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Tuesday May 10th, 2011
University of Georgia Letterman's Career Fair
Our firm was proud to participate in the 2011 Letterman's Career Fair, held at UGA's Butts-Mehre, brand new indoor practice facility. We were one of 25 firms who's owner/president was a Letterman at the University of Georgia or has a strong affiliation with one of the sports programs.
It was really exciting and fulfilling to be able to be apart of such a wonderful event as well as give back to the Athletic Associate that has done so much for my career and personal development.
We look forward to continuing to have a presence in this initiative for years to come!
Saturday June 25th, 2011
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It all comes back to football.
A game Des Williams and Zach Hugo played for years under the lights played a role in getting their successful lighting, maintenance and landscape design company started, kept it going in tough economic times and now helps its continued growth.
One of their biggest jobs thus far, the one that kick-started their Outdoor Advantage business to a higher level, also has an indelible Gwinnett County football mark on it.
"One of our first projects was (former Georgia All-American and NFL player) David Pollack's project," said Williams, a teammate of Pollack's at Georgia. "He finished work on his house in late May, early June last year. We were good friends through Georgia and through Gwinnett sports (Pollack played at Shiloh). ... I finally went over there and saw Pollack, we did a demonstration for him and it looked great. That kind of catapulted our business from there."
From that point, their football connections took over. Particularly those of Williams, who had the added bonus of being a former UGA linebacker. It never hurts to have ties to Bulldog Nation in these parts.
Outdoor Advantage already has done home projects for former Bulldogs D.J. Shockley and Thomas Brown, as well as a commercial job for Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Hines Ward, also a former UGA star.
"The Georgia thing was huge for us," Hugo said. "It jump-started the business."
Williams, who handles a heavy sales and marketing load while Hugo runs the landscaping and maintenance side, picked up seven UGA-based clients simply by networking in the Sky Suites at a Bulldog football game last season.
"It's an immediate rapport builder when people find out I played for Georgia and that we're both (former) college athletes," said Williams, whose partner Hugo played football at Morehead State. "This area is Bulldog country. Everybody's like, 'wow,' and they want to ask you a little bit about your experiences. But also too, they know you're going to work hard and do a good job."
Outdoor Advantage never would have been around if not for football. Hugo, 24, and Williams, 26, may never have met without the sport.
Allen Hugo, Zach's father, was Williams' youth football coach for years when Hugo's older son played with the future UGA linebacker. Williams and Hugo also were teammates for a couple of seasons on the high school team at Dacula.
"I was two years younger and my brother was (Williams') age, so they played football all the time together," Zach Hugo said. "He was always at the house. I was probably the annoying little brother then, saying, 'Let me hang out, let me hang out.'"
The two friends parted ways in college, then took jobs for separate landscaping and contracting companies. They followed that by taking corporate sales jobs -- Williams with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Hugo with Verizon -- that neither enjoyed. They both agreed that desk jobs didn't fit them, so they began talking about a possible business together.
After three to four months of planning, they stepped away from their corporate jobs to start Outdoor Advantage.
"We both said if we work as hard as we have to work for these entry-level sales positions, we know we can be successful with our business," Williams said. "We've already got the work ethic from high school ball and college ball. We already had our foundation set. We just said if we do what we're doing now for ourselves, there's no reason we can't be successful."
The success isn't easy, running your own business rarely is. It takes standard, 70-hour work weeks, often in the blazing heat (not unlike two-a-day football practices).
The lighting jobs can be pretty complex, too. None trickier than their project in The Georgia Club for Pollack. It's still the biggest residential installation they've done with more than 100 lights.
"It was about as complicated as it could be," Hugo said. "We knew we wouldn't really see anything harder than that. After that, every other house has been a walk in the park."
2012 Before and After Contest Winners
Monday July 16, 2012
(770) 513-1536 • www.outdooradvantagellc.com • Photos courtesy of Ellen McRaney
This project, designed and built by Outdoor Advantage at a home in Dacula, is a one-of-a-kind, to-scale mini replica of Sanford Stadium. It is equipped with field goal posts, pylons, turf, a custom painted “G”, a custom field bench, an observation deck, custom lighting, field lights as well as a playground area. It took the company nearly two months to complete the transformation, which is a football haven for the homeowner’s young son inspired by his favorite college team’s iconic stadium. The biggest challenges were preparing the existing landscape with a total regrade as well as installing a custom drainage system for the turf and the more than 60-fixture low-voltage and high-voltage lighting system to showcase and illuminate the field at night.
