Erich Hixson – NOCO’s 30 Under 30

Erich Hixson

Co-owner, Landscaper and Designer, Hampton West 

Tell us about yourself, your history and how you came to be where you are now. 
I started freelance writing 10 years ago, and eventually dropped out of CSU to pursue that career full-time. In 2019, I decided to stop writing and started working as a laborer for a local landscape company, where I met and befriended my current business partner, Nat. We launched Hampton West in 2021 and are now growing faster than I ever thought possible! 

What are you passionate about professionally and personally, and why? 
I’m particularly passionate about creativity: expressing it, appreciating it and encouraging it, both in myself and in others. Professionally, this is most obvious when I’m designing a new space for a client, but it can also take the form of developing efficient installation processes or discovering new ways to use basic materials. Creativity can be studied and practiced like any other skill, and I seek out opportunities to do so whenever I can.  

What is your superpower? 
I’ve found that I can learn things pretty quickly, without much regard for field or industry. And while Captain Learns-a-Lot probably won’t be starring in movies any time soon, I think it’s the superpower equivalent of wishing for more wishes: with enough study, hard work and inevitable mistakes, anyone can become an expert in anything.  

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment, either professionally or personally? 
My biggest accomplishment is, without question, the Japanese garden I recently designed and installed for a client. From the actual design (~5,000 square feet) to the logistics (“cloud trees” from Minnesota, bamboo from Portland, moss from Pennsylvania) and especially the physical installation, I was constantly challenged in ways that were simultaneously frustrating and exciting. It was like solving a giant puzzle, and I’m unendingly grateful to the family that trusted me to reimagine their space.  

Who has been the biggest influence in your life? 
I’ve been lucky to have a huge number of positive influences–parents, teachers, friends, clients and so many others. But for the past few years, my business partner has been the most significant. He’s exactly 23 years my senior and has found a way to span that gap to teach me about hard work, attention to detail and basically everything I know about landscaping. I’m very lucky to count him as a friend!  

Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years? 
In five years, I’d like Hampton West to be one of the top companies in the region, with a reputation for design/build projects that deliberately breaks the mold of the “traditional” Colorado landscape. In 10 years, I’d like to roll my experience as a landscape designer into an architecture career and expand the company to include custom-built homes as well.   

What piece(s) of advice would you give to your
18-year-old self?
Instead of advice, I think I’d just give myself some encouragement. Eighteen-year-old me has some dark times ahead to get to 26-year-old me, and I’d just want my predecessor to know how grateful I am that he didn’t give up during those times.   

What do you enjoy doing in your downtime? 
I haven’t had very much downtime since the business took off, but DJing and producing music are basically my favorite things in the world, and as soon as I can take a step back from the day-to-day of Hampton West, I’ll be resuming my pursuit of a “side career” as an artist.  

What would you like to give back to your community? 
I’d really like to find and develop raw talent, in the form of hiring or otherwise supporting people that have some unique skill or passion that they haven’t been able to fully pursue yet. Whether it’s for socioeconomic reasons, unawareness of their ability or a lack of support from the people around them, I’d like to find ways to remove any roadblocks to the maximum development of their potential.