About the Founder and President
Born in Charleston West Virginia, Bill Botkin grew up being a lover of the outdoors. He spent all of his free time hiking, hunting, and fishing in the mountains of West Virgina. He spent his summers through grade school, junior high school and high school earning money by offering lawn maintenance and landscape services to friends and neighbors and working on horse farms to earn his spending money.
He graduated from Charleston Catholic High School and then attended West Virginia University Institute of Technology. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from their ABET accredited program (if the engineering program of the school does not meet the ABET qualifications, the graduates cannot attain a professional Engineering License).
After graduation he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and began a career as a project Engineer with Professional Service Industries (a national engineering firm that specializes in Geotechnial, Construction, and Environmental Engineering). He supervised contractors on large commercial and residential projects to make sure they were performing their work to industry standards and ASTM specifications.
He left Professional Service Industries to take a promotion with Crowder Construction Company. There, he managed up to ten $250,000.00 to $1,000,000.00 projects at any given time. Crowder sent him to numerous project management schools where he gained extensive project management training. He then gained extensive hands-on experience by managing Crowder’s grading, stone, concrete, and asphalt crews as well as numerous subcontractors on his assigned projects where he learned numerous trade skills from tradesman that have been in the industry for 15 to 30 years.
In 1998 after being approached by many of Crowder Construction’s clients to perform projects under $250,000.00 and being turned down by Crowder’s upper management to allow Crowder’s crews to perform the work, Bill saw an opportunity in the market for someone that could perform small projects for commercial builders and developers that needed someone to perform small, various trades of work on their projects. Usually when a developer or builder would do a large project, there would be a punch list of items that would need to be taken care of to finish the project. Since the punch list items were usually small, they could not get any of their contractors to come back to take care of them. Since we had gained experience in several trades, we were able to come in and handle all the small, tedious tasks that they had quickly and effectively to allow them to close out the project and move onto the next one.
After working in the commercial industry for several years assisting builders and developers with turn-key projects, he was approached by several architects, developers, and builders to perform landscaping and construction projects at their homes. This got Bill wondering how homeowners managed large multi-trade projects of their own. This gave him the idea to offer our services to homeowners that do not have construction project management experience and do not have the time to manage several contractors working on the same project. Outdoor Life then began offering their services to residential home owners. Residential projects now comprise the majority of our work load.
Outdoor Life was probably the first Charlotte landscaping company to develop the turn-key construction and landscaping concept for this industry. During our many years in business, we have seen many companies come and go that tried to mimick our concept. The problem has always been that they did not have the training and field experience to perform and manage all of the work. In many cases, we also noticed that many of the other owners felt they should sit in an office all day and handle the paperwork and phone calls and manage the business from afar. The problem is that design/build multi-trade construction is very hard to learn and it is even harder to train employees to learn, so when the owner is the one that has all the experience and credentials and they are not in the field supervising the work, all of the work is being done by un-experienced people. Ironically, many trade licenses actually require the licensee to directly supervise the work that their company performs, because the trade experts that sit on the license boards know that.
Since Bill loves the outdoors, he has no inclination to spend his time behind a desk. That is one of the big reasons he quit his job as an engineer. He has also seen many good companies go under as they became more popular and grew in size to meet the demand and the owner (who was the one that made the company successful initially) became further and further removed from the day to day operations and lost contact with the end-product and then eventually lost their quality control. Bill takes too much pride in his work to let that happen to his company and reputation. He would rather keep his company small, his grip firm on the work product and quality control, than to become a landscaping conglomerate with multiple crews producing marginal quality like so many of the others. I guess he will be like the characters in the movie “Second Hand Lions” and will go down with his boots on.