Sargent’s Expert Feature – Galen “Shorty” Kinsley

At the age of 21, Galen “Shorty” Kinsley, started traveling North America, visiting 45 states and three Canadian provinces as an over the road truck driver. While the Rochester native loved seeing the country, the time away from home was difficult. “When I left home I didn’t know if I would be back in a week or six weeks,” Shorty said.

One stint while back at home, he was talking with his mother who was an elementary school teacher at the time. “She had a few Sargent boys in class, said the family was very nice and suggested I apply at their family business,” Shorty said. “And she was right, I developed a great relationship with the Sargent family and 35 years later, I’m still here!” 

Shorty’s early landscaping work involved running heavy equipment and grading for the laying of sod. Today, he serves Sargent’s customers in the role of Equipment Manager and Operator while also working as the lead Snow Removal foreman in the winter. You can oftentimes find Shorty “behind the wheel” of an array of equipment while constructing intricate landscape features such as boulder and stone walls for customers. “Building the walls is a challenge I really enjoy,” he says.

While enjoying the building process for the adults, he loves seeing the neighborhood kids enjoy the big machines he gets to control. “I get a lot of kids that just love to watch me run equipment and I enjoy at the end of the day seeing if they want to sit in the equipment.” Shorty said, “Some are shy and don’t want to leave their parents’ side but some can’t get in the equipment fast enough! Their faces just light up with joy, which is fun to watch.”

Spending decades creating customized landscapes all over the community, Shorty takes tremendous pride in his work. “I enjoy driving past old jobs, pointing them out to my wife and saying, ‘I built that wall 20 years ago!’”

With 35 years of experience under his belt at Sargent’s, he’s struck up a number of friendships with other team members. Being on the snow removal side of the business, he has greatly appreciated the dedication of the crew working through very difficult conditions. “Most of our work is done throughout the night. The storm in February 2019 was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. The winds were treacherous, even just getting into work was an incredible challenge,” he says. “But the crew came through! They put a long hard day and night in to get the parking lots ready for our client’s employees for the next morning.”

(Being that the sun is shining and the warm, humid weather is helping our gardens fill with tomatoes, let’s get back to summer…)

Shorty has always been a big fan of Hosta with his previous home and all it’s shade, but after purchasing the home he grew up in just north of Rochester from his parents, “I now have lots of sun and I have an entire selection of plants to choose from,” he said. One type of tree he’s excited to implement into his new landscaping are Larch trees. 

“My wife and I were on a hike up on the North Shore a few years ago and ran across a bunch of Larch trees. I fell in love with them for their fall gold color and they’re a unique tree that you do not see in this area much. I am planning on building a new patio area behind the house this year and incorporating some of them as a backdrop,” Shorty said.

When not outside working, or not outside hiking…Shorty’s still outside on the golf course! He’s part of Eastwood’s Men’s Golf Club and enjoys volunteering a great deal of his time around the course with various projects helping to improve the course and its grounds. But of course, not all work, there’s some play. “18 holes of golf, early in the morning, so peaceful,” Shorty shares.