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COVERSTORY


training and education has allowed them to charge more.


Oasis Turf & Tree grows by narrowing their serivce focus while Greenscapes Land Care grows by being a


full-service company. Photos: (Top) Oasis Turf & Tree (Bottom) Greenscapes Land Care


“You need people, first. Get someone who knows what they’re doing and then start building from there. It’s an invest- ment in your business.”


GROWTH BY SUBTRACTION Although it might seem to buck the trend, sometimes growth also means subtracting services. That was the case for Oasis Turf & Tree, headquartered in Loveland, Ohio. Rob Reindl, LIC, says that he founded the company as a full-service landscape maintenance firm — but ultimately made the decision to narrow their focus to lawn care. He says his reasoning had to do with a fear of being a “jack of all trades, master of none.” Even so, Reindl says he doesn’t regret starting as a full-service business. “Had I started as just a lawn care company, I never would have known that we didn’t want to grow into those other things that we had started out doing,” he says. “It’s more valuable to learn from your experiences.”


Reindl says that he’s continued to grow the company by keeping the focus narrowed and perfecting the work that they do. He says their strong focus on


30 The Landscape Professional //September/October 2020


“I have always believed that if we do a better job than everyone else then we can charge more for our services and ultimately pay our people better,” Reindl says. “I realized that if we honed in on lawn care that we could provide a much better career opportunity for our people by focusing on becoming the best at what we do. It’s a more specialized type of work and it justifies higher earnings.” Adam Zellner, vice president of sales for the company says that the question has always been, “What can we do to give our customers the best experience and the best service even though we’re solely focused on lawn care?” The answer has been a laser focus on training so that team members are better at the services they provide. That has included encouragement and support for team members to become Landscape Industry Certified through NALP. Zellner says that there are company pay raises associated with earning this certification and others. Whereas other companies might be nervous about losing employ- ees if they become better-trained — and ultimately more qualified — Oasis has been fostering a positive work culture and paying their people better, so that they ultimately want to stay. “All of this continues to give our cus- tomers a better experience — and that’s what has helped us grow,” Zellner adds. “Despite all of the investment that we make into marketing and advertising, our number one source of leads still comes from referrals and that’s a testament to the fact that we’re continually focused on that customer experience.” There’s no question it shows in the company’s numbers, as well. Oasis Turf & Tree went from a $2.2 million company in 2012 to the $8.4 million company it is


today. And they continued to see growth this year, despite the pandemic. “I think our growth this season has had a lot to do with the fact that we stayed the course,” Zellner says. “We had plans in place including investments in market- ing and we didn’t let up on those plans even when the shutdowns began. I would say that definitely helped us.” Though the pandemic has certainly left some companies unsure of future growth, Reindl adds that people spend- ing more time at home could ultimately be a good thing for our industry. As more homeowners are staring at their lawns — and their backyards in general — there just may be opportunities to capitalize on growth.


“I’m hopeful that the trend of peo- ple spending more time at home will continue to inspire them to invest in their properties,” Reindl says.


INVESTING IN PEOPLE


If there’s a common thread in these stories, it’s the idea that investing in people is one of the best growth strategies out there. Whether you add or subtract services, having the right people on board means everything. Joshua Pool, LIC, chief operations offi-


cer of Timberline Landscaping in Colora- do Springs, Colorado, says that investing in people means looking at not only your hiring strategy but your retention one, too. If you have great employees — focus on what it will take to keep them. “We’re also really focused on recruiting young people and getting kids inter- ested in landscaping again,” Pool adds. “If we’re going to solve this industry’s labor challenge, it’s going to come down to inspiring interest from the younger generations.” In the past, Pool says that Timberline has always relied heavily on the H-2B program. But the uncertainty of that pro- gram in recent years has meant looking at other avenues. That has translated to more involvement in NALP’s Nation- al Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) and also getting more involved in local high schools.


“I think it’s important for high school students to know that they don’t always have to go to college to have a suc- cessful career,” Pool says. “Showing high school kids that landscaping can be a viable career path is really important for our industry as a whole.”


In terms of investing in people, Pool says that a big part of that has been


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