Editor’s Note: Positive outcomes

Marisa Palmieri
Marisa Palmieri

Landscape professionals are often optimists, I’ve noticed. Have you ever observed the same?

I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe there’s a causal relationship between optimism and all the fresh air green industry people breath. Maybe small business people are predisposed to looking on the bright side. Or maybe it’s purely incidental.

In any case, thinking positively is a good thing. Studies show optimists feel healthier, live longer, are less stressed and experience many other positive outcomes.

Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to look on the sunny side, so I fully expected to hear only doom and gloom while reporting on the issue of LM. Now, there was a little bit of that. People I interviewed for the cover story certainly used the word “desperate” to refer to their companies’ labor scenarios. But when I asked the LM Editorial Advisory Board to give their thoughts on the state of the workforce, I got more than the pity party I expected.

Here are a few snippets from the responses to the prompt, “The landscape laborer shortage is…”
“…an opportunity for innovative, ingenious businessmen.”
“…an opportunity to out compete.”
“…not an issue for a select group of high-performing companies.”
“…by far the most critical issue in the green industry. Marketing to find workers will become as important and marketing to find customers.”
“…never going away. The only way to win in this area is to passionately prioritize recruitment and retention as an everyday function of running and growing a successful landscaping business.”

What do you see here? Optimism. Opportunity. I opened the door for a complaint-fest, but that’s not what I got. I got responses from successful businesspeople who know
pessimism is not the answer.

I noticed the same positive persistence among the people I interviewed for the cover story on recruiting workers from Puerto Rico. Don’t get me wrong: Sources emphasized the seriousness of their workforce concerns, but never did they say, “It’s useless,” or “We’re giving up.” They were compelled to experiment with recruiting from Puerto Rico because they’re willing to exhaust every opportunity to hire legal workers amid a strong economy, limited local workforce and an inflexible guest-worker visa program.

This month, I co-opted the typical advisory board space to run an excerpt from a letter to the editor. As Yellowstone Landscape CEO Tim Portland explains, this situation is not just a matter of raising wages and calling it a day. It’s a complicated issue that requires both immediate and long-term solutions from our lawmakers.

If the landscape professionals reading this note are the hopeful, get-it-done people I’ve observed you to be, please continue to plan for the worst, hope for the best and take action to encourage your federal officials to create the positive outcomes your businesses, employees and clients deserve.

Marisa Palmieri

Marisa Palmieri

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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