Building the Workforce

by | Jul 1, 2021 | Business, Industry News, Latest

Industry leaders share how they recruit for and develop their teams.

Thousands of companies across the United States are struggling to find, hire, and keep employees on the job.

The landscape industry is hit especially hard as people invest more in outdoor spaces.

There are solutions for businesses needing to boost their workforce to respond to the increasing client demands.

Leaders in the landscape industry offer their advice.

Pam Dooley

Plants Creative Landscapes 

Decatur, Georgia 

Recruiting plans are as important as operating budgets: developing both short-term and long-term strategies, and sticking to them, is critical.

For development, the NALP offers affordable certification programs for people to upskill in the green industry. local green industry associations and trade schools also offer courses.

There is also an abundance of low-cost, or free, online learning platforms. Combining these learning resources with in-house training, and celebrating the people who commit to growing themselves (bonuses, job advancement), creates positive momentum – and retention- for business owners.

We offer a learning budget for various positions in the company, reimbursing our team for completed courses.

Christopher Grandpre

Chairman & CEO at Outdoor Living Brands, Inc.

Richmond, Virginia

Never underestimate the power of an attractive culture in your organization.

Fostering a culture of employee growth, recognition, development, innovation, empowerment, accountability, and fun can bind the team to the company far better than compensation alone.

This will be the reason they recruit new team members.

Mike Mason

President at the LawnPro

Louisville, Kentucky

There are so many opportunities in so many areas. No matter how you define success you can find it in the landscape industry.

“To enrich the lives of others” is my definition as well as our company’s vision statement.

The main thing that would make the industry better would be to have more people in it and to educate the younger generation on how great our industry is.

Scott Anderson

Co-Owner/Operations of Urban Soil LLC

San Antonio, Texas

Employees want to know there is direction, growth, and opportunity for advancement or movement into something else.

Safety is also a big component. What we do can be dangerous and we have a great safety record.

We also are on the high end of the pay scale, and the lowest guy on the crew is eligible for full medical, dental, vision, paid time off.

I really believe that if we take good care of people they will take good care of us.

Billy Van Eaton 

CEO Cumberland Landscape Group

Atlanta, Georgia

Labor really needs to be solved with a long-term mindset.

I think culture is one of the biggest items that will either build or bust a company’s labor, and we have built a culture that is fun, exciting, supportive, and diverse. 

It has taken a lot of time and resources to create this.

We also like to give people opportunities to grow, and we try to have very competitive – trackable AND attainable – incentive compensation plans. 

Chris Carpenter

Director of Operations – Landscape Management SPSD, INC

Arlington, Texas

We work hard to make sure our employees are happy with the work they are doing and that they know we care about them as people.

We rely heavily on our current employees in the recruiting process.

Everyone wants to work with people they know and like so that is where we start, asking for referrals from them.

Alexander Ewing Mednick

Director of Resources, The Mednick Landscape Co., LLC.

Palm City, Florida

The best advice I give to others is to treat the guys you already have as a family.

By treating them as well as you would like for yourself, you are planting seeds in a community.

Instead of employees complaining about work to their friends, they will brag about paid time off.

Their friends will be listening for when openings are available as a result.

Lanie Riner

Georgia Green Industry Association

When searching to fill a spot on your team, try to keep an open mind about where you may find your next team member. 

Don’t abandon the methods that have been working, but invest a portion of your budget and time in investigating alternative ways of reaching potential employees and alternative labor pools.

Hal Thorne

Chairman and CEO, GSky Plant Systems, Inc.

Delray Beach, Florida, United States 

It is complicated today because of unemployment pay, construction pay, and many businesses coming back looking for people so rates can get more than just competitive.

In my experience, the obvious things work.

When you find good people, treat them well, pay competitive rates, work to make them feel part of something. 


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