Describe your responsibilities.
I manage the Medxcel landscaping teams in Alabama and that consists of two teams, a team of 11 in Birmingham and a team of 8 in Mobile. In Birmingham we manage six hospitals and one clinic, and in Mobile we manage a large hospital with 264 acres and four clinics. I have a supervisor reporting to me in Birmingham and a Tech III team lead in Mobile; they help supervise and direct their respective teams on a daily basis. I’m a very hands-on manager and I spend about half my time in Mobile and half my time in Birmingham. I help the teams and make sure that the day-to-day work is getting done. Most of my team in Mobile has worked at the hospital for over 20 years; they were employed by the hospital before Medxcel took over five years ago. In Birmingham that was not the case. We built our Medxcel landscaping staff from the ground up five years ago.
What are your responsibilities as Manager outside of the landscaping work itself?
As Manager, it’s my job to manage a lot of relationships, with our customers, other Medxcel teams, and my staff. Day to day I make sure that my teams have what they need, know where they need to be, and know what needs to be done. Outside of that I’m the face of Medxcel landscaping with the administration at the hospitals we serve. It’s my job to build and nurture those relationships. I work hard to keep them informed each month as to our plans and I make sure there are no surprises. It’s our job to make our hospital administration look good by providing a beautiful campus without them worrying about how the work is getting done. I try to let my teams do their own work, I’m not a micromanager. I have great teams and they know how to do their job well. It’s my job to support them and oversee the entire scope of work, making sure that the product we’re putting out there is the quality it needs to be. I provide weekly reports for our sites to let the administration know what we’ve accomplished and what we’re doing next. That helps keep them informed, provides them with a snapshot of our accomplishments, and it helps hold us accountable.
How did you arrive in this position?
I graduated from Auburn as a horticulture major and after graduation I worked for several different landscaping companies and then a turf treating company. Some years ago a friend of mine who was a former coworker was working as the Landscaping Supervisor for Medxcel in Birmingham. He started encouraging me to join Medxcel. Eventually I joined Medxcel as a Tech II. Birmingham continued to grow and when my friend was promoted to Manager I was promoted to Supervisor. When he became the Regional Manager, I got promoted to my current position as Manager.
What types of training do you provide to your landscaping staff?
Medxcel is very big on providing training to all associates and I work hard to provide lots of local training to my teams. We hold an equipment rodeo twice each year. We bring in vendors if we can and we set up games and put everyone on different pieces of equipment to be sure they know how to operate it in different environments. We do the rodeo in both the spring and the fall because we use different types of equipment in different seasons. We train our associates on everything they need to know including driver training, we leave no stone uncovered. Medxcel also pays for associates to go to classes to obtain licenses and certifications within their field.
What is the best part of your job?
People are the best part of my job, I’m a real people person. I love the relationships with my team, my administration, and others within Medxcel. When we first started at Birmingham there was a lot of work to do building relationships with our hospital administration. Before we came on, they were in charge of landscaping and they were afraid they were losing their voice when Medxcel came on board. But we worked really hard to invest in those relationships and to have open lines of communication, so they know what we’re doing and now they know that we do a great job and that we help make them look good. Communication is really important because sometimes there are emotional attachments to the property itself, perhaps a specific tree or shrub. Without good communication, one of those things might be removed one day and suddenly the whole hospital is in an uproar about it.
How does the weather in Alabama impact your teams?
We have a lot of hurricanes in Alabama, and I make sure that I communicate to our administration in advance of a storm to let them know the proactive steps we’re taking, like pulling in trash cans and securing any objects that might take flight. It’s important to demonstrate that we’re proactive, not just reactive. They just want to know that things are being taken care of, that they don’t need to worry about those kinds of things in the face of a major storm.
Which of Medxcel’s Core Values speaks to you the most?
Here in Alabama we love to give back to our local communities, so I would say Service of the Poor. Both of our locations participate in community service projects monthly, it’s really important to many of our team members to be able to give back. As a leader, there is nothing like a community service project to bring our team together. A lot of times I hear them still talking about it weeks later, it’s obviously a great experience for them to know they’ve done something to help someone else, it pays huge dividends in multiple ways. As far as projects, we’ve participated in a wide variety of things. We do a lot of storm cleanup after tornadoes and hurricanes. We work in a local food pantry. Some of us do mentoring, helping people get back on their feet and talking about what we’re looking for in people who might like to join our landscaping team. Sometimes we help with construction work on houses for single mothers. Our service projects began with just our landscaping teams, but in the past two years we’ve had more Medxcel teams join us including Fire Safety, PDC and Facilities. It’s a great opportunity for the various teams to come together and get to know one another while serving others.
Is there a particular service project that stands out in your memory?
We often go out and help with neighborhood cleanup projects after tornadoes. Once, one of our Facility Managers had his house demolished by a tornado. A group of Medxcel associates volunteered to spend a week down there helping him out and removing all the trees and debris so that he could start the rebuilding process. I know that really meant a lot to him and gave him peace of mind. In these catastrophic situations it’s amazing to see the help flowing in from Medxcel, from people in all levels of the company and travelling from many regions. We are truly one big family.
Is there a project you’re particularly proud of?
Last year in Mobile we experienced two hurricanes in close succession, and they hadn’t experienced any in the last five years. Medxcel landscaping demonstrated a different approach to storm recovery than the hospital system had experienced in the past. Of course, hospitals never close, but it’s our goal to get things in the hospital “open” and back to normal as quickly as possible, even after a category three or four storm. After a big hurricane we had all our office buildings open within 24 hours and the grounds were completely cleaned up within one week. We worked round the clock. The local team worked days, and we brought in leaders and others from other regions to work at night, people came in from all over the country. The hospital still talks about it; they had never experienced that kind of service prior to Medxcel. It used to take at least two to four weeks for the campuses to get cleaned up in the past, we did it in less than seven days. It’s such a blessing the way Medxcel comes together in times of need; it’s all about helping each other out and serving our customers and their patients.
What would you tell someone considering a career with Medxcel?
I think every day I’m telling someone they should come on board with Medxcel. I’m selling it every day and I work a lot of career fairs. I love to talk about what Medxcel has done in my life and what it’s meant to me to work for a faith-based company. I’ve been promoted two times in the past five years. Medxcel loves to help us grow our careers and supports us every step of the way. When possible, they try to grow their own leaders and promote from within.
Is there anything you’ve learned at Medxcel that you didn’t expect?
The wonderful thing about landscaping at Medxcel as that our jobs are not the usual “mow, blow and go”. We’re not rushing through the job, racing off to another customer to boost our revenue. We’re here to serve our customer and their patients, and I’ve learned that our work positively impacts our patients and staff. We’re out there planting flowers and a patient might come out and talk to us and want to know all about the plants, and maybe ask advice for their own garden. We provide our teams with a lot of training on plants so that they’re truly knowledgeable and can have those discussions. I teach my staff that we are in the patient care business, not just landscaping. Nobody wants to be in the hospital, and if beautiful landscaping can cause a bit of positive distraction to a patient or visitor as they enter or leave our building, then we’ve done our job. I hope they can spend a few moments just enjoying the beauty of the setting. It’s also important for us to remember that the landscaping and grounds really sets that first impression for people; nobody wants to take their friend or relative to a hospital that’s shabby and overgrown. You’d never trust that you were going to receive quality care inside if the outside is not cared for.