Huge green thumb

At Work

Horticulturist Andy Herman supervises the lawn care of businesses over a wide region

Working

March 28, 2007|By Nancy Jones Bon-brest | Nancy Jones Bon-brest,Special to the Sun

Andy Herman

Regional manager

TruGreen LandCare, Essex

Salary --$65,000

Age --33

Years on the job --10

How he got started --After graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in landscape contracting and horticulture, Herman was recruited by TruGreen to work in Delaware as an assistant supervisor in its commercial landscaping division. He is now a regional manager supervising more than $900,000 in contracts for lawn care, ground maintenance, landscaping and weed removal at businesses.

Typical day --Herman works 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. His territory includes Baltimore City and the Interstate 83 corridor. He serves as the main customer contact for about 60 commercial clients with contracts ranging from $2,500 to $140,000. He keeps in touch with clients on a regular basis and says fielding phone calls is a large part of his job.

Production, or making sure the work gets done, is also his responsibility. At the start of a job, he will walk his employees through the site to explain what needs to be done and what the client is expecting. He oversees about 20 employees.

His salary is partly based on commission, which comes from selling "enhancements" or additional services to his clients. These services can include tree installation, shrub removal and flower plantings. "Anything that's going to make the property better."

He also estimates he spends about 10 percent to 15 percent of his time in the field getting his hands dirty, but says he doesn't mind this part of the job at all. "It's a little bit more rewarding being out in the field because I know the job's getting done and it's getting done right."

Seasons --The contracts Herman supervises reflect the seasonal nature of the work, starting with snow and ice removal in the winter; mulching in the early spring; mowing, lawn care and plantings in late spring and summer; and leaf removal in the fall.

Busiest month --May, when mulching, mowing grass and spring plantings are occurring simultaneously. "That's our busiest time and when we are stretched thin to get all of our work done."

The good --"Being able to see a job get done and cross it off my list is what gets me through this time of year."

The bad --Finding qualified supervisors to do the work.

Clients --Herman works with a range of clients, including small homeowner associations, large business parks and cemeteries.

Technology --As a service to customers, digital photographs can be taken of the property and then enhanced to show what it would look like if landscaped professionally. "It's a real simple tool. It brings everything together as far as the idea you're trying to portray to the customer."

Philosophy --"Take problems as they come and deal with them as quickly as possible."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

Special to The Sun

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