Our history and staff make all the difference
Kenneth R. “Kenny” Schmalz, Founder
Kenneth R. Schmalz was born and raised at the original Lake Park Tavern in Menasha. Witnessing construction on the nearby F.J. Sensenbrenner Estate and North Shore Country Club—including many gardens, waterfalls, trout ponds, and other unique landscape features designed by Fronz Lipp—sparked his early interest in landscaping.
Prior to World War II he worked as greens keeper at North Shore, continuing to broaden his knowledge and strengthen his passion for the profession. After flying B-17s in WWII, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the GI Bill where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and was a member of Alpha Zeta. Kenny started Schmalz Custom Landscaping in 1949 and, over 65 years later, his vision for the company remains vital to the organization.
Kenny was also the founder of Ken R. Schmalz Land Surveying and the Ken Schmalz Orchestra, as well as teaching home landscaping at Fox Valley Technical College. He was also an active member of the Wisconsin Landscape Federation and made his name and company known throughout the area.
Meet the Schmalz team
Our family is proud to have built a reputation that has earned the Best Of the Valley award year after year. When you visit our Garden Center or work with our landscaping teams, you’ll appreciate the warmth and respect shown by each staff member. It’s this sense of community that has kept Schmalz Custom Landscaping & Garden Center the preferred landscape company in the Fox Cities for more than 60 years.
Nick Schmalz, President
Nick attended MATC-Milwaukee and obtained an Associate’s Degree in Landscape Design. He grew up around the family business gaining experience that paved the way for his future in the company. As the third generation of the Schmalz family, he feels honored to take over from his father, Luke, as owner of the company. Prior to joining Schmalz full time, Nick worked for three years at Breezy Hill Nursery in West Salem, WI. The knowledge and skills that he obtained there have allowed Nick to incorporate his own unique perspective and ideas into operations at Schmalz. Many of Nick’s designs utilize native material, enhancing the landscape and creating a natural setting. He also specializes in commercial projects and managing large-scale projects with numerous details. Taking ownership of the business in 2014, Nick continues the traditions and family pride established in 1949 of being a leading landscape company.
Luke Schmalz, Landscape Architect, RLA
Luke has been around the business his entire life and owned the company since 1985. He received an Associate’s Degree in Landscape Design and Horticulture from MATC-Milwaukee and worked at a landscape company in Milwaukee for two years while attending MATC. While there, he carried out a variety of tasks that formed the foundation for his future in the profession. He began his journey with Schmalz at a young age, installing landscapes and getting to know customers when he was just twelve years old. Luke worked alongside his father for two summers while in college, learning the ropes of landscape design and installation. After graduation, he took over as general manager of Schmalz and began crafting the company into what it is today. Luke’s passion for customer service and satisfaction, as well as employee safety and welfare, drives his success. He prides himself on continuing the tradition his father began 63 years ago; assuring that Schmalz remains the premier landscape company in the Fox River Valley. With transitioning ownership in 2014 to his son Nick, the pride and traditions started in 1949 will continue for years to come.
Travis Schroeder, Landscape Designer
With Schmalz since 1997, Travis spent his childhood in central Illinois where he developed an interest in plants and design. He attended the University of Illinois and obtained a degree in Ornamental Horticulture with a specialty in design. After graduation, Travis began his career with Schmalz and has been with the company ever since. He has an extensive knowledge of plant material and a wide variety of experience in project design and management, ranging from a front-yard overhaul to an entire yard renovation including: plantings, patios and walls, outdoor living areas with grills and fire pits, lawns and water features.
