Watch the May 5, 2020 Meeting below 

Below is the video of our all company meeting from May 5. For those of you that started on site or are working from home this will give you the opportunity to see the topics we covered. There are two parts: the first video is the first 19 minutes and the second part is the final two minutes. A special thanks to Camera man Robbie Langenbach.

 

Update, April 30, 2020

Good afternoon. I’ve been waiting to supply an update until after the Governor address today. From what I have seen, it does not appear that today’s update from the Governor will affect how we are approaching our work. The following are a few reminders and updates for you.

Morning text: You may have noticed that Tuesday the 28th was the last day you received the morning text reminder to not come to work if you are ill. It was determined that we have gotten the message out and there is no longer a need to remind you all on a daily basis. Even though you are not getting a daily message, please stay home if you are experiencing an illness, we want to continue to be diligent in not spreading illness

Safety practices: Remember they still have several safety extra practices in place. I am summarizing them below, they are further detailed on the April 21 post on this page, please review that page if you need more details.

  • Meet at the site if you are able.
  • One person per truck if possible.
  • If more that one person is in a truck everyone must wear a face covering while in the truck.
  • Riders should be positioned as far apart in the truck as possible, if there two in the truck, the passenger is to be in the back, passenger side seat.
  • Only operate your assigned truck.
  • Do not congregate in the shop in the morning.
  • Form one line to clock in each morning the don’t be closer than six feet in the line.
  • During clock in, do not exit through the entry door.
  • On site keep a safe distance during breaks.
  • At minimum, wear a mask when working near others. Wearing one all the time is best.

Sick Days: As we have been asking, do not come to work if you are experiencing illness. For those who have sick days, If your illness is COVID-19 related those days will not be deducted from your PTO. If your illness is not COVID-19 related those days will be deducted from your PTO as normal. Be sure to report if your absence is COVID-19 related.

Tuesday Meeting: We will be having our regular first Tuesday of the month meeting this coming Tuesday. We will be doing it outside and will want everyone to spread out so you are not closer than six feet to those around you. This meeting will be for those that start the day at the shop, for office staff or those that are meeting on site I will post a video of the meeting on this page.

Jeff

Update, April 21, 2020 – IMPORTANT SAFETY UPDATE

I want to take this opportunity to re-establish existing policies and alert you to new policies in response to COVID-19.

Vehicles:

  • We will continue having as many individuals as possible meet crews on site in order to keep the number of one passenger trucks as high as possible.
  • When riding two to a truck, the passenger is required to sit in the back, passenger side of the truck
  • There have been occasions when riding with three per truck has been necessary. When this occurs try to keep as far away from the other passengers as possible. As often as possible we are trying to keep those that ride together to work, riding together in a truck.
  • When more than one person is riding in the truck some sort of face covering or mask is REQUIRED
  • Only operate or ride in your assigned truck in your assigned position, do not switch from truck to truck or positions

Clocking In and Out:

  • Congregating in the shop in the morning is no longer permitted
  • One line entering the shop to the time clock will be established and there will be an separate exit door. While in line waiting to clock in, each individual should be spaced at least 6 feet from those around them
  • While clocking out observe distancing of at least 6 feet if others are present.

On Site:

  • Keep a safe distance from all other individuals. This includes while actively working and during breaks and lunch.
  • You are required to alter procedures so that you are keeping at least 6 feet from others.
  • Face covering use is encouraged

Face Covering:

  • It is well established that one of the ways the COVID-19 virus transfers most readily is through airborne saliva. This is why face coverings are important
  • Face coverings protect those around you first and yourself second
  • The company is REQUIRING you wear a face while you ride in a company vehicle unless there is only a driver in the vehicle.
  • Face coverings are encouraged when you are working on site, and especially important if you are working around others.

Our most important goal is to keep you, your family members, your coworkers and your coworker’s family members safe. We need to do everything we can to do our part in achieving this goal including following these safety practices. This is a serious and highly contagious disease, we need to do everything we can to prevent it’s spread.

Following these polices is very important, and if you are observed in violation you will be eligible to be sent home from work immediately.

Jeff

Update, April 9, 2020 – Back to work!

Following yesterday’s exemption of landscape and lawn care companies from the extension of the “Stay at Home MN,” executive order, we have concluded that we are able to return to our regular field work tomorrow (Friday, April 10). You will receive specific direction from your division lead about when and where you will be starting work. The following is mostly a review of my March 27 post, but we have a few new additions and modifications. Any staff that can perform their job from home will continue to do so.

With field work starting we want you to know that the company’s leadership takes the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and we are implementing several temporary practices that will help prevent the spread of the virus. Some of these practices are very basic things like providing wipes to for use while clocking in and out on the time-clock, temporarily discontinuing company supplied coffee, posting reminder signs around the shop and office and limiting access to the Division Lead offices to accommodate social distancing.

