Episode 007: How Josh Schmieder Built a Thriving Landscape Company

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Is it possible for a small landscaping business to achieve explosive growth and become a multi-million dollar operation? Absolutely! Join us on Roots of Success as we dive into the remarkable success story of Josh Schmieder, owner of Josh Landscape Company. We explore his humble beginnings, the obstacles he faced, and the strategies he employed to transform his business into an industry heavyweight. Whether you're a seasoned landscape professional or just starting out, this episode will provide invaluable insights on team management, growth strategies, and building a thriving empire.


Establishing metrics and building a strong team are the keys

Key Moments:

[02:15] Josh Schmieder's background in landscaping and how he started his own business.

[08:45] The challenges Josh faced in building a team and managing payroll.

[14:20] The significant growth phase in 2011 where Josh's company doubled its sales.

[18:50] The difficulties of managing growth and establishing metrics and pricing.

[22:30] The culture and management challenges that arose as the company expanded.

[27:10] Josh's current success with a team of 175 employees and estimated $18 million in sales.


    1. How do I improve profitability in a landscape business?
    2. What are the key elements to consider for a successful landscape company?
    3. How can I effectively manage my landscaping team?
    4. What processes should I implement to streamline landscape operations?
    5. What tips do you have for scaling a landscape business for long-term success?
    6. How to hire and retain top talent in the landscaping industry?
    7. What financial metrics should I track in my landscape company?
    8. How should I optimize pricing strategies for landscaping services?
    9. What are the common challenges faced by landscape business owners during growth?
    10. How did Josh grow his landscape business to $18 million in sales?
Episode Transcript
John: [00:00:00] The Roots of Success podcast is for the landscape professional who's looking to up their game. We're not talking lawns or grass here. We're talking about people, process, and profits. The things deep within the business that need focus to scale a successful company from hiring the right people and managing your team to improving your operations and mastering your finances.

We've got a brain trust of experts to help you nurture the roots of a successful business and grow to the next level. This is The Roots of Success.

Tommy Cole: Welcome to another episode of the Roots of Success podcast. I'm your host, Tommy Cole, and today we have Josh Schmieder, owner of Josh Landscape Company in Rochester, New York. Josh talks about his journey as he grew his business from the ground up. He learned so much from his wins and losses as he grew this company.

Managing by the metrics has helped his team understand the numbers and hold everyone accountable. Establishing a positive company culture was key to his [00:01:00] success. As he continued to build a strong team, he says, you need to know the why of your business and to always keep your mission, vision, and core values at the forefront as you grow your business.

It's going to be a great episode. Let's dig into it.


Josh Schmieder: Thanks, Tommy. Glad to be here.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, super excited to have you on board. You're one of my most important guest to get on since we got this, this thing kicked off and. I think you're a young, aggressive, humble guy and and it's good to share your story to our audience.

Josh, so real briefly, you got started mowing grass, as did a lot of people back in the early 2000, right? So about 20, 20 0 2. Um, tell me about, you got started in to probably get some money for college and then things started to change. Tell me about that experience.

Josh Schmieder: So actually it was, I don't even know, 2000, well, officially in bus business 2002. But prior to that I was push mowing lawns at 10, [00:02:00] like 10 years old, like most people starting in this industry, right? So yeah, and just was gonna work my way through college. You know, I wanted to buy an ATV back when I was 10 years old and and wanted to ride with my friends and my parents said, no, you gotta work for it.

So, That's officially how it started back then. But then I realized it was an industry and yeah, I was gonna work my way through college and really thought, you know, this is what I can do. Instead of working at the hardware store, I can, I can continue this. I have a truck and trailer, 16, 17 years old and decided to officially go into business 2002.

Business History & Growth

Tommy Cole: yeah, yeah. That's that's how we always get started. We need a little extra cash and so you gotta go earn it. Right. Never, never knew it'd be blow up to what it is today. Compared to that, to what it is today. I mean, I, I would've guess you've got, you know, 75 maybe a hundred employees roughly and doing mostly residential hardscape and landscape. Correct?

Josh Schmieder: So, yeah, realized, you know, coming outta high school, it was an industry went to, you know, a certificate course for horticulture to just, you know, [00:03:00] kind of build, able to work fumble my way through.

Interviewed with a local company at the time and I wasn't quite 18 yet cause I graduated a little early and they said well you still mulch but you can't run power equipment. And I already had a truck and mowers and I was offended, you know, walking outta that interview thinking I was an adult at 17 and a half.

And now I do the same thing at state law. I can't hire people that are under 18, so run power equipment. But yeah, so I, I walked outta that interview. Seeing their operations. They had, they had offices, they had a shop, they had operations manager. And I was like, holy cow, this is an industry. I had no idea.

I thought, you know, I worked my way through college.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: Forget these guys. This is what I want to do. I wanna be better than them someday. So our, our vision and our mission was kind of simple back in the. Early days, it'd be better than that company. And ultimately that's all I knew in Rochester. So the vision is similar to what it is now, is to be the best landscape company in Rochester, is kind of how it started.

