Part two in our series on seasonal employers’ efforts to recruit American workers takes us to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a leafy suburb about 20 miles east of Cleveland. In 1989 Joe Drake founded J.F.D. landscapes after dropping out of college. This was much to his parent’s chagrin but he is now the proud owner of a successful landscape company that he hopes to be able to pass down to his son.
After ten years, Drake faced a multitude of labor issues. His staff turnover was high and he refused to employ illegal aliens. The high staff turnover made it difficult to deliver the quality of work his customers demanded forcing him to spend an inordinate amount of time fixing problems instead of selling new business. This was not a recipe for profitability or for the long-term viability of his business. This is when Drake turned to the H-2B program.
In 1999, he brought in four H-2B workers. The workers and the program changed the course of his business. His revenue has doubled and he has gone from employing four full-time, year-round American workers to eleven full-time, year-round American workers.
But this year Drake did not receive his thirteen H-2B workers due to the H-2B cap. This has devastated his business. The lack of field labor has forced his operations and sales employees to the field but they were not hired to be field laborers. Drake has shed hundreds of thousands of dollars of contracts. He has gone from two design/build crewa to one. He expects his revenue to drop by 50%. Do you think Drake is doing this intentionally because he does not want to hire American workers or pay them enough? I don’t think so!
Drake has advertised his open positions on Indeed, with the Ohio Workforce Agency, Facebook etc but has only received thirty applicants. Of the thirty applicants, twenty showed up for an interview and only twelve showed up to work on their first day. As of April 6th, only four remain with the company. Drake is committed to hiring Americans first but needs the certainty of the labor-force so that he has a viable company that will stay in his family for generations to come.