On a larger scale we are altering our company vehicle practices in an effort to keep everyone safe. We will be limiting the number of individuals that will be riding in a company truck at a given time to two. This may mean that we will be asking those of you that are able to drive directly to a jobsite in the morning. When possible we will only have the driver in the vehicle, but we understand that some of you that have transportation challenges that prevent you from going directly to the jobsite and will necessitate a ride in a company truck. The following are temporary practices we are asking of you as it pertains to operating and riding in company vehicles:

  • Due to a lack of supplies we are unable to provide wipes for trucks, so wash your hands as frequently as possible
  • We are supplying a copy of the Executive Order 20-33 Critical Sector Modifications Summary for each truck in case there are any questions about our exemption from the executive order.
  • Individuals must only drive/ride in their assigned truck. Do not move, drive or ride in a truck that is not assigned to you at the beginning of the day. We will try to keep the same individuals in the same truck from day to day as much as possible.
  • If there is a passenger, they should sit in the back passenger side of the truck, this may feel awkward, but it allows us to practice social distancing while riding in the truck.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze while in the truck be sure to cover your mouth with your elbow. 
  • When riding in the truck with more than one person we are requiring that both driver and passenger wear a face covering. the neck and face covering that the company distributed a while back would work well. See the example below.

Jeff-Wilson

When on-site be sure to practice social distancing as is recommended by the CDC. This include maintaining a distance of at least six feet from coworkers. On a practical sense this may mean that we have to alter some procedures for services we provide. For example, when we start doing spring perennial cutoff we will work individually rather than in teams. We are also encouraging everyone to wear a face covering when working. We are taking these practices seriously and want to do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

As we referenced in our March 16 company statement, we recognize that some of you may be providing care for your children or family members. If you are not available on a regular Monday through Friday work schedule please contact your division lead and let them know so we can work with you on accommodating your availability. We will try to find hours for you outside of regular work hours.

It is extremely important that you stay home from work when experiencing an illness. To help remind you of the importance of this, you will be receiving a text each morning at 6:30 that reminds you not to come to work with an illness and alerts you to the symptoms for which to be aware. If you are not scheduled to work that day please ignore the text.

If you are unable to come to work due to illness, you will receive paid sick days if you have worked in excess of your guaranteed hours that week. We are meeting or exceeding government requirements in this area, which are detailed in the linked posting below (unfortunately only available in English).

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

We are grateful that we are now able to go back to work.  This will allow us to continue to provide our services and be paid by our customers. For us as employees, continuing to provide our services means we have continued employment and pay. Thanks for all of your patience over the past two weeks as we stayed at home to keep others safe. I look forward to seeing you all as soon as possible.

Jeff

Update, Wednesday April 8, 2020

Good afternoon, today Governor Walz extended the “Stay at Home MN” executive order to May 3, 2020. He did discuss the landscape industry during the press conference and indicated we are being added to the exemption list, meaning that we can go back to work. He did say however that the Department of Agriculture will offer the specifics about rules under which we will be operating.  I will be monitoring clarifications for the Department of Agriculture. Continue to plan that we will return to work Monday, I will put out more updates later in the week as I know more.

Jeff

Jeff-Wilson

 

Update, Monday April 6 and April Monthly All Company Meeting information

Work Update: As you know, as of today the soonest we be back to work will be Monday, April 13. If all continues as it is now we will be notifying you at the end of this week if you will be working Monday. We will be observing all of the safety practices that were laid out in the March 27 update on this page.

Uniforms: Tim is presently developing a strategy to get uniforms passed out when we start work. He is strategizing how to get it done with keeping close contact to a minimum, instructions regarding the process will be given to those starting the day at the shop.

Facebook: Remember you can join the Employee Facebook page. We try to share important updates there, and it’s the best place to hear about customer compliments when they are received.

Staffing: It has been a strange start to the spring, but we are trying to find people to hire. If you know anyone who you think would be good let Tim know (612-280-6185), he is finding ways to conduct interviews even now. If you refer someone, you will be eligible for a referral bonus.

Donations (Please note deadline change): Remember to check out the opportunities to donate food and blood on the April 2 update. Because there are some challenges finding appointments for blood donations we are extending the deadline to April 18 to be eligible for the drawing. As of now, we will be back to work that final week before the deadline, but we will figure out a way to accommodate your appointment if you have one. You also may be able to find Saturday appointments.

