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Our Story

Old North State was founded in the mid 1980’s by Bill Strope, who is still an owner today. When ONS began as a small landscaping and maintenance company providing services to the community. Since the inception of the company more than 40 years ago, ONS has become an organization and family of skilled craftsmen, designers, and administration. 

Old North State was established on the foundation of four principle values: quality, accountability, knowledge, and hard work. These values reverberate through all levels of employees, from our owners to our laborers. We strive to provide the customer the highest level of service, quality, and value, which has and always will be our most important element in our relationship with our clients. We are committed to exceeding expectations and stretching the boundaries on what is possible. 

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Bill Strope
Owner and Founder

Gardening has always been a part of Bill’s life since he was 13 years old.  Intrigued with watching a landscape of plants sprout and grow into what became a beautiful garden, Bill taught himself how to work with different species of plants.  Bill chose to pursue a degree in Landscape Architecture at Penn State University.  After his college career, he decided to take what he learned and turned it into a professional career.  Since beginning Old North State, Bill received his NC Landscape Contractor’s license, NC Irrigation Contractor’s license, and an ICPI Paver Certification.  As the owner and founder of Old North State, Bill takes on many roles; from dealing with the day-to-day business activities, to going out into the field for quality control. His passion lies with the creative team and sales department. Bill states: “I have always tried to think of the land as a canvas. We integrate creative artistry form with construction knowledge and regulations. Bringing the two together is always challenging, but very rewarding not just for the client, but for us as well.” 

Bill has established a company and built a life around bringing joy to others through the artistic expression and passion of one simple ideal “outdoor living.” 

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Ben Strope
Project Manager, Co-Owner. and VP

As one of Bill’s three sons, grew up working in the family business. Ben decided to help keep the family legacy alive, by joining the business at a very young age. For many years, Ben worked every day alongside his father and the installation crews learning the proper way to handle, install, and implement landscape designs. His love of construction translates into his work by building one of a kind outdoor living spaces for his clients right in their backyard. Ben desired to continue pushing the limits of Old North State’s construction abilities. He furthered his education by attending countless swimming pool, landscape, and hardscape installation classes and seminars. He received many certifications, his proudest of which being an Unlimited NC General Contractor’s license. 

Ben attended Guilford College for Business Management. 

ICPI Paver Certification, Segmental Retaining Wall Builder Certification with the National Concrete Masonry Association, NASCLA General Contractor Certified, and his NC General Contractor’s License. 

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Will Strope
Sales Manager and Co-Owner

A perfect addition to the management team, as Bill’s son, and Ben’s twin brother, Will came aboard the company full time, 10 years ago.  From the time that Will could walk, he was always following his father around with a shovel in hand.  Bill taught both him and his brother to have respect for all living things, and to use that passion to create and care for living designed outdoor spaces.  It didn’t take long for Will to realize that he had to be in the second generation of the family business in some capacity.  Working alongside each employee, Will quickly realized he had to help create something to take care of the projects that ONS installed.

Four years ago, in 2014, Will created the Estate Maintenance Department of Old North State, HomeCare.  Will wanted to create and build a service that no one in the area was doing.  Others said they were, but others were falling short.  After looking at the maintenance industry, looking at the need for ONS, Will decided to roll up his sleeves and work side by side with the men to build what has evolved into a highly detailed oriented maintenance division.  Today, Will humbly calls himself an employee of the company.  As one of the owner’s of Old North State, he never knows exactly what will be needed of him from day to day.  He always keeps the motto : “Dress up, show up, and be ready to help.”

After work, Will spends time caring for his wife, and  young daughter.  Will attended college for Business and Design.  Since attending college, Will has earned his NC Irrigation License, his NC Pesticide/ Chemical Applicator License, and his ICPI Paver Certification. 

Administration

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Jim Frier
Director of Operations

Jim came to us at the start of 2018 as a Penn State University alumni with an extensive, diverse background in management and operations across many industries: grocery, restaurant, entertainment, banking/mortgage, real estate, and executive suites/business centers. Jim also has a technical background in IT support and training and as our resident IT guru is affectionately known as Master Yoda. He is a true Renaissance Man always willing to lend a hand to any department.

 

On the weekends Jim can be found spending time hiking, reading, cooking, playing sports, or relaxing with a glass of red wine, a movie, and his cats.

