By Hoa Quach
Paul Hunyady had a love for designing landscapes early on.
He remembers spending hours on end with his mother in their yard and suggesting certain areas for her plants. Hunyady described his mother as a single mom of three who worked constantly. But when she was home, she was in her garden.
“It was my only opportunity to spend time with her,” said Hunyady, 47. “I would put together compilations with her that would just blow her mind. I guess it was a little bit of my willingness to be accepted by her but I knew I wanted to spend this time with her.”
Sadly, his mother passed away before Hunyady had a chance to start Mooch Exterior Designs and North Park Nursery, but he said he knows she would’ve been proud of him.
“She always knew I had a talent for this,” Hunyady said. “I know she would’ve been proud of me.”
After starting his business just nine years ago and seeing it grow into a million-dollar operation, there’s plenty to be proud about.
North Park Nursery, which lived at 3302 32nd St. for three years, is nearing the end of its move into a larger space on University Avenue this month. The store is owned by parent company Mooch Exterior Designs, which Hunyady opened after working in what he described as an unfulfilling job.
“I was working in the legal industry as an office manager and I hated it,” said Hunyady, who also lives in the neighborhood. “I decided to do something for myself. The idea was to improve people’s landscapes one yard at a time with my truck.”
After about six years, when his home office became too small to handle his growing operation, Hunyady opened North Park Nursery, which included a design center.
“The concept of the nursery came because there wasn’t one in North Park,” Hunyady said. “Immediately after opening on 32nd Street, we outgrew it. The nursery became too small.”
Hunyady said he then made the move to purchase another space on North Park Way in May but quickly realized it still wasn’t sufficient for the high demand of customers. The Nursery sees $300,000 in revenue a year while the design company takes in about $1.5 million a year.
“One of the problems we were having was every time we had new space, we outgrew it right away,” Hunyady said.
Now, Hunyady plans to open his nursery and design center at University Avenue and Texas Street by October’s end.
The new location features 5,600 square feet of interior space and 10,000 square feet of exterior space. The new property was designed and built in just two months for $120,000.
“We are really doing more than a nursery and a design center,” Hunyady said. “We’ll have a do-it-yourself area with reclaimed projects. I’m also looking into consignment opportunities and gift stations for people who want to give crafty-type gifts. I believe and I hope this is our home for the next five to seven years.”
Hunyady said he plans to hire another five people to his current staff, which consists of of 30 employees and four designers.
With his staff by his side, he said he also plans to offer more innovation.
“Every single thing we do is unique in its own right,” Hunyady said. “Everything we do has a new twist to it. We always strive to be innovative.”
They’ve supported everything from little leagues to school foundations to helping with the creation of a container yard in East Village.
His commitment to the community — while working 60 hours a week in an industry he loves — is just another reason why his mother would be proud.
“It’s really a life-long dream and passion,” Hunyady said. “I am so lucky to be able to do what I’m good at and love what I do.”
—Contact Hoa Quach by visiting hoawrites.com.