Diversity: Look beyond H-2B to solve staffing issues

October 22, 2019 -  By
Maurice Dowell

Maurice Dowell

Maurice Dowell, co-owner of Dowco Enterprises, in St. Louis, Mo., says the cost of H-2B labor has started to get him to rethink his approach to staffing.

“We’re blessed to have a facility almost adjacent to our clientele,” he says. “The problem is it’s not adjacent to the talent that we need to build our clientele.”

H-2B labor isn’t cheap, but Dowell says he’s stuck with the program as a source of labor because it’s an easier solution than the challenge of sourcing local workers.

“We’ve got do everything that we can. If we’ve got to turn over rocks, then we’ve got to turn over these stinking rocks,” he says. “When we look at what we’re paying for H-2B it’s not all that expensive to get out of our comfort zone and to research other possibilities to get people in the door.”

He says he’s starting to kick around ideas of how to promote hiring a diverse crew. Whether that’s updating promotional employment materials, or picking the brains of folks at big industry shows this fall and winter, he’s open to learning how to attract folks that “are not your traditional landscape workforce.”

“As companies throughout the country, we really need to be aware that there’s a way to reach people who historically would not be the people that are on our crews,” he says. “If we had to get really creative and bring in the minority populous, can we lower a lot of our operating expenses and have talent on hand 12 months a year?”

This is posted in Cover story, October 2019
Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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