WATSONVILLE − When Jerry Allison got his first proper landscaping job in 1974, he wasn’t new to the field; rather, it was something he’d long been acquainted with. “I’ve been doing landscaping work since I was a kid,” he remembers. “When I was 10 years old, I used to mow and edge my neighbors’ lawns, and I spent my high school years gardening to make extra money, so it was something that just came naturally to me.” Given his innate inclinations, it didn’t take long for Jerry to progress in the industry—after working at a plant nursery for two years, he got his contractor’s license and started his own landscaping business.
Today, as president of Jerry Allison Landscaping, Inc., Jerry says his favorite part of his job is bringing his clients’ projects from conception to completion. “I enjoy the process of taking something I’ve envisioned in my mind and making it a reality. That was always the most exciting aspect of the job for me, and it continues to be today.”
Having lived in a variety of locations during his childhood (mainly due to the itinerant nature of his father’s military career), when Jerry moved to Santa Cruz in 1974, he intended to stay put. Four decades later, he considers the city and its associated county an ideal environment for a landscaping professional to succeed. “There are a lot of amazing opportunities here in terms of landscaping projects, so it’s a great place to be doing what I do. Plus, this area has a lot of different soil types, which keeps things interesting and challenging.”
Outside of work, Jerry spends the bulk of his free time with his wife, Cecile, and their family. “My stepson, Scot, was the best man at our wedding, and today he works for my company as office manager and bookkeeper,” he says. “Cecile and I also have a daughter, Calla, and a grandson, Braden, who live in Southern California, so we visit them pretty regularly.” Jerry also makes it a point to stay physically active. “I swim two to three times a week and do a lot of biking with my wife. We recently agreed to do a triathlon with my daughter, so we’ve been doing a lot of swimming, running and biking in preparation.”
In his life and career, Jerry espouses the virtues of biting off more than you can chew. “Before I was a landscape contractor, I worked as a river guide,” he recounts. “When I started that job, I didn’t know what I was doing—in fact, during the first year, my coworkers called me the ‘rock magnet.’ But eventually, I learned the ropes and got really good at it. Ever since then, that’s pretty much how I’ve pursued everything: by jumping in, giving it my best effort and figuring things out as I go.”
When asked what his future retirement might look like, Jerry says he’ll have no trouble finding ways to stay busy. “I have a hard time not doing anything. For example, the first time I took time off after starting my business, Cecile and I went to Hawaii for what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. The guy who lived next door to our rental house was in the process of building a rock wall, and I ended up helping him work on it because it looked more fun than just sitting around at the beach.”