And and so yeah, fast forward, [00:04:00] worked my way through college, did all the normal stuff. Installing during the day, classes at night. Took twice as long to get my, my degree, but ended with my, my business degree. I was originally gonna go for my mba. I kind of didn't pursue that route. And and just kind of continued with business.

Fast forward to today, we have, I'm actually 175 employees. We're budgeting 18 million in sales this year. And and on track to, to hitting that. And we've got a, got an awesome team. So things have changed a little bit from me and three guys. To to an awesome team building some of the best outdoor living spaces in, in Rochester.

And and then we, a handful of years ago, started our commercial landscape maintenance division, which is snow and green season maintenance. And that's just about half of the company at this point. So we're just, just about 50 50 design, build, residential and commercial landscape maintenance and snow removal.

Tommy Cole: Well, love it. Yeah. With that, that, that addition reoccurring services, that was a [00:05:00] game changer for you guys. That's been good. So, so it's not always been peachy. It's not always been you know, rainbows and sunshine as we discussed earlier. it was tough, right? You're trying to look for answers of. How to build an organization. I mean, I, I would assume you're really good at project management. That's kind of like your thing to build the most gnarliest, big projects. And, but the, the hardest part was building a team to build all that Right.

And to do all those things. I mean, even making payroll is probably even a bit of a struggle. Right. Tell me about some of those days that were tough.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, it's shoot, years ago, I think it was 20, so, so 2002 to 2010. It was, you know, it was me in the field with 6, 8, 10 guys, you know. We were mowing lawns. We were, you know, started probably 2008 doing some installs, 2007 [00:06:00] maybe. So a few years in. Two, three mowing crews, put some guys in charge. I started installing out in the field installed with 1, 2, 3 guys, you know, figuring it out.

And we were just, we're just I don't wanna say winging it, but just like everybody else, you're just, you're selling a job and you're, you know, researching how to do it. And, and that's just what we were doing. I was 18, 19, 20 years old, had a lot of good mentors, you know, from our, our reps, you know, for our stone reps and things like that, from Unilock to TECO block and, you know, and coaching us through it.

And so, It was easy in a sense to make money when you're out doing the work yourself. You can screw a lot of stuff up and still make some money. So 2002, 2004, 6, 7, 8 it was a lot easier because it was me and a handful of guys. I, I was involved in everybody I hired, everybody. I worked alongside everybody.

And the challenge started probably at the end of 2010, early 2011. We were scaling we were probably doing [00:07:00] Million at the time. Million and million two. Had 10, 15 guys still working in the field, some doing a lot of sales coming out of the field a little bit. And we knew we needed a facility and so we were looking for a shop and we kind of found a shop. It was up for auction. I took all of the savings that I, I had at that point, put it for a down payment, created you know, took out a mortgage on it and found this central location that we felt was good. When we did that, we were running outta some barns in the middle of nowhere at the time, you know, so, but when we did, that kind of came onto the spotlight of the scene, right?

And so and so everybody was like, oh my gosh, these guys, you know, we kind of blew up. We went from a million million, two to $2 million in one year, which is a huge amount of growth when it's you and a handful of guys to, you know, now at 2 million, you gotta start having some structure infrastructure.

Managers, you know, so that 2011 into 2012 was a really tough growing experience, [00:08:00] and it was probably the, the toughest one to two years of my life. Just because of the, the, yeah, like you said, making payroll to you know, just, just the culture. We, we, it was easy. Culture was easy. I didn't even know culture existed because it was me and a dozen guys, and I knew everybody, you know.

But once I started to become a little more separated, It became much more challenging. We had no metrics. We didn't really know our pricing. We weren't recovering our overhead. I had my accounting courses through college. I might have even graduated at that point, probably. Yeah, I did graduate at that point.

And and I had really had no tools to really run a business at doing two plus million dollars in sales. And I can tell you that it was, it was tough.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. So much for that business degree, right?

Josh Schmieder: yeah, didn't, didn't really do so much.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Yeah. This is the real world. Yeah. It's fascinating to think, you know, US landscapers, we get in this business because of. We're good with our [00:09:00] hands, right? We can, we can design things, we can build stuff and turn over. And, and the rewards are just fascinating to develop a product within weeks or months or a year, and all of a sudden it's just, boom, it's there.

Business Leadership

Tommy Cole: The hard, the, the hardest part about business is all behind the scenes of all that right, of the installation and the maintenance behind the scenes of managing people and hiring people, and. You know, systems and processes and software and facility you name it, safety, it, it's all, it's all encompassing, which is, which is tough.

I, I get it. It's, it's it's something that you, you, you, you become very aggressive to go after and you're like, holy crap, what did I just sign up for? Is this even for me?

Josh Schmieder: Mm-hmm.

Tommy Cole: days are tough. Those days are tough. Tell me about You were, you were teetering it with the peer groups a little bit. I think at [00:10:00] some point. You know, like what, what, there was a trigger saying, you know, I should probably find some, maybe people smarter than I am and figure out what, what everybody else is doing. Or, or I'm the only person out there in the world that may be struggling or need to know a little bit of advice.

