist
I came to the company in 1994 as a crew member, with previous experience in the life insurance industry. Sensing that J.R. was at a point of exciting opportunities for the future, I felt I could be part of that future. Although I didn’t have an in-depth knowledge of plants, I always loved working in the gardens at my parents’ home and mine.
To learn more about plant identification and design, I took night classes at the University of Cincinnati during the winter months. After progressing to landscape crew leader, I earned more responsibility with purchasing and project planning and eventually my role developed into the current Operations Manager position. I now manage scheduling, subcontractors, fleets, landscape and lighting sales, employment, vendor relationships, hardscape design and more.
I very much love my career here; every day is always exciting and never the same. I get to work with people I respect, interact with amazing customers, enjoy a flexibility that keeps me literally on my feet and reap the satisfaction of taking a customer’s vision and exceeding their expectations.
Ben Jost, Production Manager & Hardscape Specialist
I started working with J.R. as a Landscape Foreman in February 2002 and have enjoyed my years with the company; overall, I have 25 years of experience in the green industry. After my first year here, I approached J.R. to find out why we didn’t have an “in-house” specialist for our hardscape projects, instead of partnering with outside contractors. He hadn’t considered trying to do the work within his firm, but surprised me and entrusted me (and my engineering background) with the hardscape division; I transitioned into my current role as the lead Hardscape Foreman.
I began installing paver patios, retaining walls and excavation and grading with Bobcat equipment. I also stepped into the project management realm: analyzing hardscape projects to determine if they could be accomplished, assisting with design, budgets, training and being the liaison between the office staff and the field crew.
I appreciate the craft of creating new and fresh outdoor living spaces. I enjoy the hard and physical work – and I love how our company emphasizes the overlooked details like leaving a jobsite cleaner than when we first arrived, respect for the clients’ space, excellent communication and creating an impactful group effort by making great use of so many talented people.
Kyle Butler, Project Manager
As a recent University of Cincinnati graduate, I’ve been motivated to stay with J.R. Thomas Landscaping for several reasons, transitioning from a maintenance/landscape crew leader to most recently a project manager. My career here even shaped my education at UC; my hands-on experience with the company caused me to change my major from Accounting to Operations Management and I couldn’t be happier. I enjoy working for a quality-driven landscape firm that really cares about the clients and their needs. The company culture allows me to take pride in my work; I’m also surrounded with a great team that challenges me to learn and improve daily.
I truly enjoy the work I do. I enjoy the large-scale projects that require different aspects of the company to come together and complete the tasks; such as a complete backyard renovation that combines all our areas of expertise with the installation of a paver patio, a new off-the-house deck, L.E.D. lighting and new plantings and trees. These projects are where I seem to learn the most and where our experienced team members truly shine.
Working with J.R. has benefited me physically and mentally – keeping me healthy while giving me the ability to work with my hands in a way I didn’t know before. It’s given me true respect and understanding for how great companies, both large and small, should operate.
Dani Williams, Communications Manager
I joined J.R.’s team in 2015 with zero knowledge of landscaping, but lengthy experience in content creation, communications and business management earned through 10 years working in corporate America. Over the years I’ve found that I have a passion for words and people; I enjoy helping people understand and communicate their identity and value, and now get to use my talents within a small business atmosphere. It’s a great opportunity to work as a family, and I get to witness firsthand the impact of what I do, say and write.
I worked very closely with J.R.’s office manager Beverly before she retired in 2017 – allowing me to learn the unique culture of the company, J.R.’s language, and the basics of the landscaping industry. This foundation was key for my success in the roles I take on, now and in the future.
I love what J.R. and the company stand for – every day our team embarks on a mission to create beautiful spaces that tell their own stories. Everyone here is an expert in their field and welcomes the challenge of exceeding the high standards J.R. has put in place for himself and our work.
Dave Mullis, Landscape Designer
A recent graduate with a degree in Landscape Design, I finished my education with a desire to work with an established firm that would challenge me and allow me to inspire change in their design processes. Most of the landscape companies in the area were already using CAD-software; J.R. Thomas Landscaping was an exception to this, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to not only learn how to produce hand-drafted drawings under J.R.’s mentorship, but to also help take the company in the direction of CAD and other technologies for our industry. To be involved in so many aspects of a project – from downloading details directly from the production team, onsite measuring for each property, creating a preliminary drawing, selecting plant material, finalizing the design and then being on a job site with the crew to implement my design – all of those steps are appealing to me and I get to see what I create at the design board come to life right before my eyes and through the work of my hands in the field.
My passion for the green industry started in high school when I bought a cactus and was able to keep it alive on my own; I was proud of that achievement and it added to my love of gardening, something I’ve been doing for years with my Mom that has been a bonding experience, and now get to enjoy with my wife as well.
