Faces of the Industry: Eddie Ramirez - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Faces of the Industry: Eddie Ramirez

“Yeah, why not?” was Eddie Ramirez’s response to Mark Chaffin when he suggested Ramirez join him as he started his own landscaping company.

That was in 1979, when the two were working together at a restaurant. Chaffin left the restaurant industry and started EarthWorks, Inc., based in Lillian, Texas.

Ramirez started as a laborer, then moved up to be an irrigation technician, then foreman and then supervisor. He is now the general manager of the Lillian office. He says each day starts at 6 a.m. and dispatches the specialty crews. He has held this position for the past 10 years.

He says one major thing he’s learned over his career is how to manage employees. While you can’t please everyone, you do need to know how to deal with those types of problems.

He says Chaffin and Chris Lee, president of EarthWorks, have been his mentors in the industry.

“I never thought I would get to this point,” Ramirez says. “We had a couple of meetings with Chris and Mark and they said to me, ‘I think it’s time to step up and if you want to, you can do it.’”

Ramirez loves working on the landscape. He designs landscape jobs and goes out to check on his crews regularly. He does wish the public understood how landscapes need constant care.

“With landscaping, there’s something that you learn every day,” he says. “A landscape doesn’t last forever. They need to understand that even if I spend $100,000 dollars this year, they need to keep working on it.”

He says his biggest challenge has been helping the company grow.

Ramirez says his favorite thing about working for the company now is how much easier things are.

“It used to be hard work,” he says. “I started from the bottom and I have been stepping up thanks to Chris. He has been pushing things and teaching us how to do things better and easier. I love the company and I love my work.”

Over the 40 years, he’s seen significant changes in the company. Now, they have more crews and better equipment. He credits these changes to Lee, who introduced new ideas that allow the team to work smarter. Ramirez says he expects robotic mowers to become more common in the industry as it moves forward.

While Ramirez has spent the majority of his career with EarthWorks, he says he did leave a couple of times. Each time, Chaffin would make a point of reaching out and asking Ramirez to come back.

“What made me stay here after the years and (coming back) over and over, I think if you love what you’re doing, I don’t see a reason to go somewhere else,” he says.

He says other companies can retain their employees long-term by taking care of them.

“I know it’s hard, but if you have employees that are loyal to your company, take care of them,” Ramirez says. “Because in the long run, that guy is going to help you grow or teach the rest of your employees.”

In five years, Ramirez expects himself to be retired or close to retirement. He encourages others to strive to do the best that they can.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” he says. “You just have to keep trying hard. It’s not easy, but if they want it, they can do it. Just keep trying and get better every day.”

This article was published in the January/February issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.