Right. And I think, you know, you had some conversations with Marty and, and, and his team and, and you're like, man, I, I need to do something right.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, so actually during that period, and I'll give a little shout out to Marty as well, because he was instrumental in the earlier years and still is, still look up to Marty and, and so back in the day actually a friend of my dad's work, how I got connected to that, I was probably 17, 18 years old, maybe 19 at the time. Had just started the business officially. And my dad comes home from work. I was working on my parents' garage That's kind of where I started, obviously like anybody else at that age. And so my dad comes home with a book and he is like, Hey, I was telling my my friend at work how you're starting your own landscape business.

He's like, oh, you know what? I just saw [00:11:00] this book online or wherever he got it. It's about this guy who started just kind of like your son's starting out. And it was Marty's book. And so I was all excited. I read the book. It was literally like, You know my story of how Marty started it, very similar, so I really connected with it.

So I end up googling Marty and finding out that he holds these, they were called boot camps at the time, years ago. And so it was his yearly, what is now called gr grow, you know, so and so I signed up for his bootcamp and I went to one of his earlier bootcamps and I got a ton out of it. I met Marty, you know, in my mind was, you know, this big celebrity.

I read his book, he was a published author, and Marty took a little bit of interest in me and it, it was honestly a pretty big game changer. So continued going to his yearly things. Few years later around the 2011 mark. I forget when it was, but Marty approached me and said, Hey, we're, I'm starting a second peer group with Matt Cruso. Do you want to join that peer group? And so I got involved in the peer groups back in those earlier days and [00:12:00] and honestly there was some ups and downs I can share. Even in my, I'm sure Marty wouldn't mind, he's told the story.

How when I was going through the struggles, I got kind of mad at Marty cuz he kinda shot straight with me and and kind of told me I need to stop. Oh, yeah, I definitely didn't want to hear it. And but we were really making payroll at the time. We couldn't make payroll. We're I, it was Thursday. I remember, you know, Marty did a call with me and and ch check in, and I was, I was upset. I, I didn't know I was making payroll the next day. I was, I was literally probably in tears, you know, I was choking up on the phone, like, I don't know how I'm making payroll, you know, and Marty's like, Marty's getting frustrated because I've been having this problem for the last six months in 2011.

Right. So, And Marty, you know, I keep blaming everybody else. I've got these sales guys, I've got, you know, this guy's ripping me off, this guy's underselling work. You know, I've got my crews that are milking the clock out in the field. I've got this, I've got that, you know, everybody else's fault. And you know, Marty just finally stops me and he is like, all I hear is you blaming everybody else you know [00:13:00] and phrasing.

And he said, you need to stop blaming everybody else. You need to take responsibility. He's like, I'm kind of, he didn't say this, but I knew what he was getting at, which is what made me mad. He was kinda sick of hearing me complain about it, complain about everybody else. And here I am saying everybody else is my problem.

And he is like, you need to take, who hired those people? He said, he's like, who hired that manager? Who hired that sales guy who hired those guys on the field? He's like, you, you did. He's like, it's your fault. Everything is your fault. And he's like, and until you can accept that, you're wasting my time.

You're wasting your time. Either figure it out. Quit and come work for me cuz I'll hire you in a heartbeat. And and so I was pretty upset. You know, I'm telling, I'm like, you know, Marty, it's not fair. You go home to your beautiful house that night. I can barely, I can't even make payroll tomorrow and you're telling me everything's my fault.

I hired you as a consultant and as a, you know, your peer group to help me and you're not helping me.

And so,

Tommy Cole: it's all your fault.

Josh Schmieder: And now it's Marty's fault.

Tommy Cole: Yeah,

Josh Schmieder: fault. So I borderline hung up the phone on him. You know, I, I [00:14:00] think I, I wasn't rude enough to actually hang up, but I was pretty upset and we, we hung up. We, the end of the conversation and some with me, I can't hold a grudge. So after a few minutes, you know, I'm sitting there in my truck cause I remember the phone call sitting in my truck thinking and, you know, after a few minutes of letting the emotion wear off. I'm like, you know, that's, that's true. I did hire those guys. You know, I did hire that, that crew. I did.

Tommy Cole: Mm-hmm.

Josh Schmieder: Marty, he's right. You know, I do need to take the responsibility. You know, so, and that was honestly a huge turning point And I

Tommy Cole: turning point at that point. Right. Okay.

Josh Schmieder: yeah. I mean, it didn't solve our issues, but it was definitely, that's where things started to shift, right?

So yeah, so that was a turning point where it was kind of where I realized If it's my fault, now I can fix it, right? Extreme ownership is a great book that everybody should read, but so Marty was kind of trying to put pressure on me to teach that lesson, you know, because I was young in my early twenties and I had to, had to learn that, that tough lesson, you know? [00:15:00] So that honestly was a. A big change and, and kind of started the, the process of fixing the problems.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, it's, it's crazy to think Josh, but there's a lot of old Josh is out there like that, right? There's a lot of, man, it's. It is the facility's fault. It's the machine's fault, it's the person's fault. And oftentimes we don't look at ourselves in the mirror to try to get things right. Centered right. It, it's hard. I, I get it.

