Get them in the door and make them stay

Recruiting and retention go hand in hand, and there’s several things companies can do to improve both.

Brigitte Orrick, left, and Cole Weller, right, discuss recruiting with NALP CEO Britt Wood.
Photo: Kim Lux

Brigitte Orrick, director of recruiting and employee development at The Davey Tree Expert, and Cole Weller, president & CEO of Weller Brothers Landscaping, agree there is no silver bullet to eliminate recruiting and retention hardships.

The duo dove into the topic of recruitment at NALP’s recent Leaders Forum in Hawaii.

“Any of us in bad H-2B groups, we really have to have our recruiting dialed in for 2023,” Weller says.

Weller calls himself a “good energy guy” and says finding similar energies to join the team at Weller Brothers is what’s most important with recruiting.

“It’s something I’ve become very passionate about,” he says.

He says having a good attitude from the top down is the best way to recruit and retain the right employees.

“Recruiting is how you show up every single day,” Weller says. “Recruiting is everyone’s job.”

When it comes to getting crews involved in recruiting, Weller sings the praises of referral programs that incentivize current employees to bring in people they feel would be a great fit. He notes at Well Brothers, his team members can earn up to $2,000 for recruiting someone.

He adds that another tool in recruiting the right people is asking those out in the field for input on what makes someone a good fit.

“We started asking our front-line workers, ‘What do you need from us? What can we do for you?’,” he explains. “They told us they needed more, better guys.”

Most in the industry can recognize it takes a special kind of person to blossom in these career paths and that not everyone is cut out for it. Weller notes he feels the green industry should start trying to entice the next generation to pursue these careers sooner rather than later.

“The foundation is finding ways to get in front of kids sooner,” he says. “We’re falling behind other industries in that regard.”

For Orrick, as the director of recruiting for a massive North American brand, the task becomes tougher.

“One of the challenges we face is scale — how do we address some of the needs in different labor markets across the country and Canada?” she notes.

Orrick says recruiters at Davey are expected to hire 300 people per year per cycle.

But that’s not their only job — in addition to finding that new talent, they also have to get them onboarded and off to the races.

Orrick also notes that having a dedicated recruiter is much different than just simply having an HR role filled.

“The specialization of recruiting is very different than HR,” she says.

This is especially true for companies with high turnover rates where recruitment is fast and furious.

Currently, Orrick says Davey has about 11,400 employees.

“Last year we hired 6,500 people,” she says. “That means we’re backfilling and replacing persons year-round.”

Orrick adds that while replacing that many people was no small feat, turnover shouldn’t always be looked at so negatively.

“I think some turnover in any company is healthy,” she says. “But I think anything over 20% might be considered unhealthy.”

And while the turnover rate at Davey was going up right along with profit margins, Orrick says concern started to grow once the rate was 55% and really starting to cost the business financially.

After doing some calculations, Orrick says the team at Davey came to a stark realization.

“$5,000 walks out that door if a person leaves within the first 90 days of employment,” she says.

So to combat this, Orrick and Davey staff started prioritizing those new employees first three months and ensuring they had access to whatever they needed.

That included a new, easy-to-use webpage where they could go to get all their questions answered easily.

“You have to have comprehensive programs to make your employees successful,” she says. “We wanted to provide a consistent resource to new employees. We’re across America and every branch has their own micro-culture.”

Senske Services acquires Blades of Green

The companies will continue to operate as separate entities with their respective brands.

Senske Services acquired Blades of Green, which is headquartered in Edgewater, Maryland.

Blades of Green is a lawn care and pest control company that services parts of Maryland and Virginia. The acquisition expands

Senske’s footprint into the Mid-Atlantic region. Mark Leahy, president, founded Blades of Green in 1989. After nearly 40 years in the industry, Leahy said he felt the time was right to sell his business.

“I’m excited about the opportunities this acquisition will bring for our customers, team members and the communities we serve," Leahy said. He will remain on board as a consultant.

“We are excited to join the Senske Services team and bring our expertise to a broader customer base,” said Brad Leahy, vice president of Blades of Green. Leahy joined his brother in 1999 and will manage the Blades of Green operations going forward. “Together, we will continue to raise the bar in the industry and provide our customers with the best possible services."

Senske Services and Blades of Green will continue to operate as separate entities with their respective brands, teams and services. Blades of Green has roughly 100 employees.

“We are thrilled to welcome Blades of Green to the Senske Services team,” said Casey Taylor, CEO, Senske Services. “With the addition of Blades of Green’s experienced team, we will continue to lead the industry in providing exceptional customer service and expertise as we expand nationwide.”

Mariani Landscape acquires Ed Castro Landscape

Founded in 1992, Ed Castro Landscape is headquartered in Roswell, Georgia.

Mariani Landscape has acquired the Ed Castro Landscape company.

