Wise beyond his years

He isn’t 30 years old yet, but that hasn’t stopped Carlos Garcia from getting close to his goal at Landscape Elements ND.

Carlos Garcia of Landscape Elements ND is a 2020 Employee of the Year
Photo courtesy of Landscape Elements ND

He admits he doesn’t take orders well. Maybe that’s been a main driving force behind Carlos Garcia’s climb of the ladder at Landscape Elements ND in Williston, North Dakota. “So, I’ve always shot for a higher position,” Garcia says.

It doesn’t come from arrogance either. Garcia is just a proactive, driven individual who wants to make those around him better. “Carlos is the type of person you want your company to grow with,” says Office Manager, Diana Gomez, who nominated Garcia. “He’s a great person to be around and truly someone who, at a young age, has taken full advantage of his opportunities to make the best version of himself.”

Garcia, operations manager and director of sales, joined Landscape Elements, which his uncle owns, in 2013 as a maintenance manager. He got the landscaping bug helping at the lawn care company his dad, who also works at Landscape Elements, started. “Honestly, this turned into my life,” he says. “I like seeing landscapes be created. I like seeing lawns being taken care of. It’s just something I fell in love with to be honest with you.”

Age is just a number.

At 27, Garcia isn’t a kid anymore, but he’s still young to be in a leadership position. At 18, he worked in an oil field and was supervising workers in their 40s and 50s.

“I was already leading my own crew, bagging sand and doing some other operations in a yard,” he says. “Prior to that I was working for another company and I was also maintenance supervisor. So, I’ve always had like a position higher up.”

He says older workers could be tough on him in the beginning, but it comes down to leading by example and results speak for themselves.

“Once they see that you’re actually talented at what you’re doing, and you actually have enough work for them, and they see that everything is running smooth and there’s no problems, then they respect you,” he says. “I believe that age doesn’t matter after that.”

A driven attitude like Garcia has, where he doesn’t like being told what to do, could come off as abrasive. But Garcia says he didn’t want to step on toes to show his interest promotions, rather just let his work do the talking.

“If there are higher ups, they would see what I was capable of,” he says. “I wasn’t being sneaky or being a brown noser or anything. I would just let my work define who I was. I think that’s why I would always get early on opportunities and good positions because of the way I would work.”

And it’s the finished product that has earned him praise from customers. Landscape Elements was already on the job when Sherry Thompson took over as community manager at Regency Apartment Homes.

“Carlos is one of the two vendors that I have kept from day one that had been on the property,” she says. “The rest of them I pretty well got rid of them. His landscaping, it surpasses anybody else here in Wellington. You can always look around the town and you can tell which properties are his.”

But Garcia really showed his true colors when there was an issue with Thompson’s property. Last year she noticed some of the shrubs on her property weren’t up to par, so she called Garcia at night to let him know.

“When I came in at nine o’clock, they were already out there and they were already working on the shrubs,” she says. “And that’s the only time that I’ve ever had to have him come back and just touch up and redo something.”

“Carlos is one of the two vendors that I have kept from day one that had been on the property. His landscaping, it surpasses anybody else here in Wellington.” Sherry Thompson, community manager, at Regency Apartment Homes

The right relationships.

Beyond hard work, listening is another skill Garcia has, which helped him make a crucial change at the company. Employees used to work on all types of jobs from pavers to irrigation to landscaping.

“People were always complaining,” he says. “They were always telling me that they hated to do this, and they hated doing that; they didn’t like to lift the heavy pavers, or they didn’t like to mow grass.”

So, he took three workers who liked paver work, teamed them up with someone who was good at paver work, and formed a crew. He took that approach for every employee and accommodated as best he could.

“I asked the employees what they want to learn, what they feel comfortable with, where they’re happy, and that’s the crews we formed,” he says. “Obviously, they have good crew leaders and they can learn what they actually want to there. I have happier employees and they do work a lot faster. I haven’t had any issues with any of my employees probably in the last two years.”

If someone wants to be on a crew, but there isn’t room or they aren’t good enough, Garcia will still give them a chance.

“It all depends on timing and it also depends on how much work I have,” he says. “If it’s pretty slow or I have really good people in that crew and all my other crews are filled and this guy wants to move to another crew to learn something new, I don’t have a problem moving them up to the other crews so they can actually learn. Because if somebody actually wants to learn something, you’d be surprised how fast they can.”

Creating that relationship with an employee will create great results, Garcia says.

“Once you listen to an employee and see what they really want or what they’re interested in learning, they’re usually giving 150%, especially because they don’t want to fall behind because they’re already with the crew that already knows what they’re doing.”

Gomez says that attitude has created an easier, more communicative environment.

“He listens to every employee with gratitude and gives them all the same respect,” she says. “He truly believes a company runs smoothly by having employees who are happy to attend their jobs as well as complete their job duties. Thankfully, he’s had that experience. Thanks to him, the company has been increasing in profit and revenue year by year.”

If Garcia keeps helping the company grow like he has, the dislike for taking orders might not be an issue in future plans, as he hopes to take the company over from his uncle one day.

I’ve always wanted to run my own company,” he says. “That’s the goal.”

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