New Leadership

Tommy Cole: I wanna talk about a couple things that, that that are, you know, dear to you that I've noticed over the course of several years working with you, but your leadership team you, you've developed and hired all that entire staff that you've got there at your company, and they essentially sort of run the run That what, what? Explain, explain the leadership team means to you.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, [00:16:00] so we're, we're, we're entering a new phase of business. So we went through a lot of growing pains came out of that era in 2011 and, you know Fixed a lot of things from culture to core values to, and we really, Marty and Matt Cruso were instrumental in helping kind of get on the right track with all that.

And in 20, since 20 12, 20 13 on, we've been profitable and we've grown basically from 2 million to 18 million over the last, from 2013. So what does that yeah, 10 years. Nine, nine to 10 years. And and so we're entering kind of a new phase and I'll be I'll be lying if I say, have the, the leadership team figure it out because.

Kind of stepping back and working more into a CEO role and really understanding what a CEO and having a, a true leadership team. That's something we implemented this year. And that leadership team is, is, we're, we're, I'm trying to honestly let go and it's, my team will tell you, and I wish I could sit here and say, yeah, Tom, I've got it all figured out.

My leadership team runs [00:17:00] everything perfectly. I sit back as c e o and, and let me teach you guys how, how to do it. I wish I could do that, but unfortunately I can't. So, a leadership team to me, as I'm learning this process of kind of this new phase of business, of really letting go of the reins and, and putting these pieces into place for this, this next phase is the leadership team.

Is, is somebody that we can, we come together monthly. We're working towards, over the last handful of months to really help them understand every piece of the business. That's, you know, my finance manager. It's my hr, it's my GM of my maintenance. It's my ops manager my controller my culture director and trainer.

And we come together once a month and and really it's a steer. We're, we're sculpting the direction of the company and I want them to be empowered to be able to make the decisions and to be able to bring perspective to the table and to help make those tough decisions and to help. Guide the direction of the [00:18:00] company based on our vision and our, our goals that we've set up are five 10, five and one year plan, and to really be involved in, in the direction of the company.

So, you know, that's, that's kind of as we're implementing that, that's we we're going with it and really trying to empower our team to to take ownership and to ultimately be the ones with the reigns as I. Being coached to back off

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: and and by our peer group, you know, that's kind of the next, next phase of business for us

Tommy Cole: That letting go, letting go is extremely hard, Josh, you put every, you know, ounce of energy and time and money, you know, draining your savings account, you know, to get that first facility letting go is extremely hard. But I think you're realizing now and have been realizing that you got to put a team together.

That is way more achievable to [00:19:00] do in, in, in a larger group than just one person. What you can achieve with a leadership team is 10 times greater than what you can achieve by yourself. And you're learning that, that's, that's no easy task. Right. But you, you see the benefits years from now of what this is gonna be bring for Josh Landscape.

Josh Schmieder: Oh yeah, and, and if we do another podcast in a few years, Just like the, you know, the story of the, the tough period of time in 2011. I, I have a lot of things that we did that I know exactly what we did to, to fix that problem. And at the time we were, we were figuring it out. But now I can look back and honestly, I look back at that time as like, it, I, I wouldn't trade that for the world at the time.

I was a little frustrated and almost bitter coming outta that. Like, why did I, why do I have to have it so hard? Other people, it comes so easy and natural. I'll, I'll honestly say if, if we, I didn't go through that time, we would never have gotten the foundation figured out of what we needed to, to be able to, to [00:20:00] make it to the level we're at now.

You know? And so I look at this next phase of leadership team and letting go and becoming a true CEO of the company and coach and, and understanding that whole, it's a different, different mindset. You go from doing and to being a part of, you know, selling the most amount of work, you know, to all that stuff.

To now having to turn all the reins over from a sales manager we're implementing to, you know, the leadership team, to general manager, to all those different things. And in 3, 4, 5 years, I'm gonna look back and say, man, all those, those tough things that we did to, you know, push me to let go and empower my team.

I, I know it's gonna work, but I'll be to probably give you some great stories of life examples of why it works, you know, because we'll be a little

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: the road, but I, I know it's gonna work. seen it work for others and it's already working as we're getting into that process now.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, you've built up some really good, solid team members on, on your, on your staff. Those are some good anchors that you've developed and sort of [00:21:00] groomed along the way. And I think several of 'em are ready to take the next step. Right. And You've accepted your role now as more of a mentor a coach long range vision for the company.

Right. And, and you've accepted that challenge, which is extremely hard to develop. There, there's a lot of landscape companies out there that are still in the, in, early, early phases along the way of, of, of building their, their team. They, they're looking for their first manager hire. And how scary that is.

Right? And that's no easy task. So you, you've been able to hire some really good, solid people, good culture people on your team and, and grow it from there. That's been fascinating.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, I think. it's, it's a huge part of, you know, whether people listening our million dollar company or $20 million company is just finding those people. And when we kind of cleaned house [00:22:00] in 2011 and got rid of anybody who didn't fit our culture, you know, and our core values and the culture that we wanted to build, as we were figuring that piece of it out and really hiring those who fit our core values.

