Thursday, 20 July 2017

Industry Consultant Survives Attack, Vows To Turn ‘Nightmare Into A Celebration Of Life’

Judy Guido

“I have been overwhelmed by the outcome of love and support of my friends,” said Judith Guido, in an email sent after surviving an attack by a member of a landscaping crew she had hired to work on her property.

Guido, chairperson of Guido & Associates and longtime industry consultant, was attacked July 5 outside her Moorpark, California, home by Abel de Jesus Monroy, 27. Monroy has since been arrested for attempted murder, attempted arson, residential burglary and animal cruelty, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

“I just got out off of ICU. I was attacked and beaten near death by a deranged landscaper,” Guido said in the July 11 email. “Thankfully God has longer term plans for me.

Abel de Jesus Monroy, 27, arrested

Suspect held on $1 million bail. Photo: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office

“What has been a part of my life for so long and has made me so happy suddenly frightened me and paralyzed me with fear. I refuse to give in to fear and the madman who tried to kill me.”

Guido was hit in the head with a pickaxe and found by Ventura County firefighters in the middle of the street, bleeding from the head, Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Mike McConville told the Ventura County Star. It appears that Monroy had a mental breakdown when he began chasing his co-worker with the pickaxe. Guido came into the yard to see what was going on, the newspaper reported, and Monroy turned his attention toward her.

Monroy reportedly killed Guido’s dog when it started barking, then turned back to her as Guido ran down the side of the house to the front of the home. At that point, Monroy went into the house and tried to set it on fire by turning on the stove burners, McConville told the newspaper. Fortunately, firefighters arrived and shut them off before any damage was done to the house.

Monroy was contacted by authorities in front of Guido’s home a few minutes later as firefighters attended to her wounds, the police report states.

“I am turning a nightmare into to a celebration of life, and will make our front yard the most healing, therapeutic, healthy and living garden you’ve even seen,” Guido said last week. “A place where people will sit and feel healthy, happy, rejuvenated and safe.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Guido as she recovers.

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Industry Needs Permanent Fixes to H-2B Visa Program

Capital Hill

It was fitting and perhaps ironic that the Department of Homeland Security announced the availability of 15,000 additional H-2B visas for 2017 on July 17. That was the day that green industry professionals were reviewing the issues they were preparing to discuss with their legislators the very next day on Capitol Hill.

The H-2B visa program for seasonal, nonimmigrant, nonagricultural workers was top of mind for the small business owners participating in the annual Day On The Hill organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

These landscapers, lawn care pros and their supporters had spent that very morning in the heat and humidity beautifying Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Cemetery. They were volunteers in NALP’s annual Renewal and Remembrance day of service. Many of the cemetery volunteers stay an extra day in Washington, D.C., to participate in NALP’s Day On The Hill.

Read more: Volunteers Give ‘And Then Some’ at Renewal And Remembrance 2017

Day on the Hill goals

The goal of the Day on the Hill legislative outreach is twofold:

  1. To educate and seek the support of lawmakers on specific issues critical to the health of the green industry;
  2. To establish ongoing relationships with lawmakers or, more typically, with their staff members whose role it is to keep lawmakers up to date (perhaps even influence them) on various issues.

Both goals are vitally important because legislators are always considering laws and rules that impact the green industry. These include labor (H-2B most notably), plant health products (fertilizers and pest controls), equipment (safety, emissions, etc.) and water quality, availability and use.

In light of DHS’s decision to make 15,000 more H-2B visas available to American employers for FIY 2017, let’s dive deeper into that issue and save the others — in particular pesticides and water — for future coverage. The recent DHS decision is both encouraging and discouraging.

It’s encouraging because it suggests that ongoing efforts by small business interests seeking expansion of the number of seasonal visas from the congressionally mandated 66,000 did result in some relief. The H-2B Workforce Coalition, comprised of a large number of industries that rely on seasonal employees to provide their services and led by NALP, campaigned long and hard this past winter and spring seeking passage of the so-called returning worker exemption, which would allow the issuance of work visas — beyond the mandated 66,000 — to seasonal employees who had worked under the program the previous three years.

Finally, success — kinda

The efforts by the coalition seemed to bear some fruit this past May when a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government through the end of September resulted in legislation with language to allow the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of Labor to raise the cap from 66,000 to 129,547.

