Working in the food industry and dealing with crazy hours and a young son at home, Skip Thompson of Tidewater Landscape Management actually found his way to the lawn and landscape industry in order to be able to obtain more manageable hours. He started at a golf course making minimum wage and filling sand traps during construction. He worked his way up as he went along.
“I did not go to college but I realized early on that if I was going to continue in this industry that I needed something, so I started the certification process and became a Landscape Industry Certified Manager in 2002 and Technician in 2003,” Thompson shares.
Seeing what the power of certifications could do, Thompson has also been a member of the International Certification Council (ICC) and served as chair for the last three years. He helped to write the current lawn care exam and was a subject matter expert on the transformation of the hands-on exterior technician exam into an online, written exam.
Over the years, Thompson worked his way up in management and various roles, finally landing at Savannah, Georgia-based Tidewater Landscape Management in 2009 as director of operations for the military division. In 2018, he took on the role of CEO.
“I have had a lot of help along the way from a lot of people in order to get to where I am today, and I’m extremely grateful,” says Thompson.
A desire to “give back” some of that knowledge is what lead Thompson to become one of the newest NALP Trailblazers. We reached out to find out more.
What is your proudest moment in business?
Seeing people advance through the ranks and rise up and better themselves for themselves as well as their families. That has been really rewarding.
What has been your biggest business challenge?
Of course, like everyone says, it’s always labor. But it’s also a matter of finding the right people. You can find people who are willing to work but finding the right people is a challenge of its own. We’ve done a lot of different things to address this. We’re looking into the Apprenticeship Program right now. We’ve also made efforts online, through referrals and even going out and hanging local fliers. It’s all about continuing to be creative and varying your approach. You can’t do just one thing.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
The fact that it’s a new week. You get to face new challenges and new opportunities for that week with a clean slate. You can’t carry stuff from last week into a new week. It’s always got to be a fresh slate. And with that comes new obstacles to overcome which is challenging but it can also be fun.
Who is your business mentor or idol?
I like John Maxwell. He provides a great perspective on leadership but also life in general—on being a better person.
What is your favorite business book?
It would be John Maxwell’s book: “Failing Forward.” I like that he points out that failures are not always detrimental but at end of the day probably more helpful in leading you to successes. You have to fail to move forward. Ultimately, how you handle failure is what really makes a difference.
What lead you to become an NALP Trailblazer?
I was nominated and honored to have been. I just wanted to continue to have the opportunity to work with NALP. I’ve been on the ICC for 13 years and am recently coming off as chair. I’ve been really blessed through my career with help and NALP has been a big part of that. I believe that if everybody helped everybody else a little bit it’d be a better industry. We all need to help one another. Personally, the NALP has helped me a lot and my involvement with them has been a wonderful opportunity. I always encourage people to take advantage of what NALP has to offer as there are just so many resources.
What do you hope to offer through the NALP Trailblazer experience?
More than anything else, I’m just looking forward to having the opportunity to give back. I was so fortunate to be helped on my way. If I can help somebody in some way—whether it be operations or business or even just their outlook, then I’m more than willing.
Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
I expect to still be in the industry and in this company. But I also want to continue to grow our people and our leaders, so they become leaders not only in the industry but in the community around us. Just being able to better themselves as people is something that is important to me.