Affordable Health Care Act. Many Green Industry Pros, especially large landscape maintenance contractors, are fearful of hitting that 50-employee threshold because that’s when the penalties, or should I say taxes, kick in. So, let’s say a contractor sitting at $3.6 million in annual sales with 46 employees sees an opportunity to open another branch. But then he must hire five more employees, pushing him over the 50-employee threshold. He’s now hesitant about opening another branch—because his additional growth is going to be “penalized” in a way.
Jobless recovery. When the chronically unemployed give up hope in their search for a new job, they sometimes turn to mowing lawns as a source of income. While some of these guys end up making good careers out of this, it’s more common that they are in and out of the business in a season or two. This puts additional downward pressure on pricing, and often damages the credibility of the profession.
Secondly, a jobless recovery is simply bad (obviously) for the economy as a whole. Until people are working and making/saving some money, demand for landscaping and lawn care will continue to remain tepid—inhibiting the growth potential of the thousands and thousands of job-creating pros in this business.
Ethanol. Ethanol mandates (now we’re looking at E15) are putting small engine-powered equipment like lawnmowers, string trimmers and leaf blowers at risk. This could ultimately drive up both repair and replacement costs for contractors, not to mention the suppliers they buy equipment from.
Stimulated to death. Some landscape contractors have benefited from stimulus projects over the past few years. But the lion’s share have not. In fact, the landscaping industry as a whole must thrive on consumer discretionary income. So, taking money out of taxpayers' pockets to fund stimulus projects, many of which have little to do with lawn care or landscaping, isn’t terribly helpful to the Green Industry.
Gridlock, looming fiscal crisis and consumer un-confidence. Let’s face it, Congress will basically never do anything ever again. The pendulum will continue to swing from one side of the aisle to the other every couple of years (as has happened in 2006, 2010, and will happen again this fall). When will Congress learn to compromise to solve big problems? They better figure it out by the end of the year or we’re all in trouble.