Don’t forget to water your plants. A conversation between Shawn and Whalebone MagazineShawn grew up in Montauk, NY. He was raised in an area called Camp Hero (think Stranger Things but on the ocean). He grew up with his two brothers riding dirtbikes, fishing and surfing up by the Lighthouse. Not a bad childhood overall.
Decades later, Shawn has remained close to the community, and after many years of working with some of the more prominent landscape and installation companies in New York, Shawn rolled up his sleeves and did something many from the Montauk community have been known to do: he went out and created his own business, Northbar Properties. A boutique landscape, installation and maintenance company, that hews to a personal client relationship, working with clients from Southampton to Montauk.
Shawn, the world’s 4th fastest man on a bike, has been a friend and supporter of Whalebone Magazine since before we ever thought of producing our first issue, so when we had the chance to spend an afternoon with him talking about things like; Robert De Niro movies, The Dock restaurant, crazy people who spend $30,000 on a single tree, and where to find a good real estate agent these days, it was a good catch-up session.
The best thing about being the boss is I can surf whenever I want.
Do you make your bed in the morning?
No, my wife does.
The worst thing you have encountered since opening your own business? The best thing?
Worst: the worst thing about starting my own business is hiring friends— friends who surf. They always want to surf.
Best: The best thing is that, being the boss, I can surf whenever I want.
One piece of advice for any person going out to start their own thing?
I think it’s great when you see all the young people in our community take the risk and start a business doing something they love. Montauk was essentially started by people moving here to work for themselves and live the dream. Whether it be kombucha and juice companies, food, clothing lines, or surf camps, best advice I can give is have passion, authenticity and create as much value as you can offer to your customers.
John Deere or Japanese model?
Neither. All-American Walker brand mowers. We make your yard look like Yankee Stadium.
What do you suspect the guys are listening to on their headphones when mowing grass?
I would love to say something hip and trendy, but most likely mariachi music.
Landscape design, lawn care and maintenance kind of sucks unless you live in California or Colorado—those guys love green things—but what is the importance of staying up on the things that you own?
Landscaping on the East End is incredible. We have four seasons with different weather and variables to work with.
When Northbar Properties take over a property, we strive to provide interest, color, bark and evergreens in all seasons so that your property maintains the beauty year-round.
Preferred wave conditions?
Head high, northwest winds and on a weekday.
The most expensive tree you have heard or seen a person spending money on?
Growing up in Montauk, no one really spent money on their landscape. It was always fathers and sons out there. So, when I first started out, I worked for a large landscape company, a client bought a $6,000 dawn redwood tree.
That night I met friends for a drink at Liars— “the clubhouse”—and told them about the transaction. After being ridiculed and made fun of—that no one would ever spend that kind of money on one tree,etc.— the next day at work another one of my clients came in and spent $30,000 on a mature copper beech tree! At that moment I decided I was in the tree business
you guys are in the trenches for what is happening in a community. People investing in their property and funds. How do you see the real estate market going in the next 18 months?
The explosion of growth has been tremendous and brought in a really great mix of young and creative people into the community. I’m all for people moving in and joining our community and adding value to our little piece of heaven. The market will continue to increase on the East End, everyone wants to enjoy what we have. Also if you need a great real estate agent, I know one.
if someone gave you a bulb of a Jerusalem tulip as a gift, would you say “It’s a good plant, Focker,” or would you suggest another plant as a gift?
Hahaha, one of my favorite movies. Best gift out here in spring is a cherry tree: Great Mothers Day gift.
I get a lot of phone calls for cherry trees for the wives and mothers. Gift in summer: the crepe myrtle which blooms in August, and, of course, you can never go wrong with the Montauk daisy.
Top three places in Montauk to visit during the summer? Go!
I’m a true local and will keep it old school:
Soft serve ice cream at Gosman’s (where you can find my family and me most weekends)
Harvest—food’s always delicious and service great
Thank you, Shawn. Get back to work.