To this point, that hasn’t happened, however. Instead employers are being offered just 15,000 visas, and with the caveat that petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year 2017.

While landscape and lawn servicers are busy well into autumn, it’s not clear how much relief the availability of this relatively small number of additional H-2B workers will help short-handed companies. But more disappointing is the prospect that the H-2B visa program may remain as politicized and uncertain in FY 2018 as it was this past year.

Permanent fix needed

Laurie Flanagan, speaking to landscapers and lawn care pros the afternoon before the Day On The Hill, explained why a fix to the H-2B program — including the adoption of a permanent returning worker exemption — is vital to the health not only to the green industry, its largest user, but also dozens of other seasonal businesses as well.

Most obviously, not knowing just how many workers a company will have the coming season makes budgeting incredibly difficult. Business owners who rely on H-2B can’t accurately estimate their labor costs, and they’re also in the dark about how much they can sell and service and the amount of new equipment, trucks and products they will need.

And this uncertainty is coming at a time when unemployment is low (4.3 percent as of May 1, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) and the green industry services industry is growing at a 3 percent clip — faster than the national growth average.

Flanagan pointed out that Congress implemented the H-2B visa program at a time (1991) when the landscape and many other seasonal industries were much smaller than they are today. Indeed, the economy as a whole was much smaller. The U.S. GDP in 1991 was $9.02 trillion, whereas in 2017 it’s estimated at $16.81 trillion. The services sector has been one of the main drivers of this expansion.

Flanagan reminded the Day On The Hill participants to share with lawmakers the importance of the H-2B workers in growing their companies and, as a result, offering more and better job opportunities to U.S. citizens.

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DHS Increases Number of H-2B Visas by 15,000: This Week’s Industry News

Visa

Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

DHS Increases Number of H-2B Visas by 15,000
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on July 17 that it will be increasing the number of H-2B visas by 15,000. To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year 2017. “Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary workers,” announced Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “As a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”

A-LIST Releases Environmentally Friendly Lawn Grass List
Want to provide your clients with turfgrass better able to withstand a variety of stresses? Check out the new list of perennial ryegrasses and fine fescues approved by The Alliance for Low Input Sustainable Turf (A-LIST). The A-LIST is an independent, non-profit industry initiative fostering the development of turfgrass varieties that meet metrics like water conservation, reduced fertility, heat and drought stress tolerances, all with no fungicide or insecticide applications. Nationally recognized cooperators selected on a regional basis test the turfgrass to include environmental adaptability.

Monsanto Fights California’s Listing of Glyphosate as Cancer Causer
On July 7 glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Company’s popular Roundup weed killer, was added to California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer by the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. California voters approved Proposition 65, a ballot initiative in 1986. Monsanto vowed to continue its legal fight against the designation, and called the decision “unwarranted on the basis of science and the law,” and has vowed to continue its legal fight against the designation.

Ditch Witch, Grasshopper Showcased as Made in America
Ditch Witch represented Oklahoma at the Made in America Product Showcase celebrating American-made products hosted at the White House on Monday, July 17. A Ditch Witch JT20 horizontal directional drill was on display at the event. Thanks to suggestions from Kansas’ Governor Sam Brownback and members of Congress, a Grasshopper 727 EFI FrontMount mower represented Kansas at the same event.

Arborjet Expands Organic Solutions with Eco-1 Garden Spray
Arborjet Inc. has announced the expansion of its organic plant solutions line with its new Eco-1 Garden Spray for protection against insects, mites and diseases. Eco-1 Garden Spray made its debut at Cultivate’17 this week. Eco-1 Garden Spray is a botanical blend of thyme and peppermint oils with flaxseed oil, creating a unique emulsion that offers up to 15 times more active ingredients for highly effective control. Other included ingredients help the oils mix with water and dissolve an insect’s exoskeleton for additional pest fighting power.

MTD Completes Transaction with Robomow
F. Robotics Acquisitions Ltd, the makers of Robomow, is now a subsidiary of MTD Products Inc. The transaction, which closed as planned on July 2, 2017, will enable MTD to employ Robomow’s progressive technology and broad line of robotic products under MTD’s brands in Europe and North America; while Robomow will benefit from MTD’s broader outdoor power equipment portfolio, sales and marketing resources, and global network of dealers. Robomow’s operations will remain headquartered in Pardesiya, Israel.

