Meet Keren Abu: A Toronto Landscaping Game-Changer

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Introduction

M.E. Contracting is in the top echelon of luxurious Toronto landscaping companies. Founded by Keren Abu and her husband Eitan over fifteen years ago, M.E. Contracting has the goal of transforming Toronto’s green spaces through gorgeous custom landscapes, deck design, pool installation and outdoor kitchen design. With over 15 years of experience executing exceptional landscaping concepts throughout Toronto and the GTA, M.E Contracting is known for their attention to detail, exquisite service, and top-notice innovations in their industry.

M.E. Contracting specializes in stunning landscapes and outdoor home design. Known for their custom pools, PVC decking, Pergola building, Sport Court ™ installation and, of course, their landscape design, it becomes easy to see why M.E. Contracting’s reputation for quality makes them one of the best reviewed companies in the city.

Today, we are featuring Keren Abu, and her trailblazing work in landscaping, construction and custom yard design. As a founding business owner, partner, and mother, we are excited to hear exactly how Keren manages it all in a challenging seasonal business environment.

Tell us A little About Your Role at M.E? How did it start? How is the work divided between you and your partner?

My role in the company is in the office. I manage the customer service, marketing, social media, corporate events, as well as visiting job sites. I know how to perform every roll in the office, from answering phones and questions to dealing with clients in the showroom. I also know every aspect of our bookkeeping and finances.

Eitan is in charge of the jobsites. He knows how to perform every part of a project. He ensures we have supplies, and that our subcontractors know what they’re supposed to be doing and where they’re going. He also visits prospective clients and provides estimates.

Between the two of us, Eitan and I, we know every corner of our business.

When we came to Canada, even with our degrees, we had little opportunities offered to us. While thinking of ideas to start a business, we started with a friend’s deck. Then the next neighbour wanted a deck.

The business started with me knocking on doors and putting fliers in mailboxes and Eitan building up our clientele. Slowly we realized that there was a lot of room for more innovative and modern design.

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What are your long term plans for M.E Contracting? What is your vision for the future?

Our vision is to expand the company to incorporate different areas of outdoor landscaping. We’ve already begun with the outdoor furniture in our showroom. We are considering expanding Seabreeze Pools, which is M.E.’s sister company. We keep our eyes and ears open for other great ideas and opportunities.

The industry is changing and evolving rapidly, and the changes to materials, technology, styles can move fast. We are constantly looking for ways, not only to keep up with the trends, but innovate and build upon them.

What sets your company apart from the competition? How is your work unique?

To begin, we are a full service company. We handle every step and every stage, from top to bottom. That means custom design, pools installation, decking, lighting, furniture, even the door mats- we focus on the quality of every detail. You don’t have to deal with multiple contractors, or multiple parties- with us, you get everything in one place. Everything is handled in house, with you.

Next, we have our showroom. It’s the only showroom in North America that is operational year-round and over 7,000 sqft- we even have full sized pools! This is great because it means that even in winter, anyone interested in their yard can come get inspired with our product. They can see, touch, feel and experience the potential in renovating by exploring the showroom features.

Another important thing is our people. We have amazing people. It’s not uncommon in our industry to hire seasonally- but we rarely do. When we hire someone, we are hiring for a salaried full time permanent position. We know that if we don’t treat our people well, they won’t stay- and we know that those long-term quality staff can make all the difference on a job. That’s why we make sure we treat our staff properly. We have the best people.

In fact, we love showing our staff off on our social media channels. We feel it humanizes us and our product. There are professional, highly skilled people behind our products and our services. We are proud of them.

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What would you say is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a female entrepreneur?

Trust your intuition and your instincts. Always show your confident side and don’t let yourself be rattled. It’s not a man’s world. It’s a people’s world.This industry often feels male- dominated, but do not be afraid to challenge those industry expectations. You are a professional who knows what you’re doing. Own that.

You are a trendsetter in your industry. What trends are you seeing, and how do you set those trends?

As homes in the GTA get renovated we are seeing a return to clean lines, minimalism, smooth and sleek textures and gray palates with accent colours.We like to say  “Simplicity is the essence of sophistication.”

Again, we also do trendspotting (and trendsetting!) with our active social media. We really care about our audience and our social media. It’s one of the most useful ways to pick up on industry trends, and engage with people who care about our work. This is the way we build on the ideas we are already working on and gear every project to being unique.

What are some of the jobs M.E has done that you are most proud of?

Our project “Joy to See” was the start of something amazing. It was complicated and was filled with new ideas. When we saw the end result, we knew we could reach the stars.

I can’t forget our first pool. That really started us on our way. Or when a client tells us how much they are enjoying their back yard or calls us again for another project, we couldn’t be more proud of us.

As a business owner, partner and parent, how do you maintain your work-life balance?

It’s a challenge! Especially since we have a new addition in our family! But while it is a work in progress, our family has established rules to ensure we get quality time with each other. As an example, we try to not discuss the office at home. We make sure we take time off to spend with the kids doing fun stuff even if it’s just in our own backyard.

We plan and organize everything- including our quality time with family. It’s a constant balancing act, because even though my husband Eitan works longer hours, I also juggle the full time business management and handle a good portion of the child care. We’re never off the clock.

Any tips you can share with other business owners juggling family?

Surround yourself with a great team. Both at the office and at home. I couldn’t survive without their help. I know it and respect it. Also- always keep yourself open. Open to new ideas, open to new opportunities.  Be willing to grow constantly.

CONCLUSION

There you have it! From respecting and loving your team to planning your down time, to using social media and adopting the latest industry trends, Keren and her husband have stood the test of time in a rapidly changing industry and have a glowing reputation because of it!

Worried that you won’t be able to get your backyard beautiful in 2020? Don’t worry- M.E. Contracting also has the largest (and only) Landscaping showroom in the GTA, boasting over 7,000 sqft of space displaying several types, and styles of yard options. You can get inspired any time of year, and plan to make your 2021 yard a place you never need a vacation from.

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