Robby Tackett: Celebrating 20 Years

MEET Robby Tackett, Account Manager, celebrating 20 years at Myatt Landscaping. There are not many people in world who can say they stayed with one company and rose through the ranks over two decades, but that just shows the unparalleled level of commitment and loyalty that Robby has. He has always had the best relationships with his clients, and goes above and beyond with the service that he provides. Robby is a big reason for the amount of growth in the maintenance division over the last twenty years.

“Pushing snow is not everyone’s favorite thing, or sweating when it’s 110 degrees, but if you just stick it out, you can make a great career out of [landscaping]. You can work 8 months out of the year in beautiful weather, and be outside making a difference and beautifying the earth.”

Robby Tackett

How did you start working for Myatt Landscaping, and what your first position?  My very first position was Foreman, and it was on our second maintenance crew. I was working for a local fertilizer company [at the time], and me and Ryan were friends and he needed another foreman to grow. Ryan told me to come over and apply. We’ve done a ton of growth in 20 years, that’s for sure!

What was your progression through the company?  I was a Foreman and Spray Technician for a while—we handled all our own spraying before we had a [dedicated] Spray Tech. There was no [account] manager, so we dealt with the clients, and then I became manager once we needed to start growing, about 8-10 years ago. I remember when we first started, we were working sometimes 70-75 hours a week. Some of these guys, I think, have it pretty easy now! For instance one neighborhood where we were growing, I was doing 7 houses a day. Now we have it split because we have so many houses in this neighborhood—the guys do about 5 a day. We started out with one house in the neighborhood, and then we just started picking up the neighbors.  I probably have four of those still, which we’ve had since day one when I started.

What made you stay at Myatt for 20 years? I just enjoy working around Scott, Todd, and Ryan. We’re really good friends and also coworkers—they feel like your family.

As you look back on your career what was the most painful lesson you have learned?  I cut down a live tree! The first month I worked here, I was on a huge project over at Rex Hospital, and back then we didn’t have much delivered, we would have to go pick up our own plants. The foreman of the job had to leave and drive all the way to the other side of Virginia to get that tree that I cut down by mistake. There was one that was dead right beside it, and I was just in a hurry, and of course it was in the winter time. And it was the wrong one. It was a huge pistache tree. I never lived that down around here! People always ask me, “You sure you cut down the right tree?” After that, I always double-checked everything I did. Instead of asking one person, I’d ask two. I remember Scott calling me, and he was not happy with me. I thought I was going to get fired. He even called Ryan and said “I don’t know if he’s going to make it.” It’s funny looking back on it now!

What do you enjoy most about your job?  Working outside. You’re not locked up in a warehouse somewhere, and you have your freedom. Winter is tough, and June, July, and August are tough, but you’re still beautifying the environment and at the end of the day you create something that looks better than before you started.

As a company, we place a big emphasis on growing and learning. Is there any one thing you would like to take the time to learn more about?  I feel like I know my trees and turfgrasses, but I don’t know some of the scientific and common names of flowers. I’d like to learn more perennials, there’s just so many and that’s where I’m really lacking. I know the basic ones, probably 30 or 40 of them, but there’s hundreds and hundreds of them that you could choose from and learn.

What do you feel you have bragging rights to?  I can still prune just as good as [our crews] can at any given time. You know, they do it on a daily basis, but I can still prune and do it just as well, even after not doing it for a long time!

Looking at all the people in history, what person would you say you respect the most and why?  Scott, just for giving me a chance to work here. I’ve learned so much from him, not just maintenance but also the install side. Working back years and years ago we would help install if they needed it. I remember we would finish maintenance around 3:00 in the afternoon and then go help the install crew. We would learn both aspects of how to be an all-around good landscaper.

What is your favorite plant?  Favorite plant would probably be an Osmanthus, just because it blooms twice a year and you get the fragrance. Favorite tree would be a redbud, even though they can be hard to grow sometimes. I think a lot of times [people] just put too much irrigation on them! But if you can get a redbud established, it’s a beautiful tree in the springtime.

What are your hobbies outside of work?  I love watching basketball and football. Love watching sports. I spend a lot of time taking my son to practices, and he plays football, basketball, and lacrosse. So, we’re busy on the weekends! He’s 13, about to start high school this year.

Do you have a favorite food?  I do, steak! You can make it so many different ways—tacos, regular steak, just so many things you do with it if you choose to.  

Is there anything you don’t want to regret when you look back on your life?  Maybe just live more, take more vacations.  You can work yourself to death at times, so maybe as you get a little older just spend more time with family.

Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your chosen career?  Stick with it! It can get very tough. [Of the] four seasons, two of them are beautiful, and two of them are pretty hard. Pushing snow is not everyone’s favorite thing, or sweating when it’s 110 degrees, but if you just stick it out, you can make a great career out of it. You can work 8 months out of the year in beautiful weather, and be outside making a difference and beautifying the earth.  

Tulips blooming at one of the properties in Robby’s portfolio.
Photo credit: Robby Tackett
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#FeatureFriday: SC Fun Day!

Last Friday, December 21, we held our first Annual Fun Day event at our (relatively) new branch in Charleston, SC! We had 17 local employees in attendance, as well as Ryan Kimbro, the Maintenance Division Manager, and Todd Myatt, the Installation Division Manager, who both drove from NC to spend the day with the crew.

The installation and maintenance employees all came together to compete in fun events, including cornhole, a leaf blower obstacle course, a pine straw relay race, and a race to see who could replace the trimmer line in a weed-eater the fastest.

Employees used leaf blowers to move a dodge ball through the obstacle course
This race involved loading and moving pine straw with a wheelbarrow
Winners of each event were awarded $50

Here are the winners of the competitions:

  • Cornhole: Jake Williams
  • Obstacle course: Albert Smith
  • Wheelbarrow race: Albert Smith
  • Weed-eater: Melvin Seay Jr.

When the competitions were finished, everyone helped remove a palmetto palm tree that had fallen. After all, landscaping isn’t just fun and games!

Following the competitions and tree removal, everyone went to Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse for lunch. There, Ryan, Todd, and Butch (the branch manager) presented the end-of-year awards.

Perfect Attendance award: Thomas Thurman
Employee of the Year: Duane Milligan

Left to right: Todd Myatt, Butch Svagerko, Duane Milligan

Thanks to everyone for your hard work, and enjoy the holiday season! Happy New Year!

#FeatureFriday: Celebrating the Season, our Employees, and our Industry Partners!

Since today is the last work day before the Christmas holiday, I wanted to share with everyone how much we appreciate all of our employees and our industry partners! Last Friday, December 14th, we held our “Annual Fun Day” event where our employees enjoy a day of games, awards, and delicious food. 

The day started at 7am with biscuits, coffee, and orange juice. Because it rained all day, all the events had to take place inside our shop (which ruled out some of the favorites–the pine straw relay race and the blower obstacle course). Nevertheless, we had some fun indoor alternatives already planned!

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Miss Linda, who handles our payroll and accounts receivable (in addition to a myriad of other tasks!), kept time and sounded the air horn when it was time for groups to rotate to the next station.

The roughly 100 employees from different locations in NC split into six groups and rotated through six game stations, where each station’s winner received a cash prize.

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The ladies of the office (me and Linda)

The management staff manned the game stations and kept track of the winners.

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Ryan Kimbro, Maintenance Division Manager

A new event we held for the first time this year was a trailer tire change challenge (that’s a tongue twister)! It was a big hit, with each employee competing for the fastest time. The high score of the day was achieved by Jeff Solomon, with a time of 27.6 seconds (featured in the highlight video at the end of this post).

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Everyone got a chance to show off their tire changing skills and compete for the fastest time.

Other games didn’t have so much of a practical focus, but were just for fun.

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Ping pong ball toss. The smaller the cup, the more points!

Our plant ID challenge featured plants that we covered in training throughout the year (with a couple of oddballs thrown in!). The high score of the day was achieved by Sam Letaw, with a perfect score. One round was won by Beau Walker, one of our mechanics, which goes to show how much you can learn if you just pay attention to what’s around you! 

A new favorite, the quarter toss game was invented last year, when we also got some rain on Fun Day. Each person tosses a quarter, and the closest one to the line without going over wins.

We also had a new frisbee game since we have official Myatt Landscaping frisbees now! The goal is to knock the water bottles off the cones. Our highlight video shows one shot that hit two water bottles!

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Scott tosses a frisbee in between rounds.
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Jermaine scored!
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These are the winners of all the games!
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Cordarus was one of the finalists for the cornhole championship! Scott Thompson, in the Myatt hoodie behind Cordarus, was the other finalist and won 3-0. 

We also had raffles and a peanut butter cup guessing game, then continued with our annual awards ceremony.

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Scott and Todd presented a number of awards and cash prizes. See all of the winners and Scott’s closing remarks below.

