Photos by Jon Arman

The Harvesters, Bill Arman and Ed Laflamme, and the three Turnaround Tour winners have wrapped up the year-long process, and are ready to report back on final numbers. The process started with two-day visits from the Harvesters in November and December of 2016, when an initial analysis was done. That was followed by monthly reviews and accountability meetings to keep the owners focused and encouraged. Here is a look at where the companies started and where they are now.

Freedom Lawn & Landscapes

Marketing and sales: The Dirksens and the Harvesters decided commercial business would be the primary focus moving forward. Freedom implemented Laflamme’s “Be No. 2 for 200.” The practice called for Freedom to find 200 prospective clients in their area, touch base with them and inquire about their landscaping situation. If the client was happy with their current contractor, the company at least got on their radar in case they ever want to change contractors, which resulted in some new jobs.

Shop and vehicles: The shop was cleaned up and organized, and older, poor-looking vehicles were replaced. Freedom gave the duty of shop clean-up to one employee who took ownership of the job, and his overall work and attitude improved greatly. The Dirksens also upgraded their equipment, including a new irrigation truck, spray truck and mower. The increase in profitability made the Dirksens more comfortable investing in more efficient and better-looking equipment.

People: Several positions turned over and higher quality performers are in place. They also promoted James Emmons to field operations manager, which allows Jeremy to spend more time “on” the business instead of “in” the business. The company instituted a referral bonus plan where if a new employee stays six months, the worker who referred that employee gets $500. For every year that employee is with the company, the employee who referred them gets $1,000.

Safety program: While their safety record was very good overall, there was no program in place. Freedom used a safety program template from the National Association of Landscape Professionals and tailored it to their company. One change was having a weekly tailgate meeting every Monday morning. NALP provides 52 different safety topics, which Freedom uses at the meetings.

Jeremy, right, and Heather Dirksen (not pictured) promoted James Emmons, left, to field operations manager so that they could focus more on the business.
Photo courtesy of Freedom Lawn & Landscapes

Quality of work: The quality of work was inconsistent and needed some focused attention. The company adopted the Harvesters Quality Counts Program and reviews and scores jobs regularly. Having the field operations manager walk through properties, really helped Freedom identify the areas employees need more training in. One key advantage of the program is that by inspecting the properties, Freedom was able to increase sales by reaching out to clients to remedy problems such as irrigation, plant health care or replacement and even enhancements, enabling the company to increase its overall gross profit margin.

Wade’s Lawn Service

Marketing and sales: The Wades attend a Business Referral Networking (BRN) group every Thursday morning, serve on the board of directors for the local chamber of commerce and belong to three total chamber groups. In addition, they attend local events like ribbon cuttings and make it a point to visit new businesses in the area to introduce themselves. The company also recently bought pressure washing equipment and will expand into that line of work to increase sales.

People: The Wades increased most hourly pay by $2-$4 per hour, which helped them attract and retain employees.

Safety: While their safety record was overall very good, there was no program in place. The company looks at safety videos regularly and discusses safety practices in morning team meetings, which are constant reminders. They also ask team members to sign a form indicating that they understood the safety presentation. They purchased First aid kits for all trucks and purchased a mannequin (that they named Fred), which is in their shop with his safety gear on. He is a constant visual reminder of how to dress for safety.

Quality of work: The quality of work was inconsistent and needed some focused attention. Ira spent some of his time inspecting jobs, and the company will continue to work on a more structured program.

Vineland Landscaping

Marketing and sales: The company began experimenting with pre-billing mowing jobs each month to help with cash flow. The company also invested in a part-time employee to help with collections. To increase sales and improve cash flow, Gruccio tailored his networking this year to maintenance accounts like property managers rather than general construction firms as previous years.

Safety program: Vineland had a good safety record was but there was no program in place. The company started bi-weekly safety meetings with all employees to make everyone more safety conscious and be able to start new standard operating procedures at the same time.

Quality of work: The quality of work was inconsistent and needed some focused attention. Now, for maintenance accounts, the company does a monthly quality control check and rates the crews. During this, employees look for potential enhancement sales.

To get a recap of the Turnaround Tour panel at GIE+EXPO, visit