April 6, 2005 - The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce named AAA Landscape Large Business of the Year at the Pinnacle Awards Banquet April 5. The chamber honored AAA Landscape with the Pinnacle Award during the awards banquet at Omni Tucson National Resort. The award recognized large businesses with 50 and more employees that have made significant contributions to Northern Pima County by providing outstanding leadership and community involvement.

The selection committee, made up of past chamber presidents, decided between three finalists before awarding AAA Landscape the Large Business of the Year Award.

AAA Landscape, 4742 N. Romero Road, is a full service commercial landscape, installation and maintenance company that has been serving Tucson since 1975.

In 1975, Vice President Richard Underwood and his brother Bob founded AAA Landscape with a pickup truck and money they had borrowed from their mother.

"We just had a great time with it," Underwood said. "I found what I really wanted to do."

Today, AAA Landscape does business in both Tucson and Phoenix and handles accounts and construction projects ranging from $500 to $3 million.

AAA Landscape divides it work equally between maintenance and construction work. AAA now does about 60 percent of its business in Phoenix and 40 percent in Tucson, he said.

The company employs more than 400 workers and will celebrate its 30th anniversary April 29. In 1997, the company began an employee stock ownership plan that both encouraged and rewarded company employees.

The company's work over the past 30 years has resulted in dramatic and lasting improvements to the environment, Underwood said. AAA Landscape has worked on projects including Starr Pass, Dove Mountain and La Encantada.

The company offers complete landscape of municipal, commercial, school district and new development sites. The company also offers irrigation systems, water and lighting features and tree and cacti salvage.

"We have a spiritual connectedness with the land," Underwood said.

To further that connection with the land the Underwoods started Arid Solutions Nursery in Phoenix as a complementary business to AAA Landscape in 1984.

The nursery's goal is to provide healthy, well-adapted desert plants for AAA Landscape and outside contractors. It is a wholesale nursery operating on 19 acres. There are about 300 different plant species available. The nursery also works to maintain and improve water conservation.

"We get to make something," Underwood said. "Our involvement in the community is more than just going in and doing a job."

AAA annually contributes to various charities including the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, The town of Marana, the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council, the Oro Valley Optimist Club and others.

Underwood encourages a spirit of volunteerism among his employees.

"We give back to the community where we make our living," he said. "I've never been afraid to bet on Oro Valley or on Northern Pima County."

Mike Walter, Vice President of Construction for AAA Landscape, is following in Underwood's footsteps by serving the local community. Walter is currently Vice President of the Marana Chamber of Commerce.

"When Bob and I step down," Underwood said, "He will be running this company."

AAA Landscape will continue to maintain the high standards of work and community involvement that have been established over the past 30 years. His company's success is due in part to its long-term involvement in the community, he said.

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