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The Great Recession: Man turns New Leaf from layoff to new landscape job
Josh Everett, right, with Steve Murray, President of New Leaf Landscape Services, switched careers to go to work with the landscape company. Everett and Murray are looking over a flower bed at Northeast Georgia Medical Center that is maintained by New Leaf. - photo by Tom Reed

Out of college in 1998, with a background in forest management, Josh Everett of northwest Hall County managed land for a timber company that owned hundreds of thousands of acres across North Georgia.

“As the years went along, the economy started to get some engine in it from a real estate standpoint, so the company started to look at (whether it should be) cutting timber ... or selling land for development,” he said.

In 2001, the company created a real estate division and Everett was put in charge of North Georgia “managing assets in preparation for sale,” Everett said.

It was a hit, at first.

“People were coming out of the woodwork from everywhere to buy 100 or 200 acres,” Everett said. “People were buying at a feverish pace, and we all knew it couldn’t keep up.”

Sure enough, “the phones stopped ringing and sales slowed” in about 2007.

In October 2011, “I was sitting at my desk just minding my own business working away, when in came the corporate vice president and human resources manager and they said ‘Thank you very much, you’ve done a great job.’”

Sensing that change might come, he had spent time networking, and one of the relationships he had built was with Steve Murray, owner of Gainesville-based New Leaf Landscape Services. Everett now works as business development director for New Leaf.

Things are fine now, but the months of unemployment were an emotional struggle.

“I had to battle some humility and some pride,” Everett said.