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DAA: Larry E. Becker

Larry E. Becker

Indianapolis, IN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2012

By the time Larry Becker was 13, he had saved money for a greenhouse kit, which he built in the backyard of his Indianapolis home as the base of a little houseplant business. And when his father established a lawn-mowing operation to let his five sons earn money while they helped the neighbors, middle son Larry’s career path became even greener. With a work ethic instilled by “Dad kicking us out of bed at 6 a.m. to go start cutting grass,” Becker now heads one of the largest landscape contractors serving central Indiana, with annual sales exceeding $10 million. The firm’s impact is especially significant in downtown Indianapolis. “White River Gardens (1999) was a breakthrough for us,” he says. Other nearby landmark projects followed, including the Indianapolis Zoo and Indiana State Museum. The company also installed landscapes on campus at the Purdue football practice field, First Street Towers residence hall, and Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. Becker’s interest in mentoring and his talent for motivating people helped his firm become successful. His influence further extends to the Indiana nursery and landscape industry. In a win-win, his leadership of trade organizations has also been a valuable resource in building the company, he says: “Networking and learning from other people helped us be one step ahead of whatever was going on out there in the industry. When you serve on boards and committees, those people become your friends, especially in the agricultural world.” Becker Landscape Contractors hires other Purdue graduates, and Becker and his staff share their expertise in Purdue Horticulture and Landscape Architecture classes. Field trips to Becker job sites and nursery production operations complement class instruction each year. This entrepreneur inspires students to want to know more. Becker lives with his wife Robin and two sons, both of whom will become Eagle Scouts this year. His two daughters attend Purdue. Most of all, he still likes to work in the yard.