Equinox is celebrating 20 years of doing good work in the Southern Appalachians and surrounding region. I have been here since the beginning. Steve Melton and I were the first 2 employees hired in September 2000 by our founder, Andy Brown. A few months later David Tuch also joined the firm. I love this company, please let me tell you why.
A lot has changed in those 20 years, but one thing has remained steadfast – our commitment to do good work for the betterment of the environment in our community and the greater region in which we work.
Over the years our expertise has grown and our services have grown with it. To our original projects like watershed assessments, stakeholder coordination, conservation development planning and baseline document reports for conservation easements, we have added land planning, landscape architecture, storm-water design, greenway planning, park planning, master planning, additional ecological services and much more.
Under our belt we have many award winning projects like the Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Initiative, and one of my favorites (because it is in my neighborhood) New Belgium Brewery. For this project we received two awards, one for site work from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and one for the section of the French Broad Greenway that is adjacent to the brewery.
We have some very exciting projects that we are currently working on or have worked on recently: The Woodfin Blueway/Greenway along the French Broad River just north of Asheville, Willow Pond at the NC Arboretum, a Master Plan for the Elk Knob State Park, a Vision Plan for Waterrock Knob, a Master Plan for the VA Creeper Trail Conservancy, and several stream and wetland restorations in the region including the large scale Fletcher Stream and Wetland Restoration project and a preservation mitigation bank in the French Broad River Basin.
I am proud to work at Equinox for many reasons, one of which is the commitment that we have shown to our community. We make it a point to share financially and with our time to various organizations within the communities that we work. Another is the relationships that we have made throughout our community. People are as important to us as the environment we want to save. Our clients and the strategic partners with whom we work are all part of our extended family.
Over the years we have seen changes, met tragedies, and grown as individuals. We weathered two recessions without letting any of our people go. Our founder retired and left Steve and David at the helm, they placed their own mark on the company and it continued to grow. Some of our staff have moved on to other things, but continue to be family to us. The last few years have been the hardest for us. On the heels of learning that one of our long time employees suffered a ruptured placenta that risked the health and wellbeing of her newborn baby, one of our owners died suddenly from a massive heart attack. Steve was beloved by all of us and many people in our community. All of us at Equinox were hit with despair, anger, frustration, and overwhelming sadness as we scrambled to figure out how to do Steve’s job and continue to provide the excellent service that our clients have come to rely upon. One year later the pandemic hit. We again scrambled to adjust the way we work in ways that would keep us and our families safe, but also provide the excellent service of which we are so proud.
I am most proud of our staff! Only those of you who have owned a business understand the stresses that a business owner has. David Tuch, owner of Equinox has lead us successfully through all of these recent difficulties. He has supported his staff with compassion through some of the most difficult situations a company can weather. All of the rest of us have stepped up to meet the challenges that we have faced, sharing in the responsibility to keep Equinox the respected company for which it is known. We are all friends and also family. We all chose to work at Equinox because we believe in its mission and we want to contribute to our community in meaningful ways. I couldn’t choose to work with a better group of people.
I will probably not be at Equinox for 20 more years, but it is my hope and determination that Equinox will continue to be a leader in planning, design, and ecological services for many years to come.