Founder of MRD Landscaping Inc, Frank Shang never stops. Not only does his firm provide landscaping solutions to residential and commercial clients, but he’s also creating a college to help horticulture enthusiasts hit the ground running. "I bought new desks and chairs, and there's a projector ready for use," he says.
Since the creation of the Vancouver Horticulture Club in 2017, Shang has new blueprints all drafted out for the development of his workshop, which was nominated for a Best Concept Award at the Small Business BC Awards.
In the next two-to-three years, club members will be able to obtain certification through Shang's private institution, the Vancouver Horticulture College. Hobbyists can also pursue the club workshops for fun. "People in the community know they can come and join the short-term practical landscaping and gardening programs that we have here," says the 38-year-old entrepreneur, "so it makes sense to expand a college from the club.”
There are currently only three employees at MRD, four including Shang, so his interest in the club then — and in the college now — was initially an attempt to rectify the supply and demand imbalance of skilled landscape labourers. But now Shang just wants to make landscape horticulture education accessible to Chinese immigrants, and help them find a secure job.
Shang, who moved to Canada from China in 2001, knows only too well the learning difficulties of non-native English speakers, so his heart is set on offering Mandarin-taught courses at his college. "I need to address the language barrier," he says.
He recalls the late nights working at his desk, looking up words in the dictionary. “Studying horticulture, you encounter lots of technical terms and Latin names. It’s a lot of work,” he says. Eventually, Shang will introduce an English curriculum at the college but Mandarin programs are top priority at the moment. "I would surely love to offer lessons in English," he says.
Shang has been in the horticulture industry for over a decade now, since the creation of MRD in 2006. Winner of multiple awards both locally and internationally, he and his operation have cultivated an influential reputation. Not surprisingly, when recruiting for teaching positions at the college, Shang’s peers were the first people he reached out to. At least two or three are interested in a teaching position at the College. "They've asked to count them in," he says.