Claude has been a dedicated and hardworking figure in the Pool and Landscape industry along with the South Florida business scene.
With humility to confide in mentors and patience to start small and dream big, Claude B. Kershner III has realized the possibilities of a service-oriented business in South Florida since 1998.
Through his personal ambition and his company, Claude has helped raise money for ORCAT, the Grayvik Animal Care Center the Ocean Reef Foundation, the Ocean Reef Medical Center and Baptist Health Systems. He started and led the Ocean Reef Chamber of Commerce, helped build a local dog park and social gathering spot, campaigned the creation of a 15-mile bike lane that traverses one of the largest tropical parks in the country, created a bike club and currently serves in leadership of his condominium association. He has helped shape hundreds of lives over the years through his dedication to the local community, his portrayal of effective leadership for charitable organizations, his influence mentoring his employees and his ability to continually persist and enable others around him. Thank you Claude for the 17 years you have dedicated to your friends, colleagues, coworkers and customers!
Get to know Claude B. Kershner III:
After graduating from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA with a degree in Business Administration, Claude decided to work in an entrepreneurial venture with his father, mother, two brothers and three sisters in Pennsylvania. He managed by “walking around”, which he defined as constant communication and ruthless analysis of financials. “I was highly aggressive with what I wanted to accomplish in the early years of my career”. Claude constantly drilled his employees with the importance of integrity, honesty and persistence. He said that you need to show up every day ready to work no matter what. He integrated the employees into the family but maintained high expectations. After the Sale of CB Kershner’s he made plans to move his career to the Florida Keys and surrounded himself with beauty. Claude frequented the Keys on vacation throughout his life but always had to fly back north.
When planning the new venture, Claude leveraged what he describes as a “critical resource”, a partner. “My partner made me one of the locals and integrated me into the community where my business was”. In 1998, Reef Tropical Landscape formed with roughly 200 customers and a staff of 30 people focused in the Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo. Today, Claude owns three separate companies with a client base of over 1,100 throughout Ocean Reef Club, the Florida Keys and up into Miami. He has a staff of over seventy-five people and continues to be involved in all day-to-day operations.
Claude uses his ‘show up and be persistent’ philosophy and creatively comes up with ways to leverage resources and save money. He explains that there is a need to keep a close eye on his team until the individuals can emulate how the entrepreneur thinks and acts. Moreover, a company’s culture is the heart of the entrepreneur’s philosophies. “Sometimes I enjoy micro managing because it gives me a chance to instill values that can’t be overlooked.” Claude provides all of his employees with healthcare benefits, 401k direct match plans and is truly concerned about their personal well-being. He also ensures that his employees are thoroughly screened and wear proper uniforms before putting them on a customer’s property. Claude says that these characteristics along with intelligence and a strong physical presence brought him past mistakes and towards a path of success.
Claude and his staff routinely provide excellent customer service. He provides his personal cell phone for weekend emergencies, dispatches pool mechanics over weekends and during holidays, spends time with all clients on free consultation, and helps around the clock during hurricane threats to secure houses, remove expensive landscaping and do practically anything the customers needed for their vacation homes…….. Additionally, Claude goes out of his way for customers to help monitor their water usage and prevent high water bills. He has his pool cleaners check water meters each time they are on the property. The information is conveyed to the office staff who contacts the customer or property manager to alert them of the over usage. From there, his staff is more than willing to do whatever it takes to mitigate the water loss and prevent it from happening again in the future. He is also working with the local aqueduct authority to help push a water monitoring software for his customers. “Going outside our lines of service has helped me solidify a loyal relationship with my customers – they know I have their back”.
“Staying on a path towards success and within a comfort zone, productivity can be achieved”.
He approximates his office time to be fifty-five hours a week with little vacation since he started the venture. Yet, he works from his cell phone and laptop around the clock if needed. Claude knows that the time commitment clearly displays how important it is for a person to love what they do. For Claude, he not only loves what he does but he loves where he does it and who he does it with.
The possibilities are still endless for Claude B. Kershner III and his team if he remains devoted to his philosophies that encapsulate his business. There is a clear essence of entrepreneurial spirit is his story. His notable achievements and values are for rising entrepreneurs to emulate. Correspondingly, Claude has a captivating decision making process using strategies and emotions that need to be understood – knowing what you want but being bold enough to take it. He certainly took the road less traveled and exploited an opportunity that has turned out to be a dream come true.
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