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The Chapel Valley Landscape Story
      by Mauricio Velasquez and Terri Feldhaus

More than almost any other industry in the United States today, landscape contractors and growers are experiencing an unbelievable influx of immigrant workers. These predominately Hispanic/Latino immigrants are forcing the industry to stand up and take notice of their emerging diversity issues. They are asking some new and increasingly complex and challenging questions. ANLA is one of our clients (American Nursery and Landscape Association). DTG has formed a three-way partnership between ANLA, Chapel Valley and DTG. Our partnership has produced a "kit" of knowledge, tools, tips, job descriptions and other advice. This kit is available on our web site and through ANLA. So the biggest question ANLA is facing straight up is……

What Does A Landscape Company Have To Do To Manage An Increasingly Hispanic Workforce?

Recruiting, hiring, retaining and managing an increasingly Hispanic workforce are challenges that landscape companies across the nation are faced with on a daily basis. In the last ten years the entire landscape and grower industry has tapped into a labor force that has proven to be the backbone of the industry.

Back in 1986 Chapel Valley hired the first group of Hispanic workers (a total of 5). Fifteen years later the company employs, during the peak season, more than 175 Hispanic workers.

What is Chapel Valley doing to manage this growing workforce?

Offer all internal communication in both English and Spanish. 
    Employee Handbook
    Benefits Package
    Performance Evaluation Forms
    Individual Performance Evaluations
    Company Meetings
    Monthly Individual Team Meetings
    Company Newsletter
    All postings and announcements
    Recruiting Brochures
All in-house training is done both in English and Spanish. In-house training materials are available in both languages also.
Hired a full-time bilingual liaison to assist with all communications among workers, supervisors, and management. This individual has in-depth knowledge of all the company policies, procedures and labor laws, understands and promotes the company's goals, has the ability to remain focused and objective, and has strong mediation and coaching skills.
Encourage the Hispanic workforce to enroll in English classes and upon completion the company reimburses the employee for the full cost of the class.
Established a Literacy Program at both of our facilities and offer free English tutoring after hours.
Encourage our English-speaking foremen and supervisors to learn Spanish and enroll in classes, which will be fully reimbursed when completed.
Have a strong commitment from management to support the development of our Hispanic employees into leadership positions.
Our Hispanic workers participate in different task forces throughout the year to help develop better incentives, recruiting and uniform programs. · Have the commitment to understand and willingness to adapt to different cultural needs and diversity among our employees. · Provide regular diversity training for all of our managers, supervisors, and foremen. · Participate in government sponsored labor programs in order to continue building depth in our workforce. · Get involved with local and national industry organizations to look for "best practices" and help lobby Congress on specific immigrant-related legislation.
For more information regarding Chapel Valley please contact Terri Feldhaus directly at 410.442.2310. She is the fulcrum, the lynch pin that holds all of their diversity-related endeavors together.

DTG is proud to include Chapel Valley as a client, partner and now a resource to other landscape and growing contractors. They are way ahead of most of the industry yet they are willing to share with their industry what they are doing and the tremendous success they are realizing. Fantastic!

Proudly sharing with you, 
Mauricio Velasquez, President 
DTG 692 Pine Street 
Tel. 703.478.9191 
Herndon, VA 20170 Fax 703.709.0591

P.S. If you are in this industry and you have some "best practices" please share them with us at DTG.