GreenCare for Troops Guide: Start somewhere

November 8, 2017 -  By

Sun Valley Landscaping serves up to 10 military families each season. Photo: Sun Valley Landscaping

For business owners and individuals alike, part of the difficulty of beginning a volunteer activity might be getting over the initial intimidation. Paul Fraynd, co-owner of Sun Valley Landscaping in Omaha, Neb., has some useful advice. “Just start,” he recommends. “Giving back is hard until you get there, and then you’re glad you did it.”

The company started its relationship with GreenCare for Troops 10 years ago when Fraynd attended an industry event in Louisville, Ky., and signed up for the program.

Each season, Sun Valley Landscaping serves up to 10 military families with either lawn care or snow care services. The company employs approximately 50 people and this year projects to earn $4.6 million in revenue. The business is split evenly between design/build work for residential clients and maintenance for 85 percent residential and 15 percent commercial clients.

According to Fraynd, the most rewarding part of the program is when families visit the shop. “The first time a family came in, they brought us cookies and a card, and the card was about the family being outside and enjoying it together, instead of worrying about mowing the lawn,” he says. “Which is exactly our purpose for our work: to allow others to enjoy the outdoors. They just embodied what we’re trying to do.” Several veterans also have gifted the crew with U.S. flags they’ve flown on their missions overseas.

Sun Valley Maintenance Sales & Account Manager Matt Menard acknowledges there could be one issue with volunteering. Since the company takes on a significant number of military families, who are all situated near Offutt Air Force Base, for convenience’s sake, one crew completes GCFT jobs on one day during the week. “It’s not that difficult, but it can be hard to make a profit on that one day for that crew,” he says.

Another issue is potentially taking on too many families because Sun Valley is one of a few GCFT volunteers in the Omaha area. In 2015, the company sent out an email to its contractor list, urging them to volunteer, and a local news station helped promote Sun Valley’s work with GCFT. The coverage included information on where local landscaping companies could register for the program.

General Manager Ashly Neneman credits the success of Sun Valley’s volunteering to GCFT’s assistance, which includes communicating with military families about the specific services that volunteers can provide.
“They’ve been so great to us, with the guidance we’ve received over the years,” she says. “We probably wouldn’t be able to take on so much if they weren’t there to help keep us organized.”

“We talk about raising the perception of the landscaping industry and being a good example for the community,” says Fraynd. “We’re already out there mowing lawns, and I think these guys respect the fact that we’re investing in the community and the people that give back to all of us with their service.”

To read the full article on how nonprofit initiative GreenCare for Troops is giving the gift of green space—and peace of mind—to military families in need, click here.

Photo: Sun Valley Landscaping

This article is tagged with , and posted in Cover story, November 2017
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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