It’s now been two years since I bought Valley Landscape from Jim Webb. I’ve been hesitant to raise any prices since then because I felt the need to prove myself to our clients and make sure we were providing a premium service first. It is important to me that we bring value to each property and clients can trust that we are giving them the best landscape possible. Our mission is to provide “CONSISTENT QUALITY, HONESTLY”. When we are successful in that mission we will be capable of achieving our vision of elevating our employees and protecting natural resources to enhance the community we live in and set the company up for success for multiple generations.
As 2021 ended, it became if we wanted to stay in business a price increase was imminent. Acute labor shortages, housing cost increases, supply chain disruption, cost of fuel, and commodities increases have all had a significant impact on our overhead costs. After evaluating the real increases facing us in 2022 but desiring to remain competitive and fair, we landed on increases of 10-13%. Mowing services were increased 10% and other services involving fertilizers, chemicals or other raw materials increased 13%.
Seasonal fluctuations adds about 15-20 seasonal laborers to our summer staff. In the ‘old days’ summer seasonal employees in Jackson Hole were plentiful. College kids wanting to spend summers in the mountains and ski bums bridging the gaps between winters made up most landscape crews. A mysterious shift happened during COVID. Blame the gov’t. bailouts for a weakened labor market, a lack of workforce housing or a combination of things. At the beginning of 2021 as we attempted to recruit our seasonal staff, a record 9 pages of help wanted ads contrasted with less than half a column of available housing made it clear that it would be a battle for summer workers. As we limped through summer short handed, we observed wages spiking dramatically and knew we would have no choice but to raise our wages if we wanted to keep and attract employees.
According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the US increased 7.9% year over year as of Feb. 2022. It is the biggest annual rise since Jan. of 1982. According to this May 4th 2021 Buckrail article (https://buckrail.com/housing-in-jackson-teton-county-by-the-numbers/), single family homes in Cottonwood and Melody sell for 11-25 times the median household income, influenced by out of state cash buyers who snatch up 40% of the listings before they even hit the MLS. It also points out that while workforce housing rental rates only increased 9% in Jackson, the increase in Star Valley and Teton Valley Idaho have increased 19% and 60% respectively! Let that sink in for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of someone wanting to move to Jackson to live the dream and work a seasonal job. The prices in Jackson are having a direct impact on the workforce commuter housing to the point where many workers can’t even afford to live in the bedroom communities of Jackson. In an effort to retain the amazing staff, and in order to attract new seasonal employees, on average our wages have increased by 25-30% in the last year.
Fertilizer costs are a function of oil prices. As oil pricing is going through the roof and changing dramatically daily as the war in Ukraine rages on fertilizer prices change daily. This winter I was able to procure some leftover inventory from 2021 for a discounted price, but moving forward we are looking at 40-50% increases in price for fertilizer.
The microchip shortage affecting the supply of new vehicles has caused the price of used vehicles to increase 40%. In order to maintain a dependable fleet of trucks we are constantly retiring old trucks and replacing them with new (used). If you can find a good truck, its price is disgustingly high and it usually sells quickly, so cash on hand to make a quick purchase is king.
All this is to say we would be foolish to try and keep pricing the same as we wouldn’t stay in business very long. This was a tough decision to make, and we understand how it affects our customers. We value your business and thank you for your ongoing support. We will do our best to prove to you by our quality and customer service that we offer great value in our pricing.