Dan Vechart, Landscape Designer
Prior to joining Schmalz in 2011, Dan was lead on a journey from growing up in northeast Wisconsin and enjoying its many great landmark features to attending college in Madison and earning a great education (and cheering on the Badgers!). He brings to the table a positive energy that stems from a passion for delivering high quality designs and customer service, attention to detail, and carefully tending to the wants/needs of each client. Dan has vast experience in project management and design on projects including: small front plantings and entire yard projects with retaining walls, water features, paver patios and landscape lighting. In addition, he has provided solutions on several shoreline repair projects that adhere to DNR regulations and also large commercial projects that enhance building architecture while sticking to tight budgets. In his free time, Dan enjoys spending time with his wife, Aimee, volunteering at church, boating, reading, officiating and playing basketball, and exploring the beautiful creation that is the outdoors.
Nick Balliet, Landscape Designer
Bringing a background that includes both working at a multitude of nurseries and serving as an active participant in running his family’s tree farm, Nick has been at Schmalz since 2009. He relies on his experience and love of the outdoors to create exceptional designs that enhance the beauty of the landscape while catering to the individual needs and desires of his clients. Nick earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Jeff Morris, RLA
A graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Jeff is our senior Landscape Architect. He has been practicing landscape architecture since 1982, and has been with Schmalz for twenty two years. He hails from Michigan where he grew up working on landscape crews and worked as foreman for a design build firm. He also spent time in California, honing his landscape design skills. Back in Appleton, Jeff is happy to be able to use his passion for design. He especially enjoys seeing his customers’ eyes light up when a project is finished above and beyond their expectations.
Josh Jansen, Landscape Designer
Josh has a Bachelor of Science, Architectural Studies degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he also majored in Graphic Design. Since he began his career with the company in 2014, he has experienced a diverse involvement in the industry. Because of his background, he particularly enjoys designing hardscapes and outdoor living areas: he is able to present concepts in a unique visual style with his artistic abilities. To him, landscape design is a means of enriching an environment to create and enhance the beauty in life. His hobbies include: drawing, painting, attending concerts, and traveling with his wife, Laura.
Our talented and dedicated installation teams are experts in their respective areas and bring a close attention to detail to each job. With more than 10 crews, Schmalz is fully staffed to ensure your project is completed as quickly and efficiently as weather permits.
Our Garden Center team is helpful, knowledgeable and sincere in their desire to help our customers maximize their efforts in their gardens. We are waiting to help you realize your outdoor dreams!
Corey Joy, Garden Center Manager
Corey has been gardening and landscaping since he was a child. He became interested in the industry when he was a Greenhouse Manager at Oconomowoc High School for the local FFA chapter. He also attended FVTC where he studied Horticulture and Landscaping. With the company for Nine years, Corey is passionately dedicated to the outdoors and enjoys talking to people about their landscaping needs—especially when it comes to the vast variety of trees and shrubs that are currently offered at the Schmalz Garden Center.
Our entire Garden Center team is at your service all season long:
James Clancy, Assistant Manager
Kurt Lingnowski, Nursery Sales
Nick Korth, Tree Planting/Delivery Specialist
Tom McGinnis, Native Plants Specialist
Leanette Holzschuh, Nursery Sales
Deb Goetz, Customer Service
Amanda Haessly, Customer Service
Catherine DeClarc, Nursery Sales
Fay Eckstein, Annuals/Perennials
Andy Christenson, Nursery Sales
Hannah Kading, Nursery Sales
Trevor Gardner, Yard
Garrett Klosterman, Yard
Mitch Manion, Yard
Millie Schroeder, Perennial Manager
Millie studied at NWTC and worked at Green Bay Botanical Gardens. She has been with Schmalz since 1993, serving as a perennial manager purchasing beautiful, healthy plants for landscape projects and for the retail Garden Center. From spring to fall she maintains supplies for both divisions of the business and takes pride in obtaining the most outstanding plants that will last an indefinite amount of time and offer years of enjoyment for Schmalz customers.
Jon King, Buyer
In his 22 years of working at Schmalz Jon has earned several promotions and has risen steadily through the ranks. Now, in his capacity as Green Goods Buyer, he places particular emphasis on sourcing an ever-growing list of new plants for our customers to feature in their unique landscapes, as well as finding new disease-resistant varieties of plants that promise to offer enjoyment for many years.