The news comes on the heels of the record growth and major national expansion at Mariani. Ed Castro Landscape will now become the ninth family-owned residential landscape company to join Mariani and the group of companies who have partnered together to transform the green industry.


The companies that comprise this group includes:

“Ed Castro and I share the same values. Both of our companies originated as family-owned businesses focused on delivering premier quality work to our discriminating customers,” said Frank Mariani. “We also share a deep commitment to giving back to the community, leading the industry in sustainability, and allowing our employees to build successful careers while maintaining a good work-life balance. Our shared vision is what makes this acquisition seamless.”

“We are proud to add Ed Castro Landscape to our family of companies,” said Mariani CEO Bryan Christiansen. “At Mariani, we are focused on our mission of building the best landscape company in the world. This move aligns with our mission and vision for the future.”

Ed Castro Landscape was founded by Ed Castro in 1992. Headquartered in Roswell, Georgia, the company offers landscape construction, maintenance and related services year-round with little seasonality. Ed Castro Landscape focuses on gardening, turf grass management, tree and shrub care, irrigation, landscape lighting and seasonal enhancements. Additionally, the company provides construction of gardens, landscapes, hardscapes, pools and water features.

Castro was recently elected a foundation advisory trustee at the University of Georgia, where he graduated with a degree in landscape architecture in 1988. The university selected him for his commitment to distinguished service and superior contributions to the landscaping industry.

“This opportunity to align with the best of the best in our industry is truly an honor and a privilege. I could not be more excited for ECL associates and clients. This partnership gives us access to the best minds and resources in the green industry,” Castro said.

BrightView acquires Island Plant Company

The resort and condominium landscaping company in Maui, Hawaii, was founded in 1986 by Thom and Beverly Foster.

BrightView has acquired Island Plant Company, a resort and condominium landscaping company in Maui, Hawaii.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1986 by Thom and Beverly Foster, Island Plant Company provides landscape maintenance, installation and design services to Maui’s AOAO (Association of Apartment Owners) and resort properties located throughout West Maui, South Maui and Upcountry. Over the years, Island Plant has installed and designed landscapes throughout Maui’s resort areas, including Ka’anapali Golf Estates, Pineapple Hill, Plantation Estates, Honolua Ridge, Wailea Golf Vistas, Wailea Golf Estates and Wailea Highlands.

Island Plant is the most recent Hawaii-based landscaping company acquisition for BrightView. In 2022, BrightView acquired SGS Hawaii and Performance Landscapes.

“As we continue to execute upon our long-term growth strategy, Hawaii’s commercial landscaping business is rapidly expanding and Island Plant’s expertise perfectly complements and strengthens our operations in this market,” said Andrew Masterman, BrightView president and chief executive officer.

“For over 35 years, Island Plant has proudly served Maui’s business community. As we looked to the future, we felt merging with BrightView was the right step for Island Plant,” said Thom Foster. “BrightView’s culture, systems and resources made them the best answer for our succession, our clients, and our people.”

BrightView Development Services has been a licensed landscape and irrigation contractor in Hawaii since 2008. In addition to renovating the Hualalai Four Seasons in Kona following a tsunami in 2011, BrightView also restored the irrigation system for the Hilton Waikoloa Village and Resort and performed landscape architecture work at the Four Seasons Maui.

Greg Harbison named new Fairway CEO

Harbison was most recently CEO of Sperber Landscape Companies.

Greg Harbison will now lead Fairway Lawns as CEO.

Harbison brings decades of residential and commercial exterior services experience. Most recently he was CEO of Sperber Landscape Companies.

“We are thrilled to gain a chief executive officer of Greg’s caliber and talent,” said Kyle DeMilt, former president of Fairway Lawns and current board member of Fairway. “He is the full package of skill, experience, customer-focus and employee-care to grow Fairway into a national powerhouse in all our vertical industries. He has the right vision and growth mentality needed for the future of this business.

Starting as a lawn technician in TruGreen Chemlawn’s management training program after graduating from Indiana University, Harbison advanced in his career to running a multi-state operation and sales platform while achieving dynamic growth.

“The significant growth opportunity at Fairway is exciting as we expand our geographic and vertical markets,” Harbison said. “Fairway shares my passion for customers and employees, making it a perfect marriage.”

Sperber Landscape Companies adds Honolulu’s Ultimate Innovations

Ultimate Innovations was founded in 1989 by second-generation Hawaiian landscaper Brian Vidinhar.

Sperber Landscape Companies has added Honolulu-based Ultimate Innovations to its family of companies.

This marks an expanding footprint for Sperber throughout the Hawaiian Islands, now holding four Hawaiian companies within its portfolio. Founded in 1989 by second-generation Hawaiian landscaper, Brian Vidinhar, Ultimate Innovations is a full-service landscape provider for residential and commercial clients throughout the four main islands of Hawaii. The company has a client list that includes many marquee properties and maintains a five-acre plant nursery.