It's crucial and to, to, to surround yourself and hire those people and hire fast and hold, hold accountable. Like Jim always says, you know, it's, you've got to, to hire those people and then hold 'em accountable and if they aren't the right fit, you know, then it's fine. You know, re replace and, and start over.

And that was a big challenge, is it took us a few rounds of people to find the right managers or find the right operations guys to. And, but you just gotta jump in and do it. And, but find the right people and don't, don't tolerate the the behavior if it's not the right people because the, the culture and the people of on your team is, is gonna make or break, you know, where you go.

And it's something we always have to keep looking at.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Love it Josh, that there's a, there's these little quotes going around saying [00:23:00] hire slow and fire fast. Right? And we, we don't agree, we don't like that motto of being a fired culture. We love the motto of, you know, hire slow and hold 'em accountable. And then they'll either rise to the occasion or they'll work them work themselves out of it.

Josh Schmieder: Mm-hmm. Guiding Metrics

Tommy Cole: Yeah. You are huge on metrics, like one of the biggest ones I've known in the industry. You're there, there's always a metric for something. And I'm, I'm fascinated with that. You, you're, you're hot on operational software that's been pretty good for you, but you, you wanna know the metrics of what we gotta measure by and in order to make good business systems decisions, not just based on gut.

Talk about some of those metrics that you, you use to run your business.

Josh Schmieder: Sure. Yeah. Back in 2011. I keep referring back to those because that, honestly, 2011 was that big change. [00:24:00] Right? So we went from being me and a dozen guys to running a a professional business. And that 2011 and 2012 was that that pivotal shift. And so back in 20, we'll call it 12, because as we were coming out of it in 2012, early 2013 as Matt Cruso and Marty, and, and those were, you know, instrumental in helping me through that.

You know, the, the cultural piece, the metrics piece, that was the other piece of it, right? So we started having management, we call the management meetings every Friday because I, I was the only one really pulling the car up the hill, you know? Right. So, I needed to get others who are now on the team, the right people that were on the team to really start seeing the numbers and being able to make decisions.

And so we figured out, you know, a half a dozen numbers, five, six numbers a week that we look at as a management team. We're very transparent. We do open book management. We will show every number that we have as long as the person we're showing it to. We have time to teach what it means. And so, [00:25:00] So we're very big on transparency.

We don't share some things because some things we just don't have the time right now to teach it. So things aren't misconstrued. So our management meetings that we have, we look at five or six numbers, our efficiency scores. We look at our incoming revenue or our, our collections, our cash incoming for the week, our cash outgoing for the week.

So we project both of those so we can make sure that we have, we're in a good cash position. Like I said, the, the efficiency labor percentage to overall revenue on a weekly basis, so that's a per percentage. So if you spend a hundred dollars in labor and you collect a thousand, you're 10% labor, percentage that's a huge thing.

And we know budget wise what that, that should be running a week on our install and on our, on our maintenance to make sure our labor's staying in line. We look at the total.

Tommy Cole: Josh? Is that report, is that through your soft, you [00:26:00] know, your operational software? Is that through your financial software or what?

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, so unfortunately we're, the software we're using is we feel we're outgrowing it. So we have to do things manually and we're looking at some other softwares that we, I, we might be, be making some changes to. But that being said the, the, the metric that we get, it's a, a simple metric from payroll and then our QuickBooks accounting our finance manager.

Has those numbers. She brings 'em to the meetings every, every Friday with, for us. So so yeah, so we're, we're looking at our labor percentages. We're looking at the amount of work billed. How much work did we bill this last week? We're looking at cash that we collected this last week. We wanna know what we brought in last week to see if we hit our goal and how much we spent last week.

How much money went out of the, the bank account on a, a cash basis. And then we have our p and l our, our profitability and our, our top line revenue. And then our [00:27:00] projected outgoing, our projected income on a cash basis for the next week. And that's, and our management team, we look at those numbers, they bring the numbers for each project manager and each, each ops manager brings their expense, potential reports for the next week of what they're expecting as well as what we should be ready to, to bill and collect for progress payments.

So every Friday we get together and we have a snapshot of what we did the week before, what we should be doing the next week, and we can slowly or, or quickly fix any, any issues on a weekly basis. We don't wait for the end of the month to close it out, to find out we lost,

Tommy Cole: Love it. Love it. It's about the past. It's about the past, present, future in that current week, right? So what was completed this week? What are the, what are the metrics this past week? What are we working on now? then how does that project into the next week? Versus, Versus, two weeks into the next month to see how the previous month went [00:28:00]

Josh Schmieder: correct. Exactly so we can watch those trends. Not that, you know, you're gonna have the ups and downs, progress payments with projects waiting for, you know, certain big commercial clients to pay, things like that. But you can watch the trends and with one or two weeks you can see, oh, our labor percentage is running high this week. Well, it could be in between progress payments. And then the next week it's running high, and the next week it's running high. At that point, it's like, okay guys, we have the tough conversation. What's happening with labor? You know what, why, why are we running high? And we can understand the story, right? So then we can, well, because you know, we we're on four big projects, you know, more than normal.

