The Next Steps for Leafscape

What do small business owners do to plan their succession when they have no children? That is the question faced by owners of Leafscape, Tina Shelby and Randy Cooper. Shelby founded the company in 1980 and was later joined by her husband, Randy Cooper. The couple spent 22 years building their business together, realizing that they wanted to leave not just a business, but a legacy to their partnership. In 2006, the couple began a conversation about a logical and possible succession plan that would meet their primary goal.

In February of 2006, Leafscape added a new Louisiana Tech horticulture graduate, Robin White Connell, to their employ. Connell had become acquainted with Leafscape in 2005, when she traveled to Little Rock to fulfill her dream of living and working in Arkansas. However, the opportunity to join the company did not present itself until 2006 when the owners decided to follow their instincts to hire her. Although there was not a designated position available, Connell was put to work on special projects while Shelby and Cooper guided her growth and development in the industry. They encourage her professional development by providing education opportunities and introducing her to all aspects of interior plantscaping. After year one, Connell had to choose between continuing with special projects or as Cooper said it, “You can choose the more challenging job, Service Manager.” Ultimately that would lead to Director of Operations.

Robin Connell bought Leafscape on July 1, 2011. As of that date, she is the sole shareholder of a 31 year old company that has worked very hard to be the best at what it does.

Shelby states, “Robin is the daughter we never had. She is a fine young woman from a wonderful family in Louisiana. She has all the training and knowledge to take this business down another 31 year path and experience all the rewarding feelings that go with small business ownership.” Shelby and Cooper find it very rewarding to watch a young person say “yes” to the challenge of leading their business. “It is a very gratifying job but it does take dedication and hard work. She is up for that.”

Connell admits that her experience with Leafscape has confirmed that she chose the right path when she elected to study horticulture. Connell remarks, “Tina and Randy have provided me with the opportunity to build upon my skills. I have a wonderful team of people that I have watched grow and develop under my leadership over the past five years. I am so grateful for the strong foundation that Tina and Randy have established in Leafscape. Just like parents continue to influence their children, I know that I can continue to count on their guidance as I strive to maintain the tradition of providing our clients with excellent service. Although they will not be sitting behind the desks, we will not forget who they are and how Leafscape began its journey.”

Robin is married to Arkansan and Arkansas Air National Guardsman, Seth Connell, who has just completed his fourth combat deployment. They live in Maumelle.