Like so many others, Casey Hurd, owner of Worton, Maryland-based Greenscapes Land Care LLC has been struggling with labor. More specifically, he says the trouble is “finding qualified workers.” Hurd, the 2019 NALP Young Entrepreneur of the Year, says he’s learned you must be proactive when it comes to hiring great people.
“People aren’t going to just come to you—you have to go to them,” he says.
And that’s exactly what he’s done.
Hurd has been out there, explaining what the landscape industry has to offer and why young people might consider becoming part of it. When it comes to hiring, there is simply no room for complacency these days. The companies that are most successful will be those that are actively pursuing new hires, Hurd says.
We asked Hurd to share a few tips on how this has worked for him.
Finding Qualified Workers Tip #1: Attend NCLC
Attending the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) this year to accept his Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, Hurd was blown away. He plans to return as an exhibitor next year. He calls the experience an “eye opener” and says it’s shown him there are definitely potential hires out there.
“We go to a lot of career fairs locally, but you never know exactly what you’re going to get there,” Hurd says. “You’re competing with so many different industries and businesses. But at NCLC you have students who you already know are interested in a career in this field. It really narrows the playing field. It was pretty exciting to see how many students were eagerly looking for jobs in this field.”
Finding Qualified Workers Tip #2: Speak to Local High Schools
Of course, Hurd says you still have to make a local effort. That’s why he recently went to speak to a local high school—and plans to do more of it. A lot of young people don’t always know the opportunities that are available for them in the landscape industry. Whether they want to pursue college or find a career right out of high school, landscaping may be the right fit.
“I explained this is a field that can give you a lifelong career. I’m not sure that young people always realize that,” Hurd says. “Most people have a preconceived idea of what it means to work for this industry. I talked about the different avenues they could take with jobs in this industry—even if they don’t wind up working with my company. A young person can be very successful in the landscape industry.”
Since his presentation, several students have shown interest, including a young woman who expressed interest in turf care.
Finding Qualified Workers Tip #3: Focus on Retention
Despite all of his hard work recruiting new people, the company had a high turnover rate a few years ago. Hurd improved this by putting more emphasis on retaining existing employees.
“The truth is, it’s a lot of work to find good people. You want to keep them when you do,” Hurd says. “We’ve tried to structure our employment program in a way that shows employees the opportunities they have for advancement. We want them to see this as a long-term opportunity.”