When I worked in newspapers, our seasoned managing editor used to tell me she got into the business for three reasons: You could take two-hour lunches, you could curse in the newsroom and a newspaper would hire just about anybody who had a pulse.
In my experience, the second two items were very true.
We’re working on our State of the Industry Report, which comes out in October, and I called up Kurt Bland, a senior vice president at Bland Landscaping Co. in Apex, N.C., to see what’s going on in his market.
Kurt’s a former Leadership Award winner and runs a good company. I asked him what his biggest challenge was this year and – without hesitating – he didn’t say the market or customer confidence or anything like that. He said he couldn’t find enough talented people to fill the jobs he has.
I hear this a lot from companies across the country – that they’ve got excess capacity or opportunity for more work, but have trouble finding reliable foremen and laborers.
“As a small business owner, I’ve got jobs,” Bland told me. “I’ve got jobs for people who are willing to work.”
So Bland tried something new – paying more for his key positions and actively recruiting talented people who could be trained and developed to become great foremen, account managers and client reps.
Instead of what might typically happen – running around and hiring anyone who walks in the door with a pulse, for example – he’s taken a proactive approach and loading up his company with talent. It’s not an easy task, certainly, but it’s better than the alternative.
As the future of the H-2B program becomes ever more uncertain and American unemployment continues to founder, I wonder how many landscapers will take Bland’s tack and start a dedicated, intentional recruiting process. I hope a lot.