The director of operations at Gachina Landscape Management works to give others opportunities to develop in the green industry.
When William Cruz earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, he never imagined that one day he’d be working as the director of operations at one of the country’s leading landscaping companies.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Cruz worked as a quality assurance engineer and maintenance manager for a regional airline in his home country for seven years. When he moved to the U.S. 20 years ago, it was a difficult time to find a job in the airline industry.
At that time, his friend who had a small landscaping company offered him a job as a gardener. “I thought it was a good temporary option while I searched for ‘real employment,’” says Cruz.
As Cruz learned to use landscape equipment and techniques to create beautiful gardens, he enjoyed the work. “Being outdoors and enjoying nature was a new adventure for me,” he says. He liked building relationships with both his co-workers and the clients they worked for. And when he saw how much money people in the U.S. invest in their landscapes, he realized there was a lot of financial opportunity in this industry.
He soon discovered there’s more to this work than simply mowing and blowing leaves — there’s a science behind why a specific plant needs to be in a certain spot and why yards need to be mowed a specific way, he says.
As a lifelong learner, Cruz saw landscaping as an opportunity to pick up new skills and concepts. He began earning different landscape certifications and licenses and visiting nurseries to learn about horticulture.
Cruz worked for The Villages Golf and Country Club in San Jose, California, where he used his management skills as a supervisor of five crews. This role gave him the opportunity to pass on the knowledge he was learning through his own professional development, he says. It also gave him the chance to encourage the employees he worked with to study and develop their own skills, something he continues to do to this day.
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The author is digital content editor of Irrigation & Green Industry and can be reached at email@example.com.