Friday December 2, 2011
DACULA -- Des Williams will admit it's a little crazy. Then again, he doesn't really care.
"Probably so, but I think you've got to have a little component of crazy in there," the former Dacula High and University of Georgia football player said with a laugh.
Williams, a lighting and landscape design entrepreneur, has built quite the homage to Sanford Stadium in his own backyard. Over about three months and 200 hours of labor, the former Bulldog fullback has constructed a scale model of Georgia's playing field, complete with professionally painted yardlines, the Georgia "G" at midfield and those famous hedges.
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While Georgia takes on top-ranked LSU in Saturday afternoon's SEC Championship game, the 23-yard version of the Bulldogs' home field will provide the perfect playground for Williams' 2-year-old son, Braylon. If he wants to play after the game, an impressive lighting system will shine light on his nighttime activities.
Love for Georgia aside, Williams said he undertook the project for two reasons.
"I wanted to basically show our customers that we're very passionate about what we do," he said. "I would also love to be a motivational speaker ... so I wanted my son to have a tangible example of hard work and determination."
The project was not one entered into lightly.
With help from colleagues and clients, Williams did it right. Grading had to be done on what Williams originally thought was a "pretty flat" backyard. About six feet of dirt was moved from one side to the other. Turf was installed and painted.
Goal posts were installed, and high voltage "stadium" lights surround it. Pylons and a bench complete the look.
The hedges lining the field's sidelines are not the privets made famous in Athens, but compacted holly hedges. Right now they're spaced about three feet apart, but should grow into one solid wall "in a season or two."
"It was definitely a very expensive project for anybody," Williams said, "but this is my baby. This is what I do for a living, so why not take advantage of the opportunity?"
Williams played in Georgia's last two conference championship game appearances in 2003 and 2005, both against LSU. He called the experience "bigger than most bowl games" and "really really exciting."
As for Saturday's game pitting his alma mater against a heavily favored Tigers team, Williams said Georgia had a chance to win if it "played perfect and LSU can slip up." He's giving his Bulldogs a chance.
"I think Georgia's going to come to play," Williams said. "I don't think by any means we're scared to play LSU."
Saturday December 3, 2011
Former UGA fullback Williams builds backyard replica of Sanford Stadium
Des Williams wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty as a fullback at Georgia from 2003-07, and he’s taken that philosophy into his career as the owner of a landscaping company.
“Being in my industry, it’s almost like being a fullback,” Williams said. “It’s not glamorous, but it’s an important job and a lot of hard work.”
A project close to his heart wrapped up earlier this month when he competed a 23-yard-long scale replica of the field at Sanford Stadium behind his Dacula home complete with lighting, field-goal uprights, a bench and, yes, even the hedges.
It was finished just in time for his son Braylon’s second birthday, a goal Williams said he set to ensure his son could grow up with the ultimate football play area.
“My son’s already a big Georgia fan, and I’ve taken him to several Georgia games and G-Day Games,” said Williams, whose owns the landscaping and lighting company Outdoor Advantage. “Just seeing him run around on the field and have such a good time and pointing out all the Gs, it’s great. It may take a few years before he realizes his field is just like the one at Sanford Stadium, but I think he will feel like he’s got a cool back yard.”
Williams broke ground on the project about three months ago, and the project required more than 200 hours from Williams along with a help from employees, sub-contractors and vendors. The job included a laser leveling of the yard, putting in a new drainage system, turf installation and plenty of paint for lines and the G emblem.
Williams has followed the Bulldogs’ season closely as the team reeled off a 10-game winning streak to set up Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship showdown against top-ranked LSU.
“It’s been a lot of fun watching this season,” said Williams, whose Georgia teams went 1-1 against LSU in SEC Championship games in 2003 and 2005. “It didn’t start off the best, but we found a way to win. When I was there, we played a lot of close games and had a lot of great competitors, and we just had leaders and guys who found a way to win. I’m just ecstatic about this group of guys, coach Mark Richt and the staff and the job they’ve done to get back there this year.”