Thanksgiving and the season around it are an opportunity to practice gratitude and give back. However, landscape professionals often opt to practice a spirit of generosity year-round with both their employees and their local communities.
Bob Ramser, president of Turfscape, Inc., based in Twinsburg, Ohio, says they choose to give back because it is important to their founder, George Hohman. This is because when Hohman started out, people gave back to him in various ways.
“It’s always been something that’s been instilled into the company, and we try to do two to three giving back projects a year,” Ramser says.
Amy Snyder, director of public relations at Ruppert Landscape, headquartered in Laytonsville, Maryland, says they strive to spread their donations and charitable projects out over the course of the entire year with the projects requiring their expertise taking placing during the growing season while their charitable giving projects take place closer to the holidays.
“We have been blessed with success over the years, and that comes with an implicit obligation to help those who have not been as fortunate,” Snyder says. “There are so many people who have not had the mentoring, educational and life experiences that many on our team have had — all of which have helped shape our collective work ethic, positively impacted our lives, and ultimately guided our successes. We give back as a way of honoring where we’ve come from and as a means of paying it forward.”
Showing Appreciation to Employees
Doug McDuff, president of Landscape America, based in Wrentham, Massachusetts, doesn’t wait for the holidays to show his appreciation for his employees but rather hosts monthly employee appreciation events. At these events, Landscape America has had everything from ice cream trucks to taco bars. They also give out gift cards and recognize the employee of the month.
“We are always so busy working to complete projects and get on to the next task,” McDuff says. “But it’s important to slow down and say thank you and let our team know we recognize them for their hard work every week, not just at the end of a long, busy season.”
The company also has weekly safety meetings with Bright Spot recognition, end-of-the-year events, and events that involve the entire family. He says all of these efforts help with employee engagement and retention.
Snyder says they also host many appreciation events throughout the year to enable their team to bond. They also give turkeys to their branch teams around Thanksgiving as means to say thanks for their hard work. Ramser says Turfscape throws a big end-of-the-season celebration as their H-2B workers are about to return home as a way to say thank you to them.
Ways to Give Back to the Local Community
When it comes to giving back to the community, it’s advised to involve your staff on deciding which methods to use.
“We often ask for feedback from our team on if they have any event or community involvement ideas,” McDuff says. “We’ll get more engagement/involvement if it is something that they enjoy or feel matters.”
Some of the ways Landscape America gives back is by sponsoring local sports teams, organizing food drives for the local food pantry, and volunteering with GreenCare for Troops.
Turfscape has weekly staff meetings and employees can share potential service project ideas during those meetings. In the past, they completed a project for their nearby Humane Society where they reseeded the dog runs so volunteers could take the dogs out and exercise them. Previously, there was a huge drainage issue causing the space to be unusable after it rained. They’ve also had volunteer employees package food at the local food bank.
Ruppert Landscape commits five percent of their budgeted profit to charitable causes each year and three percent of that is managed out of their branches so their teams can give to causes and organizations that resonate with them.
“We encourage our employees to suggest causes that are meaningful for them — whether that’s their daughter’s Girl Scout troop, a local homeless shelter, or a walk to support cancer research,” Snyder says. “What we like best are causes that enable us to roll up our sleeves and get involved in our community.”
Ruppert will also donate to a client’s cause, such as a homeowner’s association collecting socks for a homeless shelter or non-perishable items for a food drive. Snyder says they’ll also lend their manpower and vehicles to get a donation to its destination.
“In addition to filling a need within the community, we’ve also found that our team members appreciate the opportunity to use their everyday skills to benefit others,” Snyder says. “It’s nice to be able to connect your everyday, individual efforts with being able to do good within the community. We feel that giving back definitely enriches our culture and we hear from our team members that they, too, feel great about knowing their hard work goes far beyond just getting a paycheck.”
What Landscapers Are Thankful For
Snyder says Ruppert is grateful for the many customers, friends, team members and experiences that have helped create the company they are today.
“We appreciate the challenges that have helped us learn, the relationships that have helped us grow and evolve, and the people who have believed in our organization for the past 50 years,” she says.
McDuff says he is thankful for such a great team that continues to come back year after year and trusts they are growing the business in a way that supports their needs and goals.
On a more personal note, Ramser says while he was promoted to president this year the thing he is most thankful for is that he just turned 40 and his fiancé is pregnant with their first child.
“We’re having a boy, so I am thankful for the opportunity to finally become a dad,” Ramser says.