Work Anniversaries:
Alberto Ramirez Cruz – 1 Year
David Martinez – 2 Years
Tim Olson – 2 Years
Sergio Vasquez – 3 Years
Zach Newcomb – 3 Years
Eric Sands – 6 Years
Jake Louwsma – 13 Years
Todd Kofski – 16 Years (Full time, mostly)
Carlos Ramirez – 16 Years
Robbie Langenbach – 22 Years
Chris Angus – 26 Years

Core Value: “We Are Servants” We ask you to be a servant to others by doing what you can to donate money to Second Harvest Heartland and blood to the Red Cross. These are much needed and represent a wonderful way to be a servant to the community. Thank you all who participate.

Safety Topic: COVID-19 Safety, please review the linked documents from the CDC, and please follow their guidelines.

COVID Fact Sheet Eng

COVID Sick Eng

Jeff

Thursday, April 2, 2020, A Different Kind of Update

Today’s update is more fun than usual. In the video below Cathy will tell you why. In the video she will refer to links that were sent by text. For technical reasons this wasn’t possible, so the links with some explanation can be found below on this page and on the employee Facebook page.

The following Link will take you to the Second Harvest Heartland virtual food drive that Cathy setup. Please donate any amount you are able and the company will match. Click here to donate.

In the video Cathy encourages us all to donate blood with our extra time while we can’t work. To help you figure out how to do that we have linked the Red Cross web site below. To find out where to donate, go the site and enter your zip code. I found it that when it took me to the page to find a drive near me that it was easiest to look ‘By Distance’ rather than ‘By Date.’ I found that most of the available appointments near me were next week, so if you don’t an appointment right away, keep searching. You can find the link here.

Jeff

Saturday, March 28, 2020 Update

Good Evening. Late Friday the Governor’s office released some clarifications for the “Stay at Home MN” executive order. One of the clarifications is regarding our business and it reads as follows, “Clarification added March 27, 2020: Lawncare and landscaping workers are not exempted,” This means that as it stands right now we cannot continue our work as planned for the next two weeks. We are hopeful that the Governor’s office may revisit the clarification, But as right now the soonest we will be returning to field work is April 13th. As stated in previous updates, you will continue to receive your guaranteed hours during this time. I will communicate any updates as soon as we learn anything new.

The exemption can be found in blue on page 6 of this document.

Jeff

Friday, March 27, 2020 Update

As most of you know by now, in response to COVID-19, Governor Walz enacted a “stay at home MN” executive order on Wednesday, March 26 which requires non-essential businesses to stop working for a minimum of two weeks. We are fortunate that our business falls under the essential business umbrella which allows us to continue to provide our services. The plan next week is to start calling all of you in for some of early spring work on our jobsites. This will include tasks like flipping sod chunks, picking up knocked over plow stakes and removing tree protectors. We will also be doing some time-sensitive enhancement projects.

With this work starting we want you to know that the company’s leadership takes the threat of COVID-19 very seriously and we are implementing several temporary practices that will help prevent the spread of the virus. Some of these practices are very basic things like providing wipes to for use while clocking in and out on the time-clock, temporarily discontinuing company supplied coffee and posting hand washing reminders around restrooms.

On a larger scale we are altering our company vehicle practices in an effort to keep everyone safe. We will be limiting the number of individuals that will be riding in a company truck at a given time to two. This may mean that we will be asking those of you that are able to drive directly to a jobsite in the morning. When possible we will only have the driver in the vehicle, but we understand that some of you that have transportation challenges that prevent you from going directly to the jobsite and will necessitate a ride in a company truck. The following are temporary practices we are asking of you as it pertains to operating and riding in company vehicles:

  • Wipe down hard surface in your vehicle prior to driving. These areas include, but not be limited to: inside and outside door handles, steering wheel, center console, radio and temperature controls.
  • If there is a passenger, they should sit in the back passenger side of the truck, this may feel awkward, but it allows us to practice social distancing while riding in the truck.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze while in the truck be sure to cover your mouth with your elbow. Viruses survive much less readily on fabric than they do on hands.
  • Wash your hands as frequently as possible

When on-site be sure to practice social distancing as is recommended by the CDC. This include maintaining a distance of at least six feet from coworkers. On a practical sense this may mean that we have to alter some procedures for services we provide. For example, when we start doing spring perennial cutoff we will work individually rather than in teams. We are taking these practices seriously and want to do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
As stated earlier, we are planning on calling you in at some point next week. As we referenced in our March 16 company statement, we recognize that some of you may be providing care for your children or family members. If you are not available on a regular Monday through Friday work schedule please contact your division lead and let them know so we can work with you on accommodating your availability. We will try to find hours for you outside of regular work hours.

It is extremely important that you stay home from work when experiencing an illness. To help remind you of the importance of this, you will be receiving a text each morning at 6:30 that reminds you to not come to work with an illness and alerts you to the symptoms for which to be aware. If you are not scheduled to work that day please ignore the text.

