Teamwork... by Nathan Story

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

- Andrew Carnegie

As I begin my third season with New Frontiers Landscaping, it is now a bit easier to look back at past failures and successes. As landscape contractors, we are trained to look at success and failure through a different lens than others. Does a job take longer than it should? Is the effort I am putting into a project equal to the progress we as a team are making? Is the customer’s vision shown throughout a project? And finally, am I and my team happy with the outcome of a project?

Consistency in design can be the death of creativity while consistency in teamwork drives the proverbial machine forward. It is this consistency for which we strive to achieve. Having the knowledge that consistent hard work and dedication are the unit by which we measure our success, how do we form our team to best succeed?

We build our team like we build our walls, from the base up. A solid base holds the system up and keeps the system level. Just like a solid base, it is the leader’s responsibility to keep a team together and moving forward. From the base we lay our first blocks. These blocks form with the base a foundation responsible for the strength and direction of the entire wall. Like these first blocks, it is the foreman’s responsibility to motivate individual crew members in the direction of the entire team. Finally from the foundation we build the wall. Brick by brick the wall forms until we have a functioning system where each separate part relies on its counterparts to keep the wall together.

In order to succeed, the leader relies on individuals within the team to function consistently and to their fullest potential.

- Nathan Story

38 years and counting...

What does 38 years look like to a tree?  I suppose it depends on what kind of tree we’re asking.  A Staghorn Sumac may never make it to the 38 year mark. However, the White Oak may reply with “I’m just getting started!…”

Trees will change over the course of  nearly four decades. A sapling maple will fill out to provide ample and abundant shade.   A squatting blue spruce will stretch toward the sky with a statement of authority. A spindly oak will become the stately specimen tree that watches over a grand estate. None of these trees retain every attribute of their youth.

We can look at a business in the same way.  We all know of businesses that have come and gone over the last few years.  Yet, we also recall the organizations that seem to have always been around.  

New Frontiers Landscaping has aged much like the oak tree we planted in our youth.  It’s not that we tower over Indiana or spread our branches across the state of Michigan.  Instead, we are a company who has been blessed with the opportunities to grow just the right amount at just the right times.  

Personally, I’ve worked at New Frontiers for 20 of the 38 years it’s been in business!  I can look back at a lifetime’s worth of work and smile when I think about the awesome projects I’ve been a part of… as well as the awesome people I’ve had alongside me.  Co-workers who watched me grow up are now cheering me on as I raise children of my own! Bosses, past and present, have not only developed my leadership skills but have also become family, friends, and allies.  This really has been a great way to live this life.

38 years in business and New Frontiers is feeling more like an oak tree every day… We’re just getting started!  This growing season will definitely look different from the last. What is it that you should expect from us?  

That’s simple… Our roots will dig deeper as our shade stretches further.  Our trunk and branches will strengthen as we welcome the next season of change!

-josh

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Quercus alba

Did you know…. the White Oak has an average lifespan of 300 years with the possibility of living up to 600 years old!

Goodbye winter...

What a severe yet master artist old Winter is.... No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel. ~John Burroughs, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866

“The Snow-Walkers” is an essay examining the coldest time of the year.  John Burroughs contrasts winter to our warmer seasons. He looks closely at the beautiful and abundant life that may remain hidden to the uninterested observer.   

Spring and summer offer a beauty that is easy to see.  Bright flowers and lush lawns are easy on the eyes. It’s nice to think about our gardens and backyards when we’re dealing with the sloppy side of winter, isn't’ it?

However; don’t overlook the abstract beauty that winter exposes!  The patterns in the branching of a japanese maple can be stunning!  The swaying golden blades of an ornamental grass are mesmerizing!  Look closely at the contrast between light and dark as white snow wraps around the black bark of a sugar maple tree.  Consider the absence of color in our landscape right now…. Have you ever wondered why black and white photographs reach into the depths of our hearts and souls?  Contrast.

Contrast can be a beautiful thing!  A colorful palette is always more effective when combined with a balanced contrasting background.  Think of winter in the same way; a backdrop to set the balance of our seasons against. The moments of perfection we can see in the winter will always be with us, gently setting the stage for the beauty that our colorful seasons will add.

Spring is right around the corner!  We’ll soon be able to witness nature awakening day by day… sometimes even hour by hour.  We can make it through the melting ice and the slushy snow if we remember the beautiful parts about winter in northern Indiana!  As Burroughs reflected ‘the [snow] drifts… earth stained and weather worn’ will be a fleeting moment. They’ll be here one day and gone the next.  Then we can study the contrast of the sugar maples’ bark against the young bright green foliage of a new season! Enjoy the transition, and then welcome spring with open arms.

- joshua

“But with March our interest in [winter] begins to decline. Vague rumors are afloat in the air of a great and coming change. We are eager for Winter to be gone, since he, too, is fugitive and cannot keep his place. Invisible hands deface his icy statuary; his chisel has lost its cunning. The drifts, so pure and exquisite, are now earth-stained and weather-worn, - the flutes and scallops, and fine, firm lines, all gone; and what was a grace and an ornament to the hills is now a disfiguration. Like worn and unwashed linen appear the remains of that spotless robe with which he clothed the world as his bride. ~John Burroughs”, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866