For years the industry has had the mindset that Hispanic employees are not interested in becoming managers and are more comfortable being crew laborers. This may have been the case in the past. However, many Hispanic employees are now seeking management positions and using their experience and knowledge to get them. Landscaping is a profession that requires a good work ethic and a positive attitude to be successful, and those traits are standard operating procedures for Hispanic employees.
Jesus “Chuy” Medrano, president and owner of CoCal Landscape, Denver, Colorado, operates a large full-service landscape company and employs many Hispanics, a number of them in management. Medrano is also the founding president of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA). “My involvement in starting the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance and my motivation on this project was to make sure the industry understands the contribution and the power that Hispanics bring to the green industry,” says Medrano. “At the same time my intention was to educate our people and help them understand the power that we possess due to the number of Hispanics in the industry.
“We are not just good laborers; we are good managers, good supervisors, good account managers and good owners of both large and small operations,” Medrano adds.
Medrano is also a founding member of the National Association of Landscape Professional’s AEF (Academic Excellence Foundation), which provides annual scholarships to landscape industry students to help secure the future of excellence in landscape. His company, CoCal, was awarded the 2013 National Landscape Award of Excellence from the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
Helping others succeed
“The best way to create an avenue for our employees to climb the management ladder is to create a comfortable atmosphere,” adds NHLA President Raul Berrios, owner of RulyScapes in Centreville, Virginia.
“For them to move into management positions, training is a key factor. A program like the NHLA’s Train the Trainer, which focuses not only on technical points, but also relationship-building and communication, makes a world of difference in improving morale and motivating your workforce to jump out of their comfort zone and strive for more,” says Berrios, who has been active in helping Hispanic crewmembers and laborers move into management positions.
Identified as a key economic engine for the Hispanic population by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the landscape industry is uniquely positioned to serve as a vehicle of economic growth for this fast-growing population. Currently, Hispanics make up 16 percent of business owners and more than 35 percent of the workforce in the landscaping industry; more than twice the national norm for other sectors of the economy. The NHLA also collaborates with other industry associations, including the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, to raise awareness about how policy positions affect landscape companies and their employees.
Closer to home
My 22-year-old daughter Meagan Cuddihe recently started a landscape maintenance company, “Let’s Be Green.” She’s signing on clients faster than I expected and is a student member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the NHLA. Meagan comes from Paraguay, South America, and her Hispanic heritage and energy have shown me volumes about how hard work and a desire to succeed can make great things happen. I see her enthusiasm and outstanding work ethic every day at home and on the job.
Our industry employs many Hispanics and they provide the labor that completes jobs and help companies across the country succeed. By using their experience and motivation to excel, many are now making the move into management and increasing the number of Hispanic-owned landscape companies.