Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.
You could say a love for the landscape industry is how EarthCraft Landscaping, based in Indiana, Pennsylvania, came to be. Husband and wife owners Aaron and Shanna Scordo had previously worked for another landscape company that wanted to grow, but that owner wasn’t willing to invest in his business or his people.
Frustrated, the two left the industry for several years. Shanna worked in marketing and started a Mary Kay business, while Aaron worked in the commercial electric field. However, friends and family started asking them to design and install hardscapes and a local nursery started sending work their way. Within a few years of growing, they decided to jump full-time into building the business.
Aaron had worked for a local design-build firm since high school, so he always knew landscaping would be his career, but Shanna discovered her passion for the industry as a junior in college, where she also met her spouse.
“My original major of graphic design was not a good fit for me, and a friend told me about the landscape contracting program,” Scordo says. “I met the famous (late) Dan Stearns (who was head of the landscape contracting department), took a tour of the Tyson building, and I knew in that moment I’d found my home. This industry is so special, and I’m forever grateful to have found it.”
EarthCraft serves mainly residential clients in middle markets, with less than five percent of their revenue coming from commercial maintenance. Scordo says spring maintenance is their most in-demand service. Their highest bulk of clients is their lawn care division, while their highest revenue drivers are hardscape and landscape.
Last year the company earned $2.3 million in annual revenue, and their goal is to reach $10 million in revenue.
“We’ve grown consistently, anywhere from 7 percent to 28 percent per year, and continue to grow now,” she says.
Keys to Success
Scordo credits the company’s success to their great employees who are driven to succeed, continual improvement and constant learning. Continual improvement is one of EarthCraft’s core values.
“Every winter, we review what’s going well, and what needs to improve,” she says. “Then we prioritize and fix whatever we can for the next year.”
Scordo says they also never stop reading, attending events, working with consultants and networking with their peers. She says in the early years of their business, they attended GIE every year to learn from speakers, vendors and other business owners.
“The GIE sparked our desire for continual growth and opened our eyes to what was possible in our industry,” she says.
As an NALP member, she says they have built their safety program with NALP’s resources and utilized the member advisors for legal and HR questions over the years.
The company’s other two core values are goodwill and taking ownership. EarthCraft’s employees root every interaction in respect, kindness, honesty, and good humor. They also bring professionalism and pride to each job. If they mess up, they make it right with the client.
Evolving as a Business
Starting out, the business didn’t focus much on maintenance services, but Scordo says they are now intentionally growing that division. She says they also recently added fence installation and a limited amount of holiday décor.
One marketing technique the company tried was launching a TikTok account after Scordo heard another business owner share the positive impact video had on their marketing. She says while she hired a videographer specializing in short-form content, this was not a successful venture for them.
“Our lead quality declined sharply,” she says. “Video is definitely key to marketing today, but we’ve had much better luck with longer, more polished videos. Short-form videos like TikTok or Facebook Reels are great for stealing the viewer’s attention, but in our experience, they were not very effective at building trust with the potential clients in our geographic region who are ready to buy. It was a hard lesson to learn, but a valuable one.”
The company has always had steady growth, but Scordo says being located in town of Indiana causes them to serve a wide spectrum of client types to drive the revenue they need as the area is not heavily populated or affluent.
“It’s also hard to find experienced employees because they just aren’t here,” she says. “We have to hire for character and work ethic and then teach them everything else. That is limiting when we are looking for higher-level employees to help us grow more quickly. But everything is relative, right? So the benefit of being in our area is the low cost of doing business: land is cheap, and the low cost of living means our employees’ wages go farther.”
Recruiting and Retention Methods
EarthCraft has 25 employees during peak season. Scordo says they use Indeed, Facebook, and college job boards to recruit, but their best hires come from employee referrals. Scordo says they’re also active in their local high schools, promoting the industry and ideally building a future base of employees from their local community. She says they use NALP’s careers publications to help build awareness of the industry.
The company retains their employees by focusing on creating a great experience for the team.
“That’s a moving target, but we spend a lot of time getting feedback on what’s working and what’s not, and we work hard to fix whatever is not working,” Scordo says. “We’re also highly collaborative in our approach to almost everything. I think people choose to stay at EarthCraft because they like having a voice and being heard, and they feel valued. We have a really great team and they have a lot of fun, so that seems to attract more people of the same caliber.”
Scordo says the key to maintaining your company culture as you grow is identifying what makes your business a special place. She also advises getting feedback from your team to ensure you’re focusing on the right things.
“For us, we’ve worked hard to build an open and collaborative culture where we give the team plenty of opportunities to share issues and help solve them,” Scordo says. “That turned out to be a bit of a silver bullet because that allows the employees to keep us honest and call it out any time we start to stray from our values.”
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