The Times West Virginian

February 3, 2013

Biafore: Expertise ‘outside the four walls’

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — For 50 years, Biafore Landscape Development LLC has provided its expertise for “anything outside the four walls.”

As kids, Richard and Daniel Biafore would often help out their father, who was a miner, with gardening and landscaping when he was out of work. The brothers went on to form Biafore’s Landscaping in Fairmont in 1962.

They initially both had full-time jobs, and focused on gardening and landscaping projects in the evenings and on weekends to bring in extra income.

Richard and Daniel operated the business out of a home garage until the early 1980s, when they purchased property on Riverview Street in the Watson area to create a formal office. This location is still used to house equipment and trucks.

“Really in their blood was the desire to keep doing what they started out doing as kids,” said Michael Biafore, who now owns the company with his brother, Patrick Biafore.

Michael said he and Patrick, who grew up in Fairmont, have never had jobs other than landscaping. They wanted to follow in the footsteps of their father, Richard, and uncle, Daniel.

In 2000, Michael and Patrick bought their dad’s portion of the family business and changed the name to Biafore Landscape Development. In 2003, they opened their office in the Cheat Lake area at Ashebrooke Square, which is the business’ main design, sales and administrative office.

“Morgantown has been a very strong market for us,” Patrick said. “I think a lot of (our success) had to to do with the growth of Morgantown and the 79 Corridor from Fairmont to Bridgeport.”

Michael and Patrick purchased the remainder of the company from their uncle in 2005. Richard and Daniel remain involved in the business today.

Michael explained that the business originally did a lot of maintenance services, grass cutting and some planting, but evolved to include many other offerings, which the new name reflects.

Biafore Landscape Development is a full-service landscape company, doing both residential and commercial projects, Patrick said.

Michael said their ideal client is someone who is thinking about building a new home or office. Before starting construction on the home or office, the person contacts Biafore to work on the landscape design and site development. The business may team up with an architect.

“What we try to do is make sure the site work and the site design are compatible with the actual home,” he said. “The worst thing somebody can do is build a home, then call us after it’s done and then want us to work there and try to fix some of the problems that they found during the construction.”

If the client calls beforehand, Biafore can help them avoid a lot of problems and save money, Michael said.

Biafore Landscape Development worked with architects from Alpha in Morgantown to do the landscape design for Fairmont Federal Credit Union’s office at Charles Pointe in Bridgeport, he said. Once the design was complete, Biafore was hired to do the construction and installation, including some concrete paver work for the walkways as well as the planting and lawn work.

Michael said the company did the landscape master planning for a residential project in Elkins and is teaming with architect Michael Mills of the Mills Group in Morgantown. Biafore is using ornamental pavers to develop walkways and driveways, is installing walls and lighting, and is taking care of the planting.

The company recently signed a contract with Pete Dye Golf Club for redevelopment of some of the parking lots, the design layout, asphalt work, pavers, planting and entertainment areas, he said. Biafore is partnering with Omni Associates of Fairmont.

Michael said Biafore Landscape Development subcontracts out the asphalt work that is part of its projects.

Once a project is complete, the business’ next goal is to contract for continuing plant maintenance, horticultural services, mowing, and turf treatments and fertilizations. In addition, the company builds decks, outdoor kitchens, fire pits and fireplaces, and outdoor theaters and sound systems, Michael said.

In the last 20 years, people have shown an appreciation for the benefits of a well-designed landscape, and outdoor spaces are becoming more and more popular, he said.

“It’s a great way for families to spend time together,” Michael said. “We’re just seeing a real trend over the last few years, and I think it’s only going to increase.”

Patrick added that irrigation is another service that Biafore Landscape Development offers, and the business is also trying to push turf maintenance more.

Biafore does projects throughout North Central West Virginia, as well as in western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania. The business has also done work in Princeton, Beckley and Thomas.

Michael is a professional landscape architect, and Patrick is a certified professional horticulturist. They both earned degrees from West Virginia University.

The company employs about 20 staff members, including professional landscape architects, licensed pesticide applicators, and people with certifications in the instalation of concrete pavers and segmented retaining walls.

Some of the workers have been with Biafore for many years, and they are continually learning new techniques and about new products and safety, Michael said.

“I think they appreciate our knowledge,” he said of their clients. “Even in the early days in the ’60s and ’70s, my father and uncle with their knowledge of plant material, pesticides, they really strived to be on the cutting edge of technology and knowledge in the landscape industry.”

Biafore Landscape Development has won many awards over the years, including honors from the West Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association and West Virginia Associated Builders and Contractors.

In the near future, the company intends to move its Cheat Lake office to its existing production and growing facility in Morgantown off the Pierpont Exit.

Michael and Patrick are considering expanding the snow-removal division, which currently focuses on Morgantown, to the Fairmont-Marion County area. Also, while they produce a portion of the plant material that is used on jobs, they’d like to grow more of it in order to be more self-sufficient.

For additional information, visit www.biafore.com or find Biafore Landscape Development on Facebook.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.