Change a life

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February 27, 2019

If the smile from our cover subject this month is any indication of what it’s like to work with second chance employees, then everyone should jump on board.

It seems like in every photo we took of Scooter Langley, he’s smiling like he’s the happiest man alive. In the last year or so, I’ve heard from more and more contractors who are working with local correctional facilities or are interested in learning more about hiring second chance employees.

With the labor shortage the industry has experienced, employees who need a reprieve from a past mistake are another option for you.

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

But that isn’t the only reason some contractors I’ve talked to have gotten involved. They also want to give back to their community and help someone who made a mistake find employment. Some contractors themselves have had to overcome past poor choices to get where they are today.

Maybe someone took a chance on you and helped you get to a point where your past wasn’t an issue anymore. Or maybe no one gave you a shot, like a contractor we interviewed in this story, who started his own company because he couldn’t find the right fit.

There may be some of you who see the story and think focusing on second chance employees is setting a low bar for the industry because owners have to look to reformed criminals to find labor.

But I see it another way.

This industry is made up of people – even competitors – who are willing to help each other out if it helps the industry as a whole.

So, it’s no surprise that some contractors would take this approach to help out people who need an olive branch.

Now, I haven’t heard of too many success stories with second chance employees, and the data isn’t really clear on how many might end up back in prison, so I don’t think anyone will or should use this as a main avenue to finding good labor. But it’s another tool in your tool belt, and you could change someone’s life along the way.

This industry is made up of people – even competitors – who are willing to help each other out if it helps the industry as a whole.

We also cover a different labor pool through our Generation Green supplement. At first glance, horticulture students and inmates don’t have that much in common.

But one common theme between the two groups is that they both are looking for an opportunity – whether that’s because they got busted for drug possession or because they didn’t do as well in school as their competition.

As a green industry business owner, you can provide that opportunity, and you can put a Scooter-like smile on someone’s face – maybe theirs and yours. – Brian Horn