Landscape business owners know that having Landscape Industry Certified team members helps set their company apart from the competition. But employees appreciate this opportunity, too. Chip Marksberry, LIC, of Oasis Turf & Tree in Loveland, Ohio, has both the Lawn Care Technician and Horticulture Technician certifications and say that they’ve given him a lot of confidence.
Oasis encourages their team members to earn these certifications by also offering a pay raise for each, which Marksberry says gave him an added incentive to go after both — even though he admits he was initially nervous about the idea. We caught up with Marksberry to find out more about his experience, first-hand.
“When I first got hired at Oasis [eight years ago], and I learned that they really like their team members to earn these certifications, I was a little intimidated,” Marksberry admits. “The study material seems like a lot and I was never Valedictorian or someone that I would consider the smartest in high school. But I am someone who cares about advancing my career. When I sat down to start learning the material, I realized I already knew a lot of it just from being out in the field and having gone through training. It wasn’t nearly as intimidating as it seemed.”
Marksberry says that he took the studying “chapter by chapter” and that made it more digestible. As he dug into studying, he says that it enhanced his knowledge and experiences in the field.
“Being out in the field and having done these things already — it just all started to make a lot more sense when you read it on paper,” Marksberry says. “These were things I already knew but now I understand them even better.”
Marksberry says that learning the “reasons” or the science behind the work that he does out in the field has given him a lot of confidence — particularly with talking to clients. After completing his Lawn Care Technician training, he went on to the Horticulture Technician training. The latter was more involved, Marksberry admits, but having been through the first certification helped him feel more prepared.
“With the Horticulture certification, you’re learning every single thing that could cause a tree or shrub to decline — and with all of the different plant species, that’s a lot,” he says. “But again, I knew more than I thought I did when I started out.”
Marksberry says that the best thing about having the certifications is being able to answer homeowners’ questions with confidence. He also appreciates that it separates him from other technicians in the field.
“When I go out and speak to customers and identify and solve problems for them, I have the knowledge they’re looking for,” he says. “I’ve put the time in, and I’ve earned these certifications — and that feels good.”
Of course, Marksberry says he also appreciates that Oasis Turf & Tree offers monetary incentives for receiving these certifications. While team members pay for the test out of pocket, Oasis will also reimburse them once they pass. Then, team members also receive a pay raise for each of the certifications. Currently, around a third of the company’s employees are already Industry Certified. When team members earn a certification, the company even prints their plaque on glass and mounts them to a wall to show them off proudly.
Marksberry says that it boils down to the fact that Oasis is committed to offering its customers and employees the best.
“It shows the company cares about helping me advance my career — but it also helps us offer better customer service to our clients,” he says. “When people have questions about their lawn or landscape, I have the answers.”