OPEI Installs 2017-2018 Officers, Board Members
Members of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute gathered June 20-22 for their 65th annual meeting to discuss the challenges ahead for the outdoor power equipment industry and also its potential for growth. OPEI members also elected officers and installed board members for 2017-2018. They are as follows:

  • OPEI Chair: Daniel Ariens, chairman & CEO, Ariens Company
  • OPEI Vice Chair: Tom Cromwell, group president – power, Kohler Company
  • OPEI Secretary/Treasurer: Bjoern Fischer, president, Stihl Incorporated
  • Immediate Past Chair: Tim Merrett, vice president, global platform – Turf & Utility, Agriculture & Turf Division, Deere & Company

Rounding out OPEI’s board of directors will be as follows: Edward B. Cohen, vice president, government & industry relations, Honda North America, Inc.; Tim Dorsey, president, Echo Incorporated; Marc J. Dufour, president & CEO, Club Car, LLC; Tom Duncan, president and CEO, Positec Tool Corporation; Peter Hampton, president, Active Exhaust Corporation; Jean Hlay, president & COO, MTD Products Inc.; Jeff Hohler, president, Consumer Brands Division, Husqvarna Group; Paul Mullet, president & CEO, Excel Industries, Inc.; Rick Olson, president & COO, The Toro Company; Lee Sowell, president – outdoor products, Techtronic Industries Power Equipment; Todd Teske, chairman, president & CEO,  Briggs and Stratton Corporation.

CASE Announces SiteControl CoPilot System for M-Series Dozers
CASE Construction Equipment has introduced their new SiteControl CoPilot powered by Leica Geosystems. Available factory-installed or as a retrofit on select CASE M Series dozers, the CoPilot system bridges the gap between automatic and indicate-only systems and offers a entry into 2D and 3D machine control technology. The system allows operators to set a desired slope/grade reference, and automatically holds that slope/grade without the need for lasers, masts or GPS.

KAI Design & Build Hires 10 New Architecture Department Employees
KAI Design & Build in St. Louis, Missouri has hired ten new employees to its Architecture Department including:

  1. Carl Karlen, of Brentwood, MO, Senior Designer/Senior Architect.
  2. Christina Laney, LEED GA, of Clayton, MO, Intern Architect.
  3. Bruce LaSurs, RA, LA, of Webster Groves, MO, Project Manager.
  4. Chris Link, CM-BIM, CDT, LEED AP, of Godfrey, IL, BIM/VDC Manager.
  5. Jacob Manse, of Chesterfield, MO, Intern Architect.
  6. Decorda McGee, LEED GA, of University City, MO, Intern Architect 2.
  7. Matt Niemeyer, of Gillespie, IL, Project Architect.
  8. Jason Randle, of St. Louis City, MO, Project Designer.
  9. Andy Sebacher, RA, LEED AP, of Florissant, MO, Project Manager.
  10. Adam Walker, of Florissant, MO, Project Designer.

Porous Pave Selected for Federation Housing, Inc.
Federation Housing, Inc. completed the Gil Rosenthal Garden of Peace at the Samuel A. Green House, a low-income housing tax credit building for the elderly, by installing 1,650 square feet of Porous Pave XL permeable pavement for the garden’s walkways and circular patio. Located in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Garrett Churchill, Inc. designed and installed the five-foot-wide walking paths and 24-foot-diameter patio with Porous Pave XL batch mixed on site and poured in place at a depth of 1.5 inches atop a four-inch base of compacted crushed aggregate.

Simplot Partners Targets Northern California
The J.R. Simplot Company has opened a new Simplot Partners retail location in Sacramento, California. The location will enable Simplot Partners to meet the growing demands of turf and horticulture customers in northern California and Nevada.

Ruppert, Associated Builders And Contractors Host Networking Event
Ruppert Landscape partnered with Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington to host their summer networking event on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at Ruppert’s corporate headquarters in Laytonsville, Maryland.  More than 550 people attended the event. ABC’s Metro Washington chapter has been holding its Summer Networking Event at Ruppert headquarters for nearly 19 years.

