Labor woes hit Cape Cod

May 24, 2016 -  By

Cape Cod landscape companies—even the ones that don’t rely on H-2B workers—are singing the labor shortage blues.

“It’s nuts,” Bob Maffei, owner of Maffei Landscape Contractors in Mashpee, told the Cape Cod Times, referring to the difficulty of finding workers. “We knew it was going to be challenging this year.”

Delays in H-2B visa applications have been widely reported across the U.S. Maffei doesn’t use the H-2B program, but due to the delays, he believes, there has been an increase in competition for labor due to many nearby companies not getting their expected help from foreign workers.

Five landscape company executives from the Cape Cod, Mass., area spoke to the Cape Cod Times in a Sunday feature about labor woes in the green industry. In addition to Maffei, the newspaper spoke with Matt Ernst, owner of Mike Stacey Landscaping; Allison Bayer, business manager for Ponderosa Landscaping; Christopher Joyce, president of Joyce Landscaping; and Timothy Kent of Timothy J. Kent Landscape Lawn & Tree Service. Each contractor, some more so than others, cited labor concerns, including a lack of student-aged workers willing to take the jobs and the failure of schools not educating students beyond college prep.

“I’m basically looking for anyone willing to go into the green industry,” Joyce said. “We’re willing to train.”

Here are three takeaways from the article:

Companies that are retaining and finding labor are offering their employees a lot—That includes 401ks, paid holidays, insurance, workers comp and salaries ultimately reaching $60,000 to $80,000, according to the report.

Even with great workers comp packages, many companies are finding the labor search futile—Despite putting out ads, Ponderosa Landscaping has employees working weekends to make up for the extra work. Maffei, who has had to turn down work due to a lack of labor, is allocating advertising dollars to labor search efforts. The company is running radio ads using the tagline, “Come for a career.”

One company expected its workers to arrive any day—Ponderosa Landscaping’s business manager told the Cape Cod Times that she is expecting the arrival for six H-2B workers soon. The workers, who were supposed to arrive in late February or early March, have worked with the company for years. “We’re hoping they’ll come in this week,” she said. “It’s been a brutal back-and-forth.”


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