More than 125 lawn care and landscaping professionals recently gathered in New Orleans for the annual Jeffrey Scott Executive withdrawal. The two-day event included lectures from Scott and industry experts, an all-female networking group, and a new peer group created for second-in-comers.
“If you build a better company, your customers will want you to go bigger,” Scott told the room in his opening remarks. “The better you get, the more your customers will want you to improve. In other words, you’re not driving your growth…your customers are driving it.”
The keynote was given by Keith Freeman, CEO of Green Group, Raleigh, NC; Jose Andres Genel, director of people and culture for Landscape renovations in Minneapolis, Minn., spoke about culture and the importance of connecting senior management and crew; and Kevin Werbrich, president, Werbrich landscapeCincinnati, Ohio has spoken out about her “get out of the red carpet” philosophy.
Red carpet exiting is Werbrich’s philosophy that any employee he’s parting with could one day return to work for him, so he treats exiting employees, even those who get laid off, with kindness and respect. Werbrich even calls his former employees every January, just to check in and see how they’re doing and if they might be at a point in their lives where they want to go back to work for his company.
“If you treat people fairly, that word will spread,” Werbrich told the room.
This was the second executive retirement for Justin Wall, president of Cold water landscapes at Muscle Shoals, Ala. Wall says that in 2021, he didn’t know where to go and didn’t have direction for his company, so he decided to go on his first Executive Retreat. Wall says attending Executive Retreat helps him get a better perspective of his company.
“I want to build a better business. I want to invest in our people and I want to invest in our culture,” Wall told Landscape Management. “I want to build a world-class business. When I’m investing in our people, they can invest in others.”
The Second in Command dock group was led by Sean Baxter, president of Solutions for lawns and landscapesOverland Park, Kan. About 20 people sat down in a horseshoe arrangement and were forthcoming with the challenges their companies face.
“These are important topics, the issues that second-in-commands have,” said Raido Kudre, production manager, Werbrich’s Landscaping. “Everyone comes with their own problems and we try to solve them as a team. Everyone has different problems, but some are similar. Some owners have to let go and the second-in-command has to take the lead.
Baxter said the energy and interaction of the second-in-command group was high because they were determined to find solutions to report back to their employers.
“Landlords have joined a dock group to get liability from other landlords,” Baxter said. “These people are integrators. They are paid to be here and make a measurable difference in their businesses. I think they will move all of their participating companies forward much faster and with clarity.”