SHAKER HEIGHTS -- Local landscapers say they just can't find reliable people to fill full-time job openings.
Mike Lonsdale has run his own business, Western Reserve Lawn & Yard Care, Inc., for more than 30 years.
But these days he spends much more time outdoors than he does in the office. On Wednesday, he was leading a three-man crew doing fall cleanup at residences in Shaker Heights.
"We've been looking for help for the whole entire summer this year," Mike says, with some frustration. "We basically go through one or two guys and the next thing you know, they are not working out and we go find somebody else."
Finding reliable seasonal and full-time employees is a challenge to most of the 350 landscaping companies which belong to the Ohio Landscape Association. The organization's president says the problem goes back a number of years.
"The entire industry suffers from the same problem," Sandy Munley tells WKYC. "We just can find workers. You would think people would be anxious to work."
"Many times our landscapers run ads and don't get anybody to answer them at all," Munley continued. "And other times, when people do answer, they can't pass drug testing or they don't have a valid drivers license."
That problem has plagued Lonsdale, who questions the work ethic he has seen developing in recent years.
"I really don't know what's going on," he says, with sadness. "It seems to me people just don't want to work any more. Have we lost our work ethnic? I just don't know, but physical labor is just not liked anymore."
Landscapers generally earn $8 to $10 an hour to start, with pay and responsibility increasing the longer they are on the job and continue to prove themselves.
The Ohio Landscape Association says it is possible to build a career in their industry.
Shannon Russell agrees.
He established his business, ShanScape Lawn Services, 25 years ago and says while more recent employees "come and go," he relies heavily on a couple men who have stuck it out and made it a career.
"I've had two good guys with me from the beginning and they've been with me ever since," Russell pointed out, as he labored with his longtime employees on a well-manicured Shaker Heights lawn.
Lonsdale, who recently re-hired a hardworking man who had been part of his Western Reserve Lawn & Yard Care company 10 years ago, says being part of the landscaping industry offers a perk not found in many other businesses.
"A lot of people pay good money to go to the gym to get a good physical workout," says the fit 57-year-old, "and we get one every day. And, we get paid for it."