Design and Estimating Department

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Whitney Morris
Lead Designer | Estimator

Whitney graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor's of Science in Landscape Architecture and a minor in Horticulture. Since beginning at Old North State, she was able to receive her NC Landscape Contractor's License, which helps her design lasting landscapes.  Her love of the outdoors began with her parents simple vegetable garden in their backyard, which blossomed into a huge vegetable farm.  "I have always loved art, design, and nature. Residential landscape design has always intrigued me, because it allows for me to add in details you wouldn't otherwise be able to see. My landscape architecture degree allowed me to combine these ideals, which lead me to the green industry and the Old North State Family."

Whitney is dedicated to bringing all of your ideas and forming them into one beautiful and cohesive design. She will listen and work with you to get you exactly what you have envisioned for your property, and more. We are proud to have Whitney on our team, because she along with all of us, are what makes your dreams possible. When Whitney isn't in the design studio, you can find her going on adventures with her husband to the mountains and to the coast; or at home with her two cats, taking care of 50+ houseplants, gardening, or DIYing.

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Stephanie Carnahan
Landscape Designer 

Having a family that loves the outdoors, gardening, healthy habits, and art greatly influenced the person Stephanie is today. She knew from the early age of 11 that landscape architecture was the field for her. This passion continued and in 2018 she graduated from Iowa State University with a major in Landscape Architecture and a minor in Urban Studies. Originally, Stephanie worked in the commercial realm of landscape design, but finds that bringing the beauty of nature and art to a client’s yard is considerably more fulfilling. Being a part of the Old North State family has given her the connection to art and design, the natural environment, and wellbeing she’s always strived to find.

Stephanie is somewhat of a health enthusiast and loves to educate herself and others on positive habits. Often, she’s listening to nutrition podcasts and reading various studies and books on how to improve her own lifestyle. She hopes to mesh this information with her career and help demonstrate how the outdoor environment can improve physical and mental health. In her free time, you can typically find Stephanie hiking or kayaking with her husband and new baby boy, cuddling with her two cats, cooking, and organic gardening with seeds she started in their house.
 

Project Management

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Anna Dixon
Assistant Project Manager

Anna attended NC State University and was active in the horticulture program where she competed in national competitions. Anna graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture - Landscape Design and joined Old North State after graduating.

 

She has filled a variety of roles on the build side of the company and is now a lead project manager. Her daily tasks include schedule management and coordination on many of the projects under construction. Her passion lies in communicating between the client, designers, and build teams for a beautiful finished product.

Anna grew up working with her dad around their small farm and in his shop. This instilled a strong work ethic that she uses daily at Old North State. You'll find Anna working in her garden, spending time with her husband and pup, or enjoying time with her family. 

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Emma Emery
Horticulturist and Material Coordinator

Emma grew up on a greenhouse nursery in Delaware and knew from a young age that the green industry is where she belonged. She graduated from NC State with a bachelor's degree in Horticultural Science. During her time at NC State, she worked at the JC Raulston Arboretum where she grew a love for unique landscape designs that incorporate new and unusual plants. She participated in the National Collegiate Landscape Competitions all through college and has been able to use the skills she learned daily at Old North State.

 

Emma joined the Old North State team in 2021 and has since helped develop a Purchasing Department as the company has continued to expand. The variety of materials that we use keeps her job interesting as some days she is working with vendors to source pavers chosen by the homeowner themselves and other days she is touring nurseries to find quality plant material perfect for the job. 

 

In her free time, she loves traveling, camping, and finding new ways to spend time outdoors with her husband and two dogs. 

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Julia McNeill
Permitting & PM Administrator

In 2020 Julia joined the Old North State Family to create the Permitting Department and to provide an additional level of customer service as the company continues to expand. Julia graduated from East Carolina University with an undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management with a concentration in Conventions and Special Events and a minor in Business Administration. She continued her education at East Carolina University and received her Master’s Degree in Sustainable Tourism. With a background in planning, development, and customer service she enjoys working with the clients and local municipalities to foster new relationships and coordinate efficiently. As someone who has always been passionate about gardening and the outdoors, she loves the creative and unique aspects of each project. 

