April 16, 2007

Landscape Structures: Delano's 2007 business of the year

By Cullen Schultz
Staff Writer

Operating a successful business is no easy task, but when one does it well and surpasses expectations, it is a great accomplishment.

Landscape Structure Inc. (LSI) has done just that, and was awarded with the Delano Chamber of Commerce 2007 Business of the Year.

LSI received the award at the chamber’s annual banquet March 17 at the Delano American Legion. The event included dinner from Red’s of Montrose and music provided by The Funk Junkies.

“It is an honor, and we’re happy to be selected as the business of the year,” LSI co-founder Steve King said.

To meet the criteria to win the award, the winner must have been an established business in Delano for one year, and contribute to the community.

LSI passed both requirements by being in Delano for 26 years, and by contributing to the community by sponsoring new playground equipment, having raffle prizes, and having teams for Relay for Life, to name a few things.

“It is recognition of our success and contribution to the community, state, and to our employees,” King said.

LSI manufactures commercial playground, park, and skate park equipment for cities, schools, and the community as a whole.

“The two real big groups are elementary schools and municipal governments,” King said.

The ideas and products LSI produces are second to none, which is making LSI one of the premiere manufacturers in its field.

Created by Steve and Barb King in 1971, LSI’s headquarters came to Delano in 1981, and has never looked back.

“The corporate entity is here,” Steve King said.

Currently, the company has more than 300 employees working in Delano, and almost 200 salespersons all over the world, which is a mighty feat since the company started with only two employees – co-founders Steve and Barb, working out of their home.

“My wife and I were the only employees,” Steve King said.

The company is based in Delano’s Industrial Park, with a building space totaling 340,000 square feet, for production and design work.

Out of the space, LSI produces products that fall under categories such as Playsystems, Independents, Skate Parks, Mobius Climber, Natural Elements, Spacenet Climbers, Sports and Fitness, and Accents.

“Our most popular has been the PlayBooster system,” King said.

The PlayBooster incorporates such things as bridges and ramps, climbers, decks, overhead hangs, slides, and tunnels.

LSI works diligently for the future and new products, having a goal to create more than 10 new small independent playground products a year, which are designed to be separate pieces of equipment, or to be incorporated into a Playsystem. Examples of independents are the Net products and the Orbiter Spinners.

“We try to have 12 to 15 new products a year,” King said.

The playground equipment they produce is designed for continuous play, a concept King developed while he was attending Iowa State University.

“It was my idea for my thesis at Iowa State,” King said.

Continuous play is a concept most will now recognize, but before it was accepted, playground equipment such as monkey bars, slides, and swings were all separated and a good distance apart from one another.

King’s concept was to put the components together in one area to save space, as well as encourage children to interact with one another, and work on their decision- making skills.

“Lives of all children have been enhanced because of what we are doing,” King said.

Obviously, the concept was a success; LSI’s sales were at almost $80 million last year alone.

Landscape Structures Inc. has grown tremendously since its creation in 1971, and with its steady flow of new ideas and products, and looks to continue to prosper.

“We always want to grow,” King said.

The company also started a “live-well” program, which provides opportunities for employees to improve health, fitness, and general well-being.

Barb King has also founded a personal foundation called the Sanjai Foundation, which is dedicated to combating childhood obesity by developing programs that inspire wise nutrition and activity choices in children.

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