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Shutting down operations in Ohio while sheltering in place

April 1, 2020 -  By

McCullough’s Landscaping and Nursery in New Albany, Ohio, decided to temporarily pause operations on March 24 due to the state of Ohio’s “shelter in place” order, which lasts through April 6.

McCullough’s Landscaping and Nursery is 60 percent maintenance and 40 percent design/build + installation for a residential clientele.

Nick McCullough, landscape designer and partner, said this decision was twofold: It’s early in the season and he and his wife, Allison, who is partner in the business, thought it was also critical to do what they could to slow the progression of COVID-19.

“We really didn’t think anything else was essential these two weeks,” Nick says. “We’re ahead of schedule.”

McCullough’s Landscaping sent a letter to all clients noting the temporary shutdown, and the company received a lot of positive feedback.

“Clients thanked us for being part of the solution as much as we can be,” he says. “It was not for PR in any way.”

But, he does note that the decision is a positive for his customers because they are also quarantining at home.

“We were very fortunate,” he says. “We’re in a good spot where we could make this decision. I know many companies are not in that position. Everyone has to make the decision for themselves but also look at the bigger picture, too.”

And, they realized that while it’s easy for staff to spread out once on a job site, getting employees there safely isn’t as easy.

“Transporting our employees was our biggest hurdle,” he says. “How do you get these employees to job sites safely where they’re the closest together?”

The McCulloughs will use this time to work out what operations will look like once April 7 rolls around.

“It’s going to be a learning curve as this could be the first round of quarantine,” he says. “You’ve got to be prepared and put processes and procedures in place. We have to be ready to roll with the punches and do our part.”

But, this was a good opportunity for his employees to connect with their families, noting a lot of his employees are younger and are in the same stage in life.

“It’s important to be home with the kids,” he says. “It’s a refocusing of values. We’ve always been a very family-focused company … It’s a good thing to reflect on build upon the positivity of this.”

And another positive of this work-stoppage of sorts, McCullough says, is this could change the way people view landscaping jobs, noting that more people could decide to trade desk jobs for work outdoors after the quarantine is lifted.

“This will have a long-term effect on our country in a positive way,” he says.

McCullough says his company has experienced some postponements of major projects, but no cancellations. And, he’s had a lot more inquiries about the work his company can do perhaps, in part, because clients are not planning a big trip this summer and instead are going to invest in their home.

“Our clients are here — this is where they’re spending all their time,” he says. “We see clients being positive about gardening.”

Clients have told him “you guys are so essential to us,” and McCullough says that’s not going to change. Clients are not pulling back on maintenance.

“We have lots of work to do,” he says. “It’s just waiting for us … We do high-skill gardening. We have horticultural specialists on staff,” he says. “That doesn’t go away. If anything, people appreciate it more.”

And with each day, signs of spring continue to emerge, McCullough says.

“You can’t stop the flowers blooming,” he says. “That’s our goal — to spread joy through gardening.”

Christina Herrick

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