NALP Member Timberline Landscaping Talks About Continuing to Battle Labor Force Challenges

Timberline Landscaping continues to deal with labor force issues.

Joshua Pool, chief operations officer of Timberline Landscaping, says he has always been one to gravitate toward the outdoors. Growing up in Central Kansas, Pool admits he loved playing in the dirt and being outside as often as he possibly could.

After working with a local landscape company during his last year of high school, Pool says he never looked back. Pool attended Kansas State University for horticulture and landscape design and has “loved every minute” of his time in the industry.

When his wife purchased a dental practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and they ended up there, Pool looked for the best landscape companies in the area. Though there weren’t initially any openings, Timberline created a new position—quality assurance manager—in order to bring Pool onboard.

Timberline Landscaping continues to deal with labor force issues.
Timberline Landscaping’s executive team (from left to right): Joshua Pool, COO; Judd Bryarly, CEO; Stephanie Early, CSO; and Craig Nesbit, CFO.

Ultimately, they gave him even greater responsibility through the restructuring of the company’s business model and the formation of an executive team to guide the company forward. As the chief operations officer, Pool guides the operations of all production activities and also has oversight of training, recruiting, safety, quality assurance, warranty and the in-house shop.

“Personally, I love everything about the landscape industry,” Pool says. “This role allows me to use the knowledge I gained from my education and experience within the industry,” Pool says. “I love teaching and coaching my staff and being able to direct a company that already has high standards and expectations that are in line with what I expect and require of myself and others.”

Timberline Landscaping
2018 revenue: $15.5 million
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Year founded: 1982
Client breakdown: 85% commercial, 15% residential
Service breakdown:  50% commercial construction, 10% residential construction, 1% residential maintenance, 38% commercial maintenance, 1% Christmas Decor
Business motto: Creating a little bit of heaven.

What is your proudest moment in business?

My proudest moments have been when I have been able to turn around and grow the companies I have worked for by creating relationships with our clientele and employees. The trust they put in me to take care of them and create better landscapes and work environments, where they enjoy their jobs, is critical to making a service-oriented business run smoothly.

What is your biggest business challenge today?

The biggest challenge that faces us today is our labor force. With the inability of our government to see the severity of the situation and solve it by creating a functional and viable legal immigrant worker plan, we are left to face this on our own. We treat our local labor force very well and try and promote our business within the community to attract quality workers—but it’s very challenging. Without the labor force it is extremely hard to grow and capture the income from the exploding economy we are experiencing currently.

What motivates you on Monday mornings?

Coffee. But honestly, what motivates me is that it is a new week and the past is behind us. I start off each week asking, “What can we do to improve this week?”

What business worry keeps you up most at night?

This goes back to labor issues. H-2B challenges and not having enough of a skilled work force in our industry worries me every day. Some of our employees have been coming back every year for the last 10-plus years. But every year the H-2B program seems harder to use. The lottery system is ridiculous. Without these workers, our bottom line is in jeopardy, and safety and quality also become more risky.

We have pushed heavily to recruit at NCLC, through universities across the U.S., and at local career fairs and high schools. We have also created a “gap year” program for those students either finishing high school or college who still do not know what they want to do. With our “gap year” program they can come and have an adventure in Colorado while working with us for a year.

Who is your business mentor or idol?

I would have to say that for every business I have worked with, I have learned from each of those owners. They all have contributed to my growth and have molded my ideals on what to do and not do while running a company. I can’t call out just one as they have all contributed in one way or another. Carl, Dave, Ryan, Justin, Tim and Judd, thank you all for your contributions and continued support. You all are a wealth of knowledge and I’ve been lucky to learn from all of you.

What is your favorite business book?

Currently, my favorite book on business is “It’s Okay to Be the Boss.” It’s a great read on how to manage your employees and to not be a hands-off manager. Stay involved and connected to your team and set clear expectations for them. A lot of companies have a problem with under management and holding people accountable, which is what I strive to work on every day.

What does it mean to you to be a landscape professional?

It means that I have the team, education and experience to create outdoor spaces that are beautiful, environmentally conscious and usable by all.

What does it mean to you to be a member of NALP?

It means I have the backing of thousands of other like-minded professionals who have similar ideals and problems they are trying to solve. The resources, education and training that is provided by being a member is well worth the investment.

In five years, where do you see your business going? Where will you be?

In five years, I will still be here developing our team to ready them for expansion. Timberline will be looking into expansion into other regions as well as looking for other business lines to bring on to strengthen our portfolio of services we can offer our clients.

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