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Back in full force in Michigan

April 30, 2020 -  By

We first spoke with Adam Schlutt, president of MAAC Property Services, Niles, Mich., at the beginning of April, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer deemed landscaping nonessential in Michigan, and his crews were shut down.

“It’s been an interesting time,” Schlutt says.

The company’s location near the border of Indiana, where 60 percent of its accounts are, helped it stay afloat during the shutdown. Landscape maintenance has been considered essential in Indiana since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Forty of Schlutt’s employees were working 30-35 hours a week in early April. Between spring cleanups and starting up mowing services, he estimated he had enough business to keep his working crew members busy.

However, at MAAC’s satellite location in St. Joseph, Mich., he had to lay off 15 employees and encouraged them to apply for unemployment.

In the meantime, Schlutt was in contact with all of his Michigan accounts. “They let us know as soon as it’s time to go, ‘We want to get this done, and this done.’” he says. “So we had a plan of what was at least happening so it wasn’t chaos when we reopened.”

On Friday, April 24, Gov. Whitmer announced a change to the Executive Order, deeming landscaping essential in the state again.

Schlutt says that once he was able to open the doors, his whole team returned. “We worked with them, making sure they were able to get unemployment, so in working with them, it allowed them to be able to come back,” he says.

His Paycheck Protection Program application was processed in mid-April and the company received enough to cover payroll for six to eight weeks.

Looking ahead

The company serves over 75 percent commercial accounts, such as hospitals and large shopping centers. Customers have been cutting out fertilizer applications and services like mulching and pruning, and he’s holding off on irrigation services.

A concern is that some clients might not be able to pay in a timely manner. For some clients, like the large medical centers the company maintains in Indiana, he acknowledges that maintenance services are the least of their concerns.

Still, Schlutt sees the positive aspects of how the pandemic is changing how his company works. “I’m an optimist, if we can weather the storm, this can put us in a position to take off after this is all done,” he says. “We’re creating a lot of systems that we’ve been wanting to put into place — more meetings, communications, safety standards.”

This article is tagged with , and posted in COVID-19, Today's Green Industry News
Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the former senior editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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