NALP member Joshua Malik says there’s nothing like finding a job that you actually enjoy doing—and he was lucky enough to find it in this industry at the young age of 17.
At the time he was struggling in school and unsure where his life was headed. But his story is a testament to the fact that pursuing a traditional education isn’t the only path to success.
Upon stumbling into the tree care industry, it quickly became obvious that Malik had found a calling—and he hasn’t looked back since. In 2005, Malik founded Joshua Tree, a tree care company that has since also started offering lawn care as the direct result of client demand. Malik says he couldn’t be happier working in an industry where he gets to “enhance his community’s green spaces,” and finds it tremendously rewarding day after day.
NALP Member Spotlight
Joshua Malik, owner of Joshua Tree
Location: Stockertown, Pa.
Client mix: 90% residential, 10% commercial
Service mix: 55% general tree care, 25% lawn care applications, 20% tree & shrub spraying
NALP recently caught up with Malik to find out more about how he got started in the landscape industry and what drives him as a landscape business owner.
What got you into the landscape business?
I was 17 and in high school and I knew I wasn’t going to college. I just didn’t like school.
My mom had a friend working as an office manager at a local tree care firm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and said she could get me an interview. I thought, I would love to climb trees. As an adrenaline junkie, I did some motocross racing, contact sports, sky diving and rock climbing in the past. So I think it was that idea of a career with an adrenaline rush that got me into it. I had so much energy when I started and kept asking when I would be able to start climbing but the owner told me I had to learn to be a groundman first. I was so motivated to get started and he told me I could start on my 18th birthday. When I turned 18, he bought me a harness. The rest is history.
What is your proudest moment in business?
I was the Tree Care Champion for the Arlington National Cemetery Renewal and Remembrance Day of Service and coordinated all of the tree care efforts for nine years. That volunteer opportunity is one that I took a lot of pride in. The work we did really meant something.
Through the effort, I also met a lot of professionals that I’m still friends with today. While we still volunteer there, I stepped down as a lead to let someone else have that opportunity.
What is your biggest business challenge today?
Sustaining growth. In other words, being able to build a business that each employee can benefit from.
I think when you’re growing a business and you have employees, you know there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that—and that puts the pressure on. You want your people to be able to continue moving up the career ladder. I think a lot about being able to support my employees in becoming more independent and earning more professional credentials. I want to provide the best for them.
What motivates you on Monday mornings?
I think what motivates me is looking at Monday as a chance to turn the clock back. It’s like a fresh start. If we had a really good week before, we’re firing on all cylinders going into a new week and that’s awesome. But if we had a bad week the week before … guess what, this is a fresh start. Let’s knock this week out of the park. I think people feed off your body language and feelings. It’s amazing how our team will respond to how I’m feeling so I try my best to convey that positive attitude.
What business worry keeps you up most at night?
It used to be how the business was performing. But to solve this, I try to shut off my brain about work when I get home. I don’t take calls from clients unless it’s an emergency. I also don’t read emails because when I get bad news at 7 p.m. in an email, it’s hard to sleep that night. I’ve realized I deal better with problems in the morning hours.
I clearly remember the last time I read a bad email at night. I was up against some local competition for a really big contract and I was confident we were going to land the job. At 9 p.m. I read an email that we didn’t get it and I slept no more than an hour that night. It didn’t change the fact that we didn’t get the job, so I no longer put myself through that.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
I was so lucky growing up that my parents both had a strong work ethic. I looked up to them. My mom had owned some businesses and my dad worked as a regional manager for H&R Block. They were driven. Even still today, they’re great people to bounce business ideas off of.
I also have a client who is an older gentleman who I really look up to. He owns a business with 200-plus employees and is always looking for ways that he can make his business better. He’s sharp as can be and never willing to settle. He always wants to be better. I find it inspiring to my own business.
What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?
I really like my job. I love being in a business that allows me to spend time in the great outdoors. And I have a true passion for trees. After 14 years of business, I find that watching trees grow and mature that we have been caring for the entire time means a lot to me. It’s a really rewarding career.
What does it mean to you to be an NALP member?
I love being an NALP member for the networking possibilities. When you’re in an association, most of the members are more than willing to talk to you even if they’re in your service area. The fact is, there are no real secrets we have to keep from one another. We all already know most of the so-called secrets that are out there. I think it’s really cool you get together with these people and they can just be honest with you and help guide you and give you good advice. In my opinion, the efforts of a well-driven association that can supply knowledge to their members is invaluable.
In five years, where do you see your business going?
I’m really fortunate I have some younger team members who are driven by success. In the next five years, I think one of our goals is going to branch out a bit and create some satellite offices. We want to put a plan together for some aggressive growth. We have some younger bucks in here who have a lot of energy and good ideas to help see that through. It’s their mindset and their people—their age group that is—who we’re going to be servicing in next 10 years. Having team members on board who are in the same age group as our target audience is really helpful.
Connect with Joshua TreeWeb: www.JoshuaTreeExperts.com