Shayne Newman, founder and president of YardApes in New Milford, Connecticut, credits his upbringing to his ultimate career choice in landscaping. Having spent so much time outdoors as a kid made it seem virtually impossible to choose a career that involved the confines of four walls every day.
“I don’t just like being outside; I have to be outside and that’s why I chose this career,” he says. “But I think most of us gravitate to the outside. Being able to enhance our clients’ relationship with the outdoors is ultimately what is most gratifying about this career. When we finish an outdoor space, like a patio with a fire pit, and our clients tell us how they spent time roasting marshmallows with the kids, I’m not sure there’s anything more fulfilling. We’re helping people make memories in great outdoor spaces.”
NALP recently caught up with Newman to find out more about his landscape career.
Headquarters: New Milford, Connecticut
Year Founded: 1990
Client Mix: 90% residential, 10% commercial
Services offered: 50% maintenance, 20% lawn care, 10% snow, 20% construction
Business motto: We believe everyone, everywhere, benefits from a connection with nature.
What is your proudest moment in business?
The fact that I’ve been able to serve on the board at NALP has been a very proud moment. I had the opportunity to volunteer on some committees through NALP. Then I got a call to ask if I was interested in serving on the Board of Directors, as a result. I was humbled and shocked. The people I serve with are legends of the industry. They are the people I look up to most. To be able to be a part of that has been humbling.
What has been your biggest business challenge?
Managing employees and finding help is my biggest challenge. To be perfectly honest, I’ve met that challenge sometimes—but sometimes I’ve failed. I have learned over the years that you can always improve as a human being. For me, I always strive to be as good a leader as I can, and lead by example to the best of my ability. There are times I’ve succeeded and grown and as a result, helped employees in those same efforts. I’m a big systems person. Creating systems and using coaching and accountability is the best way I try to improve both retention and hiring.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
I always want to stay one step ahead of the game; To be the best I can be for myself and the best I can be for our industry. That’s what drives me every day.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
I learned a lot from my parents. I have also learned simple things in life from my children. Sometimes there was a simple answer to things that I would have wasted time looking for the complicated answer. Outside of family, I have so much respect for the people I serve on the Board of Directors with. They’ve been such wonderful mentors and we all make each other better. For those reasons, it would be hard to name just one person who stands out.
What is your favorite business book?
I have taken so much from the trade magazines and through other professionals’ stories. As a result, I don’t find I have to read a lot of books to get great business information. However, one book that always stands out for me is “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber.
What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?
From day one, I decided to take the landscaping profession seriously. When I made the decision this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I also made the decision I was going to contribute to getting the industry the respect it deserves. Before my career was over, I vowed I would help change the industry’s perception. I never had a master plan on how to do it; I just wanted to work hard.
But being active in NALP has been a huge part of that effort. Also, being a Landscape Industry Accredited Company is what I think being a professional is all about. If you look at the core points of what you have to meet in order to be an Accredited company, they are the very things that make a true professional: knowledge, safety, ethics and compliance with the law. As a whole, we are a very hard working industry and we take lots of pride in what we do.
What does it mean to you to be a member of the NALP?
I think everything NALP stands for comes back to professionalism. Members who join take pride in being professionals and want to be better at what they do. I believe that NALP gives those tools they need to succeed—training, resources, networking and the opportunity to be mentored by peers.
Where do you see your business in five years? Where will you be?
I have never been aggressive about building the biggest company out there, but would hope that we’re improved in our processes so that we can continue to improve on our safety and quality of work.
I’m appreciative of systems and believe if you have systems in place, your company can run better. With that in mind, my goal is to be a little less hands-on than I am now. Admittedly, part of that is a personality thing I struggle with. Learning to let employees do their jobs and get out of their way is something I recognize I need to do.