The Story of HireHorticulture

I remember getting my first “real” job (now many years ago) as the HR Manager/Recruiter for a start up electronics company. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I was doing, but the CEO liked me for some reason and took a chance on me.   The CEO showed me to my office on my first day; it was quite impressive; frankly, it was huge. At 20 years old, I’m looking around at my new office, its giant dark cherry wood desk and big chair, thinking about how lucky I was! I was told to pick out my office plants and artwork from a local gallery. I’m thinking, seriously, folks, it doesn’t get better than this.

On that first day, my CEO told me to meet in the conference room for my first strategy meeting; I grabbed my legal pad and pen and off I went. The Officers of the company and the management team were all wearing dark, Secret Service looking suits and sitting around the largest oval table I’d ever seen. It took about 10 minutes into the meeting and I was given my first task; hire 25 new people to join the team, and NOW.  

Remember I said I had no clue what I was doing? I had to think fast as to how I was going to recruit these very “hard to find” roles and ASAP!  I started some fabulous self-talk and kept saying to myself “get creative, be innovative, we need the best of the best.” Que the AHA moment: I’ll just advertise and tell my story about WHY I came to work for the company; what I thought of the CEO and tell HIS story. After all, it really was an amazing story that started this ridiculously cool company.  

I’ll fast forward for the sake of time; the advertising strategies, job fairs, speeches at networking events, etc., ALL worked. And I mean ALL! I went on to hire over 500 people over the next 5 years. I fell in love with being a storytelling recruiter.

My love for recruiting stayed with me, I went on to become the CEO and founder of two independently owned staffing companies for about 14 years, until I realized I was done working 80+ hours a week. 60+ hours = yes, 80+ hours = no.

Because the universe works in mysterious ways and unsure of where I was heading next, I received a call from the CEO and CFO of a local horticulture company that was in expansion mode. Originally hired as a consultant to form their HR Department, tasked with hiring their HR Director, putting policies and procedures in place, and directing recruiting efforts etc., I came to love both the industry and the owners in a very short period.   During the first few weeks I realized that I was meeting and interacting with the most real, honest, authentic and overall loveliest human beings I had ever met!  How could I NOT want to help them out?  I BELIEVED in their story!  So, I asked to stay on and take the job myself. Side note; I was also now blessed to know the difference between an annual and perennial!

Life was good, rebuilding infrastructure, creating and re-creating teams, great candidates showing up like crazy on my desk just from telling THEIR story.

Then it happened. Four years ago, I was sitting at my now light colored, sleek, L-shaped desk, in an equally pretty office (except now I had cement floors)  tasked with recruiting for an experienced Grower, experienced Retail Store Manager, a Sales Lead, a Landscape Foreman, a Project Manager,  and close to 100 seasonal employees that all needed to start within the next 30 days.

I knew unemployment was at an all time low, McDonald’s and Jack in the Box were paying more than we could afford for our seasonals, and even my full-time regular positions struggled to pay as much as the manufacturing companies that surrounded us.  I had the internal struggle of how to help my employer out. If I failed at recruiting, they failed at sales. They failed at sales, people could lose jobs or worse yet, stores could close, estimates wouldn’t get done, installations halted, and customers were not served.

Here’s where the brakes come on. Traditional methods were failing, time was running out. Larger job boards were costing me a fortune based on the Cost Per Click method, and I had to watch them like a hawk – if I didn’t, the ticker just kept going and I could be out of pocket hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for a few people. And, I was tired of paying for candidates that had absolutely no relevant experience in our industry. I nicely (or not so nicely) referred to the Shell gas station worker as a “Petroleum Transfer Agent” just to make myself feel better for paying good money for a profile I’d never call on.

Sleuth-like, I searched the internet to find other means of attracting candidates, including niche job boards in the Horticulture and Landscaping industries.  Yes, there was 1, maybe 2, but neither were active on social media, interactive, or had anyone that would answer the phone. I don’t mind voice mail; but I DO expect a call back! I also wanted to work with a company that had INSIDE knowledge of the industry, spoke my language, and knew what it was it was like to sit across from the CEO of an organization looking at me for answers on how we were going to maintain business; facing a huge talent shortage.

Next AHA moment; I’ll start a job board dedicated to career match making in our great industry. I had a colleague that was willing to take this on with me; the kitchen table and laptops became our very best friend (sorry kids, I know you didn’t get a home cooked meal for like 6 months.) HireHorticulture.com was launched, set out to be of service to our industry and be a resource for everyone else out there that was struggling; candidates looking for great jobs, companies in need of them.

Waiting on pins and needles when we went “live” ALL OVER THE INTERNET, I’ll never forget our very first job post; partly because it came extremely quickly after launch. We were NEEDED! So. Damn. Awesome.

It’s been 4 years now; we are celebrating our anniversary this month and are looking forward to many more years in business.  I still have an L-Shaped desk, but it’s in the HH office now (HH is our acronym so we don’t have to enunciate HireHorticulture 100’s of times a day). At times, depending on the month, we can have 30 or 400+ jobs posted. We continue to offer full cycle recruiting for those that don’t have time to do it themselves, and we have graciously become “partners” with many of our customers in assisting with recruiting strategies and HR issues. We are honored to be of service to both our candidates and client companies; and we look forward to many more. 

Join us! Come along for the ride! We appreciate your support more than words can express.

Cheers to many more Hort and Landscaping job connections,

 

Suzanne Kludt

Founder

HireHorticulture.com, LLC

 
 

 

 

 

CODE: ANNIV2019

 

 

 

 

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