With more than 15 years in the industry, Brigitte Orrick joined The Davey Tree Expert Co. from the Tree Care Industry Association, where she was the workforce development director. Prior to that role, Orrick was the dean of trade, industry and apprenticeships at Nicolet College. She has experience in both the collegiate and professional affiliate market spaces. But Orrick says that her roots are in forestry—no pun intended—and it is that passion that is a driving force in her efforts to grow the industry.
We recently caught up with Orrick to find out more.
Company: The Davey Tree Expert Co.
Headquarters: Kent, Ohio
Year founded: 1880 and employee-owned since 1979 (celebrating 40 years!)
Service mix: Residential and commercial tree care, commercial landscaping, utility vegetation management, environmental and urban forestry consulting services
Business motto: Proven solutions for a growing world.
What is your proudest moment in business?
I have only been in business with Davey for a year and a half, but my former roles have been in workforce development and in higher education. So, for me, it’s exciting watching new college programs give birth. There was a group of businesses that came together to encourage a community college in Oakland, California, to build a new arboriculture program. That was a really special program and a very proud moment. We had helped to get some grant money for the school to develop the curriculum and get things moving. Another good example is Davey’s merit-based scholarships.
What has been your biggest business challenge?
This year Davey will hire about 6,500 people across all four of our service lines. With that in mind, I’d say one of the biggest challenges that faces our industry is retention of people. That means making sure to interview and qualify the right people who will be a good fit for the company and for the industry—but then also keeping them. For our company, retention is more of a challenge than recruiting. Moving forward, we are working to create a new orientation and onboarding experience. It will really focus on the first three months of employment. For a large organization like ours, it’s a lot of moving parts and that’s a large undertaking but one that we believe is essential.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
My “Life Mission Statement,” which is to provide access to career paths at a family sustaining wage with upward potential. I get to do that in my current role. It’s more about changing lives than it is about just hiring people. It’s about supporting our peoples’ families. We look at it as more than just a job but also about the families we get to touch as a result of those jobs.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
When I was younger it was my grandmother. The older I’ve gotten I’ve learned to surround myself with a team of leaders because there are different seasons and different questions that arise, and you have a need for different experts. You must carve that out yourself. For me, it’s many people. People from when I was in higher education to people who are our competitors today, but I have connected with through leadership groups. It comes down to being intentional about building the people around you. I’ve also done two leadership practicums in the last 10 years and both experiences were a heavy investment in myself, but it was well worth it because I learned more about my leadership style. That’s also where I developed my Life Mission Statement.
What is your favorite business book?
It’s probably “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud. I really enjoy that book and think there are many lessons to be taken from it.
What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?
It’s about sharing our passion for the environment, and to invite the public into a better understanding of trees and plants. I’m a forrester by trade, even though I’m more in an HR role today. I taught forestry to college students so that’s at the heart of my passion.
What does it mean to you to be a member of NALP?
It means I have a place to engage in the Industry Growth Initiative. I’m really excited about that. It is operating in a space where no one business can operate alone. With NALP, we have a place to collaborate and help advance the industry in a meaningful way. I also just started to serve with the Women in Landscape Network. I’m excited to get to share my passion with other women and help them pursue leadership within their companies.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself really knocking this role out of the park. I feel like I’m in my wheelhouse right now in recruiting and employee development and in five years I’ll be working deeper in employee engagement as we really get this recruiting and retention thing figured out. Long term, I want to continue working within the Davey Institute. We have all of these teachers and scientists on staff that are such knowledgeable experts and I hope to work with them in a different capacity as I grow within the company.