Reflecting on the Year: Pros Share their Thoughts on 2021 and 2022 - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Reflecting on the Year: Pros Share their Thoughts on 2021 and 2022

There’s not much time left in 2021, but there is still an opportunity to reflect on the year.

This certainly wasn’t a dull year. 2021 marks the second year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a number of challenges with the labor market and the supply chain. There were also significant weather events like the winter storm that hit Texas and Hurricane Ida making landfall on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

As for NALP, we added a new volunteer location during the 25th Renewal & Remembrance and announced our new annual event, ELEVATE, taking place on Sept. 18-21, 2022. We caught up with a handful of our members for their thoughts on the year and what they plan to focus on in 2022.

Educate the Customer

Joe Markell, LIC, owner of Sunrise Landscape + Design, says they’ve gone through a lot of changes this year but they are trying to grow and get more stability. He says they’ve focused on educating the customer on what it takes to do the work and understand the value of the work they do.

“As I look back it’s been a refocus on business and trying to be more proactive and more professional,” Markell says. “I’ve always tried to stay professional and really be above. I think that’s one thing that hurts our industry sometimes is professionalism. It is a business and you need to treat it as such. Let people know we’re just not a couple of guys in a pickup truck. We’re providing real value.”

Increase Industry Awareness

Chris Joyce, president of The Joyce Companies, based in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, says recruiting has been one of their biggest challenges this year.

“We need to get people interested in our industry,” Joyce says. “We need to get people interested in choosing this industry as a professional because we’re struggling and if it doesn’t improve, we have a long road ahead of us.”

Take Pride in the Industry  

Miles Kuperus, Jr., LIC, owner of Farmside Landscape & Design in Sussex, New Jersey, agrees their number one issue this year has been labor but he’s grateful for the dynamite staff they do have.

He encourages his peers to keep building relationships and doing their best as great opportunities happen. He says it’s a privilege to work in the industry.

“Be proud of the industry that we’re in,” Kuperus says. “The beautiful environment and the stewardship, I feel it’s the best profession you can the most gratitude of working with God’s creation.”

Be Mindful of Mental Health

Loriena Harrington, LIC, owner of Beautiful Blooms LLC, based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, says this year it has been the most challenging, yet rewarding year she’s ever gone through.

“It was challenging completely because of the staffing situation across the country,” Harrington says. “Rewarding because the team that we did have was excellent. The clients were very understanding because we communicated and because the media got the word out that America is short-staffed.”

She says it’s important to do frequent check-ins with your staff and be real and acknowledge when things aren’t rosy.

“Something that I think all business owners need to be more mindful of is our mental health,” Harrington says. “I think that’s getting talked about more from our employees to ourselves. We just need to have that conversation more often.”

Take Care of Your Team  

Paul Fraynd, LIC, co-owner of Sun Valley Landscaping, based in Omaha, Nebraska, says he’s never experienced a time when there’s been so much demand. He says it’s a very difficult year for both internal and external reasons. His main takeaway for the year is you have to take care of your team.  

“Whether that’s updating their hourly rates of pay, or making sure they have all the proper resources, or are working for the right type of clients, having everybody full engaged and accountable is just going back to the basics of taking care of your team and building a strong culture to get through tougher situations,” Fraynd says.

Next year Sun Valley plans to help their people be their best at work by bringing on a navigator. This is a person who is available to their staff in person once a month, and anytime via phone, email, text or Zoom.

“Their whole job is to help people be physically and emotionally available at work so that may be ‘help me find a car,’ ‘help me with my debt situation,’ ‘help me navigate a government agency,’” Fraynd says.

He says often people need help outside of work and it affects them at work.

“What we want to do is have happy people that work for us,” Fraynd says.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.