As a reminder, you will be receiving at least your guaranteed pay through the month of April. If you are unable to come to work due to illness, you will receive paid sick days if you have worked in excess of your guaranteed hours that week. We are meeting or exceeding government requirements in this area, which are detailed in the linked posting below (unfortunately only available in English).

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

We are very encourages that we are considered an essential business. We believe this will allow us to continue to provide our services and be paid by our customers. For us as employees, continuing to provide our services means we have continued employment and pay. Thanks for all of your patience and commitment as we endure this challenging time together.

Jeff

 

Monday, March 23, 2020 Update

As things are changing quickly with regard to COVID-19, it is my goal to keep everyone up to date with what is going on from a company perspective. I am planning on putting out an update at least every Monday. If something comes up between Mondays I will put out additional updates. It seems crazy it was only one week ago that I sent out the first update. At this moment, not much has changed with our plans since then, but I do have a couple things for everyone to keep in mind.

  • This week we are planning to continue to keep work to a minimum. There are a few people working away from home doing small, time-sensitive projects. Those individual should continue to be diligent with working apart from one another, including not riding in vehicles together.
  • Between weather, our own diligence and state mandates we do not know how much work in the shop/office or on our jobsites we will be able to do in April. On our jobsites, our goal is to continue to complete all services for our clients. If permitted to continue our work, we will be diligent in finding creative ways to get work done, and keep everyone safe.
  • We continue to hear of the possibility that the governor is going to implement a “shelter at home” order at some point. If this occurs I will supply an update about how that affects our work. In other states they are exempting people doing outside work from these orders, I’m hoping this happens in Minnesota as well, but we won’t know until the time comes.

I hope you are all doing well considering the challenging circumstance.

Have a good week.

Jeff

 

March 16, 2020

Horticulture Services Response to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, Horticulture Services seeks to keep employees and families of employees safe from illness, as well as do our part to prevent the spread of the virus. Our goal is to be able to continue our work, provide all employees with continued income, and clients with services. While it is fortunate that most of our workforce falls outside of populations that are considered at-risk, and our work often doesn’t require us to work in close proximity, we do have employees that care for parents or spouses that fall within the at-risk category. Additionally, many of our employees are parents of small children for whom we want to keep protected. To achieve these goals we are taking several actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These policies will be in place through April 30, 2020 and will be reevaluated at that time.

  1. All employees that are able to work from home are not only permitted, but encouraged to do so.
  2. In an effort to discourage employees from coming to work with an illness, we will be honoring all guaranteed hours even if employees are not able to attend work due to illness. For example, employees who are guaranteed 20 hours will receive their 20 hours of pay even if they are not able to come to work due to illness. Once full time work begins, all employees will receive paid sick leave if they are unable to come to work due to illness. This applies regardless of start date.
  3. HR will begin conducting interviews with applicants by phone rather than in-person.
  4. Employees are encouraged to make an extra effort to practice social-distancing. This means altering breaks so they do not take place in the breakroom or a single office with multiple people. We will refrain from field work until the end of March with the exception of snow removal. If a snow event does occur, and when field work commences, every effort be made to keep crew sizes as small as possible when traveling to a site. One and two person crews traveling in a truck is ideal. When an employee is meeting with another in a single office they should be aware of keeping a distance of 6 to 10 feet, best practice would be to conduct these meeting by telephone.
  5. Weekly company meetings (Tuesday Meetings) in their current form will be paused and these meetings will become virtual so employees can attend from home or company office rather than the enclosed conference room.
  6. Many Horticulture Services employees are parents of school-aged children that may need to provide childcare, or arrange childcare for their children as a result of school closings in Minnesota. This may affect their ability to work their regular work schedule. The company will make every effort to make accommodations for these parents who need to alter their work schedule. Employees in need of accommodations should contact Tim Olson for assistance.
  7. If a Nationwide quarantine is implemented, Horticulture Services will pay all employees their minimum guaranteed hours. This policy will be in effect for the first two weeks of a nationwide quarantine, after two weeks continued implementation of this policy will be reevaluated.

The company will continue to monitor recommendations put forth by the CDC. We will add to, or modify this policy as is appropriate per their recommendation.

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From Cathy:

These are unprecedented times. Whether it be that the actual threat is greater or the society response is different, none of us have experienced this before. Let us all be gracious to one another as we navigate these decisions!

I urge all of you not to be fearful. Take heart in the simple truths from God’s word: when you are afraid, trust in Him. Bring all your worries to Jesus who cares for you (Psalm 56:3 and 1 Peter 5:7). Please pray with us for guidance from the One who knows the future.