The final leg of our journey with Lambert Landscape Company brings us to the day-to-day workings of the company and staff members.
A company that’s been in business 100 years must, certainly, be doing something right when it comes to creating and maintaining a positive company atmosphere. According to Brian Chapman, director of fleet and facilities, employee retention has always been a main focus for the company, as it’s getting harder and harder to get people interested in green industry employment.
“Fewer and fewer people are going to school and going to college to get degrees in horticulture and study this stuff,” says Chapman. “But on a positive note, we’re starting to recognize that, and we’re starting to advertise it and seek out people that are interested. We’re starting to do a lot more programs with high schools and get involved at the earlier stages in peoples’ education to get them interested and show them what’s out there.”
Show them you care
It’s no secret that with the shortage of qualified green industry labor out there, landscaping companies are having to go above and beyond to show the dedicated employees they do have that they are cared for and valued.
“Everybody’s trying to compete for the wages, and they’ll choose one company over another over 50 cents,” says Chapman. “So, it’s really tough to be competitive in that sense and know what everyone else is doing.”
To help the staff at Lambert’s get that competitive edge, Chapman says the company holds executive leadership meetings monthly that allow the team to take part in understanding the financial state of the company. Lambert’s leadership department heads also hold meetings every two weeks to allow them to go over any changes, issues, policies or procedures that need to be addressed within their departments.
Jodi Joseph, VP of garden development, says Lambert’s also holds company-wide get-togethers where everyone can hear about current events, the state of the company, important things that might be coming down the pipeline and more.
“We’re all very open in our discussions and we all like to be a resource to help solve problems,” says Chapman.
Joseph adds that Lambert’s actively works to provide opportunities to show appreciation to its employees, whether that be supplying ice cream for employees on Fridays in the summer, Easter celebration picnics where employees can bring their families to the fun or something as simple as a company-wide cookout.
“It is all about them,” says Joseph. “They’re the ones that are out there when it’s 100 degrees with a shovel in their hand actually making this happen. We could sit here and design whatever we want to design and sell whatever we wanted to sell, but if we don’t have those people doing work, it’s all for nothing.”
What’s ailing you?
While it’s true that Lambert’s has seen its fair share of good times throughout the years, every landscaping company has experienced a few pain points.
For Lambert’s, Joseph says some of the biggest issues they’ve faced have been dealing with consistency within the garden development department, as well as the continuous struggle with labor.
Most days, Joseph says, it seems as though it’s either the extreme of feast or famine when it comes to garden development, but on the positive side, she adds, the maintenance division has continued to grow at a steady pace over the past few years.
On the labor side, Joseph says the company has tried out the H-2B visa program in the past but didn’t necessarily find it to be the most beneficial avenue for them.
“It’s very difficult to jump through all of the hoops that have to be jumped through to get that done,” she says. “We also don’t want to put that many eggs in a basket. That’s easier for a commercial company because they know several years in advance when a job is going to come down. We don’t always know that since residential’s a little bit different.”
Looking to the future
With many years behind them and the hope of many more to come, the question becomes, “What’s on the horizon for Lambert’s?”
To keep in line with the company’s environmentally friendly way of operating, Chapman says in the next five to 10 years, he would like to see Lambert’s be 100 percent all-electric with zero-emissions across the board, and he believes the Automowers could be an integral part of that.
“Eventually, where we see it going with the battery blowers and weed eaters is to offer a completely zero-emission, silent yard service,” says Chapman. “I like to stay very current and look at the future to what’s coming down the pipeline as far as products are concerned. What we’re doing with the Automower is also very environmentally friendly and eco-friendly.”
Joseph says that in the long run, she hopes to be able to help find ways to create a better balance in business by having maintenance and garden development be more of a 50/50 match to ensure they are sustainable at all levels.
Joseph says that her overall goal for Lambert’s is to continue to grow the company while also understanding that they are a niche-type of landscaping company. She stresses that growth is vital, but it’s also important the company not grow so rapidly that they begin to lose that kind of “boutique-style” they are known for.
“We want to continue to grow at a sustainable pace but not lose sight of our vision and purpose in sustaining who we are and what we do,” says Joseph. “There’s not another company in the area that has been doing this for 100 years and doing it successfully. So many of them come and go, but the legacy of the Lambert’s name has held strong. People know who Lambert’s is.”