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Jeffrey Scott Executive Retreat motivates business owners, second-in-commands

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(Left to right) Speakers at the Jeffrey Scott Executive Retreat were Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C.; Jose Andres Genel, director of people and culture for Landscape Renovations in Minneapolis, Minn.; Jeffrey Scott and Kevin Werbrich, president, Werbrich Landscaping, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo: LM Staff)
(Left to right) Speakers at the Jeffrey Scott Executive Retreat were Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C.; Jose Andres Genel, director of people and culture for Landscape Renovations in Minneapolis, Minn.; Jeffrey Scott and Kevin Werbrich, president, Werbrich Landscaping, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo: LM Staff)
Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C., encouraged attendees to ‘know their why’ and make sure their employees understand the goals of the company and why those are the goals. (Photo: LM Staff)
Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C., encouraged attendees to ‘know their why’ and make sure their employees understand the goals of the company and why those are the goals. (Photo: LM Staff)

More than 125 lawncare and landscape professionals met in New Orleans recently at the annual Jeffrey Scott Executive Retreat. The two-day event included lectures from Scott and industry experts, a women-only networking group and a new peer group created for second-in-command employees.

“If you make a better company, your clients will want you to get bigger,” Scott told the room in his opening remarks. “The better you get, the more your clients will want you to get better. In other words, you’re not pushing your growth… your customers are pulling it.”

The keynote was delivered by Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C.; Jose Andres Genel, director of people and culture for Landscape Renovations in Minneapolis, Minn., spoke about culture and the importance of upper management connecting with the crew; and Kevin Werbrich, president, Werbrich Landscaping, Cincinnati, Ohio, spoke about his philosophy of the ‘red carpet exit.’

The red carpet exit is Werbrich’s philosophy that any employee he is parting ways with might someday return to work for him, so treat exiting employees — even those who are terminated — with kindness and respect. Werbrich even calls his ex-employees every January, just to check in and see how they are and if they might be in a point in their life where they want to return to work for his company.

“If you treat people fairly, that word is going to spread,” Werbrich told the room.

This was the second Executive Retreat for Justin Wall, president of Coldwater Landscapes in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Wall says in 2021 he didn’t know where to go and had no direction for his company, so he decided to attend his first Executive Retreat. Wall says attending the Executive Retreat helps give him a better perspective of his company.

“I want to build a better business. I want to invest in our people, and invest in our culture,” Wall told Landscape Management. “I want to create a best-in-class business. When I’m investing in our people, they can invest in others.”

(Left to right) Speakers at the Jeffrey Scott Executive Retreat were Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C.; Jose Andres Genel, director of people and culture for Landscape Renovations in Minneapolis, Minn.; Jeffrey Scott and Kevin Werbrich, president, Werbrich Landscaping, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo: LM Staff)
(Left to right) Speakers at the Jeffrey Scott Executive Retreat were Keith Freeman, CEO of the Green Group, Raleigh, N.C.; Jose Andres Genel, director of people and culture for Landscape Renovations in Minneapolis, Minn.; Jeffrey Scott and Kevin Werbrich, president, Werbrich Landscaping, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo: LM Staff)

The Second in Command peer group was led by Sean Baxter, president at Lawn and Landscape Solutions, Overland Park, Kan. About 20 people sat in a horseshoe arrangement and were forthcoming with the challenges their companies face.

“It’s important topics, the problems the second-in-commands have,” Raido Kudre, production manager, Werbrich’s Landscaping, said. “Everyone comes in with their problems and we try to solve them as a team. Everybody has different problems, but some are similar. Some owners need to let go, and the second-in-commands need to take the lead.”

Baxter said the energy and interaction of the second-in-command group was high because they were determined to find solutions they could take back to their employers.

“Owners joined a peer group to gain accountability from other owners,” Baxter said. “These people are integrators. They’re being paid to be here and make measurable differences in their businesses. I think they’re going to move all of their participating companies forward much faster, and with clarity.”

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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