If you’re driving down Green Bay Road and you come across a home with a stunning landscape, chances are good that Rocco Fiore & Sons, Inc., is responsible for the eye-catching setting.
Rocco Fiore, Sr. started his landscaping business in 1947. He emigrated to the U.S. when he was 17 and settled in Highwood to work at his uncle’s nursery.
In Bari Italy, they grew grapes, olives and figs to sell at the open-air markets. That’s where our dad got his interest in plants, recall Rocco’s sons, Rocco Jr. and Steve, who have successfully managed the company since before their father’s passing. “Then he started doing lawn maintenance and planting on old estate properties. With manual equipment, it could take two days to mow a lawn.”
Rose Fiore, the Fiore matriarch, still lives in the Highland Park home where her husband ran the business from their backyard. “Mom was Dad’s bookkeeper, receptionist, scheduler—she did everything,” says Steve. “Our father never told us we had to work in the family business, but he did tell us that we had to get an education.”
When Rocco Fiore Jr. graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in business in 1972, he joined his father’s company, which at the time had 5 laborers. Steve Fiore joined the company four years later after receiving is his degree in landscape architecture.
In the mid-1970’s, the company moved to a 17-acre site in Libertyville, where they currently operate their landscape business, with a second facility in Wadsworth for plant propagation and warehousing. Today, the company employs more than 275 people, including a number of 3rd generation Fiores.
Longevity prevails in the family as well as with clients and employees of the firm. One of Rocco Sr.’s first customers from the original start-up in 1947, a Highland Park resident, had remained a loyal client throughout her life, up until her recent passing in March of 2008.
“She always had a Fiore working with her one-on-one,” remembers Rocco Jr. About 25 employees have been with the company since the 1970’s.
One of the senior gardening staff, Stefan Lopez, has worked full-time for the Fiores since the 1960’s “and never misses a day,” adds Steve. He now works in the greenhouse, tending to the annuals that will soon be in clients’ yards. His two sons also work at Fiore, along with many cousins and nephews.
Over the last 60 years, the firm has witnessed the evolution of the landscape labor force in the Chicago area, and weathered countless economic ups and downs. They’ve watched design and outdoor lifestyle trends come full circle from their father’s era. However, the firm remains confident of their planned expansion and hiring goals. “We’re passionate about what we do … people see opportunities to grow here and explore their own interests,” says Rocco Jr.
Fiore’s name is also synonymous with community stewardship and service. Fiore has spearheaded many environmental efforts that have protected our bluffs, lessened our buckthorn, and preserved the North Shore’s prairies and wetlands.
Additionally, Fiore has graciously given of their time, talents, and resources to local organizations like the Equestrian Connection, a therapeutic horseback riding center located in Lake Forest. “You can’t help yourself when you see all the good they’re doing,” says Drew Johnson, a Fiore landscape architect who has worked closely with Equestrian Connection to beautify their grounds.
To learn more about Rocco Fiore & Sons and their award-winning work, visit their web site at www.roccofiore.com.
Time to Think About Spring Pots
This planter with a mix of forced tulips, pansies and trailing ivy is an excellent method of introducing the spring season to a garden. Spring planters are typically installed in early to mid April and will last approximately 2-3 weeks.