Outback Landscape started out with Chase Coates mowing lawns to earn some extra cash in high school. Now, almost 10 years later, Outback Landscape is a full service maintenance and landscape installation company in Southeast Idaho. Heather Pierce and Joel Kent, both graduates from BYU-Idaho's Horticulture department, gave us their insight from being employed at Outback Landscape.
Heather is the landscape designer and office manager for Outback Landscape. She's living proof that moms can still have the career they work for in school. She talked about how, when working for a company, you have to be willing to pick up different responsibilities and "do a little bit of everything". Even though she's involved in designing, she still has to do a lot of office work, like invoicing, estimating, etc. She mentioned that only so much can be learned in school and you should take advantage of any opportunity you can get for hands on experience. She also talked about her experience in advertising. Being a Horticulture major, that's not something we think about a lot, but she said that students would benefit from taking graphic design or other multi-media classes, because companies these days are investing a lot in their marketing and advertising.
Joel talked about the sales part of business. As far as advertising goes, he said, "Reputation is key". The best referral is word of mouth. He also talked about always being ready to upsale. Meaning, figure out what the customer wants, and be willing to sell them the best you have. Even when they have a 'smaller' budget, when they realize what you have can benefit them, their budget may expand. He said that as students, we should take advantage of networking opportunity we can; whether it be in seminar, at competitions, or even other students. He also mentioned that subscribing to industry trade magazines or websites has been really beneficial to him. It keeps him on top of the game and always seeing new things the industry is coming out with.
One thing both speakers talked about was being flexible, from life in general and even narrowing it down to doing a job for a client. Sometimes things come up and you have to be able to cope with those things and work around them. Having a strong team makes that possible for Outback Landscape.
It's that time again! The Horticulture Department needs a new t-shirt design. As you know we have a casual t-shirt that all horticulture students can wear for special events, field trips or just to classes to advertise for the department. We'd love for our students to participate in the designing. So, here are the things you need to know:
--You can choose to design either the front or the back. But make sure to incorporate the BYU-Idaho logo and Horticulture underneath.
--The designs must be appropriate as we are representing the school as well as the department. Inappropriate or suggestive designs will be thrown out of the competition.
--The back can be funny, witty, creative, serious and everything in between. It can have visuals as well as words. We will only print in one color however so keep that in mind.
--Also, remember that our department colors are green and black, if that influences anything you do.
--Submit submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Use the picture below to design on so all of the submissions will be uniform and make sure that when you are done, to have the photo as a .jpg so it can be uploaded onto this blog for voting.
--Any other questions, you can filter to email@example.com.
--The more submissions the better! So have fun!
Eric Hagberg, an employee at Del Conte's Landscaping Inc. and a graduate of BYU-I class of 2008, was our speaker in seminar today. He spent a lot of time talking about the profitability of a company, especially during a recession. He first talked about sales growth and the importance of marketing. Because of the recession, a lot of company's funds had to be cut back but marketing was something that they invested more in. He also made the point the profitability and sales growth are different. He said you can sell a lot a still lose money if your overhead is to high, you have job delays, or if you make too many mistakes. They always have to be paying attention to costs and sales.
In relation to being a profitable company, they have to make sure their employees are being as productive as possible. It helps when employees take ownership. They know that they profit more when they're involved in the team. The company is also constantly finding ways to do things better. They're always examining and adjusting their processes and investing in new technology.
They also stay on top of what's important to their target market. The staff is certified in different programs and is offered continued education to stay on top of the game. They are a certified green company which is huge to the region that they service. It's interesting to know that Del Conte has a branch of the company called "Vision Recycling". This company is a landscape waste recycling service. They take waste from ripping up old landscapes and turn it into compost to use in later landscapes.