ILCA Announces 9th Annual Turf Education Day
Illinois Landscape Contractor’s Association and the Chicago Botanic Garden have come together to present the 9th annual Turf Education Day. Stay informed about the latest turf care products and practices. This day of training and education is for any professional who cares for and looks after turf. The event will be Thursday, September 21, 2017 at the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Former WLCA President Roy Zehren Dies at 87
The Wisconsin turf industry lost a long-time friend and leader on June 10. Roy G. Zehren had a passion for sharing information and networking. He served as President of the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association in 1968-1969. He was a founding board member of the Sports Turf Management Association along with the late Harry Gill, the storied Brewers Grounds Manager who were early pioneers in organizing the Sports Turf Industry. With his growing expertise in designing natural turf drainage systems, he founded Natural Athletic Turf, Inc. and Sports Turf Consultants in 1974. Zehren worked with golf courses and professional sports teams across the country, including the Milwaukee Brewers, to develop systems that could sustain healthy natural grass playing surfaces. Zehren was a 39 year member of the Wisconsin Golf Course Superintendents Association.

Durante Rentals Chris Jones Wins CFO Innovation Award
Chris Jones, Durante Rentals Co-Founder and CFO, was honored with the 2017 Small Market Companies: Thinking Big Award at the 2017 CFO Innovation Conference. The awards ceremony and dinner was held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. CFO’s received recognition in fourteen CFO-focused categories with finalists and award recipients selected by an independent panel of judges.

Excellence in Irrigation 2017 Award Winners Announced
The 2017 Excellence in Irrigation honorees were presented awards at the American Society of Irrigation Consultants National Conference in Seattle, Washington. A total of eleven projects were identified as deserving special acknowledgement as examples of unique or outstanding irrigation design challenges and solutions. The individuals were independently judged by a panel comprised of an academic team from Cal Poly Pomona and Kansas State University and peer review. Challenges must be unique and the site solutions must successfully address the distinctive climatic, structural, agronomic and system operational needs of each project.

National Concrete Masonry Association Will Celebrate 100 years in 2018
The National Concrete Masonry Association is celebrating 100 years and is planning events for 2018 including a gala event at the summer 2018 Midyear Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. NCMA is offering sponsorship opportunities that will recognize each company’s support of this event and their commitment to the association, its mission, its activities, as well as their investment in this industry’s future.

Read last week’s industry news roundup: Former STIHL President Fred Whyte Dies at 70

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2017 Product Roundup: Snow Plows

