Companies in the News: Updates from Ruppert Landscape and Davey Tree Expert Co.

The latest updates and news from green industry companies, including Ruppert Landscape as well as the Davey Tree Expert Co.
Ruppert front-line field workers receive bonus checks. (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)
Ruppert front-line field workers receive bonus checks. (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

As a means of thanking its front-line employees for their commitment and service during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruppert Landscape has distributed bonus checks to 1,100 field-level employees totaling $470,000.

The landscaping industry was deemed essential under federal guidelines, so the company has been able to continue operating throughout the pandemic.

“We have been extremely fortunate so far,” said Craig Ruppert, CEO. “But, even with our essential designation, the only way to keep things running is by having a dedicated team who believes in your company and trusts that you are doing your best to look out for their health and well-being. Our team is an amazing group who have put aside their fears, come to work, adapted to changing protocols and enabled us to continue to honor our customer commitments.”

With that mindset, Ruppert Landscape’s executive team decided to thank nearly two-thirds of its workforce — those in field-level front-line positions for their continued service during this critical time. Bonus amounts were determined for eligible employees based on company tenure.

“When we first began discussing this, our primary concern was our obligation to ensure the company’s solid financial standing both now and into the future so that our employees can feed their families and meet their needs,” said Phil Key, company president. “Like many businesses, we have experienced contract cancellations, scope reductions and various other pressures that have affected — and will continue to affect — our revenue. But, because of the hard work of our team over many years, we had funds available that we felt would not put our financial stability at risk and knew that investing in our team would pay dividends in our long-term success. Using that resource at this time just made sense.”

Discussions around how to equitably distribute the bonus money turned quickly to front-line, field-level employees whose risk profiles were highest during this crisis. Executives recognized that all employees were essential in keeping the business operating and customers’ projects on track and properties in good working order, but in the end, the bonus money was distributed to field managers and crew members who typically earn less and have much less flexibility with their schedules than those in other positions, according to the company. In addition, it’s largely due to their efforts in cleaning trucks, washing hands, wearing masks, practicing social distancing and much more that has helped to prevent the spread of the virus and keep the company operational.

“We wanted to focus our efforts on our field managers and crew members who continued to report to work during a time of great crisis and uncertainty, while many of us were afforded the flexibility of working from the safety of our homes,” Ruppert said. “To me, their efforts really underscore our company values of hard work, honoring commitments and supporting our community, and I truly couldn’t be prouder of how they stepped up to the plate. In my mind, that deserves an extra thank you, which is what we wanted to do with these bonuses.”

Kent State University at Salem is offering scholarships that provide free tuition for a qualified student’s first year while seeking an associate of applied science degree in horticulture technology. The scholarships are made possible through the Eugene W. and Betty Haupt-The Davey Tree Expert Co. endowment.

To qualify, a student must be a new freshman; with a 2.0 grade point average; a completed FAFSA form; and declare horticulture technology as his/her major.

The scholarships are funded through an endowment established by the late Eugene Haupt, an executive with The Davey Tree Expert Co., who retired in 1990 after a career of 52 years. He last served as president of the Davey Tree Surgery Co. in Livermore, Calif., and served on the Davey Tree board of directors for many years. Haupt started at Davey in 1939 and held several positions in the field before working his way up to his most meaningful role at Davey in 1969 when he was named general manager of the Davey Tree Surgery Com. He was later named executive vice president and general manager and eventually promoted to president of the Surgery Co. in 1985.

Haupt established trust funds designated to benefit Kent State Salem “students who have an interest in horticulture to further their education and interest in the field.” The endowment was named in memory of him and his first wife, the late Bertha “Betty” Davidson Haupt.

“This is a great opportunity for area students interested in careers in the green industry, thanks to the incredible generosity of Haupt,” said. David Dees, Ph.D., dean and chief administrative officer of the Kent State Columbiana County campuses. “His gift and financial support will strengthen and help transform our horticulture program, which will ultimately benefit our students, area communities and the companies that hire our graduates. We are sincerely grateful for Mr. Haupt’s vision.”

Haupt was a native of Beaver County, Pa., and served in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division in World War II. He participated in the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, earning two bronze stars. Following his military service, Haupt continued a career with Davey that spanned five decades.

“Davey is proud to be affiliated with these scholarships, which will be awarded in Gene and Betty’s honor. Gene was a stalwart leader at Davey who helped shape a generation of managers and executives, but beyond that, he was a committed and influential figure within the arboriculture industry, an iconic personality and an American hero,” said Pat Covey, Davey chairman, president and CEO. “This gift ensures his legacy of supporting the green industry endures for many years.”

The AAS degree in horticulture technology includes three concentrations for students to consider, including landscape design, turfgrass management and urban forestry. This degree is a natural pathway to the Bachelor of Applied Horticulture degree and extends a student’s education to include the development of managerial expertise in the green industry.

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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