Get To Know Sperber’s New CEO: Jeff Berg
Navy Veteran, Consultant and Landscaping Enthusiast
In eighth grade, Jeff Berg started a landscaping company with his friend in their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, mowing lawns in the summer and shoveling snow in the winter. Jeff didn’t know his career path would eventually lead him back to his original entrepreneurial endeavor.
Jeff joined the Sperber team as CEO in February after spending 18 years as a partner at the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Before that, Jeff spent seven years in the Navy serving as a nuclear submarine officer.
While Sperber, McKinsey and the Navy differ significantly as organizations, they have one thing in common that Jeff is drawn to: a people-first mentality.
“McKinsey and the Navy are organizations keenly focused on people and people development and empowerment,” says Jeff. “The same is true here at Sperber.”
He’s seen this mentality affect every corner of the business from customer service to employee safety, reminding him of “things you do for your own family,” he says.
A father of three, Jeff appreciates this family-oriented mindset. He cites his grandparents and parents as his first mentors and role models: “I’m fortunate to come from a family where hard work is at the forefront.”
This work ethic has stayed with Jeff through his time at the United States Naval Academy, as an officer in the Navy and then as a partner and leader in service operations at McKinsey, where he learned the value of a relationship-oriented leadership style, a style he seeks to lead with at Sperber, striving to be the type of leader who’s “willing to listen, willing to roll up my sleeves and put myself in others’ shoes.”
This type of leadership is crucial to Jeff’s plan for implementing change at the company. While he plans to maintain Sperber’s core values of focusing on people, delivering high-quality work with excellent customer service and a strong safety record, he also has goals and plans to move Sperber forward, setting it apart in the industry with the use of new technology and a focus on sustainability practices.
“At the end of the day, our business is all about making the world more beautiful in the eyes of residents and employees and folks who are driving around.”
— Jeff Berg, CEO of Sperber Companies
“Finding ways in which you can leverage next-generation capabilities – I think it’s exciting,” says Jeff.
As far as sustainability, while Jeff knows terms like “water conservation,” “carbon footprint” and “electrification” have become buzzwords, he also believes the landscape industry is well-positioned to take initiatives in this area. At 16 partner companies strong and growing, Sperber can be at the forefront of these efforts.
“We can disrupt the landscape maintenance industry for good,” says Jeff. “We can bring those next-generation tools. We can bring that sustainability orientation to bear.”
This type of innovation requires something Jeff calls “failing fast”–taking a calculated risk, even if it doesn’t lead to success the first time.
“Giving folks the leeway and understanding that it’s OK to fail fast, and then next time learn from it and improve—this is how I go about change and improvement,” he explains.
While moving the company forward, Jeff knows to keep his why at the center. His time in the Navy taught him this. Always know why you’re doing what you do. With Sperber, that why is clear.
“At the end of the day, our business is all about making the world more beautiful in the eyes of residents and employees and folks who are driving around,” says Jeff. “That brings joy to people’s lives day in and day out.” Any endeavor Sperber embarks upon, he assures, will be “in the spirit of making landscaping that much more beautiful in the future.”
When Jeff isn’t at Sperber getting to know employees, visiting partners and strategizing how to move the company into the next generation, he spends time with his wife, daughter and two sons, coaching youth sports and keeping up with his favorite hobby: landscaping.