Glenn Jacobsen passed away on Jan. 8, 2024, at the age of 65, after a battle with glioblastoma brain cancer. Jacobsen founded Jacobsen Landscape Design & Construction in 1979 and was president of NALP in 2013.
Like many others in the industry, Jacobsen got his start mowing neighborhood lawns. He built his Midland Park, New Jersey-based company into a nationally recognized organization before retiring in 2021.
“I think Glenn’s impact with his company was his incredible leadership style,” says Frank Mariani, chairman of Mariani Landscape. “What made him such a powerful leader showed in how he approached every task in his company, no matter how minimal the task was or great the task was, he was the first guy to raise his hand and say let me show you the way. No task was too big or too minimal or demeaning for Glenn to take on.”
Mariani adds that Jacobsen was not afraid to make mistakes in order to improve and they shared the mindset of ‘If you’re not making mistakes, you aren’t trying hard enough.’
Jacobsen got involved with NALP’s legacy organization, the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) back in the mid-1990s. Seeing the industry’s national presence at a green industry conference opened his eyes and he began getting involved with committee work.
“He was just a person that was passionate about the industry and loved the industry and always wanted to do what was right,” says Miles Kuperus, Jr., founder and CEO of Farmside Landscape & Design. “He really didn’t get into a lot of drama. He just always showed up and always had good insights.”
Mariani says Jacobsen wasn’t afraid to share his views and present his case forcefully, but he was also willing to listen to opposing views and settle for a unanimous decision going forward and support the decision of the group, even if it wasn’t his idea.
“I was fortunate enough to serve on a board with Glenn at NALP and had the pleasure of getting to know him very well,” Mariani says. “I had the utmost respect for him; he was passionate about running his business and frankly we were kindred spirits because I had an equal passion.”
Mariani says that he knew Jacobsen was gravely ill. For the past seven to eight months, they would share phone calls and texts.
“I’ll never forget that he reached out to me during the dire times in recent months when he was very ill and I feel blessed that he reached out to me and we were able to stay close during the final months of his life,” Mariani says. “I sent him some Mariani swag a few months ago and he was so happy about it and I thought that was so cool. He inspired me and still does.”
Jacobsen also served on the NALP Foundation board of directors from 2010 to 2018.
“Besides being a kind and upright person, he was a tribute to the industry and a visionary who was truly dedicated to advancing the landscape industry and promoting workforce development,” says Pam Moore, director of foundation operations for NALP. “While serving on the Foundation board, he spearheaded workforce initiatives that not only elevated the standards of the landscape industry but also created pathways for workforce development and growth.”
He also supported the Foundation as an ambassador with the Jacobsen Landscape Design and Construction Scholarship, which is awarded to a student pursuing a future in the landscape industry.
“Glenn was a model of who you can live your faith and work all at the same time, bringing those strong values as we conduct our business to our customers,” Kuperus says.
He also asked his employees to devote at least one day a year to community service because volunteerism was so important to him.
“Glenn was a driving force that encouraged others to invest in community spaces, such as parks and gardens, as an investment in our collective well-being,” says Tim Marten, associate professor of plant sciences at SUNY Cobleskill.
Jacobsen was actively involved with SUNY Cobleskill over the years. He mentored several years of Cobleskill students with the Jacobsen team through collaborative service projects at Skylands Manor.
“Glenn’s unwavering dedication to cultivating not just students but responsible and engaged citizens has left an indelible mark on Cobleskill,” Marten says. “We honor his memory by continuing the legacy of service, community, and growth that he so passionately championed.”
Marten says that Jacobsen understood the intrinsic value of building individuals in a time when it was often considered a less-than-ideal allocation of resources. He also volunteered as a NALP Trailblazer, mentoring many in the industry.
“The way he conducted himself is that he was always there for his team and just a caring individual looking out for the best people,” Kuperus says. “He was always trying to make somebody that’s behind a better person.”
Described as a quiet, sincere individual, both Mariani and Kuperus say that when Jacobsen did speak, you listened.
“Once you meet him, you tend not to forget him,” Marten says. “He could sometimes just be a big, bright pillar of hope on a bad day.”
Jacobsen is survived by his wife, Melissa, son Christopher Jacobsen and wife, Katie, and daughter Rachel Lorinser and husband, Peter; and grandchildren, Arlo Jacobsen, Christalie Lorinser, and several foster grandchildren; his parents, Howard and Alberta Jacobsen; and brothers Jim and Michael.
A celebration of life service will be held at Cornerstone Christian Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey, on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 10:00 a.m. The family asks charitable donations be made to Servant’s Hearts Ministry (495 Wyckoff Avenue, Wyckoff, NJ 07481) or the Essex Land Trust (PO Box 373, Essex, CT 06426).