By Cheryl Higley
Heading into last season, Troy Clogg, CSP, evaluated his company and realized that trouble might be brewing. The Wixom, MI-based Troy Clogg Landscape Associates, which has been in business for 30 years, had been growing and Clogg thought the existing systems were nearing their limits.
“I knew the systems were not going to withstand chaos,” he said. “I saw the potential for trouble … what I didn’t see was us having the biggest winter on record.”
Enter chaos. The snow team endured storm after storm, but Clogg saw the toll it was taking on the company and its employees. After a 17-inch snowstorm in early January, his team was emotionally and physically exhausted and the systems were stressed. He decided to bring the team together, right the ship and reinforce the company’s long-term vision and how each person plays a role in its success. In short, it was time to for a lesson in culture building.
“We consider ourselves successful in our marketplace and don’t like to fail. That series of storms challenged everyone and we needed to see if people were going to rise up and lead,” he said.
Several changes came from the meeting and subsequent conversations, which Clogg hopes will lead to long-term growth and success:
New leaders emerge. “As leaders we needed to calm everyone, create a plan and execute it,” Clogg said, adding that it gave existing team members and new hires the opportunity to step up and assume leadership positions.
More transparency. The “why they do things they do” was missing. “I found a lot of people on my team didn’t know everything they needed to make decisions in the field. There is more transparency now – they see why they were being told what they were being told.”
Operations changes. To ease the burden on the systems, changes were made in accounting, new software was added and a new organizational chart was created.
Better meetings. Clogg said the company is constantly working on daily huddles to get every department together, whether it’s to review tasks at hand, find out if anyone needs help, identify areas of concern, etc. “It’s the best few minutes you can spend to get everyone on the same page.”
Get the naysayers on board. Change is difficult for many people, who prefer “the way it’s always been done.” Clogg said while most people were on board with the company’s changes, some needed a nudge. “There’s a saying, ‘Don’t let your past define you. Let it refine you.’ Now in conversations, anytime someone talks about the past, we talk about looking forward and how we’re going to do things to improve the operations, not focus on the past. If it’s broken, we’re not going to keep repeating the mistake.”
Reinforcing Fun, Healthy, Loving. Every move the company makes must reflect three elements that make Clogg’s company thrive: Fun. Healthy. Loving. “When something becomes controversial or argumentative, we have to find the solution to get to embodying those words. It’s our foundation, and it’s spreading,” he said.
Remember that it starts at the top. Owners and those in top management positions must lead by example. “Everyone is looking for encouragement and reinforcement that they’re doing the right thing. I need to give my best, stay positive and reinforce where we’re headed and not get pulled into the frustrations,” Clogg said.
Clogg learned a lot from last season and has seen the changes he’s implemented improve the team culture and operations from spring to fall. The real test, however, will be when the company endures a winter event …so far it’s been a light season but Clogg looks forward to the challenge.
Cheryl Higley is editorial director of Snow Business magazine.