Jersey Boy

6
Jul

ROB THOMAS | Snow Magazine

Snow0913_pg40Lawns by Yorkshire’s Steven Jomides has achieved success with a track record of excellence, as well as through a commitment to community.

In February 1988, Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega and televangelist Jimmy Swaggert were stealing national headlines. One was indicted on drug charges, while the other was confessing his sins. On the positive side, Brian Boitano and Bonnie Blair were leading the U.S. contingent at the Winter Olympic games in Calgary, Canada and Bruce Springsteen kicked off his “Tunnel of Love Tour.” Meanwhile, fellow Jersey Boy Steven Jomides introduced the Garden State to Lawns By Yorkshire.

Fast forward 25 years. The antagonists have faded and the Olympians have long-since retired from competition. The Boss and Jomides, however, are still going strong.

What began as a “great fit for a seasonal landscape firm at the time,” snow and ice management at Lawns By Yorkshire has grown into a trend-setting industry blue print for success.

For the Westwood, N.J., landscape management firm, the typical snow season generally runs from December through March. In years past, however, they have seen snow activity in November and even as early as October.

According to Jomides, Lawns By Yorkshire employs approximately 150 people on the “green side,” while that number balloons to 300-plus on the “white side,” including some independent contractors to supplement their fleet and staff.

Complementing the busy three-season lawn business with snow management makes perfect business sense, but the thrill and unknown of winter really drives Jomides through some inhospitable weather.

“The excitement and challenge,” he says are his favorite things about battling snow. “No two events are the same. There are so many factors that need to be considered to manage each event and the days following.”

Though Lawns By Yorkshire currently maintains a high percentage of multi-family sites, look for more commercial sites to be added in the coming years.

“We are striving to create an equal balance of the two,” Jomides says. “Each differs in its needs, both equipment and staffing. From a financial set of eyes, diversification is a best practice.”


Family first 

Family life plays an integral role in Jomides’ professional arena. He and wife Andrea attended the same high school, but didn’t date until after college. They have been happily married for 19 years, and have two children – Zac, 15, who is entering his Junior year in high school, and daughter Noa, 13, entering the eighth grade. Not to be left out is Lola, the family’s five-year-old Chocolate Lab, who is loved and adored, according to Andrea.

“They are a major player in my personal growth and development, which bleeds over into my leadership qualities at work,” Jomides says of Andrea and the kids.

While many spouses and children may feel widowed or orphaned during the demanding snow season, Andrea says her relationship with Steven has only gotten stronger over the years.

“Steven and I have a great relationship that continues to grow,” Andrea says. “We found a great formula that we’ve followed ever since our son was born. We constantly find and build common interests/hobbies that connect us beyond the obvious family/sports activities and obligations. The list of interests includes boating, Tae Kwon Do and running. Every few years, we add something new. It’s our bond.

“Of course, our family is as interested in boating as we are and our start in Tae Kwon Do was initiated when Zac joined at the age of 5,” she added. “Our daughter then joined at the age of 3. Both kids have since stopped training, but Steven and I are going strong more than 10 years later, having just recently earned our third degree black belt.”

Burke Hammonds, Vice President at Lawns By Yorkshire, has known Jomides for almost eight years – initially as a respected competitor within the landscape/snow removal industry and now as leader of this fast growing organization. He says many of Jomides’ business characteristics translate into his personal life.

“Steven is dedicated to his family, which translates to his staff, which allows us to enjoy the precious time we have watching our children grow up,” Hammonds says of his boss.

“He never questions leaving early to enjoy a daughter’s softball game, choir concert, etc.”

The snow industry is flush with examples of children following in their father’s footsteps. If that happens with Zac and Noa, great, but carrying on the family business isn’t what’s important to Andrea.

“Steven is a businessman with an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit, peppered with exceptional drive and motivation to succeed,” she says. “One of his favorite words is ‘perseverance.’ We hear it all the time whenever something difficult is accomplished with continued effort … ‘perseverance.’”

“Steven is really good at sharing experiences and examples of persevering toward success … our kids have heard it often and witnessed the results,” Andrea added. “They understand these attributes are part of a strong foundation, which is critical to their personal and professional success. Applying these learnings in whatever path they choose, is what we want for them.”

The businessman 
Jomides’ understanding with his kids carries over to his philosophy on managing the team at work.

“I try to instill that while snow management is time sensitive, we need to be realistic,” he says. “There are variables that we have little or no control over.”

Office manager Una Werner has worked at Lawns By Yorkshire since 1999 and has seen Jomides’ drive and dedication firsthand.

“Steve is always looking into new ways to improve our business, whether it’s new technology that came out or input from other employees,” she says. “He works closely with our operations managers and account managers to make sure he is familiar with what’s going on with our clients and the progress of the jobs we are currently working on.”

That tight-knit working environment has spawned a vast knowledge of client needs that continues to impress Werner.

“It astonishes me sometimes at the things he remembers about the clients, both present and past. Especially the past,” she says. “Whether it’s if the client had mulch or flowers included or an extra in the contract, or how many they’re supposed to get.”

For Andrea, her husband’s spirited devotion to the company is at the forefront of its success.

“Steven is passionate about Lawns By Yorkshire and has extremely high expectations for its imprint, internally and externally,” she says. “He doesn’t expect from others what he has not/does not do. He embraces his responsibility as a business owner and recognizes the sum of its parts and the significant contributions of each individual at his company – in all levels.

“He often expresses to me, his appreciation for individuals and the impact of their personal efforts,” Andrea added. “Steven surrounds himself with smart people and listens in order to learn from them. He recognizes the role of a leader is not necessarily to know everything, but to find/tap the people who do.”

Hammonds rattled off a list to describe Steven Jomides, the businessman.

“Passionate, intuitive, intelligent, extremely loyal to his staff, very fair to his clients, forward thinking in his use of technology in servicing our clients (iPads for staff, on-site cameras to help off-site property managers know when we’ve serviced the property for both snow removal and landscape maintenance), and most importantly … respectful to his staff,” he says. “No matter what a bad day may throw at him, he will always show his staff the respect they deserve.

“He tends to lean towards the Type-A personality and is very passionate about his business, but he also understands that family is most important and allows his staff to enjoy this precious time without work interruptions,” Hammonds added. “I have worked for some that will call and/or e-mail at all times of the day and night (vacations, weekend, holidays, etc.) expecting a response. Not Steven … it’s quite refreshing.

While Jomides cites increasingly more demanding client expectations, coupled with downward pricing pressure, as his greatest challenges, no major disappointments come to mind … an enviable position to be in after a quarter century in the industry.

Any challenges being married to such a dedicated snow management professional? Andrea jokes about not being able to vacation during the snow season. The plus side … always knowing when it’s going to snow and being able to plan accordingly.

In all seriousness, Andrea calls her husband a “great partner and a great dad.”

“As parents, we share responsibilities equally and have found a rhythm that allows us to lead/parent based on our strengths,” she says. “We adapt and are flexible, because things change. And when in doubt, Steven has a great sense of humor and makes us all laugh. Steven is also serious about how his children contribute to the overall success of the family and home, with emphasis on managing responsibility.”

Reprinted from SNOW MAGAZINE. Read the article here.

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