Arctic Sectional Sno-Pusher
Arctic
Sectional Sno-Pusher
The Sectional Sno-Pusher from Arctic has a patented moldboard design and slip hitch. The AR-400 steel cutting edges can scrape compacted snow and ice down to the pavement, eliminating followup plowing. The universal mounting system enables the mounting hookup to be changed in minutes.
BOSS
BOSS
HTX V-Plow
The HTX V-Plow from Boss is for lighter-duty and half-ton trucks. The plow is built with a Full Moldboard Trip Design to help prevent plow damage when an obstacle is encountered. The enclosed hydraulics protect against corrosion and hydraulic freeze-up, according to the company
CASE Sectional Snow Pushers
CASE
Sectional Snow Pushers
The Sectional Snow Pushers from CASE Construction Equipment are available in six different sizes for heavy- and light-duty applications. The moldboard sections move independently and have a Hardox 450 steel cutting edge. The pushers are compatible with CASE equipment as well as other brands.
Bobcat Snow Blade
Bobcat Company
Snow Blade
The Snow Blade from Bobcat has an angle that is adjustable from the operator’s seat. It can oscillate five degrees. The moldboard can angle right or left up to 30 degrees. Optional features include rubber or polyurethane cutting edges and end-wing kits.
Buyers/SnowDogg
Buyers/SnowDogg
VXF Generation II
The VXF Generation II has simplified harnesses and connectors for quicker installation. The floating A-frame helps with even cutting edge wear and optimal scraping. It has an energized rod seal cylinder design with anodized aluminum gland nuts for efficiency and long life.
Caterpillar Straight Snow Push
Caterpillar
Straight Snow Push
The Straight Snow Push without Trip is a new attachment for Caterpillar. The snow push is available in 8-, 10- and 12-foot widths with a reversible bolt-on rubber cutting edge. It features a moldboard specially profiled to roll and fold snow, while the skid shoes allow the height of the cutting edge to be adjusted.
Fisher HDX
Fisher Engineering
HDX Snowplow
The HDX snowplow offers an adjustable attack angle that can be set to 55, 65 or 75 degrees to accommodate different plowing surfaces, weather conditions or operator preferences. The plow features an articulating A-frame that allows the blade to pivot from side to side to freely follow the contours of the plowing surface for a cleaner scrape and more even cutting edge wear.
Hiniker C-Plow
Hiniker
C-Plow
The reversible C-Plow from Hiniker is operated as a conventional plow in the forward plowing mode, with the normal hydraulic angling and spring-trip moldboard functions. For backdragging, the upper 3/4 of the moldboard is hydraulically folded over. The plow is available in 8- and 9-foot widths and features a high clearance split trip-edge and Hiniker’s Quick-Hitch system.
Meyer Power Box Plow
Meyer Products
Power Box Plow
Meyer’s Power Box Plow telescopes from 8 feet to 12 feet using in-cab controls. It has adjustable left and right hydraulic wings that move to the operator’s desired length. It attaches to skid-steers, tractors and compact wheel loaders with a free-floating mount. It comes standard with a rubber cutting edge and free floats 20 degrees for uneven pavement.
Pro-Tech Sno-Pusher
Pro-Tech
Sno-Pusher
The rubber edge Sno Pusher from Pro-Tech comes in varying widths from 10 feet to 30 feet. It can be used on multiple surface types, including those that are sensitive to steel edges. The Sno Pusher features SBR extruded rubber along with fully welded construction.
SnowEx HDV
SnowEx
HDV V-Plow
The SnowEx HDV heavy-duty V-plows are built with a responsive direct lift system. Available in either durable powder-coated mild steel or stainless steel and blade widths of 8 foot, 6 inches or 9 foot, 6 inches. The Automatixx power-assisted attachment system provides quick plow hook-up.
Western Defender
Western
DEFENDER
The Western DEFENDER is a compact plow designed specifically for mid-size pickup trucks and SUVs. With a reinforced, high-strength steel blade, it’s durable and powerful. A mechanical attaching system provides quick and easy hook-up. It features a high-strength, low-weight, alloy-steel blade and six vertical ribs reinforce the blade.

 

Have a new product? Submit entries using our Product Form for Turf, Turf Design Build and PLOW, a supplement to Turf.

Visit PlowSite.com for more forums on equipment, business management and technical information. Join the conversation in the largest community of snow and ice business professionals.

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Story Of A Landscape: Modest Paver Project Yields Prize-Winning Dividend

Andrew Beattie, HLT, isn’t much for blowing his own horn. The owner of Ideal Landscape Services sums up a driveway, walkway and front gardens project his company did for homeowners in nearby Sugarbush as, “pretty straightforward.”

However, judges for the annual Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association weren’t quite as blasé about the job. They honored it as a prize-winner in their most recent competition in the category of residential construction from $25,000-$50,000.

And, at first glance, the project is straightforward. The homeowners were looking for an upgrade of the gravel driveway outlined with local stone that the builder had installed with their new home a couple years previously.

Photo: Ideal Landscape Services

“They just Googled on the internet and then called me up,” says Beattie to explain his relationship with the clients. “They really wanted a new front entrance for their new house and an upgrade of the gravel driveway.”

As his firm’s designer, Beattie met with the couple and received input on what their thoughts were on the project. Then, he went to work.

“I came back to meet with them for a second time, and I had a sketch in my hands,” Beattie explains. “I laid my sketch on the table and the woman – who’s an artist – laid a sketch on the table, and they were almost identical. I think we complemented each other.”

One area where Beattie did have to do some selling was in the choice of pavers – approximately 500 square feet – for the job. He says his clients’ initial choice wasn’t a high-end product. As a Unilock authorized contractor, he admits to steering them in that direction.

Photo: Ideal Landscape Services

“They wanted to go with an inferior paver,” he says. “I had a chat with them about not going that route for different reasons, and they ended up going with something even better than I’d suggested.”

