Brian Horn, editor,
Lawn & Landscape

There are certain words I always hear when I ask a company owner or executive in the industry what make their companies successful. They almost always talk about the people, quality service and the most popular — culture.

When we interviewed the top five companies on our Best Places To Work list, I wasn’t surprised that culture was a running theme throughout all five.

But one quote stood out to me.

“Culture is what exists whether we do something about it or not,” says Kyle Tobin, who owns LawnSavers in Toronto and is on the cover this month with some of his employees.

All the stories illustrate that actions are what shapes the culture. A culture may exist, but if the actions don’t match the words, then you are just providing lip service.

New Castle Lawn & Landscape has monthly meetings to talk about their personal lives. It’s not meant to be nosy, but co-owner and General Manager Brad Stephenson wants a company where people feel like they are taken care of — a family atmosphere. After reading the story, I followed-up with Stephenson to see if he ever got push back about the meetings.

“I started the one-on-ones and I’m a very open, caring person and our people know the struggles I went through in life,” he says. “I think when you are open with your personal mistakes, people feel safe to tell you anything. I then trained our supervisors to do the same thing I did but in their own way. We never pry into someone’s life but with proper questions, it usually just opens up.”

This may seem like an unusual idea to some, but try not to get caught up in whether you agree or disagree with the meetings. They set out to have a certain culture, and these meetings set an example.

The homework I have for you is to think about what type of culture you want, and list out what you do to back that up. And then run that list by a few people at the company, and see if they agree those actions back up what you say.