It’s a photo of my 2002 Toyota Sequoia hitting the 200,000-mile mark. It’s significant for two reasons. Number one, it’s been an excellent truck, still looks great and rides great and it’s paid for. (Dave Ramsey, eat your heart out.) Number two, it’s a lesson in leadership, I think. Let me explain.

I would love to have a brand new truck; to be honest who wouldn’t. New stuff is great, but after a while the newness wears off and it’s just transportation, right? But in a business environment where I have made cuts and my whole team at Grunder Landscaping Company is trying to save money and make sacrifices while we wait for the economy to turn around, does it really make sense for the owner, the leader of our company, to get a new truck? I don’t think it does.

I firmly believe a leader shows what’s important to them by what they do more so than by what they say. You know me, I’m a professional speaker; I speak to my people all the time.

Most of what I talk to them about revolves around our Vision Statement: Our Vision is … To be recognized by our clients, our team members, and experts in our industry as the best landscaping company in our market area.

And our Mission Statement: Our Mission is … To enhance the beauty and value of every client’s property while exceeding their expectations every step of the way.

And our 4 Core Values: The Grunder Landscaping Company is guided by four core values which create a framework for decision making.

1. Quality. We must do everything the best possible way. We are completely committed to high standards in all aspects of our business. We will:

  • Use the best materials and continually enhance our offerings.
  • Hire the best team and develop new leaders through mentoring and training.
  • Provide the best service and continually look for opportunities to improve.
  • Commit to the safest work environment with no compromises and continual vigilance.

2. Leadership. We are a leader in our industry and our community and therefore dedicated to being the best in all that we do. As a leader we will:

  • Deliver high standards in quality and service.
  • Be good environmental stewards.
  • Act with integrity and professionalism with our employees, clients, vendors and peers.
  • Maintain an image that supports our mission.

3. Teamwork. We strive to work together with our clients, vendors, team members, and the entire community by:

  • Showing respect to all.
  • Supporting cooperation.
  • Adapting to the ever changing work environment.
  • Providing effective communication to all.

4. Profitability. The efficient use of labor and materials results in a profitable company. Being profitable enables us to:

  • Reinvest in new equipment, processes, facilities, and people to help us grow
  • Provide for growth and opportunities for our team
  • Help our team provide for themselves and their families
  • Give back to the community

We talk to our people weekly about where we are going and what we are trying to do. We try hard to reinforce the behaviors that are consistent with these beliefs and stop the behaviors that don’t. The above words aren’t just words, they are who we are and what we do; they serve as our compass. So, if that’s the case, should the leader, me, Marty Grunder, eat, drink, and sleep them too?

My favorite quote that hangs in our office is this one: “Whatever you allow, you encourage.” My right-hand man, Paul Stoll, found that. I love it. And I think that is some great advice.

How I can ask my team for help but then pull up in a brand new truck? Doesn’t that send the wrong message? For now, my truck is just fine and I hope in a small way I’m teaching a lesson and showing that I too am making some sacrifices. I got a new radio put in it and I’m getting it detailed and it’s become a game to see if I can get the machine to 250,000 miles. Maybe one of you who gets my weekly Great Idea works for Toyota or knows someone who does; if you do, I can be hired as a spokesperson rather cheaply. 🙂

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