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Efficiency journey

January 9, 2015 -  By

Sofa beds. Visits to the dentist. Michael Scott on “The Office.” This is my list of “uncomfortable things.” Here’s another: Changing a long-held company process or implementing a new one.

We all know change is difficult. This can be particularly true when it comes to becoming more efficient as an organization, says green industry consultant Jim Paluch, president of JP Horizons. Why? Because efficiency is a mindset. It’s not a solitary act. As Paluch says, “Like success, efficiency is a journey and not a destination.”

As I was working on this issue, which focuses on efficiency, I was amazed by how the three companies we feature in the cover story make it look so natural to design new programs, processes and equipment to run smoother operations. All along, though, I thought: “It’s not natural. It can’t be easy.”

And that’s why I got in touch with Paluch to confirm my hunch. He founded the Working Smarter Training Challenge, a 52-week lean management education program for landscape companies, more than eight years ago. He’s seen countless companies through the program. Although the firms we feature in this issue don’t follow lean practices, per se, their efficiency-focused mindsets are similar. Here’s some of what Paluch had to say.

On whether most landscape companies are efficient today… “You may hear one owner claim how efficient his company is, but you know from his bottom line his company is far from it. … That said, I do feel that over the past several years there have been some breakthroughs in technology, software, equipment and education that have helped many landscape companies improve efficiencies.”

On the top area he’s seen most companies get more efficient… “Most companies initially go after the ‘low-hanging fruit,’ which is often found in the morning start-up with the crews. This is a great place to start because it allows the entire team to see the positive results that can come from a few simple changes.”

On the No. 1 hurdle to becoming more efficient… “Sustaining the improvements that are made. … Companies get over this hurdle when they realize that every process still has room for improvement and the consistent pursuit of perfection, even though they will never achieve it, is a culture that will help sustain all the improvements made.”

On the attitude it takes to become more efficient… “We challenge leaders to become ‘comfortable in the discomfort.’ Change is always uncomfortable, but developing an attitude and passion for personal growth where every employee is open to taking risks, trying new things, failing or succeeding and is willing to learn from the experience will improve efficiencies. It also will grow future leaders and create unlimited opportunities for the company.”

Have you fixed one wasteful thing in your business or otherwise overhauled your operations to be more efficient? Let me know (mpalmieri@northcoastmedia.net). We’d love to write about it in a future issue of LM.

Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

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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