As owner of Meticulous Landscaping Inc., Waretown, New Jersey, Robert Kraft knows plenty about providing landscape services to commercial properties. His company’s expertise includes commercial lawn care, landscape design, construction and installation services, irrigation installation and maintenance, and tree care and snow removal services. He has also learned that touching base with his management team each day is essential in keeping business running smoothly.
Kraft incorporated the company in 1986 after learning tools of the trade during high school and performing part-time landscaping work for a few years after high school. It all built up to what Meticulous Landscaping is today: a 47-employee company that performs landscaping and related services to about 7,000 houses per week that are part of senior citizen communities. The smallest community is made up of 350 houses; the largest is 1,425 houses.
Building Upon Each Success
After 33 years, Kraft finds his motivation in building upon successes.
“The motivation is being successful, being able to get new jobs, sign new work, buy new equipment and doing this hand-in-hand with employees and bringing them along with me,” he says. “And to help take care of them and their families as well. I feel really deeply about doing the best the company can for the employees. We are committed and motivated to grow the company and take care of people along the way.”
Client Loyalty is a Priority
Meticulous Landscaping has had most of its contracts for 20 to 25 years. Kraft is proud of that and credits the company’s ability to build relationships with people. Employees are able to build upon those relationships.
“I try to make it more personal,” Kraft says. “We thrive on the ability to maintain them, not lose those relationships, and not turn them over.” That includes building relationships with boards and associations of the communities.
Starting & Ending the Day: Touching Base with His Management Team
Kraft’s approach to each day begins with a phone call with his general manager Steve Miller. That typically occurs around 6:30 a.m. “That is a call to go over the day’s plans,” Kraft says. “We review the plan and make any adjustments based on weather conditions.”
Kraft and Miller also have a phone call at the end of the day to review. Now 58 years old, Kraft is beginning to delegate the task of getting all the crews out on jobs. He is making sure that a solid succession plan is in place. Key management will get a percentage of ownership once Kraft decides to transfer that percentage, and he prides himself on his relationships with his management team.
“I have a very, very good working relationship with my guys,” he says. The quote he uses to motivate the team is “Never put off until tomorrow what you can finish today. You start the day fresh, you accomplish more. I’m always trying to motivate the guys to be positive.”
Sculpting the Community Landscape
What also motivates the team is to see the evolution of what they have accomplished with a community over years of sculpting the landscape.
“You get to see the evolution of a community,” Kraft says. One particular project stands out in Kraft’s memory for the contribution his team made. In 2012, ocean-front homes in New Jersey were in the path of Hurricane Sandy.
Meticulous Landscaping had built retaining walls and related structures that withstood the water surge from the hurricane.
“We were right in the eye of the storm,” Kraft remembers. “It was neat to go back on those jobs and see how the grading plans and retaining walls protected the houses from getting swept away.”
Kraft also sums up his passion for the industry this way: “I never, ever dread leaving home in the morning. It has never happened. I like what I do.”