Quality in Every Job
Go Green Landscape & Tree Service treats employees like family
Serving a diverse lineup of commercial clients in the greater Phoenix area has been the way Go Green Landscape & Tree Service (Go Green) has always done business. The company performs work such as landscape maintenance, irrigation management and tree trimming at all different types of client properties.
This diversity has always meant broad services offered to a great range of clients that appreciates Go Green’s expertise in water conservation and sustainability. But during the pandemic, which has brought economic downturn to so many industries, it has also kept the company strong.
“We’re blended in terms of clients, and this put stability in the mix. We are not just specializing in one area, but serving shopping malls, homeowner’s associations, medical facilities and more. This spread is what gives us balance,” says Drue Engels, the company’s Managing Partner, “When COVID hit, we were not all buried in retail” and susceptible to financial trouble.
In fact, Go Green was able to increase business by 20% during the pandemic in 2020, Drue says. It has reinvested those profits into the company, hiring New Business Development Manager Tori Harris and purchasing more vehicles, bringing its fleet of landscape trucks to 19.
The company’s financial health is important for clients—some who have been Go Green customers since the firm’s founding in 2007— and for its 60 employees, says Owner and President Cathleen Engels, Drue’s wife.
Drue and Cathleen’s nephew Cody McCloskey, Director of Operations, is one of those employees, and an example of the kind of hard-working, committed team member who represents the Go Green brand. Hired as a laborer about 10 years ago, Cody has grown with the company and earned various credentials along the way, says Cathleen, such as an ISA arborist certification and contractor’s CR-21 license. His role includes overseeing all operations, with weekly operations and business-development staff meetings. Cody prides himself on his ability to provide customer satisfaction.
The family force continues from there. Bobby McCloskey, Cody’s brother, is an Assistant Manager with Go Green. After time away from the company, Cathleen and Drue’s daughter Ashley Calihan is back as an Administrative Assistant. “She is an integral part of the team,” supporting operations, marketing and management,” says Cathleen. “She is my right arm and involved in all facets of the business.”
Though Tori is not related to the Engels family by blood, she says working for them is the next best thing. “They make you feel like you never want to leave,” she says. “They take great care of us.” According to the Engelses, Tori is taking great care of Go Green in return, building client relationships.
Tori recently moved back to Arizona and was hired by the company in July 2020. However, traditional ways to spread the word about a company, such as lunches and pop-ins, were hampered due to COVID restrictions. So, Tori got creative. Her strategy has been to leverage existing clients of the certified woman-owned company in reaching out to prospective customers.
To Tori, it just made sense to have real clients email recommendation letters or make phone calls on behalf of the company.
“That says a lot,” says Drue, “because clients are quick to tell you if you are doing something wrong. Ours will go out of their way to speak about the good work we do.”
Tori has also introduced a potential client to an existing client, in person, as work was underway. “It was at a property right behind a client’s yard. I left them alone to chat about Go Green and our services. At the same time, they could look right over and see how our crews operate. I landed a new contract that way,” Tori says.
Go Green’s good work extends beyond its for-profit endeavors.
An active partner in the community, the company has supported causes such as Scottsdale Healthcare (now HonorHealth) by organizing its golf tournament in past years, raising money for Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) clinic locations, which serve those in need, regardless of their ability to pay.
No Two Projects Alike
The company coordinates with property managers, Drue says, with homeowner’s associations representing about a third of the company’s business. Go Green provides maintenance for common green areas, such as grass mowing, fertilizing and overseeding. The company also provides complete packages, including flower and shrub installs, tree trimming, tree removal and stump grinding as well. If a new development needs a landscape design or irrigation system installed—or an old one maintained—Go Green can do that, too.
Its broad roster of clients means that any sequence of factors can come into play at any time, keeping things interesting at Go Green, whose crew members are always up for a challenge.
For example, a job at Scottsdale Fashion Square shopping mall was one of the company’s “trickier projects,” Drue says. Go Green was called upon to find a solution for elevated, 8-foot planters that were leaking soil and water—right into the underground parking garage and the cars parked in it. The fix was needed quickly, too: It was just days before Highline Autos Cars & Coffee car show was to be held outside the luxury wing of the mall.
“These planters were huge, and they were seeping everywhere. We had to pump out tons of soil mechanically, seal the leaks, repack the planters with soil and replant them,” says Drue. He remembers crews working late into the evening, but the project was completed on time and on budget. “We had to get our tractors out of the way in time for these nice cars to be parked at Scottsdale Fashion Square,” he says. It all worked out, with hundreds of spectators sipping coffee and viewing the high-end automobiles just as planned.
But Go Green does not go seeking difficult projects. It is committed to the consistency of the level of service it provides to each customer. The company takes on projects after careful consideration of what it can reasonably handle at any given time. “If it is a job we can’t take on, we are honest about it,” Tori says.
Go Green looks to contain costs where it can, Drue and Cathleen say, to pass savings along to customers and to remain competitive—by maintaining an excellent safety record, using technology on its trucks and retaining employees.
An overall focus on safety practices, which includes use of proper protective equipment, lowers insurance costs with fewer injuries, fewer claims and fewer payouts, says Drue. “Our workers’ compensation ratios are fantastic.”
Employees are proactive, engaged in maintaining the company’s safety standard and enthusiastic about holding one another accountable. Team members also understand that cost containment is important to foster company growth and overall success.
The company employs GPS technology on all its trucks. This helps the company to conserve fuel, which can add up with 19 trucks. GPS helps to ensure employees abide by posted speed limits, for example, and stay within designated geo-fenced areas. Keeping a handle on fuel costs is key, as is quality control, says Drue. Project before-and-after photos when employees begin and near the end of projects help indicate to managers when jobs have reached their final phases, and how the properties look toward completion.
Go Green promotes from within, encouraging employees to stick with the company. Cathleen says that in a family business, it is not that much of a leap to treat employees like family.
“Our pay raises are higher than the competition, but I feel it’s worth it,” she says. “If we are looking to fill a position, we always look to promote from within before hiring from elsewhere. Being locally owned and with a family atmosphere, we have a great deal to offer. Go Green has a solid base and bright future, and we are looking to bring key employees along with us.”