Vidinhar will continue in his role as president of Ultimate Innovations.

“I’m so proud to join Sperber and bring new opportunities to my employees and my clients,” Vidinhar said. “While we are a great company already, I know that this partnership will strengthen our resources and create an impact for so many people that I would not be able to provide on my own.”

“The addition of Ultimate Innovations to the Sperber Family is very exciting,” said Sperber’s Founder, Richard Sperber. “We’re seeing tremendous growth in the Hawaiian markets and having such a stand-out company like Ultimate Innovations partner with us only adds to our strength as we continue to build a presence throughout Hawaii.”

Bartlett Tree Experts acquires Arborsmith

With its acquisition, Bartlett is purchasing a new local office location in Lake Bluff, Illinois.

Bartlett Tree Experts has acquired Arborsmith, which is based on Chicago’s North Shore.

With its acquisition of Arborsmith, Bartlett is purchasing a new local office location in Lake Bluff, Ill., expanding the reach of the company’s existing arborist teams based in Northbrook. With the number of Bartlett office locations increasing to five in the Chicagoland area, the acquisition further allows the company to help more local residents and businesses to maintain beautiful, healthy trees and shrubs.

“Our acquisition of Arborsmith represents the joining of two companies that share a passion for trees,” said Jim Ingram, president and chief operating officer of Bartlett Tree Experts. “We’re excited to welcome the Arborsmith team into our Northbrook, Illinois, office.”

Arborsmith was launched in 1982 by husband-and-wife Gilbert and Lesley Smith, who met in the schools of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

As the business grew, their arborists provided tree care on Chicago’s North Shore for more than 30 years, sometimes caring for trees on properties through several different owners.

Scott Jamieson, vice president of Bartlett’s Midwestern Division, said the cultural fit and similarities between Bartlett and Arborsmith further highlighted the benefits of the acquisition. Gilbert Smith had worked as an arborist for Bartlett Tree Experts in Philadelphia early in his career.

“I have always admired the company and I have always admired Gilbert and Lesley,” Jamieson said. “They are amazing people in our industry. I am excited to welcome their group of talented arborists to the Bartlett team.”

SavATree merges with Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping

Owner Cory Lester, along with his team, will remain on board.

SavATree has merged with Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping. This marks SavATree’s sixth office in the state and expands its regional coverage in Massachusetts.

Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping specializes in all aspects of arboriculture as well as plant health care services for homeowners and commercial clients in Western Massachusetts.

Owner of Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping, Cory Lester, and his team will remain on board with SavATree.

“We are very excited to partner with the leading company in the industry and continue to provide the local service you rely on while benefitting from a broader scope of services. Customers will now have access to enhanced tree and plant health care services, as well as new offerings including lawn care and organic options,” Lester said.

“The SavATree Team is thrilled to welcome Lyndon Tree Care & Landscaping aboard, a trusted company with a loyal client base who shares our commitment to high quality standards. They bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise in arboriculture in the Western Massachusetts area, and we’re excited to begin providing customers with an enhanced portfolio of services,” said SavATree CEO, Carmine Schiavone.

Bayscape acquires Crystal Springs in San Jose

Crystal Springs has been in business over 40 years.

Bayscape Landscape Management, a family-owned company providing landscaping services to the Bay area, has acquired Crystal Springs Landscaping, located in San Jose for over 40 years. This acquisition was completed at the end of 2022.

“Our track record of excellent performance and reliability during the past 25-years has allowed us to expand our award-winning company to over 100 employees,” said Bayscape President Tom Ellington. “Our acquisition of Crystal Springs Landscaping enables us to increase our services to our combined Bay Area customers by incorporating their experienced team, equipment and expertise with our own.”

“We have moved the Crystal Springs Landscaping team and equipment, which was based in San Jose, to our facilities in Alviso,” said Matt Ellington, vice president of operations. “Crystal Springs Landscaping is also family-owned, so we share many values, foremost among them is the provision of excellent local service.”

“Bayscape is heading into a very promising time,” said Brian Stevenson-Smith, owner of Crystal Springs. “One of the reasons that attracted me to the firm is the opportunity to match my company’s skills with their transformation and growth initiatives. I look forward to working with their entire team to continue to build the operational excellence required to support the journey.”

Photo courtesy of Hino Trucks

Hino Trucks appoints new president

Glenn Ellis will serve as president and chairman of the board.

Hino Trucks has appointed Glenn Ellis to the position of president and chairman of the board for Hino Trucks, effective Feb. 1, 2023. Ellis succeeds Shigehiro Matsuoka, who retired after holding the position for four years, and will become the first U.S.-born president of Hino Trucks. In addition, Ellis will also serve as an officer of Hino Motors Limited, Hino Trucks' parent company.

