As the owner of DeSantis Landscapes, a Portland-based landscape design, installation and lawn care company that provides both commercial and residential services, Dean DeSantis says he has a “passion for creating beautiful spaces.”
But he didn’t always imagine himself in the industry he says he “grew up in.” His father had started the business in 1974 and DeSantis spent summers helping him out. After spending some time abroad and working in education for a while, DeSantis was home visiting his dad on Father’s Day when his dad began talking about an exit strategy. Having been away from it for a while, DeSantis says he had gained perspective and saw the value of working for the green industry and owning his own business. DeSantis took the reins and hasn’t looked back since.
The majority of my free time is spent with my family. I have 16-year-old boy/girl twins. They keep me really busy with their sports activities and extracurriculars. They’re juniors in high school right now, and I’m committed to staying as engaged with them as I can before they head off to college.
We’re also huge film buffs. My wife and I love going to film festivals. We have been to Sundance a few times and have enjoyed other film festivals over the years.
I have visited 22 countries around the world. And though my wife is from Cleveland, we actually met when we were both teaching English in Tokyo. I spent several years in the Peace Corps and several years backpacking and circling the globe. If I had to pick a favorite destination it would probably be a tie between Nepal, where I trekked the Himalayas, or Thailand, which has wonderful food and beautiful beaches.
My motto in life is: “No regrets.” If something makes it on to my bucket list, I don’t like leaving it there. I say “let’s do it.” You never know what’s going to happen or how much time you have, so I believe we should live every day to the fullest.
My next destination will probably be Cuba. I speak Spanish from my time spent in Ecuador and would really enjoy getting there to experience the fantastic culture. I love the music and have been known to smoke a cigar every now and then.
My business philosophy is to earn my position each and every day. As a second generation business owner, I always feel the pressure to prove this wasn’t just handed to me. I think I’ve done that — we’ve tripled the size of the business — but this isn’t the time to become complacent. I think as the former owner’s son I’ll always feel like I have to prove myself to some degree.
When my wife and I have some alone time, food and wine are a passion. Portland is a fantastic food town and we always enjoy trying new restaurants. Most recently we tried Renata and were both impressed. The wine industry here in Portland is wonderful. It’s our own Oregon-style Napa Valley, and we really enjoy wine tasting.
My favorite thing about the industry is the opportunity to create beautiful spaces. It’s a privilege to be able to create a refuge for people, whether it be a beautiful space to take a lunch break at work or a space to enjoy in their backyard.