Who We Are
We are green roof innovators, focused on optimizing every aspect of the green roof. We are a network of 21 industry leading green roof growers with a collective 500+ years of horticultural experience.
We are local; in key markets across North America with specialization in regional plant materials, soils, water, and climate.
What We Believe
We believe that to do green roofs right, we must provide the greatest long term owner value (not necessarily the cheapest acquisition price). To us this means ease of maintenance, greatest beauty, longest lifespan, and lowest life cycle cost.
We believe in teamwork and timely open/honest communication.
We believe in win-win scenarios, fairness, and ethical business practices.
We believe in efficiency, consistency, and great service.
We believe in doing what is right.
What We Do
We strive to improve the world by restoring the balance between green spaces and hard spaces.
We respect life; the environment; water, air, plants. animals, humanity.
How We Do It
We test and develop systems and soils, and develop and cultivate only the best plants for green roofs in our respective climates, and grow them in a healthy environmentally responsible manner.
We grow in the unique and proven LiveRoof system.
LiveRoof, a Natural Development
LiveRoof is an eco-friendly creative enterprise founded by one of America’s best nurseries, Hortech, Inc., of Spring Lake Michigan. LiveRoof is the leading supplier of practical and sustainable green roof products with RoofTop Proven™ plants preferred by designers, architects and outdoor landscape contractors. The company sells its planted roof products globally through a network of distributors.
The parent company, Hortech, is the creation of Dave MacKenzie, a horticulturist, biologist and author of two respected books on ground cover, Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ground Covers and Perennial Ground Covers.
Dave’s interest in plants and living space began in college, and he graduated with a vision of accumulating significant acreage and building rows of greenhouse near the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan to take advantage of rich soils, reliable precipitation and summer and winter temperatures, moderated by the proximity of the enormous lake. Today, the complex of Hortech nurseries and greenhouses are surrounded on three sides by water at the convergence of Spring Lake and the Grand River, just 3.5 miles from the “singing sand” beach and spectacular dunes of Lake Michigan and its temperature-moderating 1,180 square miles of fresh water.
Dave is a horticulturalist committed to research and development of plants and the infrastructure and environments to nurture and sustain them, and he quickly built a multi-disciplinary team to assist in these studies. Achieving national renown as a leader in ground covers, Dave had the wide-ranging experience with both plants and hydration combined with the perennial plants knowledge to emerge as a national expert in green roofs as this product of responsible green building design caught on. Dave quickly formed a subsidiary to Hortech and named it LiveRoof, LLC. The enterprise was an immediate success, taking its living roof to new levels for the emerging industry, and providing landscape architects and designers with roof garden designs that are as durable and sustainable as they are beautiful.
“We have learned to be agile and quick moving,” Dave explains, “but we wait to move ahead until we are convinced our products and plants are sustainable.”
In addition to developing a more sustainable and better functioning green roof system, Dave reached out to colleagues industry leading nurseries in other parts of the United States—and eventually abroad in countries such as Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United Kingdom—and developed a distribution network of local, horticultural professionals. Dave understood that, in order for the system to thrive in all climate types, that it had to be tested, produced and cared for in the climate where it would be installed. With over 25 Licensed Growers and Distributors worldwide, LiveRoof is backed by a network of professional growers which pool together over 500 years of collective experience, ensuring continual improvement and the highest quality on all projects.
During 2008, in answer to customer requests for a living wall system for green homes and green offices, Dave and his highly experienced team began testing a number of existing living wall systems. At the time, each commercial system on the market was found to be too complicated to install, plant and maintain. Worse, Dave’s research team found them to be poor at growing plants.
Having thoroughly identified the challenges and solved them with an effective horticultural design, the launch of LiveWall was inevitable. Today, the company is well down the road to repeating the commercial success of LiveRoof.
About founder Dave MacKenzie
LiveRoof, LLC and its sibling LiveWall, LLC and Hortech, Inc. have emerged from the prolific imagination of Dave S. MacKenzie and the deep horticultural talent he has attracted to his complex of greenhouses in western, lower Michigan. Dave’s companies have been supporting the most fertile minds of architects, designers and landscapers since 1983, when he launched parent company Hortech, Inc. shortly after graduating from college with a degree in biology.
Dave relishes the speed, creativeness and integrity of his privately held companies. In a word, Dave and his committed team of horticulturists and gardeners are “agile” in their quest for better plants, biology-based growing practices, and sustainable growing systems for beautiful indoor and outdoor gardens and rooftops. As an example of their generative power, Dave and his team successfully entered the green roof market as LiveRoof with a superior product in just three months, a marked contrast to the three years it has taken some competitors. Today, LiveRoof , LLC is the go-to company for leading architects, designers and building engineers.
“We have learned to be agile and quick moving,” Dave explains, “but we wait to move ahead until we are convinced our products and plants are sustainable. On balance, the combination of innovation, speed and deliberateness has paid off. We have more winners than losers.” While he is often a first-to-market force, this core commitment to quality differentiates Dave’s companies from some competitors. Dave doesn’t release a product until it is ready to thrive in the hands of his customers. As a by-product of this deeply held philosophy, Dave’s creations are sometimes the first products to market that actually work as intended.
Unlike some corporate leaders, Dave is not entirely motivated by money; rather by the challenge of understanding what his customers and the market need or might need, developing a vision for the future, then bringing that vision to life. “My team and I are committed to achieving the most beautiful and sustainable plants and plant growing systems. I am proud that our work is so beautiful.”
The son of a physician who grew up amidst the ample rainfall, gentle climate and unusually fertile soils that define the eastern approaches to lower Lake Michigan, Dave had originally intended to become a doctor, as well. But a major in biology, as part of a pre-med program, plus working with plants to earn money during the summers, exposed Dave to horticulture of which he ultimately chose as a career.
Back in 1983, having graduated from Hope College at 21, Dave and a business partner began a lease-to-own relationship with John Moser, a local nurseryman, who left the nursery industry to become an ordained minister. The name of the business was changed to Hortech for “horticulture and technology” and the new entity began operations.
As a result of his education, hard work and inquisitiveness, early in his career Dave became a noted ground cover expert and author of three books on the subject of perennial ground covers. In 1993, Dave became the sole owner of Hortech, and in time the business grew to its present 150 acres. While Hortech continues to be a leader in ground covers, Hortech now offers a tremendous line of perennials, vines, grasses and ferns. And, Hortech’s subsidiary LiveRoof, LLC. has become an industry leader in green roof systems. And, after four years of development, Hortech has formed LiveWall, LLC, producer of the first truly sustainable living wall system.