ILCA Women’s Networking Group

Being true to yourself
April 20, 2010, 6:36 pm
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It seems doing what is right is not the same thing as doing what is easy.  I have recently made some rather life altering choices.  They have not been easy, but they have been the right choices for me.  I decided a few months ago that it was time for me to move on from the job I was holding.  That was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made; my co-workers were great, the job was with a growing company, and I didn’t have another job to move onto.  My job had become more and more focused as the company grew and I felt like I was becoming less not more.  I knew there was more out there that I wanted to be doing but couldn’t figure out how to do it at that company.  So with support from those closest to me and prayers for me from my parents, I decided to move on…move on to figuring things out for myself.

Figuring things out sounds fun and light and easy, but when one really tries to get to the core of things it is anything but fun and easy.  I have to budget my savings to make the most of them while I’m in this limbo.  I have to be true to what I want as I have been fortunate to have had several job opportunities, but none so far have been the right match.  It would be easier to just take one of these opportunities and hope it works out okay, but that is not why I set out on this path of uncertainty.  At times, this all feels so selfish and indulgent but being happy and, hopefully in the end, productive shouldn’t feel that way, should it?


Blessings in Disguise
December 15, 2009, 6:20 pm
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Sara Rexroat

The end of  every year tends to bring about reflection.  At first glance this year, it may seem there is not much to be thankful for.  It seems everyone was touched by the economic downturn in one way or another.  But with a second, more thoughtful look I think we will come to view this time as very valuable and a blessing in disguise.  

I have seen people at all levels of change take these challenging times and turn them into opportunities. 

Some people effected most greatly are those who lost their job.  I have heard many different stories about what initally seemed like a catastophe being a blessing in disguise.  People still out of work have said they now have time to spend with their kids to do things as simple as being able to help them with their homework, picking them up from school and having a ‘real’ conversation with them about their day.  Others have said they now have the time to take care of themselves by getting to the gym regularly and cooking healthy meals at home.  Others have mentioned that now they are able to do the volunteer work they always wanted to do or to go back to school to pursue an interest that seemed just out of reach.

Other people have found new work and insights there.  New employees finding that their last job wasn’t really a good fit for them anyway or they hadn’t realized that their old work environment was so stressful.  Having lost their job was the push to move onto something better suited for them.

And even those of us least effected, still in our old jobs with the same companies.  Maybe there haven’t been any raises or bonuses in a year or two but with less business transactions happening it allows time for strategizing and goal setting to be a better, stronger company when the economy picks up again.  Even with that, many of us are working fewer hours and are taking advantage of spending more time with friends and family.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, I hope you have found some blessings in it!

Giving away the milk.
October 7, 2009, 3:54 pm
Filed under: 1

by Sara Rexroat

In times like these, it’s very tempting to discount rates to keep crews working and cash flowing.  I am sure it’s even smart in many cases.  But sometimes discounting rates doesn’t even make a difference in competing with companies who are giving away their services. 

Some friends of mine who live in the city recently purchased a home in a suburb.  We drove out on a Saturday morning to take a look at their new digs.  They had some different trades there fixing this, servicing that.  I noticed that they had a crew there doing maintenance work on their new 1+ acre property.  How could I miss them?  There were so many of them, everywhere I looked there seemed to be another one.  Mind you, the property had not been landscaped only around the home but there was a beautiful border around the entire 1+acre property!  I was oohing and ahhing over how lucky they were to find such a great lot – who cared about the house!!

As we got to talking, my friend said the landscape maintenance company who was there working was the same company that had maintained it for the previous owners.  He thought their rates were reasonable and was probably going to keep them on as well.  I boldly asked how much the company was charging as I live and work in the city and couldn’t imagine how much it was going to cost them to maintain this large property.  He imformed me that the company charged $50 to mow, $58 to mow and remove grass clippings or $75 to mow, remove clippings and maintain the entire property’s borders!  I told him he was getting a steal.

The more I got to thinking about it, the more shocked and upset I got.  Their rates are reasonable.?!.  Their rates are ridiculous!  How could a crew of 5 guys (I think there were 6 guys there, but I’ll be conservative and say 5) cover costs of mowing and maintaining a 1+ acre site let alone make a profit for that price?  It would be difficult for the company I work for to even show up with 5 guys for $50 let alone mow their 1+ acre site.  We have overhead costs of landscape architects, designers,  horticulturists, CPAs, mechanics, etc to cover…$50 to mow 1+ acre site, are you serious?

Then I started to think about how confusing it must seem to homeowners who get estimates from multiple companies for what in their eyes must seem like the same work.  I realize there are people who understand the different levels of service and knowledge between companies.  Even this being my life’s work, I would have a hard time passing up $50!

Scott Grams has provided updates on municipalities requiring CLTs in their bid specifications.  This is a step in the right direction, but what about companies that focus on residential work?  How do we legitimize our work as a professional service when there are “guys with a pick-up truck and a mower” who will provide service at such low rates?  I do believe there is a place for people/companies to get a start in every market, but even having said that – the disparity in prices must seem ridiculous to some.

I don’t know the answer, but I think any of us in the landscaping industry who consider ourselves professionals should be thinking about it.

How did I end up here?
July 7, 2009, 8:45 pm
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Sara Rexroat

At this point in the year I often ask myself “How did I end up here?”.  I am just starting to come out of the spring craze/daze of the midwest landscaping year and sometimes wonder why do I do this. 

This past winter I decided to start tomato plants from seed for the first time ever!  Once I started looking at different varieties, I was barely able to contain my excitement (and choices).  I ended up with 5 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  As the seeds sprouted and I coddled them along, I started to wonder where in the world was I going to put close to 100 tomato plants?  I live in the city and only have a balcony with enough space for 3 pots in addition to 3 window boxes.  That’s when I started asking everyone I know if they could use a tomato plant or two or five.

The last of the seedlings went to an old family friend and I just sent her an email that had all the information on these “not your typical garden center” tomato varieties.  And it made me smile that I was able to share my love of plants with those around me and answered the perennial question “How did I end up here?”.