“DJ’s Thoughts” is a new feature where our very own Team Member, DJ Slagle, will open up to everyone on a more personal level with stories, feelings, and inspirations. DJ is a Sales and Customer Service Manager, as well as our Social Media Manager here at Stockman Lawnscape. He has been with our Team since 2015 and is a key piece to the success of our Team!
From the Beginning
Looking back to 2010 in my sophomore year of college, I was looking to transfer from the branch campus I was studying at to the main campus at Penn State. Due to some circumstances of my entrance criteria into the business school, I would be forced to switch my major to something else if I wanted to transfer. So, I stumbled upon “Landscape Contracting: Management Option”. Since my original focus was business management and I had already held a job as a landscaper over the summer; I figured why not give it a shot.
I quickly found out however, that I was very mistaken about what “Management Option” truly meant and that there were limited management skills being involved. The management option (in comparison to Design/Build) was more based around the maintenance of plants and ways to prevent disease/pests. This was a good choice in the long run for me, mainly because I was able to use a lot of critical thinking and I love to problem solve. It also beat trying to learn how to use surveying equipment!
Fast forward to my super senior year (yes, I said super senior!) where I was now thinking more about what was to come in the real world. One of my main thoughts while reflecting through school during that time was the security of always having a job in the industry. People always will need their grass cut, shrubs and trees pruned, and even diagnosis of why things might be in bad shape. My thought process was that, regardless of positions of either being a manager or being a crew laborer, there would always be SOMETHING.
Impact on the Landscape Industry
Jump now to the current time period where over the past month or so we have been dealing with COVID-19 and all the implications that it has brought with it. Here in Pennsylvania, we were most recently put under a shutdown of all “non-life essential” businesses. Of course, it started to create a lot of stress for small businesses in our Commonwealth. Landscape companies were left in the dark because there was no definitive category marking where we stood on the list of essential businesses.
This started to make me think of my days in college and wonder to myself how strong is our industry really? If we were shut down, what does this mean for our customers? How will we recover after everything is all said and done? Will I make it through this myself, let alone our company? Our industry in general has always seen good security in maintaining a career. The current times certainly have tested that.
Thankfully, we have received clarification through our state representatives that we are able to stay open for business through the shutdown. I have also heard numerous other states are also classifying landscapers as essential. This is allowing the entire industry to continue to operate through these tough times. While we are allowed to continue operating, COVID-19 has still had an impact on the landscape industry. With many people being out of work, or companies closed, not many people are willing to spend money due to the uncertainty that lies ahead.
Company Precautions and Safety
Most importantly, here at Stockman Lawnscape, we realize the severity of what is happening and are taking the proper precautions to help prevent the spread of this nasty virus. We have shut down our physical office to any visitors that don’t have a scheduled appointment. Our sales staff is working from home and visiting job sites only when essential, to prevent any unnecessary interaction between people. Also, we are running no more than 3 Team Members to a job site and are providing all of our crews with necessary cleaning supplies to keep themselves safe so that they continue to work without any disruptions. Our commitment of Safety to our Team, Family, and Community has not changed.
I’m still very thankful to have chosen this career. Hopefully we can do our part, as an industry, and help out where we are able to. I look forward to the near future to see how this country and the world recovers from this. I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these difficult times and also hope that we all will be back to normal as soon as possible. Our country will get through this and be back stronger than ever!
Talk to everyone soon! – DJ