My college education was a great foundation for my new career; in completing my co-ops, I got to work with an arborist, observed over 200 different plants, expanded my plant palette for our specific zone and read multiple industry books that I still refer to in my design research.
Outside of the landscaping world, I fully enjoy experiencing the outdoors and my Dad and I often choose to spend time together in nature. Also newly married, I enjoy Sundays and church time with my wife and am looking forward to what the future holds for the both of us and our individual careers.
Nate Jancsics, Hardscape Foreman
I started working here at J.R. Thomas Landscaping in May 2013 and now have over 7 years of experience in hardscape and landscape work. Initially brought in as a crew member, I was able to work under Ben and learn a lot from him within my first 2 years with the firm. With time and hard work, I’ve been able to take my skills to the next level; I really enjoy being able to translate what our landscape designers create in the office into a reality for our clients at their homes.
I love working for a company like J.R.’s where everyone takes so much pride in their work; we all go to great effort to pay close attention to all the details, big and small. Now the lead hardscape foreman, I look forward to using my skills with hardscape and landscape installations, stone work, lighting and horticultural maintenance to lead a project from start to finish; helping newer team members learn the J.R. way and excel within our small company is also an enjoyable and rewarding challenge.
When I’m not growing my career, I enjoy being active in the outdoors and spending time with my small family in our new home, and creating new memories with our extended families.
Tony Gonzalez, Foreman Assistant
I am a UC graduate with a long-term plan to enter the criminal justice field. While pursuing the needed steps for my career, I joined the J.R. Thomas Landscaping team last year to put my hard work ethic to good use and learn a new skillset that will benefit my career goals too. I’ve relocated every 1-2 years since I was 10 years old and have now learned what to look for in good and stable employment – I chose this company specifically not only for the nature of the work, but for the crew and overall team. To me, the job is as good as who you work with; I get to work with people who allow me to be myself, enjoy comradery while we create new environments, and provide hands-on training that is fun and engaging.
As a crew member and foreman assistant, I am involved in hardscapes, landscapes and horticultural maintenance; in the coming season, I’m looking forward to taking on even more responsibility in the hardscape division of the company and strengthening the foundation I’ve been able to build here. I love using heavy equipment like the Bobcat and Dingo, and I love the daily opportunity we get to build spaces that stand out from the surrounding landscape and other areas.
Although I envision myself retiring with a badge of some kind, the skills and techniques I’ve learned and continue to learn will serve me well. Being a part of this team requires hard work, dedication, a willingness to learn and an ability to adapt quickly – I’m proud I’ve shown I have the character it takes to make it here, and to make it into my future career when the time comes.
In my free time, I enjoy shooting at the range, dancing and playing video games; video games especially help me stay connected to old friends and family who are far away or I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.
Heath Hood, Landscape Leader
Prior to joining J.R. Thomas Landscaping, I had been out of the industry for 20 years. After working with several landscape businesses in the past, I chose to direct my focus to construction work, despite my in-depth landscape knowledge and experience.
My passion for landscaping was ignited again, however, when I was hired by J.R.’s company; I was only here a few days when I realized what an awesome family I had joined. J.R. gives me diversified responsibilities here within the firm, making full use of my experience and the different hats I’ve worn in the industry over the years. I appreciate the principles that J.R. models and expects from each of us, it makes what we do that much more valuable. I look forward to my growth within the team and using all my talents to add to our overall success.
Ray Wettling, Landscape Leader
I’ve been passionate about the green industry most of my life and went into professional landscaping right out of high school, establishing over 20 years of experience doing this hard work I love. When the family company I worked with decided to close its doors, I transitioned into pouring concrete for several years before taking on another passion of mine, working with dogs. I was able to train service dogs for disabled individuals for over a decade and loved the mission of helping others and the joy of being around my favorite animals. As much as I enjoyed that career, and the downtime spent doing landscaping for myself and my family, I missed being in the professional landscape industry and decided it was time to return.
I moved to the Cincinnati area a while ago from Columbus, OH to help take care of my family, and I chose J.R.’s team because of the genuine care I recognized was put into what we create and how we communicate with each other and our clients; I also like working with family-owned companies and the personal touch that often comes with it. I get to use my experience and education to the fullest here, incorporating the nursery experience, horticulture knowledge, plant identification and landscape installation skills I’ve built up over the years.
I’m excited that I get to help people and be of service with both of my passions – I still volunteer with Circle Tail, Inc., while also being able to create new spaces for people and bring the beauty of nature right to their home. Most of my family is in the green industry and even though my mother was a nurse, she was also a gardener and I have fond memories of bonding with her over the work we did in the yard.
When I’m not landscaping, I love fishing, Italian food, and will never turn down a good filet mignon.