Tom Sunderland’s love for the land has been informed by painter Thomas Kinkade, photographer Ansel Adams, and places like Big Sur and Monterey Peninsula in California. Growing up in Northern California meant time spent exploring and backpacking through the majestic Sierra Nevadas.
“Whether hiking, biking, skiing or simply observing a bird in a tree outside my kitchen window, the outdoors have always provided me with a profound sense of peace, clarity and connection,” Sunderland shares.
It was in 1987 while he was in Monterey that he developed an additional passion for playing music, inspired by an experience seeing the Grateful Dead perform at Laguna Seca. His diverse lived experiences have also taken him across borders to places such as the shorelines of Costa Rica. On one particular family vacation, Sunderland had a traumatic surfing accident causing him to break parts of his vertebrae, leaving him on a long path of recovery with the time to contemplate his relationships, life and work. As a father of two and husband to Missie Sunderland (a longtime Pilates instructor at Colorado Athletic Club), his gratitude for the precious moments in life only deepened.
Before the accident and prior to starting a family, Sunderland’s draw to the wild would bring him to the Rocky Mountains where he learned stone masonry and native restoration above Boulder. After earning his Masters of Landscape Architecture from CU Denver, he jumped into what he refers to as the hard knocks school of business where he began his first company. Native Edge Landscapes is a full-service landscape firm based in North Boulder that provides landscape architecture, construction, and maintenance services for single-family residences, schools, mixed-use developments, and retirement communities.
“We get to do creative work, with such an amazingly diverse crew to create unique and custom outdoor living spaces for people who really love the outdoors,” he says.
Embracing the quietness incited by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunderland turned again towards nature, spending afternoons biking with the family to see the emerging wildlife. But back in the office, work became harder than ever as he struggled to fill all positions with a diverse staff while keeping spirits high for their team of 70.
“As a leader, I needed to be a source of encouragement, care, and stability during these uncertain times,” Sunderland says. “Because we provide career and growth opportunities for folks that normally might not be able to find a job in Boulder, being a part of the community means cultivating the trades even when other companies this size are not.”
With a commitment to inclusivity, you can expect Sunderland to continue to transform personal and professional challenges into ones with positive outcomes.
Setting New Standards
“Latinos represent 35.2% of all workers in the landscape and lawn care industry but only 13.4% of all U.S. workers. The takeaway for us as a company is that we have a mixed workforce in the field, and it is part of what makes a healthy work culture,” Sunderland says.
While the industry average for female employment is just under 10%, Native Edge Landscapes employment is 21% female.
“We don’t hire based on whether you are a man or a woman, Hispanic or white, but solely on the ability to do the job without regard to race, gender or ethnicity,” he shares.
1435 Yarmouth Ave., Suite 102, Boulder, CO 80304