And next week we're gonna see that percentage way lower than normal, you know, and, and we're like, okay, so it'll average out or that's not the case. And we're gonna say, okay, what do we need to do to correct it? We don't wanna wait till the end of the month. What's happening? You know? So, and it just keeps those conversations present open.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. And plus it's building your leadership team right to, to watch those metrics every single week. I mean, in a perfect [00:29:00] scenario, what if you don't show up for those couple, two, three weeks? Right? Those numbers can still be produced. They can still be analyzed by your team leadership team because it's sort of part of your, your culture to review that and see how we're progressing.

Nothing's better than metrics. That's what gets improved, right? So,

Josh Schmieder: If you can measure it, you can improve it, right? I think that's what others have said in the past, stole that from somebody as well. You'll find that I, pretty much everything I do have stolen from somebody, so I wish Iv Tommy Cole: Hey, it's not stolen. It's yeah, it's borrowed. We're borrowing it, right?

Josh Schmieder: I wish I I, wish I was able to, to say I'm extremely intelligent and I came up with all this on my own, but,

Tommy Cole: So I'm with you. I'm just not that cl Yeah. I'm just, you, I'm, I'm not that clever to come up with these things, but I'm like, man, that's a catchy phrase. We should do that too.

Josh Schmieder: I, I, grab it. I'm, I constantly taking notes. I'm constantly learning from others and

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: so,

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

[00:30:00] Well that's, that's the power of, of being in a, in a good network of people to, to share everything, right. In order to share the successes and the, the, the failures that have been with everybody's organization. Right. That's where you can, you can learn the most. That's, I, I get it. Metrics are, are something I'm a huge fan of.

You got five to six of 'em that you're extremely dedicated to, to see every single week. I, I I'm strongly believe in the metrics versus the gut. And so on several of your site visits that I've been up to, your, your facility, it's, it's measured pretty closely in those meetings every week. It's measured on, on the TV screens and the boards as you walk around the offices. So it's. Very apparent. You love to share those numbers with everybody so they can figure out their score if they're, if they're doing something good or they need a lot of work on, right?[00:31:00]

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, and I'll be transparent, we're we're having a little bit of a. Efficiency issue right now this last six weeks, four to six weeks. The difference is we know it immediately and we're able to start looking at is it a sales issue, how we're selling it, is it a is it a crew issue the way we're managing and, and our crews efficiency out in the field. And so the, the benefit is we don't wait till the end of the year to realize we lost money. You know, we're

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: see it immediately and we're able to start working on correcting it and making the tweaks that we need.

Tommy Cole: Yeah,

Josh Schmieder: know, right away,


Tommy Cole: tell me about your, your facility and kind of how it flows now. you know, you're, you're burst, bursting out the seams, you know where your current place is now, and you've, you've kind of moved, you know, you've got another separate facility and stuff like that, but how has that transformed your business as far as the morning rollout?

Right? We, we talk about, you know, when trucks get out the gate and how fast they get outta the gate. Are they [00:32:00] prepared? Are they loaded to. Where they parked the trucks to all, all that, that equates to all the efficiency factors. Tell me more about, a little bit about that.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, so we, we track what we call our gate time as well. So unbillable time is the worst thing that you can have in any kind of. Labor driven business, right? So the faster we can get in and get out in the morning, the better off it'll be. And, and so yeah, our, our gate time and the way that we do that is we track every, every crew as they, they leave the shop, we have somebody at the gate wishing everybody a good day have, you know, to have a good day.

You know, we have a quick little checklist that we go over safety vests to our seat belts, to checking over the trucks as they, they roll out. And we track that because we, we need to, to hold everybody accountable, otherwise our crews would be here for two hours in the morning.

So it takes us, our goal this month is 23 minutes to roll out, and that's from the time they [00:33:00] clock in to our huddle to to rolling out and we're, we were in June, I think we were 25 and a half minutes.

And so we know that last year we were achieving 23 minutes. And so we've got a little bit of work to do this last month or two. It's kind of crept up, but again, another. Metric that we're able to watch and see how we're doing and to, to correct it. So as far as our facility we try to, to plan it out.

We've done a fair amount of work around the facility. We are, we are just completely full. I've, I've toured other facilities, Tim Trimmer and our peer group, he he makes us look like we, we have a ton of space.

What heat packs in small area, you know. But as far as for us, we have our trucks kind of all lined up on one side.

The, the where our mulch bins are located. We have a load crew that comes in in the morning. So at six 30 in the six o'clock in the morning, we have two or three guys that come in ahead of time. We fill out load slips the night before. So every, every ops manager our crew leads communicate to our ops managers and our ops managers [00:34:00] fill out those, those those load slips the night before.

And then our load team in the morning, along with one of my operations managers, they get all the trucks loaded before anybody clocks in before 7:00 AM.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: it comes time for crew leads to get here, they check over the truck, they do their pre-trip inspection, make sure everything's secured in their truck and then ultimately we have our huddle and they should be the goal, leaving the huddle, going right to their trucks and rolling out Tommy Cole: Yeah. Yeah, that's good. I think one time I was there, you guys had a morning huddle. You had a gentleman there. I can't remember. He was so positive. I don't know if he sang or danced or something. It was just Like goosebumps fun. On your morning huddle there in the shop. I thought it was, I thought it was awesome.

