Innovative Equipment Engineered to Last

Built to Last: From Landscaping to Legacy


Stubblefied_headshot“I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to own machines that are made so well in a time when most consider a 5 year old product to be expired.”

We had the opportunity to chat with Tom Stubblefield with Stubblefield Landscaping in Concord, CA. Now retired after 46 years as a landscape contractor and business owner, Stubblefield is selling his Barreto equipment and closing up shop.

Barreto Manufacturing was founded in 1984 when Greg Barreto built the industry’s first all-hydraulic tiller out of his Oregon garage. Stubblefield purchased his first Barreto tiller in 1987, which would have come from the earliest series of tillers designed at that time. He continued to run that tiller until 2023 when he made the decision to retire.

2023_Stubblefield_tillerHe also purchased a Barreto trencher a few years later, and these original units are the same ones utilized throughout the duration of his career. They are now being sold - a little aged but still going strong - to continue their life in the field.

“The only thing I replaced on the tiller, besides tines of course, was the hydraulic pumps, and it was only because I think I over-tightened one of the fittings and cracked the threads. I haven’t had any failures on the trencher.”


2023_Stubblefield_manual-1While he doesn’t remember where he bought his first tiller, he still has the original Owner’s manual to go with the machine to its new home. The 1520 tiller model he owns is one of Barreto’s oldest designs. “I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to own machines that are made so well in a time when most consider a 5 year old product to be expired, and sadly, many are.”

“I had basically every other tiller on the market until the Barreto hydraulic tiller came out. The best thing back in those days was a Howard, which I think was an English piece, but they were all mechanical and chain driven. Troybilt, those lasted about a year, especially here with the adobe clay in northern California. The Bay Area was where I mainly worked.”

“I wish more manufacturers would reach out to customers for their input. Because a lot of changes happen through the years, like on some tractors I’ve run, that end up being really challenging for the customers.”  

When we asked about what advice he would give to up and coming landscape entrepreneurs he recommended they purchase the best quality they can afford to start with. He said, “I’m really selective about quality. I’ve been obsessive about that, actually, about selecting the very best.”

“My experience is that - number one - I don’t want to have any breakdowns on the job because time is the most valuable commodity. Like with anything, equipment breakdown costs so much, and repairs cost so much these days. That’s one reason to buy good equipment.

The second reason, and the history of my company proves this, I’ve had two employees that have been with me for 30 years, and two employees that have been with me for 25 years. One reason for that is when I purchased equipment I made sure to buy the very best possible. I made sure to buy what they needed to enable them to perform to their best abilities. This way you aren’t sending them to a job with a crappy tractor or bad equipment and expecting them to perform exceptionally. That was my philosophy,” he said.

“Cause you know, I did all strictly residential installations, so owner perception was everything. You couldn’t drive leaky hydraulic machinery across someone’s new $40,000 driveway. There was no other way to go about it for the people we worked for and how we went about the work. I don’t want to see junky equipment out front, and they don’t either.”

2023_Stubblefield_trencher2Being a landscape contractor isn’t without grit, sweat, and effort. And, it can be an extremely rewarding industry. Tom said, “I know the thing I like the most and miss the most was seeing something built everyday. When we were done with the day’s work, there was something to show for it. That was very satisfying. The people I had working for me were exceptional. You hear so many stories about guys not showing up, or not showing up 100 percent of the time and calling in sick often. I’ll bet in the 30 years I had guys working for me I had no more absences than I could count on one hand.”

Tom’s story is a legacy that left a noticeable fingerprint on the communities he served. There’s no doubt that the work put in and the designs he and his team employed have positively shaped the character of the neighborhoods then and for years to come.

It’s a story that Barreto Manufacturing is proud to have been a small part of, and it’s the type of story we never tire of telling. We set out 40 years ago to build the best in durable, innovative equipment that went above and beyond to serve its owners well. Now, all this time later as we encounter stories like Tom’s, we see that philosophy as self-evidently successful.

We feel as though we’ve grown up alongside businesses like Tom’s, and it’s an honor to hear his story of success. It’s such an encouragement to us as we push on to the next 40 years. As Tom wraps up his time in the industry, he says he has no succession plan and will instead be selling off equipment piece by piece. Here’s to Tom and his wonderful next chapter, and here’s to another run of good years for his fleet of red equipment!