HendersonvillePete Zamplas

John Ross project clients are cravers of his pavers


By Pete Zamplas –

John Ross Inc. designs and installs a variety of public and private rock and brick projects, such as driveways and sidewalks with concrete pavers.

Owner John Ross said, “We specialize in the construction of natural stone and boulder retaining walls, flagstone patios, walks and steps, slab stone steps, man-made concrete paver driveways, patios and walks. We can work from your landscape plan, or design one for you.”

Ross is making his mark on the redesigned Main Street in Historic Downtown Hendersonville, by installing several bricked, concrete and landscaping sections for each of the three phases. He will help finish off the third and final phase, between Fifth and Seventh avenues, by May.

Very visible is his elevated brick patio, with a green H for Hendersonville. The platform is on the 400 block’s west side, replacing the gazebo as a focal point and similarly usable as a stage. That was phase two of City of Hendersonville’s Main Street infrastructure improvements. Landscape architect Luther E. Smith chose trees. Ross is a subtractor of Trace and Co. Inc.

John Ross Inc. planted trees in an early phase on Main’s south side, then last year “did all of the brick work, also planters and trees” between Third and Fifth avenues, Ross noted. “We put trees into the sidewalk. This year, I’m doing the brick again and now all planting — trees into the sidewalk, tree grades and also miscellaneous trees.” Ross will put in mainly dogwoods into two new planters.

Ross takes extra pride in this project. “I was born and raised here. It’s important to be a part of that job. We took our kids to see it.”

The 400 and 500 blocks were made more spacious and decorative, yet if anything gained parking spaces, Ross said. “It opens it up. I see how everybody now uses that area.”

John Ross Inc.’s nearly 20 industry honors include the 2007 N.C. Nursery & Landscaping Association Oakland Award for “recognition of lifetime outstanding contribution and service to the landscaping industry.”

John Ross, 49, has dedicated himself to his trade for 23 full years, since 1989. His office is at 753 S. Allen Road, near Blue Ridge Community College in East Flat Rock.

He took a different route from his “supportive” parents, in “working outside with my hands.” His mother Ann Brown Ross, a distinguished novelist, is well known for the Miss Julia series about a well-mannered, outspoken widow. His father John Marion Ross is a retired obstetrics and gynecology physician, who helps his son’s work.

He said many call him John Ross as if Ross is his middle rather than surname, as with J.R. Ewing’s son on TV’s “Dallas.” John and wife Jennifer, who teaches first grade in Hendersonville Elementary, have twin 10-year-old sons Jack and Jake and daughter Ramsey, 7. Ramsey already enjoys planting.

Pavers and stamped concrete, the other main technique in the trade, each have advantages. Ross noted pavers are easier to fix, as they can be handled individually rather than all or nothing. But he said stamped concrete can better suit very steep drives, or serve as a base to cradle and stabilize pavers. But he said pavers fit most prospective projects.

Ross goes the extra mile or inch, for greater quality. “We make it last, manufacturing beyond what’s recommended.” For instance, a standard for residential sidewalk or patio concrete pavers is four inches of “active, compacted stone bases,” Ross said. “We find that’s not quite enough. So we’ll do six inches.”

Ross takes extra precautions, to customize a project to its site and limit risk of pavers tilting due to insufficient support below. Before recently putting in asphalt in place of a cracked driveway, he “excavated extra. We found that area was once a dump site, with large rocks that created air pockets. You have to go deep enough, below that.”

He added that in “commercial jobs where it’s muddy, we put down a fabric. It helps stabilize the moisture content. Then we put on a gravel base.” Ross noted, “You want to take into account water issues, erosion created. If it’s a solid concrete core, it can create settling if you’re not careful how you’re getting rid of the water.”

“Brick and rock work is our focus, and what we do best,” Ross said. “For the longest time, we were doing everything,” such as installing irrigation systems. His business began with lawn maintenance. But since workloads eased during the recession, “we typically don’t do a landscape job. Rather, we’ll ‘hardscape’ (rock, brick) and plant a few plants. I hope it keeps working for me.” He had to slash regular staff from nearly 30 to five, with new construction down. But “we can beef up to 10 or 12 people, for certain jobs.”

Rock and brick work is “what I enjoy the most,” and has deepest impact, Ross said. “It feels good to create something that’s going to be around a long time.”

For more information, call 697-5600 or check www.johnrossinc.com

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