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Cleanest Installation Truck Award: Mauricio’s crew
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Cleanest Maintenance Truck Award: Justin’s crew
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Perfect Attendance Award (left to right): Alberto Aguilar, Emiliano Rodriguez-Ryes, Solomon Hernandez, Antonio Alvarez, Jorge Gutierrez, Gilberto Gonzalez, Justin Niver
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Employee of the Year – Satellite Location: Ausencio Padilla, Chapel Hill
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Most Improved Installation Employee: Antonio Dominguez
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Most Improved Maintenance Employee: Justin Niver
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Installation Employee of the Year: Hector Lugo
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Maintenance Employee of the Year: Neal Baker
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Manager of the Year: Herbie Champion
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Years of Service Awards (left to right): Alberto Aguilar (5 years), Ausencio Padilla (5 years), Mauricio Acevedo (5 years), Marco Acevedo (5 years), John Davis (10 years), Antonio Jaime (15 years), Felipe Morales (15 years), Herbie Champion (15 years), Anna Myatt (20 years), Ryan Kimbro (20 years).

After Scott’s closing remarks, the buffet line was opened up. We had seafood fried by Scott’s long-time friend and mentor, Bryant Montague, and it was delicious. Then some of our vendors and partner organizations started coming by to share in our day of appreciation and enjoy a meal with us. Everyone had a wonderful time! 

Great music was provided by our employee, Drew Mathews, and his wife, Leah.

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What a wonderful crowd of people! 

Thank you to everyone who made 2018 such a great successful year, and we’ll see you all next year!

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Watch our highlight reel below!:

Ryan Kimbro: Celebrating 20 Years

 

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MEET Ryan Kimbro, Maintenance Division Manager, celebrating 20 years at Myatt Landscaping. Yes, you read that correctly, Ryan has been working here for twenty years! Every part of his interview reflects his incredible dedication to his work—building the maintenance division from nothing into a highly successful business representing 50% of the company. Read on to get to know the man behind it all.

“I’m pretty proud of staying at one place for 20 years, you know, not a lot of people do that anymore. [People say] it’s always greener on the other side, but I like it here. I enjoy coming to work every day.”                                                             ~Ryan Kimbro

How long have you been working here?  20 years. A big chunk of my life!

How did you start working for Myatt Landscaping?  All through college I worked on different golf courses— Devil’s Ridge, Lochmere, and a couple of other ones. When I got out of [NC] State, I went to work for a friend of mine who had a landscape business. Long story short, Scott hired another friend of mine called Mark, and then they brought me in [to Myatt Landscaping]. Mark was one of these guys that was always on to the next thing, so after about 6 weeks of working, he left to do something different and moved to Wilmington. So that just left me. When I started working at Myatt, it was just four or five Hispanic laborers, and Todd and Anna [Scott’s brother and wife]. Scott and Todd had historically done a lot of spec homes, where you install a basic landscape package, and they had never done maintenance. They used to not want to do maintenance, but people kept on asking them to do it, so they brought me and Mark in to start, and then I took over when Mark left. I was the first everything really, first foreman, first manager, first spray tech… It’s grown slowly over the years, and now we’re a lot bigger than we were when we started.

What was your progression through the company?  I was the first foreman, and I rode in the first maintenance truck with three laborers. We got our first package of about six shopping centers, and then we did a few houses for one of the owners of the [spec home construction] company, and so on and so forth. We grew the business and eventually we had two trucks. Then they pulled me out of the truck and made me a manager. When we were small, we did all the flowers ourselves, all the pruning, all the pine straw, aerification. It’s just grown in scale. It hasn’t changed so much, but the scale has for sure.

What made you stay at Myatt for 20 years?  (Laughing) People would ask me, “Why don’t you start your own business?” Well, I kind of already have. Scott doesn’t micromanage me, it’s always “answer to the clients,” and I’ve grown [to where] I’m just vested in it. And they treat me like family—we’ve become more friends than coworkers over the years. Scott was at my wedding, and when you have a kid or that kind of thing, Todd would come by the hospital. And I’m pretty proud of staying at one place for 20 years, you know, not a lot of people do that anymore. [People say] it’s always greener on the other side, but I like it here. I enjoy coming to work every day.

As you look back on your career, what do you consider your greatest success?  Growing the maintenance side of this business, and the relationships made through that process. We started with ten accounts, and now we have over two-hundred large, full-service accounts. We still have one of the original commercial accounts, and ten of the original residential accounts.

Is there any one thing you would like to take the time to learn more about?  Excel spreadsheets! We use them for bigger proposals. The billing is done off of our spreadsheets, and [the clients] always want to add more items, so I have to go back to Chris and say, “I need to add another line item here.” That’s the one thing I have to ask for help with! I don’t need to ask for any other thing.

