Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection recently talked with Al McCoy Britt, II, founder and president of, as part of its My Green Montgomery program during Black History Month. He offered his thoughts on operating a local small business in the County—from how he started to being competitive in a business where Black companies are under-represented.
The entire interview with Al Britt can be found on the My Green Montgomery website at https://tinyurl.com/4f2n828m.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Please tell us a little bit about your company and your journey in the landscaping industry.
I started working outside with my brother when I was 13 and I started Britt Landscaping when I was 17. My brother and I started mowing neighbors’ yards in Silver Spring to make a little money for ourselves, but after a couple of years, he grew tired of it and stopped. I enjoyed working outside and making people’s lawns in the neighborhood look beautiful, so I kept going. I taught myself how to design the yards that people wanted and install the appropriate flowers for them. After a few years of this, around 1989, my mother saw that I was serious about my work, so she helped me incorporate into a company and do everything I needed to do to set up a business. My sister is an artist, so she designed my first logo and she helped me with the administration of my business. Thus, Britt Landscaping was born. By 1990 my clientele grew by word-of-mouth up to 200 customers made up of primarily single-family homes. By 2000, I added Homeowner Associations and some commercial properties.
What commitments do you make in your hiring decisions?
When I am hiring people, I am committed to training them to succeed with us as leaders and within in this industry. Everyone should have a skill that they can depend on to survive and make a living. We do beautiful work and we have to train new employees (no matter what they say their experience level is) to get them up to our standards so that we can maintain and improve our standards, as well as grow our customer base.
I am also committed to creating a diverse and supportive work environment where employees and their families can thrive. Happy and secure employees bring their best to the table creatively and through good work ethic. We try to foster a work environment that is free from discrimination and that allows people to express themselves creatively, especially through nature.
My biggest challenge is finding people who want to work outside in nature, especially in the extremes of heat and cold in this area, but I love it out here.
What, if any, challenges do you feel you have had to overcome as a Black-owned business in the landscaping industry?
Some challenges we have had to overcome as minorities in this business include finding effective contacts and getting contracts. I look at some of my non-minority peers who have been able to obtain very large contracts and clients by sometimes just walking into the room. Often non-minorities have contacts that I just don’t have, so it takes a lot more networking for me to meet the contact that I need and then I have to really convince them to give us a chance. Many of us just don’t have the same circle of contacts that non-minorities have. Often times, my peers may have grown up with the people who are now the corporation owners or heads in government, so they have a leg up on obtaining contracts because of who they know, particularly in the private sector.
What do you think government or community leaders can do to support businesses like yours?
Montgomery County Government actually does a lot for minority-owned businesses and we are blessed to be in this County. They have programs that assist with hiring through the State’s Department of Labor and there is a plethora of nonprofit organizations that assist with business startup. Even though they provide these services, there just are not a lot of people who are interested in investing in a career working in landscaping. Even with these resources, we still struggle with hiring qualified, dependable people. But I do believe that Montgomery County and the State of Maryland make it fairly easy to start up a business and they do provide excellent resources to business owners, especially compared to other close jurisdictions.
Learn more about My Green Montgomery at https://mygreenmontgomery.org/.