How investing in your team pays the highest dividends

October 8, 2021 -  By

In September, we toured Ruppert Landscape as part of our annual Field Trip in partnership with the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), and once again, we got an inside look at a wildly successful landscaping company.

I’ve noticed a common theme when I speak with the owners and leadership teams of companies that we tour and work with: The most successful companies understand that their people are what sets them apart. Your team is the backbone of your company, and it is the key to your success or your failure.

Annual review form (Photo: Hailshadow/iStock / Getty Images/Getty Images Plus)

Photo: Hailshadow/iStock / Getty Images/Getty Images Plus

Never has this been truer than in the last two years. In 2020 and 2021, landscaping companies have seen increased demand from customers while also facing labor shortages. The companies who have excelled are the ones who can find — and keep — the team members to install the jobs they sell. As we close out our busy season, we’re already looking ahead to 2022 and planning for what we’ll need to do to ensure our team is fully staffed, well trained and ready to work when the year turns over.

We have three focuses:

Progress, Not Perfection

My friend Mike Haynes said at GROW! 2020 in Charlotte that “Nobody shows up to work in the morning thinking, ‘Gee, what can I try to mess up today?’” He emphasized that mistakes happen and that we can’t take them personally as owners and leaders. We try to avoid making the same mistake twice instead of harping on the fact that it happened.

We are going to take action in 2022 and not come up with all the reasons why something might not work. Remember, it’s “ready, aim, fire.” It’s not “ready, ready, aim, aim, aim, fire.”

Commit to getting better each day but continuing to move forward.


When mistakes inevitably happen, before we place blame on anyone else, we need to first ask: What did I do or not do that created this result? Great leaders support team members, give their team the benefit of the doubt, invest time in teaching direct reports new skills and praise their team for jobs well done.

The adage that “the fish rots from the head down” applies here. To get ahead in this industry, we need to make our organizations great places where people want to work, and it always starts at the top.

Industry Education and Experience

In the next few months at Grunder Landscaping Co., we’ll be investing in training our leaders. Members of our leadership team were at the NALP Field Trip at Ruppert Landscape last month. They’ll also join me at GROW! 2022 in Nashville to teach our own processes to attendees, learn from our tour host, Milosi Landscape, and connect with other landscape professionals who may have new ideas for approaching the problems we do.

They’ll update their certifications to ensure they have the horticultural knowledge to properly train our crews, attend local events to network in the community and pass on their knowledge and skills to team members with our own in-house training this winter. We invest in their education and training because it will make them better leaders.

We want to keep growing at Grunder Landscaping, and the only way we’ll be able to do that is with a team who understands our goals, is invested in our collective success and has the knowledge, skills and attitude to make it happen. Education is one piece of this, and when paired with a new profit-sharing program, more conversations about career paths and complete transparency with our goals and progress toward them, we think we have a recipe for success.

If you’d like to join us in Nashville for GROW! 2022, we will have a fantastic event, a packed agenda and a behind-the-scenes tour of Milosi Landscape planned. Learn more:

Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

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