It's also interesting to note the quality of their irrigation department. Del Conte is one of few companies that has what they call a "Water Manager", who we were also able to hear from. He talked about how the irrigation industry really hasn't been hurt by the economy. In fact, it's grown because people realize that irrigation is costing money and they are "paying people to lower their water bill." It seems that irrigation/water management really would be a good field to go into.
As most of you know, there are always exciting things happening around the Horticulture Department. From plant culture to flower center, propagation to cut flower class, something is always going on.
This week in the green house, you'll find experiments from Brother Dewey's Plant Culture (HORT 201) class. Students are testing the affects of light on plant growth. Covering the plants with different colors of cellophane allows the students to see what color of light most affects plant growth.
Brother Toll's Landscaping with Fruit and Vegetable (HORT 470) class had fun learning about different kinds of peppers. They had a day dedicated to learning to cook with them.
In Brother Toll's Nursery Management (HORT 455) class, students learned how to graft tomatoes.
Horticulture is the best major for people who like hands-on learning and application. Having fun while learning is the best way to go and we definitely know how to make that happen in our department!
Dave Vine, from Swingle, was our speaker for Seminar today. Swingle was founded in 1947 with the mission to "stay ahead of the pack". They specialize in lawn care, tree care, landscape care, and holiday decor (being the largest Holiday Decor franchise in North America).
Dave spent a lot of time talking about Swingle's "secrets to success". First, he talked about always being in pursuit of new ideas. Along with that, investing in equipment and technology keeps them on top of the game. They also value customer service. They guarantee their customers' satisfaction 100% offering refunds for less than satisfied customers. Their employees are also enrolled with "Swingle University" because they believe that "education is the essence of growth." Swingle University offers employees specialized training manuals, written and practical field testing, training videos and workbooks, certifications and licenses among other things. Swingle also values cross-training of employees to improve staff versatility, improve customer service, expand opportunities, and continue education. All of these things combined can attribute to the success of Swingle as well as the growth. Dave told us that Swingle is expecting 20% growth during the year 2011 as well as each year after that for about 5 years.
Dave also talked about qualities he looks for in hiring new employees. He said education and experience is extremely important as well as passion and a 'do whatever it takes' attitude. He also said that he looks for leaders as opposed to managers. He said, "Leaders do the right things, managers do what's right." The essence of a leader is change, while the essence of a manager is stability. He said a leader leads people, takes risk, and paves new roads while a manager manages work, minimizes risk, and takes existing roads. While neither is bad, being a leader is certainly a good quality to have for progression in your career. Doing all you can in gaining an education and experience will certainly give you a 'leg-up' on the competition as well as helping you gain those leadership qualities.
Recently, a few of our students and faculty members were able to attend the INLA Hort Expo. The Hort Expo is a conference for different companies in the horticulture industry to come together for the opportunity to network and attend seminars. Our students find opportunities for networking with companies to find mentors and/or job contacts within the industry. Our faculty likes to attend so they can keep current on the happenings within the industry.
Valerie Schulthess and Jace Johnson, both students in attendance at the conference, agree that the expo is invaluable for students. Valerie said that at first, she didn't think any of the booths applied to her future career goals but as she began to speak with different sales representatives, she was overwhelmed by the wealth of information they seemed to give to her. She said, "It evolved into these experienced horticulturists pouring out tons of valuable advice about classes I should take, skills I should master, etc."
Jace had the opportunity to attend several seminars and network with owners and managers of the largest horticulture companies in the area. He also visited with several people about possible employment after graduation. He said, "I received one offer to work for a company part time, online, while finishing school. I have never been in another setting that made me feel like such a part of this industry. I am extremely grateful for the chance that I have, as a student, to do things like this. Most people in the industry, unless they are in management, don't even have that chance. This is a very narrow window of opportunity."
The hort expo is a great way for students to see what their career opportunities in the industry are. It's also a great way to network with companies to gain employment opportunities. It's even a good way to learn about what's going on, and to stay current. Hort expos like these are recommended to anyone trying to get into the industry.
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.