A Servant Leader: Glenn Jacobsen
As published in Lawn and Landscape Magazine 11/19/2009:
Glenn Jacobsen understands the value of service, personally and professionally.
Tom Crain November 19, 2009
Glenn Jacobsen first learned about his selection as one of the top
industry leaders, his reaction was exactly what most people who know him
well thought it would be: "I am humbled," he said. "It's not my nature
to be in the forefront. I am here to help others and that's what
Jacobsen sees himself as a servant leader - someone who wants to serve
first. Then, conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. He is
steeped in church and volunteer work, serving on a multitude of
nonprofit boards and community projects.
"It's important to give back as much as you can at whatever level you
can," he says. And he is one who truly puts his money where his mouth
is, supporting charities and causes he believes in.
Jacobsen takes his leadership very seriously. "Leading a team is a most
important job," he says. "You have to be a visionary. You have to look
ahead with clear direction and goals. You have to see a beginning and an
end. It's vital that you support your team."
Over the years, leading upper management and serving on multiple boards,
Jacobsen has seen all kinds of leaders in action from quiet to verbal,
weak to strong.
watch others that I admire," he says. "I read numerous books on the
subject. All are a little bit different, but the really good ones share
the guiding principle of leading with direction and vision."
To be a good leader, you have to know yourself well, he says. "I know I
am a very calm person. Good leaders possess honesty and integrity - they
do what they say. If you are a good leader, you have to have good
follow through. You have to tell the truth even though it may be
Jacobsen believes it's important to allow your leaders to make mistakes.
"As long as they learn from it, and don't repeat the same ones a third
time, just move on!" he says. "Leadership skills can be learned. Some
people are born leaders. Anyone can be a leader if they want to be. The
key word here is ‘want.'"
Like a lot of other people in the landscaping industry, Jacobsen started
in the landscaping business at a young age, when he was in his
mid-teens. His father was a part-time tree trimmer who also operated a
Jacobsen earned his associate's degree in ornamental horticulture when
he started his own company. "When I was in high school, I started my own
landscaping business working in neighbor's yards. I went to college
only a couple of years. For the past 32 years, I have run my own
Jacobsen credits his father for having a huge influence on him by
instilling a strong work ethic. Most people say they have mentors who
show them the ropes, teach them how to be a good businessperson and
sharpen their skills. Not Jacobsen. Rather, he says that God is his
"I was given direction by God for what I wanted to do. That's what has made me tick for the past 25 years," Jacobsen says.
He also credits Melissa, his wife of 26 years, who also assists him in
business operations as chief financial officer, for giving him a
tremendous support structure, both personally and at work. "We work as a
team," he says. "She is the key reason for my success."
Jacobsen has seen many highs and lows in business economy for the past
three decades he's been working in the industry. Headquartered in the
New York City market, Jacobsen's client base is heavily involved in the
"When economic conditions are good and you grow too fast, it's difficult
to maintain the professionalism of staff," he says. "On the flipside,
you have to shift your focus on maintaining clients and retaining staff
during a downturn. The current economy is the worst that I have seen and
most others agree."
An eternal optimist, Jacobsen believes the industry will be coming back.
"During this economic downturn, a lot of people are negative about
their earnings potential, so naturally they are not spending
discretionary income which covers landscaping," he says. "I believe
America is strong and economic growth and discretionary income will
inevitably come back. It's just a matter of when."