A few years back, Andy Kurth shifted his focus at Weed Man Lawn Care from being solely money driven to one of helping his employees succeed and thrive.
The president and co-owner of the Middleton-based lawn care business – which also operates franchises in Milwaukee, the Fox Valley, west suburban Chicago, Denver, Austin and Boise – found that his decision changed the culture at the lawn care firm.
“I started having kids and also started to see other people energized about what we were doing,” Kurth said. “It’s about developing people. As I matured, I felt a different sense of reward, not necessarily on personal income or growth, but based on other people’s achievements.”
Kurth and his father, co-owner and board chairman Terry Kurth, were singled out for a special Top Workplaces award for their leadership skills based on employee survey results.
As part of the culture change, Andy Kurth seized opportunities to promote from within when employees showed promise. The company, with its far-flung franchises, took steps to connect employees from all over the company through video conferencing and Google groups.
When employees anywhere in the company are recognized by customers for exceeding expectations, everyone is notified. There are about 50 employees locally and 200 in all of the franchises.
The firm started a hardship fund to help employees facing illness, disaster or other misfortune. It coordinated food drives and made donations to the Ronald McDonald House, brought employees together for an annual meeting at a waterpark in Wisconsin Dells and started offering improved time off for new parents.
As that culture took hold, Kurth said company growth followed.
And, the firm established a rigorous employee evaluation system that made the company’s expectations clear to everyone.
“We try to treat people really well,” said Kurth. “Part of that culture is being clear with your people, because if you’re not clear, they will ultimately fail. … It’s a partnership. We need to have alignment on the grade of your job because we want you to take on more responsibilities. That’s everyone’s goal.”
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