When Shawn Edwards founded A+ Lawn & Landscape in 1988, there were individual mowing companies, lawn care companies, irrigation companies and design/build companies, but none in central Iowa that did it all. So he set out to build a full-service company that aced every area.
Edwards started with mowing and lawn treatment, leveraging his experience from ChemLawn to build a foundation. The next year, after training with his sprinkler vendor and earning his certification, Edwards added irrigation. Design/build came a couple of years later, as A+ continued to diversify, training employees along the way.
“How I grew each division is, when I had a good handle and good people in place, I was able to give my time to a new division,” Edwards says. “I try not to work in the business full-time. I try to work more on the business. The key is once you've got guys in place, you can start another division.”
An acquisition gave A+ its newest services two years ago, offering fountain installation and pond treatment – the company's smallest but fastest-growing segment.
Now, A+ employs about 40 year-round and 60 full-time seasonal workers who specialize in services spanning design/build, mowing and trimming, lawn care, irrigation, snow removal, ponds and fountains, as well as mower repair and holiday lighting. These people are key to keeping each division of A+ at the top of its class. Through an extensive training program, Edwards has learned to identify and lock in the top performers.
Training for the long-term.
The training program, which includes written tests, at A+ begins before employees even start working.
“We'll say, ‘We're going to hire you, but take these tests,' just to see if they're going to like it or can even handle it,” Edwards says.
Hunter Industries provides video training courses for irrigation as well as spraying and landscaping to orient new hires. Mowing doesn't require coursework, but new employees receive a half-day of in-house training before hitting the field.