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Hiring Frenzy at Some Local Landscapers

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The landscaping business usually picks up in spring, but some Milwaukee area firms plan to hire larger crews this season. More customers are signing contracts.

"This is probably the first time in 15 years that we’ve done this," according to Tracy Clouser. She works for the landscape company David J. Frank. She says it’s looking to hire as many as 100 workers within the next month, mainly to work in landscape maintenance.

"Mowing, planting, trimming; and in landscape construction, which is the building of retaining walls and patios, and decks,” Clouser says.

Clouser says the company will train as necessary, and it’s anxious to have workers hired and up-to-speed by April.

A similar rush is on at Hawks Landscaping. Spokesman Gary Urban says the economy "is certainly in an upswing. I think people are investing more in their homes, which is a big part of our market,"

Urban says the company used to hold annual job fairs, until the recession hit.

"We’re not over the hump yet, but I think overall people are comfortable enough that they are starting to loosen up the purse strings a bit," Urban says.

Urban says the landscaper has been placing helped wanted ads in newspapers, on web sites and even a billboard. "It’s an employee’s market right now," he says.

Tracy Coulson says her company is also posting fliers in grocery stores and at churches. She says it might not be as easy as in years past, to find experienced or skilled workers.

"The economy is improving and with (it) the demand for labor and the demand for landscaping at the same time," Coulson says.

Coulson says her company will pay workers between $12 and $20 dollars an hour, depending on experience.