The energy was great. Hopefully he's still, hopefully he's still there.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, we've got a lot of great people and we've perfected our huddles. You know, we do split our maintenance and our, and our install team just because of the size. [00:35:00] So then as you grow, the challenge is to keep that culture from

Tommy Cole: Consistent.

Josh Schmieder: you know, one huddle versus another huddle.

Tommy Cole: Mm-hmm.

Josh Schmieder: So, so that's something to, to be aware of as our huddle grows. But yeah, we've got, we've got a lot of great people that contribute a lot in those huddles, are game changers, keeps the culture

Tommy Cole: That,

Josh Schmieder: check.

Director of Culture

Tommy Cole: that's, that's good that, that that culture piece is, is pretty cool. You've got a guy, you've got a gentleman there that's in, in sort of in becoming in charge of culture. I don't think years ago you would've even thought of something like that at all. Tell me the importance of. Of culture in an organization, but yet now you're, you're, you're putting more emphasis on it with someone sort of leading the charge, and that's the day-to-day culture, and that's the, the wholific large component of the culture for the year and more years coming now.

Why is that so important for you and your organization?[00:36:00]

Josh Schmieder: Yeah. Honestly, when, when the peer group came up and did the, the site visit this last time, I've had a couple of them, but We had a, a great visit and, and took away a lot of, lot of good things that we can be working on. One of those things was taking my planting operations manager and and promoting him to our culture and full-time training director.

Tommy Cole: Yes.

Josh Schmieder: that's something since last fall we've been working on we've found his replacement. He's now moved into that role and weaning out of his other role as an operations manager. And really having somebody focusing and working with our HR manager on, on culture and, and really as we've grown, again, it was easy back when it was just me and a dozen guys, but as we've grown, it's hard for me to, to really be in tune with everybody and in touch with everybody.

You know, I can learn everybody's names and you know, but 175 people, it's just impossible to be everywhere, you know? So having somebody in charge, and that's what was pointed out at the peer group [00:37:00] visit, was that having somebody involved who's intentional. In touch, in tune, that's what their purpose is. You know, it just, it just helps keep that culture on point so we're not drifting and we end up in a position where it's like, what happened?

How did our culture get, we used to be so good at culture, how did it get here? You know? And so as I'm moving more into that ceo role, and yes, I drive culture, it starts with me, but somebody who's out interacting with the crew is making site visits. We're all in charge of culture. All of our managers should be.

Somebody who's working with our managers to instill that culture and that vision that myself and our team have, have had for years. But making sure somebody's really heading that up and chairing that, culture and making sure it's implemented through all of our managers, all ultimately through all of our teams.

And we, we feel like that's, that's a game changer as well. It's, it's an expense that, you know, you can look at as a cost. But honestly, Shoot, I don't [00:38:00] know. Culture, you can't put a cost on,

Tommy Cole: You can't. Yeah

Josh Schmieder: it's

Tommy Cole: no, you, yeah. It's, it's incredibly important. And for you to focus on that at, at this size is probably, is, is very, very important. And I think you've got the right person lined up for that. The guy is just, just a magnet. And everyone feeds off of his energy. And when you got someone like that You, you can capitalize and it it, he'll, he'll go all the way from down to the, to the team member, all the way to the CEO of, of spreading the, the, positivity around, which is, which is great.

Josh Schmieder: yeah, Neil is, Neil is great and he's even, we we're even kind of tying that culture role into a, a director of training role as well. It's gonna be a combined position. Our training program, our Josh Landscape University program that we're, we're implementing and developing, we've decided that it's not just training how to prune and how to, how to plant trees and those types of things.

Neil has been doing a great job of [00:39:00] developing leadership training as well because it's our, our job to develop our team and turn them into great leaders, right? So so that culture position, the more we can develop leaders, the better our culture's gonna be. And so his position that is that training and culture role.

Is, is helping to develop those leaders and to give them the proper tools to be good leaders, whether you're a team lead out in the field or manager or junior manager or senior manager. Just really giving our team those tools and we realize it's not just about being in tune with the culture, but helping develop those, those leaders.

And we've been seeing huge effects just from the last four or five months of doing the leadership training that we're doing monthly and, and and just helping people have those tools, helping our team have those tools. To, to go to the next level, and it's, it's a game changer for sure.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, love it. Training is something we don't spend enough time in, in organizations and the importance of it, you know, you, you almost can't put a dollar figure to that at all, but You know, companies like [00:40:00] Chick-fil-A, they do it all the time, right? They're constantly training, they're constantly onboarding, they're constantly watching the culture.

And you can always compare yourself to Chick-fil-A. They, they do something, they do something very good there. And so you're, you're replicating that, that model up there in Rochester, Josh. So, as, as we sort of put a bow on this, this conversation here a lot of, lot of great feedback for. For our audience, a any sort of, of one nugget advice for, for anyone out there that is, you know, maybe they're just in a rut of where to, so where's the end of the line?

Where's the end of the light and how do I get there? And how do I keep going? And, and all that. Any, any last bit of advice.

