Jeremy Miller had yet to develop a green thumb when he helped roommate Kent Houston launch Houston Landscapes in 2004.
His hands had been kept busy building businesses, not gardens. Somewhere along the way he developed a passion for creating gardens, and he decided to buy Houston out as a partner in 2010.
Miller is now the sole owner, CEO and president of the 60-employee company, which saw $6.5 million in sales in 2012.
His entrepreneurial flair was clear soon after he graduated from West Vancouver’s Sentinel Secondary School in 1994. He launched a small venture called Full Tilt and convinced nightclub owners to let him manage their clubs on slow nights.
Miller hired DJs, booked bands and arranged promotion, taking the cover charge proceeds and leaving the owner with revenue from the drink sales.
“I took a few courses at Capilano College but determined that school after high school wasn’t for me,” he said. The nightclub promoter gig lasted until 2000, although much of that time he also worked as a croupier at a casino.
The dot-com boom was then at its height, unleashing what for many was an irresistible pull. Miller started selling website domains at a venture called Palomar. A few months later, he left with his boss to start a website-selling division within an existing event-planning company that would soon be purchased by multinational PGI Events and Destinations.
That turned out to be a lucky break, given that the company would soon start organizing major events around the world for companies such as Coca-Cola Co.
Miller sold those client companies a host of website services to enable them to promote their events and allow attendees to enrol online.
Within four years, he had grown the division to $10 million in annual sales and a team of 20 people.
Frustrated by what he called “multiple layers of corporateness” within PGI, he left to found the digital marketing company Wallop Creative.
Houston noticed how hard Miller worked and recruited him to give Houston Landscapes the boost it needed to morph from a one-man-and-a-truck operation into one of Vancouver’s most successful landscape construction companies.
In his off time, Miller plays hockey, snowboards and spends time with his wife Kirsty and their two young sons.
He also volunteers with his Houston Landscapes team to rejuvenate areas such as Eastview Park Bog, which had been inundated by invasive species.