Ellis joined Hino Trucks in 2004 and has led the efforts to build Hino Trucks' brand in the U.S. market. In his most recent role as senior vice president of customer experience, Ellis focused on expanding Hino's dealer network and product offerings to include zero-emissions trucks while continuing to grow Hino Trucks' market share. During his time as the vice president of marketing, product development and dealer operations, Ellis built strong customer loyalty around the company's core philosophy and launched the "ultimate ownership experience.”

As president, Ellis will continue to focus on the dealer and customer relationship. He will grow the brand by driving Hino Trucks' product development, adding enhanced technology and innovation and supporting a faster decision-making process.

Hino Trucks also announced several other organizational changes as part of its overall restructuring to support widening product options and growth in the U.S. Bob Petz, who previously served as senior vice president of vehicle and parts sales, is appointed chief operating officer and executive vice president. Petz joined Hino Trucks U.S. in 2004, and his strong leadership and strategic approach have been an asset to the company. In addition to product development, all sales, parts and service operations will report to Petz in his new role.

3 brands combine as Petitti Family of Farms

Willowbend, Ridge Manor and Losely will all do business under the new rebrand.

While recently displaying at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, Willowbend Nurseries, owned by Angelo Petitti and the Petitti family, debuted its new brand, Petitti Family of Farms.

Company President Joe Allio said the shift to do business as Petitti Family of Farms organized the company’s three wholesale nursery operations under one single brand identity.

“The ultimate goal of creating the new brand was to communicate the unification of all three operations to customers in a clear and easily understood way while still maintaining each farm’s name and reputation,” Allio said. “The umbrella brand conveys the collection of farms is under Petitti ownership and management, which in and of itself signifies a commitment to quality, innovation and long-term growth. Continuing to use each nursery’s name within that framework also reaffirms to customers that they will continue to receive the unique selection they’ve come to rely on from these nurseries, while also achieving the enhanced benefits superior quality, consistent supply and efficient service.”

All three Petitti-branded nurseries are located within 10-15 miles of each other in the Lake County region of Northeast Ohio. Petitti Family of Farms’ positioning within 500 miles of 75% of the North American population also allows for one-day shipping to most locations.

The re-branding includes a new company logo featuring a panicle hydrangea as the centerpiece illustration, honoring the plant’s place in the history of the farms as well as its ongoing role as a signature crop.

A new website,, tells the full story of the new brand and will be leveraged as a tool going forward to reach and connect with customers nationwide.

Availabilities are accessible to current wholesale customers via the website, a feature which updates every 15 minutes.

“We’re proud to give customers a new and unique opportunity with our combined offering under the Petitti family brand,” said Angelo Petitti, chairman of Petitti Family of Farms. “Our goal for the nurseries is simple: we want to be the absolute, very best in the industry. That means always reinvesting in expertise and technology so we can supply the best product to our customers with non-stop availability throughout the growing season, and unparalleled service.”

Doosan rebrands as Develon

Newly branded machines should be available at the end of the second quarter of 2023.

The familiar brand of orange construction equipment known as Doosan will now be called Develon throughout the world.

Work began to identify a new brand name to replace Doosan following the August 2021 sale of Doosan Infracore to HD Hyundai.

“The name Develon was chosen to convey the company’s drive to develop onward to bring innovative solutions to the construction equipment industry through technological transformation and the development of exceptional equipment and services,” according to a company press release.

“Our commitment to the construction equipment industry and advancing new technologies has never been stronger than it is today,” said Todd Roecker, vice president of growth initiatives. “Develon anticipates changes in the industry and prepares solutions to address these challenges. This is evident by our ongoing development of the world’s first autonomous jobsite solution — Concept-X — and the work we are doing with alternative energy sources like electricity and battery packs for our mini excavators.”

Customers are likely to begin to see newly branded machines at their local Develon dealerships and on jobsites as early at the end of the second quarter of 2023.

Develon North American operations will remain headquartered near Atlanta, where the company continues to offer a training center for dealership service technicians.

The company will maintain parts availability through its two regional parts distribution centers: one in Atlanta and a second in the Pacific Northwest. A customization plant in Savannah, Georgia, will still play a key role in supplying machines.

Develon will continue as a subsidiary in the Hyundai Genuine group alongside Hyundai Construction Equipment (HCE). These two subsidiaries will remain independent construction equipment companies under HD Hyundai.

“We’ve grown our construction equipment offering in North America with our line of mini excavators and most recently the addition of dozers,” Roecker said. “These product expansions represent our goal of providing a full line of equipment for our dealers and our customers. We believe that this demonstrates our commitment to North America, and we look forward to continued growth here for many years to come.”

March 2023
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