I have spent a lot of time thinking about this new year. I have been planning, brainstorming and soul searching about just what I want my company, my future in this industry and my personal brand and legacy to be. It’s deep, I know, but that’s where I am at right now. My landscape company has been a friend and an enemy to me over the years. It has provided for me, my family and a host of other people like my employees, subcontractors and vendors. We have accounts that other companies would kill for — everything from national corporations, fast food chains, local businesses, homeowners’ associations and even government contracts. When it comes to commercial landscape maintenance, we have done it all.

We also have the headaches that go with all of that. With more than 25 employees on our roster, we have our share of call-offs, no-shows and other HR nightmares. Our maintenance routes have more than 300 stops per week, and with that comes truck and equipment breakdowns. If I have a truck breakdown on route A, a mower breakdown on route B and a few people missing from call-offs, my job just got a lot harder that day — and I have someone to take care of my operations for me! In addition, I have overhead to cover, an office staff and a nice facility to pay for. It all costs money and lots of it.

My company falls within the top 20 percent in this industry with sales over $1 million. We broke that barrier years ago, a goal I had, and I checked that box off. We have been in business almost 30 years, so we can check the box of surpassing the “most companies go out of business within the first five years” scenario. There are many other boxes I can check.

I have seen this industry change over the years, moving from primarily “mom and pop” to more professional, local companies to now having national companies in my market. On top of that, we have what I call the “Baby Brickman” companies — local companies that adopt the national companies’ philosophy of lower prices, more volume. In my opinion, this would be like a local store trying to compete with Wal-Mart on price and volume of sales instead of great service and quality products. It’s just not feasible and in the end it hurts local businesses by pushing down the industry’s already low pricing.

I am not 100 percent sure about what my company and future are going to look like, but I have a plan and a tentative roadmap for 2018. It’s going to look different — better, innovative, stronger and leaner than ever before. I have a plan for my personal life as well and will share more about that throughout the year.

What is your plan for 2018? I hope you have one.