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5 Questions: Russ Sneed

September 30, 2022 -  By
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(Photo: Wendy Adams Photography)

(Photo: Wendy Adams Photography)

Russ Sneed

CEO, Michael Hatcher & Associates, Olive Branch, Miss.

1.  Tell me about the company and how you got there?  

Michael Hatcher & Associates has been around for more than 35 years. Michael is chairman. Whenever I think of Michael, I think of a guy with a shovel over his shoulder, just charging forward. He has a lot of drive and a lot of passion for people and for building a team. The company started as a high-end residential service provider. As the years went on, we started doing commercial landscaping, then, about five years ago, we added a lawn care division. I met Michael about 15 years ago when I was still in school. Whenever we’d catch up, he’d say to me, ‘One of these days, you’re going to be leading our company and taking it to the next level.’ I joined as COO in October 2020 and became CEO last January. I have an MBA from Mississippi State University. Ironically, my first project ever was working on the divestiture of LandCare from ServiceMaster. So, my career has kind of come around full circle.

2. What trends are you seeing from your customers lately?  

They want a valued partner. One of our greatest assets is our account management team. The relationship and the communication they have with our customers becomes a partnership. It’s not just providing landscape services. It becomes a relationship of being the eyes and ears for our customers. Our customers are looking for what I call ‘the easy button,’ one less thing they need to be spending their time on.

3. You played baseball at Mississippi State University. How do you apply a sports mentality to business?  

Yes, I played from 2005 to 2009. One of those seasons, 2007, was a College World Series team. My family and my wife’s family, we’re huge into youth sports and competitive sports; it’s just how we’re wired. Taking my experiences at Mississippi State, I apply it to business with competition and mental toughness. You have to compartmentalize your priorities. John Cohen — now the Mississippi State athletic director — was my coach. He’s a true CEO. You are an employee within that system, and you learn what it means to be a part of a team. When I’m hiring, it means a lot to me to have a competitive sports or a service type background because they have the foundational elements of what it takes to be a part of a team.

4. Is there a day at work that stands out as particularly memorable?  

The excitement level around here whenever it snows in Memphis. There have been multiple snow events in the last two years. Everybody is here, everybody is coming together, everybody is working around the clock. You tag in so someone can go grab a quick nap on a couch. We provide soup and chili in the back. During the last snowstorm, I drove my truck and picked up six of our team members because they didn’t have a ride. I’ll admit that I have in my office a big yellow speed bump, signed by all our team members — I took it out on my first time plowing.

5. What do you do outside work?  

My wife, Amy, and I have two daughters, Zady, who is 6, and Houston, who is 7, and then Beck is almost 2, and he’s a bulldozer. This is our 10th year of marriage. We’re huge family people. We have all four of our parents still, and we like to spend as much time with them as we can. And I’m very passionate about coaching and creating a positive environment for the kids. Our 8-and-under competitive fast-pitch softball team is currently No. 1 in the nation.

Want more 5 Questions? Check out our other recent interviews:

Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 19 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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