Michigan landscape company shuts down due to H-2B delays

April 1, 2016 -  By

After 31 years, Litzenburger Landscape shut its doors due to delays in the H-2B guest-worker visa process, the Petoskey News reported.

The Harbor Springs, Mich.-based landscape company notified customers of its closing in a March 14 letter.

The letter cited significant delays this year in processing the federal H-2B visas for guest workers from Mexico. The workers make up a large fraction of the company’s workforce during the growing season.

A process that used to take a week now takes around 80 days, owner Gow Litzenburger said.

“I was very disappointed,” Litzenburger said. “We had a model that worked and a mix of folks that worked. I just didn’t think we could deliver the product people had become accustomed to and the level of service people had become accustomed to.”

The guest workers were typically ready to work in mid-April, but this year, according to projections, the workers wouldn’t be available until June.

The company typically relied on about 30 guest workers, about half of the company’s workforce during the busy season. The same workers had returned annually for 10 years to fill the seasonal positions.

Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of governmental relations with the National Association of Landscape Professionals, told the Petoskey News that he hadn’t heard about other landscaping firms shutting down entirely because of the visa processing backlog, but that numerous operators are cutting back their operations due to the slowed process.

“We are hearing from members throughout the country seeing delays that they haven’t encountered in the past,” he said.

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