By Susan Salisbury Special to The Palm Beach Post
Posted Apr 10, 2019 at 2:27 PM; Updated Apr 11, 2019 at 1:20 PM
When George Gentile was growing up in Riviera Beach, he fished in the canals west of Jupiter.
“I remember my father telling me when I first got my driver’s license, ‘If you go past Northlake Boulevard, I consider that going out of the state of Florida,’” said Gentile, who has lived in the Jupiter area since 1980.
Gentile founded landscape architecture and planning firm Gentile Glas Holloway O’Mahoney & Associates in 1988. He is also chairman of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, president of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, and chairman and commissioner of the Jupiter Inlet District.
Gentile attended Riviera Beach Elementary and Howell Watkins Jr. High and was in the first graduating class of Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach.
After graduating from the University of Florida in 1977, he began working with various cities, including Jupiter, to develop their first comprehensive plans.
When they were starting out, he and his wife, Jeanette, first lived in West Palm Beach, then bought a starter home in Jupiter. Then, 29 years ago, they moved to 6 acres west of Riverbend Park on the north side of Indiantown Road where they have two horses and two dogs. They also enjoy boating and fishing.
“It gave us an opportunity to get into an area and thrive and grow,” Gentile said. “I love Jupiter because of the access to the beach and the water. The quality of life up here is great, the entire north end of the county. Our roots are here.”
Name: George G. Gentile
Hometown and where you live now: Born in Meriden, Conn. Moved to Florida with my family in 1956; I now live west of Jupiter in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
Family: Married 45 years to my wife, Jeanette; we have three sons, four grandchildren and one grandchild on the way. All live in northern Palm Beach County
Education: Received associate of arts degree from Palm Beach Junior College (now Palm Beach State College) in 1973, and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Florida in 1977.
Career: I started working for a landscape architect part time in 1971 drafting plans for his designs throughout Palm Beach County. I later went to work, before attending the University of Florida, with an engineering firm. Upon completion of my degree from the University of Florida, I obtained my first professional position as a planner for Palm Beach County. In 1978, I became the assistant planning director of the city of Vero Beach, and Indian River County’s first environmental administrator. In 1982 I started an architectural firm called GBS Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners Inc. in Jupiter. In 1988 I started the firm I am still managing as president and senior partner.
About your company: Gentile Glas Holloway O’Mahoney & Associates (2GHO is our brand) was founded in 1988 and was originally George G. Gentile & Associates. Since establishment, 2GHO has provided professional landscape architecture, land planning, permitting and environmental consulting and permitting for both private and public clients alike. We have 12 highly professional and motivated staff members on our team at 2GHO. Our team includes licensed landscape architects and professional planners recognized by the American Institute of Certified Planners.
We have had the honor of working on all types of projects since our inception in 1988 including the restoration Palm Beach County’s Dyer Landfill and site planning the first Resource Recovery Facility built in the 1990s. We were overall landscape architects for Abacoa and completed the plans and design of the county’s first traditional neighborhood “New Haven” in Abacoa. Other projects include Jupiter Country Club and Sonoma Isles — both residential neighborhoods; Harbourside Place and landscape architectural design at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the home of the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. 2GHO just completed an eight-block master plan for the old downtown area of Reno, Nevada.
First paying job and what you learned from it: My first paying job was with a garden center located in Riviera Beach and owned by William Steinman. I learned how to take care of your staff, equipment and your customers.
First break in business: I was engaged by Sam Barker and Associates, PE and the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County to design an End-Use plan for the Dyer Landfill. The plan included closure of the landfill, creation of the three eco-islands, a sports park and both a golf driving range and model airplane flying facility. This project, led to the overall restoration of the landfill site, planning and site development design of Palm Beach County’s first Resource Recovery Facility and a national award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
How your business has changed: As technology changes so has our business. We used to hand-draw everything and the accuracy was really not there. The use of computer-aided design and drafting to video imaging gives our clients a real vision of their projects and helps us create more desirable and usable spaces. We can also make changes and present our thoughts faster and more cost-effectively.
Best business book that you have read: “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters. He described the management style of John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems. I was intrigued by his method of “managing while walking around.” He engaged with all his employees continually throughout the day, working together on issues and encouraging his employee’s creativity. I have used this in my business and found it to be the most effective way to manage, keep on top of issues and the employees feel that we are all team, working together for a better result for our clients. We have very little turnover and our office is an enjoyable place to work.
Best piece of business advice you have received: Treat your employees as if they are the product you are selling. If they feel good about their job and the company they work for, they will sell your services to the clients and your business with thrive. We take care of our employees as if they were family and they are.
What you tell young people about your business: Landscape architecture is one of the most diverse and rewarding professions, creating sustainable environments and spaces that people and nature can enjoy and thrive in together.
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Palm Beach County will continue to be one of the most robust economies in the country. The collaboration of all its business organizations, businesses and government entities is the basis of creating the best place to live, work and play throughout the United States.
Power lunch spot: With my staff in the office or at La Masseria in the PGA Commons off PGA Boulevard.
Where would we find you when you are not at the office? I should be with my wife and family. However, being involved with our community has always been a passion and I continue to work with many of the organizations that make Palm Beach County great. I want it to be great for my sons and their families as well. My wife, Jan, has been waiting for me to come home for 45 years. She is the best part of my life, and without her I would not have had the fantastic career I have enjoyed. She is truly the best thing that ever happened to me. I also have a passion for boating, fishing, riding my bicycles and helping my wife with her horses.
Favorite smart phone app: I start every day opening the “Post Now” app on my iPhone or iPad to read what is happening locally and nationally.
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Honesty.