HomeCare Maintenance

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Leslie Wolverton
HomeCare Maintenance Manager

Leslie grew up with her nose in gardening books. Botanical names and characteristics were cataloged, followed by gleeful hours spent locating them in the garden, in the woods, or on the playground. As a teenager, she drafted landscape designs for the family yard on graph paper purchased for geometry class, spending earnings from her high school job at nurseries to execute her creations. Perennial shade gardens were her favorite back then. As an adult, Leslie still considers the outside world a playground. She delights in crafting elegant outdoor spaces using sustainable design principles, an emphasis on four seasons of beauty, and the use of Southeast natives. She loves working as a team to create incredible results with ample laughs along the way. Prior to her arrival at Old North State, Leslie was named one of Arkansas’s 40 Under 40 by Arkansas Business Insider while running a 207 acre sustainable farming operation and event business. She taught dozens of students sustainable farming practices and ecological landscape design through the Duke Campus Farm program at Duke University. She holds a degree in Soil Science from Mississippi State University, a teaching certificate from Duke University, and is a Certified Irrigation Technician with the Irrigation Association. Leslie loves to work and be with her work family. When she isn’t at Old North State, she is digging in her own garden, cooking and dancing in the kitchen, or on a yoga mat. 

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Mahala Grabow
HomeCare Administrative Assistant

HomeCare Administrative Assistant: Growing up in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, Mahala developed a taste for the politeness of the Midwest and the boldness of the northeast. After graduating from the Pennsylvania State University in 2017, Mahala decided to start the next chapter of her life south of the Mason-Dixon line, as she now wanted to experience the hospitality of the South! Gregarious and amicable, Mahala spent many years working in the hospitality industry, where she discovered her passion for connecting with people while going above and beyond to keep clientele happy. Mahala joined Old North State in 2022 and has quickly improved systems and workflow at the HomeCare department. She is critical in seeing the crews out the door each morning with a smile and keeping over seventy clients happy. She takes joy in working with clients to find exactly the right plant for the landscape taking into consideration the hue, bloom time, size – whatever the specification may be. Mahala’s colleagues describe her as incredibly cheerful, helpful, and brave! In her personal time, you can likely find her enjoying local restaurants, live music, or immersing herself in art at a museum. 

Accounting Department

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Laura Wilkinson
Accounting

Originally from Oyster Bay, NY, Laura moved around quite a bit, from spending time on both coasts of Florida, to the Bahamas, to Stuart/Jensen Beach, FL then up to the Hillsborough area in NC.  She spent time traveling to her grandparents’ homelands, Italy and Sweden, along with trips to Israel and the Seychelles. Laura was first trained in bookkeeping and financial management at her father’s resort, Romora Bay Club on Harbour Island in the Bahamas.  She perfected her skills over the years between flying lessons, sailing, SCUBA diving, and waterskiing, eventually managing the 34 room resort, full service restaurant, sporting facilities, dive operation, two bars and staff of 30.  After moving back to the States in the mid-1980’s, Laura took on several jobs with restaurants and catering businesses, even running a small catering business herself. Laura always loves a challenge, specializing in re-organizing financial records, setting up new bookkeeping systems, and assisting small businesses in their growth.  Her private hours are consumed with fiber arts:  crochet, spinning and weaving, remodeling a small fishing shack at the coast, along with assisting her husband with dog training and hunt tests (Labrador Retrievers). Laura landed at Old North State in 2016, and has since helped the company tremendously. 

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Daniel Love
Accounting

In early 2018, Daniel joined the Old North State Family.  Daniel attended North Carolina State University and has received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management, with a minor in accounting.  Despite his business background, his love for the outdoors couldn’t keep him away from the green industry.  After college Daniel jumped into a career through production management and job tracking.  During this track, Daniel earned his Certified Plant Professional certification to help better his understanding of each project, and to assist in finding plants that are beyond the norm.  Once joining ONS, Daniel spent many months out in the field in the everyday duties to learn and understand the unique way that Old North State makes every client feel like family while providing the best quality service and product. 

Daniel loves seeing completed projects from the team, because every completed product is unique, just like Old North State.  In his downtime, Daniel loves to spend his time with his family.  Whenever possible, Daniel gets out on the boat, the beach, or just out on a hike with his wife and two boys.  Family is very important to Daniel, which is why he makes such a great fit in the Old North State Family.   

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