Ultimately, the job was completed using Unilock’s Town Hall series, which offers the appearance of historic cast pavers, accented with its Thornbury line, which comes in three different sizes.

The pavers serve as a walkway and outline the asphalt driveway. Beattie says the suggestion to limit the use of pavers to outline the driveway was not done entirely for financial considerations – although cost did play some role in the decision.

Photo: Ideal Landscape Services

“Having a total interlock driveway just loses the special look to it,” he says. “The asphalt really gives the front entry more punch in my opinion. And, it is a quite large driveway.”

The small boulders outlining the driveway and initially installed by the homebuilder were left in place, although Beattie opted to take them into his garden design.

“Adding some natural stone into the garden ties it all together, I think,” Beattie says.

Nor were the clients’ particularly fussy about the plant palette for their front lawn gardens. Beattie says his main goal was to give them a good package that shows well through all four seasons.

Photo: Ideal Landscape Services

“They picked out two special evergreen plants they liked, and we just fit them into the design,” he says. “They felt they were neat specimens and they wanted something that was striking year-round. And, of course, you have to have some flowers.”

To complete the two-week job, Beattie and his two-man crew installed additional lighting to complement what the clients already had on the front of their home.

“We just did a couple up-lights at the front and then some path lights,” he says. “They didn’t want to get into anything too drastic. They wanted something subtle and they really like their existing house lights. We didn’t want to take away from that, but we needed to add some flair to the landscape itself.”

Not surprisingly, Beattie says with this job he’s most proud of the clients’ satisfaction.

“We treat each client individually,” he stresses. “We come in and read the situation and listen to the client, and it all works out.”

Because of the flat lot and existing driveway, he adds that the job presented few challenges. The biggest was dealing with some drainage from the gutters off the house.

“We don’t like water going across our interlock,” is how he puts it. “We put in some underground pipe and moved it into a lower area garden where they had a couple trees planted.”

Photo: Ideal Landscape Services

As a paver guy, Beattie adds that’s his favorite part of the job, not just for the overall look they provide here, but due to how well they complement the exterior of the house.

“It was basically a four-color blend for the Town Hall,” he explains. “It was mostly a matter of taking stone from all four skids to make sure we had a good mix.”

While Beattie says this project didn’t necessarily serve as a learning experience, he does wonder if he needs to brush up on his sales skills. He says a subsequent visit to the clients showed they’d made the garden a little bigger and put in about a half dozen more shrubs.

“I commented that maybe I didn’t sell hard enough,” Beattie admits. “I’m not a pushy sales guy, and we had a good laugh at it, but when people start talking budget, I start backing off a bit.”

Still, the relationship remains good. Beattie was also out later to replace a plant he had guaranteed that had died over the winter, and he says talk has started about them doing something in their backyard.

“He’s done a bit himself, but they also realize how much work it can be,” Beattie concludes. “If you only own a shovel and a wheelbarrow, it can be a lot of work.”

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What’s In My Truck: J. Barker Landscaping Co.

J. Barker Landscaping Co.

Brandon Barker, commercial operations manager for J. Barker Landscaping Co. in Bedford, Ohio, says that his 2017 Ford F-150 XLT Crew Cab is perfect for the various tasks that might come up throughout his day including pulling trailers, hauling various materials and getting around town quickly and efficiently. It’s also been a great vehicle for “office work,” Barker says. The truck has the amenities he needs to make it a comfortable mobile office since he’s typically only in his physical office two to three hours a day. Barker spends most of his time on the road checking on job sites, meeting with customers and estimating potential projects. We recently caught up with Barker in between jobs to find out a bit more about his days on the road and what he keeps in his truck.

The Ford F-150 XLT Crew Cab is also a great truck when I’m not at work. It is extremely spacious with four doors and a large backseat. It’s flexible enough to work for both business and personal use. It has many of the luxury options on it that you would want for your own everyday car or truck.

I always like to have my truck clean and shining. It’s important to have the inside and outside as clean as possible. This is not only good for the longevity of the vehicle, but also shows customers that you take good care of what belongs to you. I’m going to treat my truck like I treat their properties — clean, neat and with a strong attention to detail.

