As Published in Lawn & Landscape Magazine 09/07/2011.
Leadership Lessons: Glenn Jacobsen
Features - Leadership Lessons
President, Jacobsen Landscape Design and Construction
What have you been up to since you won the award in 2009?
I'm pretty much doing what I've done for the past 25 years.
I am more active in PLANET now. The opportunity was there to be more involved, and I got back on the board.
I was on the board in '04 and '05 when ALCA merged with PLCAA, and then I was off for about five years, and then they asked me to be back on – I'm actually on what they call the management team.
So, I reengaged on the board level this year. PLANET is where I see leaders. That's where my learning curve is and it has been for about 15 years.
That's one of the reasons I am involved with PLANET and back on the board and involved with the management team because I am there with national leaders that I highly respect and I learn from them.
What trends are you seeing in the industry?
From a consumer point of view, maintenance in our area is still very vibrant compared to construction, but that's the nature of the economy. I wouldn't really call it a trend. It's just because of the economy.
I was just down at Day on the Hill. One thing, as I've gotten older, I realize how legislative things can affect the business. That's one thing I've learned, is how important it is to have representation with the government on a national level, especially with some of the restrictions that are being put on now – the immigration reform and H-2B, the clean water act and some of the stuff that is being proposed now.
There was somebody there and he struck my ear when he said that when all of us went into being landscapers or lawn maintenance people, nobody wanted to be a politician. But, unfortunately, we have to deal with it sometimes. But that struck me as true because that's the last thing I wanted to do was be a politician or be involved with the political scene.
But it's important with all the regulations and restrictions that are being put on the green industry.
Can the restrictions be a good thing for the industry?
I think it's good within reason or with a balance. I understand the importance of having regulations, but I think the government has to hear what small businesses are saying.
I think there is a huge disconnect between some of the small businesses and some of the larger government. But regulations are necessary to a certain degree, but they have to take into account the small business viewpoint of things.
What are your thoughts on H-2B?
We've been H-2B users for over 10 years and it's obviously becoming more restrictive the past two.
Especially with this latest go around with the Department of Labor, and I'm very familiar with it. We still want it and need it for our company because we do not have a local labor workforce. We've tried and we advertise. It's hard to find American workers that want to do the kind of work that we have in the green industry on a seasonal basis.
Like I said, we've been doing it and with that the American workforce is affected because my American workforce is supervisors, and managers and crew leaders. If I can't find the labor workforce or the crew leaders of the H-2B people, then it affects everything.
What would you say to someone who says the industry needs to pay more to attract Americans?
That's a good point, but will people work for more and still do the kind of work we need them to do?
Like I said, in our area, the American workforce isn't here. And will the consumer pay more? Then you get down to the economics of that. Will the consumer pay more in a competitive market?
Read more from Jacobsen, including his 2009 leadership profile, at www.lawnandlandscape.com, search “Jacobsen.”