NALP seeks to uncover and highlight the important issues facing landscape professionals. And who knows better what’s affecting the industry than those in the thick of it? This week, four landscape professionals share what they’re most worried about when it comes to their largest labor issue.
Q: What is your biggest labor issue right now, and how are you trying to solve it?
Anne Campbell, CLP, Owner/Operations Manager, Colorado Stoneworks Landscaping, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A: Minimum wage went up to $11.10 this year in Colorado and it will go up to $12.00 in 2020.
We were above minimum wage for entry-level positions prior to this increase, but the statewide increase made it so we are now competing with fast food restaurants and other entry-level positions to find laborers.
It is getting harder to find qualified people who want to do hard labor instead of these other available jobs with comparable starting pays.
Ryan Thompson, Owner, Evergreen Landscaping of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
A: I’m most worried about getting enough help this season. There is always a shortage of good people with experience who you can turn loose and who bring you success on projects.
People whose hands you have to hold are everywhere. The problem is that I have to constantly be on the job site to lead with those types of individuals.
We are solving our labor issue by buying every piece of equipment that helps get a job done without an additional person.
Loriena Harrington, L.I.C.M., Owner, Beautiful Blooms Landscape & Design, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
A: Our largest labor issue right now is finding people who will view this as a viable profession and realize that it takes a few years to gain the level of knowledge required to excel in our industry.
We are addressing this by showing a career path early and often, working together to set achievement goals, and having performance and goal achievement reviews quarterly. We offer learning opportunities through our local association, and we encourage all of our full-time employees to become Landscape Industry Certified.
Oliver Ray, Ph.D., President and CEO, Photoscape Landscape and Design, Fort Myers, Florida
A: We have excellent employees who share the goals and mission of the company. We pride ourselves in treating our employees fairly and like family. As a result, we have a large percentage of workers who have been with us for years. Some employees have been with us for a decade.
Our most serious labor issue for the past couple of years, however, is hanging on to those long-time employees. This is especially difficult in the face of a booming construction market in South Florida. They offer hourly wages far beyond what we can pay. When a roofer or builder offers a laborer $20 an hour, and they are doing a job for us for which we can only pay $15 an hour… well, you see the problem.