We talk a lot about community here on the Ship’s Log. And an important part of that is commerce, our friends and fellow business folk in the LBI region. We rely on our partners to not only enhance our community and create great experiences for visitors, but also to aid locals in need.
Whenever we mention the business community, one of the first that comes to mind is the Reynolds family of Reynold’s Landscaping. Not only do they have the ability to transform a yard into a living nirvana, they’ve helped to create the blueprint for everything the Island and mainland have become today.
“Commitment to community was part of our upbringing,” says Mark Reynolds, founder of Reynold’s Landscaping and the third generation of his family that has taken a real interest in growing the community and economy of Southern Ocean County.
Manahawkin was a very small town in the 1950s when Mark’s parents and grandparents jointly bought Jimmy’s Restaurant on Rt. 9 (currently the site of Fusaro’s Pizza) next to what was then the National Hotel. Carol’s Restaurant became a hub in town. As they became successful through the 70s they expanded from the original footprint and grew to employ some 80 people.
“We were always hosting some kind of dinner, fundraiser or party,” remembers Mark, “It taught me to try to live a life where I was more concerned than just with myself. My wife Peg and I passed that on to our kids.”
But the big move was when Mark’s father Raymond, who also served as the Board President of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, got together with area leaders Jim Mancini and Jim Noble to really change the region.
“They thought that if they could bring a hospital to town, it would encourage people to move to the area. Together, they went out to Burlington County Hospital for a meeting.”
Burlington said that if they could raise $100K, they would build a hospital with the community. And thus began an epic community push to raise the money. Today, that would be the equivalent of $650K. Southern Ocean County Hospital (now known as Southern Ocean Medical Center) opened with 54 beds and 17 physicians in August of 1972.
Ray Reynolds suffered from juvenile diabetes and died before he could see how much the hospital brought to the area. But his wife Margaret sat on the board of directors for years.
How many locals have been born there? How reassuring is it to have a local emergency room closer than Atlantic City or Toms River? Today, we have a flourishing medical arts economy on Rt. 72.
And the Reynolds kept up their involvement. Mark’s wife Peg started the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean County.
“Most people don’t even realize that there are people who don’t have enough to eat in our communities. There are seven or eight food banks here. We do a dinner in the spring and have functions throughout the year. We built the Community Garden in Manahawkin to raise awareness for those hungry families,” Mark adds.
One of those is the Bourbon and Bites, which we host at the Old Causeway in November. Our Tide Table Group is always partnering with the Reynold’s family on events, very often with the Jetty Rock Foundation and David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation. The Reynolds play a huge role in the Eskimo Outreach, which will be held on February 22 this year. We see them beautifying so many events that we’re a part of each year.
“What we’re able to do now with our equipment and staff is to move things, set up and decorate, really make the event look great,” says Mark.
One thing he has always aimed to do is to tap a certain demographic for support of these fundraising projects. Reynolds has a huge clientele of second homeowners who want to be a part of LBI and are willing to donate to local efforts. That’s a role that Mark’s son Luke has taken on.
“I’ve learned a lot from my Dad. Now that I’m the public face in terms of dealing with clients, I’m talking to people who have money from out of town and I’m able to tell them about our projects. We have a good, working relationship and a lot of trust. They enjoy the Island, the bay and the beach so much that they’re willing to help our towns.”
Mark explains that a lot of these people consider LBI their home. This is where they spend summers, holidays and quality time with their families. Their ultimate goal is to live on LBI and they want to support the community here.
With the recent births in the family (at Southern Ocean Medical Center) the Reynolds are now on their way to a fifth generation of involvement with the business community. Daughter Katie is the florist and currently runs Reynold’s Floral Market. Son-in-law, Tanek Hood handles the lighting designs. Luke Reynolds runs the landscaping and construction end. His wife Ashley manages the Reynold’s Garden Shop. Mark has also started Reynold’s Project Management, building custom homes.
“But we all do whatever it takes – those were basic generic descriptions but the truth is we all help each other every day,” says Luke.