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Durham Artificial Grass

Working in the Green Industry: An Interview With Durham Artificial Grass | LMN

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Success Stories

The green industry is much more than landscape maintenance. When you work for a landscape business, you can expect to sod, plant, mulch, remove, clean up, shovel, and trim various aspects of the land. You may have to work shivering conditions for snow operations or the brutal heat for lawn care services.

The green industry is much more than landscape maintenance. When you work for a landscape business, you can expect to sod, plant, mulch, remove, clean up, shovel, and trim various aspects of the land. You may have to work shivering conditions for snow operations or the brutal heat for lawn care services.

Entering the green industry involves hard labor, but can be an exciting career for creative projects. Landscape professionals can transform any piece of land into a masterpiece. Ready to learn more about working in the landscape business? Let’s hear what Brian Cotter of Durham Artificial Grass has to say about his 30+ years of experience in the industry.

Brian, tell the readers about yourself, how you ended up working in the green industry, and the services that you and your company offer?

My name is Brian Cotter, and I have been working in the green industry for 34 years. It started as a summer job while going to high school. Lloyds Grounds Management Professionals Ltd offers full-service year-round grounds maintenance and softscaping such as sodding, planting, and mulching.

Durham Artificial Grass offers artificial grass; supply and installs for lawn/landscaping, putting greens, pet areas, rooftops along with sports applications. We also offer synthetic ice, artificial green walls, golf simulators along with supply to contractors and DIY projects.

What’s attracted you to the green industry and the skilled trades?

It is an industry full of opportunities. Being paid to work outside, especially in the summer, is excellent for mental health. It is a great career and provides enough to support yourself and your family.

Do you think being a landscape contractor is underrated and why?

Being a landscape contractor is underrated, as there are far too many non-professional people representing the industry. It is essential while working; people who want to make this a career also do schooling to get designations and become a part of the apprentice/red trade seal programs. There is much more to the industry than going to a big box store, buying a trailer, lawnmower, tools, and calling yourself a landscaper.

There’s also a stigma associated with being a landscape contractor. Shouldn’t we as contractors be more proud to work in this industry, and why?

We absolutely should be more proud. It is a great career, with financial and business opportunities to grow. We should pride ourselves by wearing uniforms, having vehicles with logos on them, and professional contracts to go along with our professional work.

You recently did a podcast on Landscape Disruptors and talked about building a sustainable company and one that can live on after you retire. What business functions are you investing your time into the most to create a more robust company?

I focus a lot of time and energy on having documented procedures (our team is building this together), building a strong client representative/management team/field team that operates the business while I am behind the scenes. Through the use of programs like LMN, our budget lines are up with our estimating to easily see how our client representatives are pricing jobs.

There is a statistic floating around that 82% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. How have you navigated cash flow in your business?

We utilize a live excel cash flow chart that forecasts, tracks, and allows us to see when the peaks and lows will be coming along so we can plan for them. This is updated regularly and reviewed. It is super important and great information for our office manager and myself to check and keep a good pulse on things.

What’s the perfect side business for you – where do you think the happy place is? Most profit, least amount of headaches, and a solid team of people to work with.

Great question!

From talking to others, learning from their experience, and having grown from 1 to 3 to 5 million ourselves, I find the 5 million mark the best so far as it has allowed us to build a great team. They share the responsibilities and no longer solely rely on myself.

Again from discussing with peers and other business owners, we believe the next step will be to strive for the 10 million mark. From the feedback we have gotten, it seems to be the next Plato where things “click strongly.”

How do we as an industry address the people problem and inspire the next generation to pick up a shovel?

I feel all industries have shortages right now, across the board. As professionals in the industry, we need to ensure we are paying competitive wages and not just saying we are. Do some research, ensure your wages line up with your budgets, and make coming to work enjoyable.

We all work, especially in this industry, where we have a short season in Canada, typically expect too much by working too many hours with our crews. We should be encouraging part-time schooling, upgrading knowledge while building their careers. Showing people you start as a team member (most people call this position a laborer) is only the beginning and step one to a vast career that will be full of opportunities. We need to show people the opportunities that are out in the industry.

The skilled trades have a massive labor shortage. How do we solve it – how have you recruited and found great people to work at your company?

Again I feel all industries have labor shortages right now. Through word of mouth, sponsoring local sports teams, taking part in the local chamber of commerce golf tournaments, networking at shows (pre-covid), all while wearing branded shirts, whether it be a golf shirt, office shirt or field shirt, is a great way to show how proud you are of your industry. This has allowed us to attract people to want to grow with our team. We do also use Indeed to post our open positions.

Most crucial business advice or experience you’ve learned that you could share with the readers?

If you are leading a team of people, join peer groups, network with other business leaders and owners from more than just the green industry. Always be looking for ways to expand your knowledge and skill set as a leader to make your company more efficient. Don’t be afraid to hire someone in management or sales that is better than you in that position; keep out of their way and support them.

How can the listeners and viewers get a hold of you if you want to continue the conversation with you?

If you’d like to reach out to me to discuss anything further, you can reach me by email (brian@lgmp.ca) or phone (905-263-2225).

Thank you for the opportunity. I have managed to get where we are today by joining peer groups, networking with others, hiring people to teach me things I do not know, and always keeping an open mind. I hope everyone has a successful 2021 and beyond!

Ready to take your landscape business to the next level? Enlist the help of LMN’s landscape business software designed to help green industry professionals. Download LMN Free today to test it out for yourself. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get the most out of your landscaping business.

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