Mt. Pleasant-based Silvis Group Inc. is named county's business of the year
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In late spring of 1986, Jacob H. Silvis IV went door-to-door hanging fliers advertising his burgeoning lawn care business at homes throughout the Youngwood and Greensburg areas.
In his first slice at entrepreneurial success, Silvis was equipped with the help of some friends and a humble fleet of 21-inch push lawnmowers.
“I never thought a Sears & Roebuck lawnmower would go so far,” said Silvis' father, Jacob H. Silvis III, of Hempfield. “Jake was still in high school, and he got his buddies into working with him during the summers.”
Silvis eventually graduated from Hempfield Area in 1989 and studied landscape contracting and horticulture at Penn State University.
Two years later, he established Silvis Group Inc. a company which provides landscaping, hardscaping, lawn maintenance and commercial snow management services to the entire Westmoreland County area with approximately 50 employees during the company's peak summer season.
The company — which in 2008 relocated to a 40-acre property along Shultz Road in Mt. Pleasant — was honored recently as the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year during the chamber's annual luncheon held at St. Vincent College in Unity.
“I couldn't have done it without my team; the success that Silvis Group has achieved is solely due to people associated with Silvis Group,” said Silvis, who was joined at the awards luncheon by his father, his mother, Joan, and 12 of his company staff members, including his wife, Jenifer.
In honoring Silvis and his staffers, several of whom are Penn State master gardeners and state-certified horticulturalists, chamber President Chad Amond regaled the roughly 250 in attendance at the event on the accomplishments purveyed by the company since it became a chamber member in 1994.
“This award is about companies with people who impact our communities in a positive way every single day,” Amond said.
Amond noted ways in which Silvis Group Inc. goes above and beyond to benefit surrounding communities, which include:
• Service on the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Beautification Committee, which is responsible for maintaining the aesthetic and history of the campus
• Provision of consultation, design insights and installation of projects in conjunction with Westmoreland Conservation District, Loyalhanna Watershed Association of Ligonier Township and Sewickley Creek Watershed Association of the Youngwood/New Stanton area
• Participation and sponsorship of the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival and the Westmoreland Fair in Mt. Pleasant Township
“Silvis Group is dedicated to being a leader in horticultural and environmental areas, and continually does its part to preserve and promote Westmoreland County,” Amond said.
Silvis credited his work ethic to his father, a retired employee of the Elliott Company in Jeannette, and his grandfather, Jacob H. Silvis II, who both maintained Silvis Farm in Hempfield.
“My background comes from farming; I was born and raised in the agriculture business,” Silvis IV said. “I grew up with a couple hundred head of hogs and cattle, and that kept everyone hopping.”
Even as he was pursuing his education at Penn State, Silvis said that fledgling lawn care business steadily grew to include a staff of 10 employees.
“We just offered a tour of the facility to landscape contracting students; we've kept good ties with them,” he said.
What began as an fledgling operation, which spread via those fliers and by word-of-mouth, has grown into what today is a $4 million company, Silvis said.
He said he has an eye toward continued growth and expansion into new service areas while maintaining its central location locally, where the company's office is set up in the property's original farmhouse built in 1867, he said.
“Where Silvis is positioned, we will continue to grow other markets and satellite locations, with this being the corporate headquarters,” Silvis IV said. “I know Westmoreland County is a good area to run a business because it's well-built and family-oriented area.”
The Silvis' are parents to a daughter, Lily, and a son, Jacob V. Silvis.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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