Rick DeFino, The Todd Group

Ricky started his career in landscaping when he was just 17 years old—with The Todd Group, in fact, when it was Statile & Todd. He spent 10 years with the company and left to start his own business, Defino Landscape and Tree Service, which he ran for 20 years. In 2006, Ricky returned to The Todd Group, which he says was a lot like coming home. Ricky’s days are spent at clients’ homes and businesses—caring for lawns, troubleshooting problems, picking up and delivering landscape materials to the crews, and just about everything in between. The family environment of the company and the ability to create a landscape and watch it mature and become more beautiful over time fuels his passion for the job over his combined 20 years with the organization.

Deep Roots with Ricky Defino

Keeping-it-real job title
The Fireman

What might surprise clients about you?
I’ve been a full-time professional firefighter with the South Orange Fire Department since 1995. I work 24-hour shifts every four days, so when I’m not at The Todd Group, that’s where I am.

What was your first job at The Todd Group?
I started out dragging brush and running the chipper and then I learned how to climb trees. After a while, I got more into the diagnostic side of tree health, which was fun work.

What do you think most people don’t know about trees?
Trees are living, breathing organisms and they do need help sometimes! They might be planted in the wrong place. They might not be getting the nutrients they need. There’s a science behind it.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Funny enough, the eight-year-old me probably would’ve told you fireman. Or a pilot. Or some sort of person who works in the outdoors!

What makes you good at your job?
I really have never minded working hard. I think I’ve got a good working attitude, which I got from my father and also from John Todd. I always try to make work fun.

Little-known fact?
I’m one of nine children: six boys and three girls. All of the boys played hockey and soccer and we were often on the same team.

Education
General Education course work, County College of Morris