He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to planting… or putting in the hours to grow a business
Company: Garden Design Associates Inc. Owners: Marquette Clay and John Fluitt Established: 1989 Contact: 4310
N. Walnut Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73105 | 405.525.2275 Type: Landscape Design and
INSTINCT: We’ve actually featured quite a few landscapers in this section already. Perhaps you noticed?
MARQUETTE CLAY: Yeah, I noticed that!
Why do you think landscaping is an appealing profession for gay men?
Good question. They probably started out young, mother’s little helper or something. I’m not sure what the connection is. Maybe it’s the connection to nature, the connection to beauty.
I have to ask. Is “Marquette” a stage name?
[Laughs] No, but everyone says it’d look good in lights.
Does anyone shorten it?
Everyone! There’s not one variation I haven’t been called. A lot of people will separate my first name when they hear it. In school, I once got “Margarita.” People who are familiar with sports know the name.
And are you a big sports fan?
I was a college cheerleader and one in high school. So through that connection…
See, you shouldn’t have told me that, because my follow-up question is ,“Did you join to meet guys?”
No, no. I actually joined because my friend and I had a bet that we wouldn’t make it. For me, it went on. I did it in junior college, and then I did it at the University of Houston.
I understand you have a business partner in your landscaping company. What’s his name?
Is there landscaping or design work that you both limit yourselves to?
Well, what we really do is high-end landscape design. We do much more design than installation. We’re lucky enough to handpick our jobs. And we do no advertisement; it’s all by word of mouth.
How long have you been in the landscaping business?
I’ve been in since 1994. Before that, I actually put on a suit and tie and worked for a bank in Houston, Texas.
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Why did you make the move from Houston to Oklahoma City?
Well, my business partner would come down to Houston, and he would always say, “You should think about joining up with me.” And I wasn’t going to do banking my whole life. At some point I decided, Why not give it a try, you know? If it doesn’t go well, I can always come back to the bank. There’s always a bank around the corner. I made that move almost 13 years ago.
So you and your partner have been together for 13 years?
Business partner, yeah.
And your partner and your business partner are two totally different people?
My business partner is my ex-partner.
Yeah. But we’re still business partners.
Wow. You don’t hear about that every day.
No, you don’t. [Laughs] It’s pretty interesting.
So, do you go back to Houston often?
I did when I first moved away, but now it seems to get further and further away.
How’s the gay scene in Oklahoma City?
People don’t get out until 10 or 10:30. Everything closes down at 2 and at 1:45 they’re shoving you out the door. So you have a really small window of time. The club scene kinda comes and goes.
Besides landscaping, what else do you do?
Unfortunately, that’s my weakness: I work far too much. But my partner enjoys traveling.
Okay, so you are seeing someone.
No, my business partner. I still refer to him as my partner. I’m actually single now.
Well, I’m sure a guy who works in landscaping and works with his hands all day won’t be single for long.
[Laughs] I don’t know…I think I’ll be single for a while!
5 Tips To Beautify Your Home And Garden
1. Curb appeal—first impressions will last longest!
2. You must always have pots and containers at entryways.
3. Make sure to plant evergreens for year-round beauty.
4. Night lighting. But not enough to land a plane.
5. Hire me!
5 Reasons To Date A Landscape Designer
1. We’re usually in good shape.
2. We like to do it outside.
3. We don’t mind getting dirty.
4. We always keep our bushes trimmed.
5. Depending on the time of year, you won’t see us often.