Alum of the Month: Sandy (Honsey) Vanek, Outside Landscape Sales Representative with Midland Concrete Products

Sandy (Honsey) Vanek graduated from Iowa State University in May 2000 with a Bachelor of Science major in Horticulture with an emphasis in Landscape Design and minor in Entrepreneurial Studies.
For the past 19 years Sandy was employed as a Landscape Designer where she worked closely with clients and contractors to bring the client’s dreams into reality. This challenging, yet rewarding career involved a careful balance of creating beautiful outdoor spaces that are functional while also remaining within the client’s budget through mindful selection of materials and installation techniques.

Just this past year, Sandy chose to move into an Outdoor Landscape Sales Representative position with Midland Concrete Products in Clear Lake, Iowa. Because Midland had been a major supplier of hers as a Landscape Designer, this was a seamless move. Now Sandy travels and assists other landscape contractors and designers with their projects, recommending new products and techniques to help them grow and become more successful. She also has a unique opportunity to meet with local engineers, architects, landscape architects, municipalities, and other specifiers working on commercial projects. Sandy says it is extremely rewarding to see these projects progress from concept to completion knowing she had a small part of making it happen!

What Sandy enjoys most about her current position is connection with others in the landscape industry from across her Northern Iowa/Southern Minnesota territory and beyond. She says they are some of the most creative, innovative minds in the business. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is definitely a motto among her fellow landscape gurus!

Sandy’s advice to current students is to absorb all the information you can as a student. Not only the information you learn in the classroom, but also the connections you make with other students, teachers, advisers, co-workers, etc. Take advantage of opportunities to participate in internships, study abroad experiences, work-study or other employment opportunities in the industry. Work experience is indispensable! Also consider attending trade shows, training seminars, INLA events, on-campus clubs and social networks to expand your personal network. Remember to keep an open mind, be flexible, and be willing to adapt to change. No matter where your career path may lead, there will ALWAYS be challenges to overcome. Changes in technology, design trends, weather patterns, and work force are just a few. Face these challenges head on and you’ll be surprised at what opportunities are just around the corner! Sandy’s hometown is Emmons, Minnesota.