“When I first started the business, it was about me and what I could accomplish,” says Todd Pugh, CEO of Enviroscapes, a multimillion-dollar landscaping company based in Canton, Ohio. “But today it’s really about what we and our employees can accomplish together and what the future holds.”
Since launching his business at age 14, Pugh has become increasingly focused on making Enviroscapes a “destination workplace” for his employees. He offers his staff 401(k) retirement accounts, health care, flexible paid time off, professional development training and various incentives to reward good work throughout the year.
“I’ve always had a strong belief that you should treat people like you’d like to be treated,” Pugh says. “One of the most important parts of our business has always been our people. We’re in a business that can’t get things done without people.”
Pugh recognizes that there’s a downward trend in the number of people who stick at a company for their entire career. In fact, a 2016 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of millennials say that they are currently open to taking a new job, compared to 45 percent of non-millennial employees. By creating a healthy company culture that puts its employees first and helps foster growth from within the organization, Pugh hopes to incentivize his workers to stay at Enviroscapes.
“I think the old mentality used to be we’re hiring for life — this guy is coming for this career forever,” Pugh says. “If you statistically look at the younger generation, they’re going to change jobs. If you can’t offer them opportunities and you can’t offer them career advancement, they’re going to leave. Most owners deserve the business they have. If you don’t like what you have, then change it.”
In 2012, Pugh decided that his company, which employs nearly 200 people, could be doing more to promote professional growth within the organization.
“When you start studying our company, and I think this is true of most businesses out there, you find that a lot of the people come up from within the ranks,” Pugh says. “We want to grow our people into more advanced roles at Enviroscapes.”
With that goal in mind, Pugh began investing in his employees’ professional and personal development by hosting an annual event he aptly calls “Growing Day.” For the event, Enviroscapes closes for the day, and employees gather in the company’s shop to listen to speakers, participate in team building exercises, and be recognized for their hard work in the past year.
“We bring everybody here and pay them for the entire day,” Pugh says. “We let employees tell their stories of where they started in the company and where they’re at today. We bring in guest speakers who aren’t company owners, but rather people that started at a company and worked their way up. Maybe one of those speakers connects with an employee sitting here and motivates them to get to the next level.”
Part decoration and part inspiration, posters displayed around the shop depict individual employees and note how many years the employee has been with Enviroscapes as well as his or her role within the organization today.
“There’s nothing more gratifying to me than to see a young man or a young woman who started in the field, worked their way up and is today running a branch for us with 20 or 30 people and a couple-million-dollar budget a year,” Pugh says. “It’s pretty exciting to see that transition from ‘can I do this for a career?’ to ‘yes.’”
Dan Troike, estimator at Enviroscapes, appreciates the professional development opportunities the company provides.
“I’d say it was mostly the people at this company that helped me to grow where I am now,” Troike says. “Enviroscapes is great at offering incentives to its employees. Just doing little things here and there really goes a long way. Growing Day is an encouraging day for everybody and creates a good community.”
Attracting Top Talent
Pugh believes that investing in his employees through perks like Growing Day helps him retain current staff and attract new skilled workers.
“I think as long as you have that mentality that you want to create the best environment that you can, a place where people can advance their careers, you’re going to attract the top talent,” Pugh says. “Because we can train people on what we do, we always hire for attitude. We’re looking for that positive attitude, that person who wants to be here, that friendly smile. Then we grow those people.”
Pugh considers those who work at Enviroscapes to be teammates rather than employees.
“They’re part of the team. They’re partners,” Pugh says. “We are a complete open book company. All of our management teams are on profit-sharing and our crews are on an incentive-based pay. If we win as a company, our team wins. We take care of our people, because I believe if we take care of our people, they’ll take care of our customers. But we can’t have happy customers if we don’t have happy team members.”
Pugh also brings in professional trainers to the company’s monthly supervisor boot camps to help employees in leadership positions succeed and develop their skillsets.
“The trainers really help us understand how to deal with situations,” Pugh says. “All of the training that we do, we want our employees to also take it home or take it to their next job.”
Pugh hopes that, with growing opportunities in skilled trades and putting special attention on professional development, young people will increasingly look toward companies like his for their careers.
“I think 15 years ago the school systems taught that you have to wear a tie to work, you’ve got to be white collar. I think it’s a huge mistake because there’s so many people that are great with their hands, great with their mind. This country needs it,” Pugh says. “We want you in these industries. There’s great money to be made. There are great careers. I think one way to be successful in life is if everybody is going left, you go right. It’s nothing to look down on to be outside working every day.”