Shortly after September 11, 2001, Ian MacLean graduated from college with a degree in commercial aviation and a minor in entrepreneurship. The commercial aviation industry was in “disarray” at that time, so MacLean decided to “take the plunge” and opened his own business, Highland Landscaping, in Southlake, Texas in 2002. Since then, the business has been deemed the #1 company in the region by multiple rating agencies.
Though Highland Landscaping has been steadily growing, the company has faced difficulty in recent years. It has maintained under 50 employees to avoid stringent regulations. Now the company’s healthcare costs are facing a 33% increase. “It really feels like small businesses are being punished for doing things the right way,” MacLean says.
Another challenge is the labor pool. There is a mismatch of skills between recent graduates and the jobs available. MacLean emphasizes the importance of internship opportunities for students so they can enter the workforce prepared, and not solely with theoretical or textbook knowledge.
Technological innovation has improved the operations of Highland Landscaping. The company focuses on construction, irrigation, drainage, and maintenance services. CRM software has given the company the ability to react in real time. They are able to track sales and operations so customers can always be fully updated. The company has also seen innovation in irrigation technology, flow meters, and soil moisture censors, making operations more adaptable.