Team members may have noticed a change to the familiar outdoor landscaping at the corporate office. What used to be grass has now been replaced with an array of neutral-tone, 3–6-inch stones, complimentary artistically placed boulders and wispy desert grasses. This new outdoor makeover is not just aesthetically pleasing, it also offers a significant amount of water reduction, and therefore cost savings, to Associated Food Stores. 

Russ Hatt, AFS facilities manager, is the mastermind behind the new desert oasis, a project that has been taking place over the last three years with full completion planned in 2025. Russ carefully selected each outdoor area that could be updated, created a plan, and budgeted accordingly including the costs of updating outdated sprinklers to drip lines.  

“We’ve cut our outdoor water use by more than half,” said Hatt.  “We’re being water-wise and saving on labor that would have been used to maintain the grass. Everything about this project is a benefit.”  

In addition to water reduction, specific drought-tolerant desert grasses were handpicked not just for their beauty, but also to mitigate the collection of outdoor garbage that is often trapped in landscaping foliage. 

As a local company, Associated Food Stores prefers supporting local businesses whenever possible.  Hatt kept this top of mind when selecting the stone for the landscaping. Gabion stone was sourced from a local company in Heber, Utah.   

“The project is 75 percent complete now- we only have one section on the East side and another near the road. Each spring I look forward to updating another portion of our landscaping. I want to thank the team for pardoning the construction of our outdoor updates- but in completion, we will have something I hope the entire company is proud of. Our landscaping serves the team that works here and is the first thing guests notice when visiting our building,” Hatt said.