March 15, 2012
Lecture series provides insight
MC at the Contractor Lecture Series Harry Gelderman thanks guest speakers Terry McGlade, left, and Haig Seferian, right.
Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations

Denis FlanaganThe audience at LO’s annual Contractor Lecture series enjoyed two very insightful presentations by industry veterans Terry McGlade and Haig Seferian CLD.

Terry McGlade gave a history of his early years when he was involved in TV production and dance, and then decided he wanted to spend less time in a dark studio and more time in an outdoor environment. This motivated him and a neighbour to form a company that specialized in perennial gardens with its core value.

“It’s all about plants,” said McGlade, adding it’s a value he still promotes today. He’s moved through many phases in his career, including design and installation of high-end gardens in downtown Toronto, specializing in intricate stone work, swimming pools and four season plant displays.

The audience was certainly wowed by the images of his award-winning projects. Many were surprised when McGlade shared that his company had never owned a skid steer or backhoe.

The next phase for the company was to move into roof gardens. His company soon became known as a leading expert in designing and installing landscapes for residential and commercial buildings, with an emphasis on customized structures that were often pre-built in a studio, requiring a crane on-site to lift them into place.

The most recent phase of Terry McGlade’s career is working with one of North America’s largest building envelope companies that provides major projects with a green roof component. This has led to large scale projects at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Botanical Garden and The Vancouver Convention Centre.

Fond memories

McGlade shared a personal moment from his early years, revealing that he never had any formal training in horticulture. He said he believed in the Gladwell theory that says one needs to spend 10,000 hours on any subject to become proficient.

Haig Seferian was the second presenter for the evening. He explained that his early years in the industry, after graduating from school as a Landscape Architect, involved working with Aldershot Landscaping. He has particularly fond memories of being mentored by Bill Deluca and Horst Dickert.

He reflected how he was encouraged by both of them to start his own design firm. He shared his story of how that company evolved.

Seferian learned early in his career that if his company was to be successful it had to be first in thinking to remain leading edge. This philosophy paid off with his design team responsible for thousands of high-end projects and working with many of Ontario’s leading contractors.

As a result of his work with many industry associations, including the OALA and LO, Seferian became involved in the media world. This resulted in him hosting several hit TV shows and writing a best-selling book on hardscaping.

Going back to the principle of being first, Haig Seferian’s company began using 3D software design capabilities, which has led to some amazing contracts. One such project involves a client based in Texas, who owns property in Toronto. The new software allowed the project to be designed and managed almost entirely online.

The next phase in Seferian’s journey was a result of a lecture given by Ron Koudys that inspired him to literally widen his view of the world through travel. After a trip to Paris, Seferian returned with a new mission for his company to take on projects not necessarily for monetary reasons, but with the goal that the project will “make a difference in people’s lives.” Since his team has adopted this new philosophy, many new doors have opened.

The Lecture series is an initiative of Landscape Ontario’s Contractors Sector Group. Sponsors of the event held Feb. 22 at Toronto Botanical Garden, were Eloquip, Unilock, Gro-Bark, Dufferin Aggregates and Beaver Valley Stone.
Denis Flanagan can be reached at or at 905-875-1805, ext. 2303.