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Finding the Silver Lining: Landscape Pros Share Positive Stories

In times of trouble, it can be easy to only see the bad and focus on negative news but even during a crisis you can find hope and positivity.

Various NALP members share how they are staying positive and they highlight the unexpected bright spots that have come out of the COVID crisis.

Projecting a Good Attitude Is Key

Bruce Allentuck, president of Allentuck Landscaping Co. based in Rockville, Maryland, says that one positive is how people have been super nice and understanding during this time.

“One that was unexpected is the trust and hope that my employees have put in me as a leader,” Allentuck says. “I know it was always there, but now when we discuss the situation, I look in their eyes and can tell that they are truly trusting me with the care of their families. This is huge and makes me want to work really hard to make sure they are ok.”

Allentuck says he’s worked to keep his staff positive by listening and discussing matters with them. He admits that while he can’t solve many of their concerns, he can be empathetic.

“I think just projecting a good attitude and smiling at people and encouraging people is the simplest way to help keep everyone with a positive attitude,” says Bob Grover, president of Pacific Landscape Management, in Hillsboro, Oregon. “Our whole management team is working diligently and is confident our personal efforts will be successful, and I think that is a motivation to everybody that works in and around us to keep a positive attitude.”

Grover says the company’s managers and supervisors have worked extra long hours preparing the fleet for social distancing, sanitation and hygiene.

“Most of the work happened without being asked or told to do so and when I heard stories happening over the weekend and Monday morning of all the work that people had done over the weekend, I was touched and very proud,” Grover says.

Skip Thompson, CEO of TideWater Landscape Management, based in Savannah, Georgia, says he’s noticed extra teamwork among his staff as well.

“When we discuss the situation with staff, we try to remain positive by being lighthearted in our communication reminders, funny signs, etc. without taking away the seriousness of the situation,” Thompson says.

How They’re Helping in Their Communities

Aside from creating and maintaining beautiful outdoor spaces that customers can enjoy during the quarantine, NALP members are reaching out in a number of ways to help in the community.

Currently, Paul Fraynd, co-owner of Sun Valley Landscaping, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is hosting a family whose father died suddenly while their youngest daughter was getting emergency surgery and being cared for in the PICU.

“Our normally quiet house now holds 3 excited young boys and a loving mother,” Fraynd says. “I share this just to give context on how being a beacon of hope and caring at this time can mean the world to someone.”

Aside from supporting this family, Fraynd says the company is checking in on people to see how they are holding up.

“Not just those that work with us, but our friends, our families and those that may need our help or a positive nudge each day,” Fraynd says. “Even normally happy folks can experience depression in these times. It is very important to reach out to those in your life that suffer from anxiety and depression and just be there to listen. Support at times like this show the world your character and the true nature of your love and care for them.”

Thompson says his staff has been checking in on each other and family as well, making sure they’re all doing okay.

“We have been checking in on our partners individually to ensure they are doing ok and we are thinking of them and we have had them check in on us also on a personal basis,” Thompson says.

Thompson says a number of their commercial partners have been impacted by COVID-19 and they have worked to provide them services at a discounted rate, without compromising their property’s landscape.

TideWater has also been reaching out to veterans in the area who may be fully quarantined to see if they need any services during this time. Allentuck says his company has always given its services to a hospice non-profit in town and he’s reached out recently to assure them that they are still here for them.

Grover says his company discussed ways to help local businesses and one suggestion was to buy takeout as often as possible to keep those business generating some form of revenue.

“I personally don’t go out to eat very often but I’ve purchased takeout every night this week so far and I’m proud to do so and will go forward doing that through this crisis,” Grover says.

Look for Opportunities

Even though it may seem there is no end in sight with the current pandemic, many companies are looking at how they can operate more efficiently and come out of this event even stronger than before.

“In the middle of this crisis, I always feel like there’s opportunities in a crisis,” says Jim McCutcheon, CEO of HighGrove Partners, LLC, based in Austell, Georgia. “And I think we need to be able to step back and look at what the opportunities are for us to become better companies once we start to come out of this thing a little bit. It allows us the opportunity to think a little differently than perhaps we did a month ago and have the courage to consider new ideas and new ways of doing things.”

Allentuck says his leadership team has come together and stepped up to create a list of 25 to 30 processes they want to collaboratively improve upon.

“Crisis management is an interesting phenomenon that brings a team together,” Grover says. “We’re very proud of our culture and teamwork but anytime that we’ve had a challenge put in front of us, whether it be a weather challenge or otherwise, it’s very rewarding to see the team band together and work to solve the problem so that we all survive and thrive. I am incredibly proud of the effort that Team Orange has made over the last several weeks as this crisis has developed.”

NALP Support

Members also expressed appreciation for the support NALP has provided, from hosting COVID-19-related webinars to covering best practices and defending the industry as an essential service.

“NALP has been a tremendous resource to help us personally and our state association help ensure that we can continue to operate and do so within the law and within responsibility to protect our employees and the general public,” Grover says. “Having the great team at NALP putting a lot for the effort they’ve had over the past several weeks has been incredible and we are forever in appreciation of their heroic efforts.”

We’d like to hear your stories.  Let us know how your team is tackling things this spring, email jill@landscapeprofessionals.org.

Jill Odom

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