Calvin Bradley is a born leader. His grandfather saw that potential even when he was a young boy, helping around their family’s Texas ranch. Coaches saw it, when he excelled as a high school athlete on the football field and running track. And, as an adult, Bradley’s innate leadership talents came across immediately during job interviews with Summit Landscape and Design in Hondo, Texas, where he now works as a lead production manager.
“It was clear from the start that Calvin was going to be able to do whatever you asked him to do,” says Summit Landscape and Design General Manager Jonathan Peterson, who is also an ownership partner in the company alongside his brother, Founder Josiah Peterson. “Calvin started leading from day one.”
So — to those who know him well, at least — it’s not a huge surprise that Bradley has been named one of this year’s Lawn & Landscape’s Employee of the Year Award winners.
“Calvin deserves (the award recognition),” says Tanner Maloney, an installation team leader at Summit Landscape and Design. “He’s awesome. Everybody here loves him.”
Bradley’s captivating and engaging leadership style, in fact, has helped shape the entire leadership culture at Summit in a positive way, Maloney says.
“I was surprised when I first started working here, watching the way he works at the level he is,” Maloney says. “Typically, at other companies, the foreman or project manager often just sits in the truck and watches everybody. But Calvin actually gets out and helps. And I really appreciated that. And because of that, everyone here respects him so much.”
A natural fit
A native of Giddings, Texas, Bradley started working at Summit as a field team member in 2014, following years of working in the plumbing and natural gas industries after high school. While he was new to lawn and landscape installation and maintenance, the work came naturally to him.
“I grew up in the country, and my brothers and I were always out in the woods playing and building stuff out of logs and natural rock,” says Bradley, the oldest of four siblings. “I love the hands-on part of this work. I love going out there, helping the crews, and getting dirty.”
Once on staff, Bradley promptly worked his way up to team leader and then site manager.
By 2021, he had been promoted to his current position as lead production manager at Summit Landscape and Design.
Bradley credits his rise within the company, in part, to sharing similar goals and priorities with Summit’s co-owners Jonathan and Josiah Peterson.
“We clicked immediately,” Bradley says of the threesome’s working relationship. “It’s a family company, and they really prioritize taking care of people.”
As the father of four children — Martauves, 17; Marvaghlin, 15; Markel, 14; and Mariah, 9 — and proud husband to his high school sweetheart, Kayla, family is a driving source of motivation for Bradley, too.
“I couldn’t really do what I do without my wife and my kids,” Bradley says. “Just having them around me and the love that they bring, it motivates me to get up and make sure that I do my job the best that I can.”
A gift for mentoring
In his current role, Bradley manages between three and four Summit crews. He tries to visit with each crew on their jobsites — which include a mix of both residential and commercial clients — for at least two hours per day. He also assists other production managers at Summit in running and managing their crews as well.
The positive effects of Bradley’s leadership at Summit are far-reaching. He played a critical role in helping the company launch a new direct reporting system that greatly improved communication flow between team members. He also helped extend the life of Summit’s equipment by leading crew trainings on proper usage of each machine.
As further testament to his leadership role within the company, Bradley is also charged with leading the morning safety huddle for the entire company each day.
“There’s just something about how Calvin carries himself that makes him seem so approachable,” Jonathan Peterson says. “He is really there for the guys that report to him, and they see him as not just a boss, but as a mentor. He’s willing to have a hard conversation with somebody if it’s the right thing to do.”
Oftentimes, crew members approach Bradley for advice or assistance even on non-work issues — such as where best to buy a car or apply for a bank account, for example.
“My lifestyle used to be sort of rough,” Bradley says about his youth. “And now guys who are maybe dealing with some hard issues feel comfortable coming up to me, and I can relate with them and say, ‘You can’t give up on people. There are a lot of people out there who want to help. You just have got to look for them.’”
When serving as a mentor to younger members of the Summit crew, Bradley feels he’s able to pay forward support he himself received from key mentors in his life, including his grandfather, who played a central role in raising him, along with his mom. Part of Bradley’s recipe for success, despite certain personal hardships in his younger days, has always been his willingness to work hard, he believes.
“I love to work. I’m always willing to work hard,” he says.
“Growing up, helping my grandfather on his ranch, we were used to getting up early to feed the goats and chickens before we ate breakfast and caught the bus to school. So, knowing how to do hard work was something that was built into us.”
No matter what position Bradley has held at Summit, he’s excelled there.
“Jonathan and Josiah know that wherever they put me, I’m going to get my job done, and I’m going to get it done to the best of my ability,” Bradley says.
Bradley’s hands-on leadership style is something everyone at the company has come to appreciate.
“Calvin doesn’t just tell people how to do their job, he shows them,” Jonathan Peterson says. “And if they do make a mistake, he’s going to gladly jump in and help them fix it.”
Bradley’s humble — but hardworking — management approach has made him a true asset to the Summit team, Peterson says.
“Calvin has a gift of being introspective, which is not something that a lot of people have. He’s willing to do whatever is asked, but he also has a confidence to be able to say, ‘Maybe this isn’t the best way to do (this task). What if we did it this way?’”
Peterson particularly lauded Bradley’s ability to get a point across but not come across as judgmental.
“Calvin is just such a good leader,” Peterson says, summing up Bradley’s enviable skill set.
“He is just so genuine, in all aspects of his life. And in every aspect of his life — whether at work, at home in his extended family, as a coach of local little league teams, and in the broader community — he is universally loved and respected.”
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