What do you enjoy most about your job?  I still like being outside. I like the satisfaction of taking on projects that don’t look as good, and turning them around in a year’s time. Briar Chapel was really the first big one. It was in pretty tough shape when we got it and we’ve done a lot out there as far as what it looked like and how small it was and how big it is now. I enjoy turning residential properties around—when [clients are] willing to pay our premium and a year from then say, “You know, it’s really worth it. We really got what we paid for.” Currently, the fun challenges are these other [new] markets, the Wilmington market and the Summerville market. I would like to grow those books of business, and I still want to see us grow here as well.

What do you feel you have bragging rights to?  The growth of the maintenance division. It’s not all mine, it’s “ours” as far as the maintenance team. Because all my managers have been there, like Robby, who was the second foreman after me, so I’ve built it with other key people.

Looking at all the people in history, what person would you say you respect the most and why?  My father. He’s just always been there for me.

Hobbies outside of work: I like to spend time with my family, and go hunting and fishing. I usually go fishing with my wife’s side of the family in Wilmington, and I usually hunt down at Shady Grove (a large nursery in SC with a longstanding work relationship and friendship with Myatt Landscaping.—ed.). We go to see Widespread Panic a lot, which is kind of a hippy college band. We have a group of friends that gets together and travels to see them. Now that we have kids, it’s once or twice a year, but it used to be more.

Favorite food: Anything cooked on my Big Green Egg. I like to grill, and I do most of the cooking at my house. Just because it’s a hobby—my wife can cook too!

Something most people don’t know about you:  I’m a great dancer!

Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your chosen career?  Have a good attitude, be dependable, and be willing to learn!

#FeatureFriday: West Johnson High School Field Trip

Yesterday, we hosted thirteen horticulture students, a teacher, and an assistant teacher from West Johnson High School in Benson on a field trip to learn about the landscaping industry. This was our first time hosting such an event, but we were excited to share our facilities, our experiences, and our knowledge with young people, and encourage them to consider careers in the industry in the future. Everyone had a blast, and we hope they left with a better understanding of the diverse roles and partnerships that are essential in leading a landscape company to success.

The tour started off with short talks from Scott Myatt, company founder and president; Ryan Kimbro, Maintenance Division Manager; and Herbie Champion, Install Division Manager. They shared the history of the company as well their own professional development through the years, and talked about some interesting facets of their jobs (while the students enjoyed coffee and doughnuts from Krispy Kreme!).

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Scott Myatt talks about the importance of standing behind your work.

Next, Blake Bennett led a tour of our facilities, introducing all of our support staff and explaining many of our organizational processes. Many other staff joined the tour and answered questions from the students.

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Zach Daigle explains how plant deliveries are organized.

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Blake Bennett talks about why sorting our landscape and construction waste is important.

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Blake shows the students our on-site fueling area.

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Herbie Champion talks about our different types of trucks and how we customize them.

After the tour, we had some activities with a competitive edge planned–a plant ID quiz and a paver challenge where student teams had to fill a grid with a certain pattern correctly, the fastest team earning t-shirts with our logo. The students also designed their own planters with fall flowers to take home.

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The students participated in a plant ID quiz (with no multiple choice!).

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After the quiz, Caitlin Clineff shared some ID tips and tricks for each plant.

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Each student designed their own planter to take home, with guidance from Myatt Staff.

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We love sparking creativity with hands-on learning.

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Everyone enjoyed getting their hands dirty!

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Herbie demonstrates the use of a laser level prior to starting the paver challenge.

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The two teams set up for the paver challenge.

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Every person engaged in teamwork and problem-solving.

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Matching the pattern was harder than it looked!

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Just a few errors to correct… 😉

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Pausing for a team discussion.

Both teams did a great job, and exercised their teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making, and spacial reasoning skills.

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The students were treated to gigantic sandwiches and salads from Bagels Plus, the local deli.

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Winners of the plant ID and paver challenges were given their choice of Myatt t-shirt, and everyone received a Myatt Landscaping frisbee!

We had such a great time interacting with this fantastic group of young people, and we hope that they were inspired to learn more about the myriad of unique opportunities the landscape and horticulture industries have to offer. This class was a real pleasure to host–they asked great questions and engaged fully in all of the activities. We look forward to hosting students from West Johnson and other schools in the future!

If you would like to arrange a tour of Myatt Landscaping Concepts for your class, 4-H club, FFA chapter, Boy/Girl Scout troop, etc., please contact Caitlin@myattlandscaping.com.