SPERBER’S COMPANY VISION
Q&A With Sperber’s President, Greg Harbison
Greg Harbison, COO
As President and Chief Operating Officer at Sperber, Greg Harbison is responsible for developing and executing the company’s vision while upholding and maintaining our core values.
We sat down with Greg to talk about his ties to Sperber’s legacy, his vision for the future, and the importance of our people-first mentality.
A Continuing Legacy
Before Sperber, you worked at ValleyCrest. What was your experience like there and what aspects of that legacy are you continuing on at Sperber?
I worked at ValleyCrest for 15 years as a Manager and then as an Officer. At ValleyCrest, you always felt like you were part of a family. You weren’t just a number, you were a person. You were valued. At the center point of that company was its people and its customers.
Then there was the significance of the work we did…the actual art and craft of landscaping. We were creating beautiful spaces but specifically beautiful spaces that helped our customers achieve their unique business goals. These are the foundational elements we carry forward today. At Sperber, our core values are centered around taking care of our people (employees and customers), raising the standard in the industry, and making bold decisions. We see ourselves as stewards of the land. We’re passionate about creating and caring for beautiful outdoor spaces that help our customers achieve their business goals, that the communities we serve can appreciate and enjoy, and we’re equally passionate about creating a work environment for our employees that’s supportive, fun, and allows them opportunities for growth in their careers.
Bold Future Endeavors
How is Sperber being bold with its future endeavors?
We’re not growing our business in the traditional way. We’re thinking out-of-the-box and we’re out there seeking great local businesses all over the country that are passionate about our industry.
We’re bringing together a family of companies that share in the celebration of people and have like-minded values. Each of the family-owned businesses that we partner with has rich and wonderful legacy stories. Our goal is to continue to evolve and strengthen their individual stories and brands through our added support and resources.
We’re building a national network for our customers, so wherever they are, we can serve them…and serve them well.
In the landscape industry today, it’s rare for people to find a work home that offers excellent opportunities for growth and a company culture that stresses their individual importance and value. At Sperber, our employees can be a part of a family, be recognized, and be invested in to support their life goals. We want to be the employer of choice in the services industry.
The Sperber Approach
Most landscape companies do landscape maintenance, but Sperber takes a different approach. Can you explain what that is?
Although it’s a widely recognized industry term, we’re not in the landscape “maintenance” business. We’re in the landscape “improvement” business.
If you hire a Sperber company, you’re going to get a healthier, more beautiful, more sustainable landscape that’s built to really enhance your property and create a lasting impact for all that visit your business.
We know our customers want a landscape that looks better under our care, not just the same as before we started. That’s improvement vs. maintenance.
We offer what we call the full lifecycle of services, from design and installation, property management (maintenance), to enhancing and improving. It’s the ecosystem for the best possible outcome for our customers’ budgets and their unique objectives.
Creating Sustainable Environments
How is Sperber working to create sustainable environments and reduce its carbon footprint?
As landscapers, the heart of what we do is caring for the land and the environment. With each property we care for and improve upon, we are increasing the amount of healthy living and breathing plants in our environment, and consequently, releasing more oxygen into the air and filtering carbons out.
It is a very important element to our health and the health of our planet. We also understand how to care for the plant life through the utilization of smart water management. Water is our most precious resource and we take its conservation very seriously.
We’re constantly looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and we have a 24-month plan in place as we transition to battery-powered vehicles and equipment with a target of being carbon neutral. We’re also educating our customers on conservation and how they can morph their landscaping into something more environmentally friendly.
A Strong Vision
You have a strong and passionate vision for Sperber. What or who has inspired your professional drive?
First and foremost, my grandmother. She was one of those people that believed in me, and I could really feel it. She came here from Ireland, and back in the early 1900s, that wasn’t an easy journey to make nor an easy existence when she arrived, but she loved her family and wanted to create a better life.
She was also a dedicated professional as a buyer in the fashion industry. Being a lady in management back in those days was an extra challenge but she was a tough-minded person who cared deeply about her career and about all of the people in her life, both professionally and personally.
She instilled a drive in me to get out there and do something productive. It really all started with her. She was very invested in each of her children and grandchildren, and in a number of ways that made a lasting impression.
And I have to say the Sperbers have also inspired me.
You would walk into ValleyCrest, a billion-dollar company with thousands of employees, and you still felt like you were part of a close-knit family… that you mattered.
The Sperber Family has instilled in me that you can be driven and successful, treat people well, invest in their success, all while being true to your customers and run a smart and successful business. We lead by the motto: Do the right thing and don’t let money get in the way.
Doing the right thing. That’s a common thread for people who have been mentors for me and something I’m committed to doing and teaching through my leadership role at Sperber.