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Mornings at Canete Landscape were “organized chaos” for President and CEO Tom Canete – more chaos than organization.
His 4-acre site in Wayne, New Jersey, has onsite diesel fuel tanks, multiple bins for dumping yard waste and a garden center full of plants, bulk materials and everything else crews need. But getting everyone fueled, loaded and on the road was hectic.
“Trying to get 75 men out of here in 35 trucks every morning is a lot of work,” Canete says. “We had trucks backing into each other, forklifts running around, a line of people waiting to get loaded. When you calculate all the money it costs to keep guys hanging around the yard waiting, it’s $12 here, $15 there. It doesn’t take long to see all that payroll standing around.”
Some days, crews didn’t leave the shop until 8 a.m., an hour after clocking in. Canete had to streamline mornings, so four years ago, he asked three employees to stay late and prep the night before so crews could hit the road by 7:10 a.m.
“When you calculate all the money it costs to keep guys hanging around the yard waiting … it doesn’t take long to see all that payroll standing around.” Tom Canete, president and CEO, Canete Landscape
These yardmen usually return from the field around 3 p.m., so as other crews come back, they can focus on dumping, fueling and pre-loading trucks with materials for the next day’s jobs. Canete developed daily yardmen checklists with tasks like sharpening mower blades, sweeping floors, emptying the garbage and cleaning the bathroom.
Yardmen also inspect equipment for cosmetic or mechanical damage, then tag repairs for the mechanic (who comes in around 3-4 a.m. several days a week). They send an inspection report to Canete before locking up.
These crew members work overtime as yardmen, staying until 7, 8 or even 9 p.m. Canete says it’s worth the additional hours to get crews out by 7:10 a.m. consistently.
Similarly, he has three other employees who come in every Saturday to wash and service mowers, and five employees who come in every few weeks to wash trucks.
These positions help Canete preserve his investment in equipment through regular maintenance, while cutting back on wasted labor hours.
“We’re more efficient,” Canete says. “Before, it was just a mess. You’ve got different guys mixing oil and gas for two-cycle engines, and guys just dumping in oil or not putting in enough oil, and they’re seizing up engines on weed whackers. When you have set people do it every day, they know what they’re doing.”