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How Todd Pugh developed lean practices at Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc. Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2010

Todd Pugh isn’t one to put things off and procrastinate when a task needs to be completed. So when it comes to assessing the level of inefficiency and wasted effort at Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc., Pugh likes to do it when his people are at their busiest.

“That’s kind of backward in your thinking that you don’t have the time to go out and observe when you’re busy,” says Pugh, the 125-employee landscaping company’s founder and CEO. “But you waste the most amount of money when you’re busiest.”

In these difficult economic times where every dollar and cent counts, waste is something that few companies can afford to tolerate. And since Pugh has a lofty goal of making his company the No. 1 landscaping company in the world, he wants to do whatever it takes to reduce waste.

“May 1, we’ll be mowing 700 acres a week,” Pugh says. “Your mindset is, as long as everything is moving, everything is OK. But it really isn’t the case. When everything is moving like that, that’s when you really want to go out and get your hands in the dirt and go and observe every step of the way.”

Pugh wants to measure such things as how long it takes to unload equipment off the trailer, how long it takes to get from one job site to the next and how much time is spent en route talking about what needs to be done at the next site.

“Every one of those things are little things, but if you take a hundred little things over 10 crews, that’s one huge thing,” Pugh says.

So how do you make this assessment when your people have so much work to do?

Pugh suggests starting with a small three- to five-day block of time and simply charting every aspect of how a particular group of employees does its job.

“We said, ‘Listen, we all need to look internally. Where are we good? Where are we wasting things? Where can we get better?’” Pugh says. “We started to look, and we realized how much waste there really was.”

When someone finds a better way of doing something, don’t just nod and smile and go about your day. Get that person to write it down and share it with his or her colleagues.

“So how a guy sharpens his mower blade is a written work instruction,” Pugh says. “How a guy is supposed to mow and maintain a property, we have a written instruction for that. We have the basics. Then it’s like, ‘OK, every one of you guys are encouraged to get better at this. Find ways to improve and continually get better.”

You need to play a lead role in expressing your dedication to the cause of reducing waste and convincing those who are skeptical to buy in.

“I was probably aware that 20 percent of the people sitting in that room would not be with us at the end of the journey because they either didn’t buy in or they didn’t believe it,” Pugh says. “So I encouraged them to not be the 20 percent.”

You need to put in the effort yourself to get your people on board.

“You have to have a CEO that either is willing to reinvent himself and do it himself or invest in a person that they trust and believe can see it through,” Pugh says. “Leaders sometimes underestimate the value of what their people think about them. If they don’t see their leader growing, a lot of times, there’s no reason for them to grow. If they see the leader or managers of the business really growing or being pushed to grow, the only thing they know is that they must grow.”

And when it comes to reducing waste, there is always more room to grow.

“I hear people say, ‘Oh, we went through all our processes and we’re as lean as you can be,’” Pugh says. “When I hear that, that tells me that somebody has not dug to the level they need to.”

How to reach: Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc., (330) 875-0768 or www.growinggood.com

Todd Pugh, founder and CEO, Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc.

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Stay involved

Todd Pugh believes one of the keys to getting your people to work hard on the job is to train them about things that aren’t specifically job related.

“If you make the people you have working for you better, it just brings the whole level up,” says Pugh, founder and CEO of Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc. “I’ll have people say to me, ‘Aren’t you afraid that if you make them this smart, they’ll go out on their own and be competitors of yours?’ My response is, ‘Yeah, that’s a chance you take.’ But I’d rather have better people represent the Enviroscapes brand than trying to hold people down under my finger.”

Be involved in the training and directly work with your people so that you can all grow as a team.

“You need to have that open line of communication from the CEO all the way to the field people,” Pugh says. “That’s part of our weekly training. We have everybody involved, myself, all the managers and all the workers. We force questions. ‘What did you learn in the field last week? What was your best practice? What are you doing to make your job better than yesterday?’ When you get picked on in those training sessions, you better have an answer.”

How to reach: Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc., (330) 875-0768 or www.growinggood.com

Stay involved

Todd Pugh believes one of the keys to getting your people to work hard on the job is to train them about things that aren’t specifically job related.

“If you make the people you have working for you better, it just brings the whole level up,” says Pugh, founder and CEO of Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc. “I’ll have people say to me, ‘Aren’t you afraid that if you make them this smart, they’ll go out on their own and be competitors of yours?’ My response is, ‘Yeah, that’s a chance you take.’ But I’d rather have better people represent the Enviroscapes brand than trying to hold people down under my finger.”

Be involved in the training and directly work with your people so that you can all grow as a team.

“You need to have that open line of communication from the CEO all the way to the field people,” Pugh says. “That’s part of our weekly training. We have everybody involved, myself, all the managers and all the workers. We force questions. ‘What did you learn in the field last week? What was your best practice? What are you doing to make your job better than yesterday?’ When you get picked on in those training sessions, you better have an answer.”

How to reach: Todd’s Enviroscapes Inc., (330) 875-0768 or www.growinggood.com