Named the Small Business Council of America’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2013, Anthony Sblendorio is the founder of landscape architecture and development firm Back to Nature in Oldwick, New Jersey. Founded in 1994, Back to Nature specializes in green building and has worked on some of the first LEED certified structures and communities in the state. In 2011, Sblendorio decided to open a home and garden store despite his lack of retail experience. Also called Back to Nature, the store is located in Basking Ridge and offers a wide selection of plants, gardening tools, and gifts. Opening the retail store was “risky,” Sblendorio recalls, as he made his move only a couple of years after the credit markets collapsed. The risk paid off, though, and Back to Nature has thrived over the last two years.
“It’s our responsibility to get people inspired to want to do something and not to judge them if they don’t,” says the entrepreneurial environmentalist.
Sblendorio obtained his degree in landscape architecture from Rutgers University. His architecture firm is now working with the Willow School in Gladstone to develop plans for its LEED certified buildings and construct the country’s first “living” school building. In addition to running the Back to Nature landscape architecture firm and Back to Nature retail store, Sblendorio teaches at Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Previously, he served as co-CEO of Ecological, a Manhattan-based master planning and development firm he co-founded with Joe Grano and former New York governor George Pataki.
Sblendorio’s contributions to the green building movement have been recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Urban Land Institute Northern New Jersey Chapter, the Hunterdon County Planning Board, The Perennial Plant Association, and The Garden Club of Morristown.