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Landscaping business is rooted in family

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A variety of garden decorations and care products are available at Mathies Landscaping’s retail store located in a distinctive brick building with a towering smokestack, a formercanning factory.
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Mathies Landscaping Inc. has been a family-owned operation in Shelbyville since 1967, starting out asa mowing business and growing into commercial landscaping with about 15 employees. Randy Mathies says much of that success is due to their outstanding workers.
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Photos in the business office of Mathies Landscaping showitemsfromthe old canning factory that now houses their retail store, including the float built by the cannery workers that was in the parade for the Shelbyville High School boys basketball team that won the 1947 state championship.
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Marilyn Mathies manages the company's office. The greenery seen out of her window decorates the front of the retail store next door.

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

On a wall in the office of Mathies Landscaping Inc. are black-and-white pictures of the old Stokley Brothers canning factory which now houses Mathies’ retail store.

Among many other things, the building once held an important piece of Shelbyville history.

“This is a picture of the float they had in the parade for the 1947 basketball team,” said Randy Mathies, referring to the Shelbyville High School team that won the state championship that year.

The float was stored in the canning factory for some time but is long gone now.

Mathies Landscaping, however, is going strong after 51 years in business. Steve, Randy, Marilyn and Dana Mathies now employ about 15 workers during the busy summer months.

“Once March 1 hits is when it starts,” said Steve, the eldest.

However, the business that now serves customers in a roughly 100-mile radius from Shelbyville grew out of modest beginnings.

In 1967, Leroy Mathies and his son, Steve, began mowing yards before going in to work the second shift at a couple of the local factories.

By 1975, things were going well enough that the business was incorporated, and Mathies Landscaping Inc. bought the old canning factory at 521 E. Hendricks St., easy to spot with its round brick smokestack more than 100 feet tall.

The building now houses Mathies’ retail store.

Later, they bought the building next door and moved their offices into it in 1996, Randy said.

“They were printing ‘Wheels & Deals’ magazine,” he recalled, but the owners relocated that business up to Indianapolis.

Even though they have a retail store, Mathies Landscaping is just that – landscaping. The business isn’t a nursery that grows and sells its own plants. 

“That’s a whole different industry,” said Marilyn.

Randy agreed, saying you have to be one or the other, or neither works well. Mathies buys most of their plants from Indiana nurseries, and some from Michigan, he added.

What Mathies does primarily is new landscaping construction, which is planning and designing where the plantings will go, along with irrigation and erosion control, and finishing touches such as paving stones and lighting.

They do a lot of commercial business in their 100-mile service area, but customers in Shelbyville are mostly residential, and today’s planned communities have helped sales.

“People are starting to spend a lot more on outdoor living ... I think people are staying home more,” said Steve.

So what’s the biggest mistake residential customers make?

First off, they don’t have a plan to know where and how plantings will grow best. You don’t want to plant something that will grow large too close to the house, Steve explained, and don’t put plants that need light on the north side.

“We see a lot of that,” he said.

Business slows in the winter, as might be expected, and Mathies uses the down time to prepare bids for jobs. The company does some snow removal to keep staff members busy year round. 

They also use the time off for equipment maintenance to get prepared for another busy growing season.

“Shelbyville’s been good to Mathies Landscaping over the years,” Steve said.