5 questions : Russ Sneed – Landscape management : Landscape management

(Photo: Wendy Adams Photography)

Russ Sneed

CEO, Michael Hatcher & AssociatesRockville, Maryland.

1. JTell me about the business and how did you get there?

Michael Hatcher & Associates has been around for over 35 years. Michael is president. Whenever I think of Michael, I think of a guy with a shovel over his shoulder, charging forward. He has a lot of drive and a lot of passion for people and for building a team. The company started as a premium residential service provider. Over the years we started doing commercial landscaping and then about five years ago we added a lawn care division. I met Michael about 15 years ago when I was still in school. Every time we caught up, he would say to me, “One of these days, you’re going to lead our business and take it to the next level. I joined as COO in October 2020 and became CEO last January. I have an MBA from Mississippi State University. Ironically, my first project was working on the LandCare divestiture to ServiceMaster. So my career kind of came full circle.

2. OWhat trends are you seeing in your customers lately?

They want a valuable partner. One of our greatest assets is our account management team. The relationship and communication they have with our customers becomes a partnership. It’s not just about providing landscaping services. It becomes a relationship of being the eyes and ears of our customers. Our customers are looking for what I call “the easy button”, one less thing to spend their time on.

3. Yesou played baseball at Mississippi State University. How do you apply a sports mentality to business?

Yes, I played from 2005 to 2009. One of those seasons, 2007, was a College World Series team. My family and my wife’s family, we are passionate about youth sports and competitive sports; it’s just the way we’re wired. Taking my experiences at Mississippi State, I apply it to business with competition and mental toughness. You have to compartmentalize your priorities. John Cohen — now Mississippi State Athletic Director — was my coach. He’s a real CEO. You are an employee within this system and you learn what it means to be part of a team. When I’m hiring, it means a lot to me to have a competitive sports or service background because they have the fundamentals of what it takes to be part of a team.

4. IIs there a day at work that stands out as particularly memorable?

The level of excitement here whenever it snows in Memphis. There have been several snowfalls over the past two years. Everyone’s here, everyone’s coming together, everyone’s working around the clock. You log in so someone can go take a nap on a couch. We provide soup and chilli in the back. During the last snow storm, I drove my truck and took six members of our team because they didn’t have a driver. I admit that I have in my office a big yellow speed bump, signed by all the members of our team — I took it out during my first plowing.

5. OWhat are you doing outside?

My wife, Amy, and I have two daughters, Zady, who is 6, and Houston, who is 7, and then Beck is almost 2, and he’s a bulldozer. It’s our 10th year of marriage. We are big family people. We still have our four parents and we like to spend as much time as possible with them. And I’m very passionate about coaching and creating a positive environment for children. Our competitive 8-and-under fastpitch team is currently the number one in the country.

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