Following is an excerpt from LiveRoof News Blog by Dave MacKenzie, Owner Hortech/LiveRoof/LiveWall
Like other green roof companies, LiveRoof Global has a story of conception and evolution; and for us it began with my interest in low maintenance ground covers. During my “writing years” I wrote four books on the subject and my Michigan-based perennial plant business, Hortech, Inc., grew sedums (and other ground covers and perennials) for two decades before entering the green roof industry.
After being in the perennial/ground cover business for twenty years, something unusual happened; Felton Gross, one of our long-time truck drivers, returned from a delivery trip and said “You’ll never guess what they’re doing with our plants”. He went on to tell me about seeing plants planted on a residential rooftop in Traverse City, Michigan. Out of curiosity I went to see for myself, and found it fascinating. Then I began to read up on green roofs and green roof plants. Shortly thereafter Hortech was contracted to grow 250,000 sedum plugs for the Ford Dearborn 10-acre green roof, and that really piqued my interest!
My vision is to bridge the disconnect between the “reality” of a biodiverse native-species green roof, and the property owner’s expectation is to provide a collection of plants that is easy to care for and visually appealing (to the property owner), yet biodiverse and habitat-supportive of a broad range of animal life.
Based on these experiences Hortech published a list of suggested green roof plants (in our catalog) and soon the phone rang with a landscape contractor from Chicago saying “We need you here tomorrow”. He didn’t say why, but I went, and what happened there changed my business dramatically. The landscapers told me; “we’re starting to do a lot of green roofs, and we have a vision for a new way, but we can’t figure it out, so we’re turning to you”. Two hours later, armed with their “vision” and a suggestion from one of their managers (to look at a portable soccer field module, in his backyard) I sketched up a prototype, which I cobbled together the next day.
Soon, with the prototype in hand, I began making sales presentations and was pleased to get a couple of orders. And, from these experiences I sensed a broader opportunity than just Hortech supplying the Great Lakes market. So, having many long-term horticultural friends (other nursery owners), I shared my vision for a LiveRoof® network of horticultural professionals, and quickly assembled the LiveRoof® Global Network, which serves North America and a few other parts of the world.
Since then we’ve been innovative in many ways; developing a family of products such as RoofEdge edging, RoofStone pavers, Lite and Deep soil systems, RoofBlue water retention and detention accessories and, perhaps most surprisingly, plants. Yes, we have been developing plants specifically suited to green roofs, first Sedums and now others.