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, I, would just say from my experience that's all I can really share. Is, you know, is, is if you're struggling, you're in that rut. There's a few things that really got us out of that, that tough [00:41:00] spot. And, you know, people might, we were, we were struggling making payroll back in the day, right?

But other people might be struggling, keeping people employed, or is it, you know, whatever your struggle is, you know, as a, an entrepreneur in this industry, you might be 10 million, you might be half a million. But really, I, think it boils down to, A handful of things that business is hard and complicated, but yet it can be kinda simple.

And if you understand your mission, vision, core values, and these are the things that really turned us around. If you understand your mission, what you're gonna do on a daily basis to achieve your vision, right? And you have that foundation of your core values of who you're gonna hire and fire, you know, what, what is, what's that foundation that you're gonna hire against?

You figure out your ideal service, your ideal client. And and you focus on your team and just hiring the right people. And, and when that happens and you really surround yourself with those good people, things change. You know? So if you're stuck in that rut, you [00:42:00] don't know how to get out of it figure out, figure out one, what's your why, what's your company?

Why, which is kind of that vision, right? And, and figure out where do you want to go in the next 10 years? And then figure out who's gonna help you get there. You do those things, you really get serious about the mission, vision, core values, your ideal service, ideal client you know, and building a great culture by hiring the right people.

It's going to, you're gonna, you're gonna get to where you want to go and whatever that issue that you're struggling with, I found, I find that almost every issue boils down to those two things you're doing, things you shouldn't be doing in your business. The wrong people on the team, or you lost sight of where you're going,

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: And it's constantly, we have those same struggles still, we haven't arrived, you know, but Tommy Cole: Yeah, Josh Schmeider: watching it and we're constantly trying to grow and, and perfect each of those areas.

Tommy Cole: no, that's great. You know, business is a journey, right? There's none of a sudden, like I've arrived, like you [00:43:00] said, it's not all of a sudden I've made it. It's a long marathon journey and. There's gonna be some gloomy grave crappy days, like guaranteed. But when you have those crappy days where you, you just feel exhausted and worn out, that's where that's where you learned the most.

Right. In 2011, you learned a ton and and prior to 2011 from oh two to probably 11, you just were. You know, beat up like a dog and can't find your way back home. And so that's what's got you to where you are today. And if it was, if you didn't go through what you went through in oh two to 11, I'm, I'm pretty set that you wouldn't have be here, you know, today. And,

Josh Schmieder: Yeah, I absolutely,

Tommy Cole: yeah, for you to

Josh Schmieder: oh, go. Sorry.

Tommy Cole: on that vision, core values and all those, all those, find your why. All that is, is. [00:44:00] People in, in, in ruts, you can be several months in a rut and, and or a year or two. And it's hard, man. It, this is not made for everybody. So but keep, keep hitting it hard. You'll be there.

Josh Schmieder: And, and then that's what I'll say also is that. I look back and, and trust, we have not arrived. The the bigger you, you get and the, the more employees and, and the bigger the team grows, the more you realize how incapable you are as a leader. Right? So and so, and that's not me being negative, it's just, there's, you, you, you, yeah.

It's, you're ego's gonna get in the way. People think, oh, you're running a big company, you deserve to, to do X, Y, or Z. And it's like, no, that's, it becomes even more important as a leader than back when it was me and a dozen guys, right? So, So you just realize how, how humbling it is and how, how important it is to, to, to lead the team properly and how you need to seek out that advice and that that coach and the people that have gone in front of you.

Tommy Cole: Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: is [00:45:00] short. You don't have a lifetime to learn. If I can do, if I can learn it in half the time, will go that much further. You know, put the ego aside. But yeah, it's, it's it's, it's something that just. On those, those simple things and taking care of your team is, is so important, you know, and it's yeah. I can't put enough emphasis on that.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. I love it. It, it's all about the team at the end of the day. And, and now your, your job is becoming the mentor and coach for your team, right? And help 'em get through those tough spots. That they could down encounter in today. Josh, man, it's been a pleasure again, to have you sort of wanted this day to come for a very long time. And it's here. So maybe we'll just do a yearly podcast with you, with just some cool nuggets and, and things that you've done well and not very, not so well. Right. We'll, we'll go through those. Those will be fun.

Josh Schmieder: We'll do a few extras for the things I [00:46:00] haven't done well cause there's a lot of that stuff. But, um,

Tommy Cole: at least some extra time for that. Yeah.

Josh Schmieder: yeah. Yeah.

Tommy Cole: It's been a

Josh Schmieder: No, it's it's awesome.

Tommy Cole: Yep,

Josh Schmieder: I appreciate appreciate you having me on and it's an honor to be here and, you know, looking forward to seeing you guys soon.

Tommy Cole: yep. Absolutely. Thank you so, so much. We'll see you soon.

John: Ready to take the next step? Download our free Profitability Scorecard to quickly create your own baseline financial assessment and uncover the fastest ways to improve your business. Just go to McFarlinStanford.com/scorecard to get yours today To learn more about McFarlin Stanford our best in class peer groups and other services go to our website at McFarlinStanford.com And don't forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. See you next time on the Roots of Success.