One Contractor’s Journey Toward a Stronger Team and a Better Life

by | Sep 21, 2018 | Blog, Landscaping

Calming the Whirlwind: One Contractor’s Journey Toward a Stronger Team and a Better Life 

Belknap Landscape Company was caught in the whirlwind. With each passing day, owner Hayden McLaughlin felt the organization he had grown and nurtured since 1989 begin to slip further out of his grasp. He and his team were working seven days a week but gaining little traction, profits were dwindling, and the business was becoming more and more vulnerable. McLaughlin was worried about his team. They were loyal. He wanted to give them a clear career path and opportunities with Belknap Landscape Company. With each passing day, the whirlwind gained strength until McLaughlin and his team were exhausted, burnt out and disillusioned. 

“There was too much burden on management to be able to function at the level we needed to function,” McLaughlin remembers. “Being an owner, I was accountable to myself, but I was also accountable to my employees and my clients.” That accountability drove him to seek a solution that would pull Belknap out of the whirlwind and place the business on solid ground. He found that solution in LandOpt, a green industry service organization based in Pittsburgh. 

Getting to the Root 

Shortly after beginning to work with a dedicated coach through LandOpt, McLaughlin discovered the main culprit contributing to the whirlwind was a lack of definition around who was responsible for what. As a result, tasks often got arbitrarily assigned with no clear end goal. McLaughlin shares, “People were wearing too many hats. It wasn’t working for us.” This disorganization and lack of clarity and structure began to adversely impact customer relationships. Often, McLaughlin had to step in and do damage control, adding to his already overflowing plate. “I’m a father of three. It began to affect my home life.” 

Playing for the Same Team 

One of the first orders of business in righting the ship was to assign clear roles and responsibilities. “Once we were able to do this, the light came on,” McLaughlin says. For the first time, he was able to identify the right people for the right roles, which reduced turnover and increased team morale. “Before we had defined roles and responsibilities, I would hand a task off to whoever was closest to me, and that person would be responsible for it. Now, our Account Managers, Project Managers, sales people, and crews have clearly defined roles and systems in place. People know what other people are doing. Things run smoothly.” 

Embracing the Calm 

Although it is mostly smooth sailing these days, McLaughlin shares the transformation the business underwent in partnership with LandOpt was initially met with some resistance. Once the team had a clear understanding of the end goal, though, that resistance began to fade. “When we reflect on what it used to be like and what it is today, we realize things are so much simpler because we follow the process, and the process brings results,” McLaughlin says. “We now have solutions for everyday challenges that before would absorb enormous amounts of time.” And how has McLaughlin fared personally? “Life is a lot calmer now.” 

Is the whirlwind robbing you of your passion for your business? Visit or call 412.567.4328 x303 to discover how to reignite that passion and get your team – and your business — back on track. 


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Alison Blobner




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