I connect my iPhone 6s through my truck’s Bluetooth, which is important because I’m on the phone constantly. It allows me to easily check my steady influx of emails as well. Sending an email has become a first line of communication for many customers of ours. If I get an email while I am out on the road, I am still able to respond in a timely manner by keeping my iPhone handy. Keeping my iPhone on me at job sites is also a must in order to use its camera. I’m constantly taking pictures on potential job sites.

It’s important to get your company name out there as much as you can. Our fleet has our company logo and phone number on the side of every truck, and our website can be found on the tailgates of our pickups. We also have logos on the majority of our equipment and trailers. Vehicle branding is an easy way to get your name out there when you’re on the road every day.

I always keep a change of clothes in my truck. If I ever need to go somewhere straight after work, then I am ready to go with nice, clean clothes. This comes in handy if I’m meeting my girlfriend for dinner or for any other event that may come up.

Read more: Lakefront Property Gets Euro-Inspired Makeover

The Essentials

Yeti Rambler Mug — Hydration is key. I keep it filled with either water or unsweetened tea.

Oakley Sunglasses — We work in an industry where you are constantly exposed to the sun. You might as well protect your eyes and look good doing it.

Macbook Pro — I keep this handy in case I need to look up any documents, contracts, proposals, etc.

Ratchet Strap — Straps seem to disappear a lot so I always keep one with me in case I need to pick up a piece of equipment.

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Make Customers Think Of You First

Make Them Think of You First

Earlier this year I attended the first Northeast Hardscape Expo in Providence, Rhode Island. If you were there, you may have seen me walking around the expo floor with my mouth hanging open. I probably looked the same at my first GIE+EXPO last October in Kentucky.

The truth is, I am in awe. As a newbie to this industry, every time I see the incredible examples of hardscapes on display — backyard patios, outdoor fireplaces and kitchens, the way materials can blend from inside the home and carry outside — the wheels start turning. Not only do I think about all the articles we can provide to help you grow your business and stay on trend, but admittedly, I also think of my own outdoor space at home in Birmingham, Alabama.

My husband and I have a modest, covered patio at the back of my home with a ceiling fan — definitely needed in the South — and some brightly colored furniture. We have some shrubs and Bermudagrass that’s hard to keep a deep shade of luscious green, especially toward the end of summer when our state inevitably experiences a drought. And that’s about all we have back there.

So, they’re looking for you. Make sure you’re the company that comes to mind first.

Needless to say, when I see the amazing work that you landscape designers create, I’m envious. I want more for my outdoor space.

And I am not alone. Last year, 73 percent of homeowners hired a professional to complete an outdoor project, according to a recent Houzz study. This year, that number is projected to be 63 percent — but as Houzz noted, that’s probably because people will start a project on their own, then need to call in reinforcements. So that number will grow, and that’s where you step in.

The trick here is making sure that homeowners think of you first. So how do you do that? Exposure. You have to be the company that comes to mind when a homeowner is thinking of an outdoor renovation, or needs rescuing from a DIY project gone wrong.

Being that company takes a combination of efforts: flyers left in mailboxes, monthly newsletters highlighting services you’d recommend, a social media presence showing off your work, a top-notch website that communicates all that you can do. Some of these items, such as newsletters, may sound like a waste of time. But, as LawnSite member JimLewis recently said in a thread on newsletters: “A newsletter [can] inform customers about products and services that you offer, that maybe they didn’t know that you offered. I find that if we don’t tell our lawn maintenance customers that we do other types of landscaping, they just assume all we do is maintenance.”

Another way to increase your exposure is to blog. Create valuable articles for your clients about trends in landscape design. Tell them how they can increase their curb appeal or upgrade their outdoor space to appeal to a homebuyer, if they’re looking to sell. According to the Houzz landscape design study, homeowners are looking for low-maintenance plants and those that are native and attract birds or bees. Information like this — being in the know on these trends — can mean the difference between making a sale or not. It can make you the first company potential clients think of.

Houzz found that when renovating homeowners are looking to complete outdoor projects, they look to hire:

  • Landscape contractor: 34%
  • Landscape architect or designer: 34%
  • Stone, pavers and/or concrete specialist: 32%

The post Make Customers Think Of You First appeared first on Turf.



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