One company puts a new spin on safety training

May 22, 2017 -  By

While the subtopics vary, each Rodeo is designed to improve safety and education.

LandCare’s Spring Safety & Equipment Rodeos kick off the season well.

There are many ways to train your team—some more impactful than others. For LandCare, a Frederick, Md.-based national landscaping firm with 50 branches across 20 states, holding a Spring Safety & Equipment Rodeo at the start of the season has been an effective way to train employees on topics like equipment use and safety practices. Each Rodeo is customized to the specific branch’s needs. For example, some might be focused on horticulture training, while other branches might focus primarily on mowing. Across all the branches, however, safety is always a priority.

At this year’s spring Rodeo for the Dallas West branch in Grand Prairie, Texas, Branch Manager Joel Butler says many important topics were covered and employees walked away better educated and ready to start the season. Yet, one of the biggest benefits employees gained was a strengthened sense of camaraderie.

“With these Rodeos, we’re reducing accidents and injuries—and that’s one of the most important reasons we do it,” Butler says. “However, another important piece is the team building that takes place. Our crews get to mix and mingle and spend time fellowshipping before the season kicks off. Before we start the training, we first enjoy a sit-down hour lunch together.”

For the training component, the Dallas West branch joins with vendor partners Exmark and Horizon, who offer instruction on their products. Butler says the involvement of these vendors is a “big key to the event’s success.” Suppliers not only help train but also share some of the event’s costs. For instance, Exmark and Horizon arranged for an ice cream truck to come in to treat everyone to dessert. They’ve also supplied gift cards to the winners of some of the games played during fun competitions.

Overall, Butler says the food cost—approximately $400 to feed 40 employees—was less of an investment than the time off in the field, which can add up quickly. But he says there’s no doubt the value they’ve gotten out of the event far surpasses the costs.

“It’s hard to put an exact dollar value on improving safety, reducing accidents, better training and team building—but it’s absolutely worth the investment in doing this,” Butler says.

Making sure employees have fun and feel valued is also important, adds Ed Schultheis, fleet director for LandCare. He says it syncs with the company’s core values, one of which is to “have fun with a commitment to teamwork.”

“One competition we did—blowing a tennis ball through an obstacle course—was particularly well received,” Schultheis says. “There’s a strong teamwork component to the game. And, of course, the competition part of it is naturally fun for everyone.”

There’s no question the event is a boon for employees, but Schultheis says it’s also been a great way to strengthen the relationship with the company’s key suppliers.

“We rely on our vendors for their expertise, and we truly value our relationships with them not only for this event but throughout the season,” Schultheis says. “Strengthening our relationship with our vendors at the start of the season is very valuable so that when repairs are needed or issues arise, we know they have our back.”

Photos: LandCare

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Casey Payton

About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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