FINANCE FOR LANDSCAPING BUSINESS OWNERS OF ALL SIZES, PART 2
BEYOND THE BLADE How to Find Quality Lawn Care Customers ❯Page 54
SPECIAL REPORT Top Seven Engine Maintenance Tips and Tricks
What can the green industry expect 2019 to bring in the form of economic conditions, regulatory pressures and outdoor power equipment trends?
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TABLE OF CONTENTS THE MANAGEMENT RESOURCE FOR LANDSCAPE CONTRACTORS AND EQUIPMENT DEALERS
Volume 31, No. 1 | January/February 2019
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
What can the green industry expect 2019 to bring in the form of economic and market conditions, regulatory pressures and outdoor power equipment trends?
36 Contractor Profile Customer Service Is the Foundation
Customer service, a tailored approach and trained technicians providing natural, organic treatment are the three keys to success for NaturaLawn of America in Pittsburgh.
40 Special Report Top Seven Engine Maintenance Tips and Tricks 36
Performing proper engine maintenance is always going to be an integral component of ensuring your fleet is primed for productivity.
44 Beyond the Blade Prompt Call-Backs a Good Call in the Green Industry Landscaping companies should follow these four strategies to ensure no call goes unanswered and no lead goes cold.
4 Through the Grapevine 6 Industry Dirt 57 Advertisers Index 58 C utting-Edge Business PRODUCTS
10 New Products
48 Equipment Focus Sprayers/Spreaders Stand Out in 2019
As stand-on sprayer/spreader technology evolves, landscape contractors can continue to capitalize on productivity and profitability gains.
54 Beyond the Blade How to Find Quality Lawn Care Customers
Refine your roster of customers by retaining the rock stars and releasing those leading to a low return on investment. www.greenindustrypros.com
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❙ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 ❙
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 3
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THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
Unpredictability Is the Prediction for 2019
s of press time, the U.S. government recently returned from the longest government shutdown in recorded history at 35 days. It “cost the economy $11 billion due to lost output from federal workers, delayed government spending and reduced demand … Even though most of the $11 billion losses will be recovered, an estimated $3 billion has been lost permanently,” according to Forbes. We lost that $3 billion in gross domestic product, or the total value of goods produced and services provided in the U.S. during a year. Some may say they don’t care because it doesn’t affect them, but if it took just 35 days to incur a permanent loss of $3 billion, what kind of damage would another shutdown incur? While President Trump recently negotiated to reopen the government, it was intended as a temporary fix, until February 15, to further debate on border wall funding and lessen the burden for federal Political workers who already missed two paychecks. “But if Republicans and Democrats cannot reach agreevolatility ment on wall money by the February deadline,” according contributes to to The New York Times, President Trump “indicated that he destabilizing was ready to renew the confrontation, or declare a national and bypass Congress altogether.” We are going to the market, and emergency know soon whether the threat of a second government shutthe less stable down is imminent, but what effect could that have on the the market, the economy, and even more specifically, on the green industry? volatility contributes to destabilizing the market, more money andPolitical the less stable the market, the more money people tend people tend to to pinch—both at home and in the office. According to pinch—both at NBC News, the federal workers who took the brunt of the of the first partial shutdown are, at best, “skittish home and in impact that they could find themselves back in the same position in the office. three weeks, when the deal Congress struck with President Donald Trump expires.” The business community is watching closely as the events in Washington unfold as well. As Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, mentions in the State of the Industry (which follows on Page 24), “The uncertainty of the political environment gives me great pause. So much of where the economy’s likely to head depends on the ability for our elected officials to govern. We’re a regulated industry. The landscaper needs equipment, but a lot of that equipment is regulated.” Right now, the business climate is positive overall, but as always, you can’t get complacent in your confidence. Consumer sentiment is fleeting and another government shutdown— or even the threat thereof—could impede consumer spending. On another note, a second government shutdown could further stall progress on important regulatory issues facing landscape contractors and outdoor power equipment dealers, such as H-2B, in the coming year. And if there’s one thing we could all use more of in Carrie Mantey (920) 542-1238 2019, it’s certainty. Good luck to us all in the firstname.lastname@example.org new year!
4 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
Published by AC Business Media
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B O B C A T. C O M / T O U G H L A N D S C A P E
It’s your ambition. It’s your drive to succeed. And it’s your Bobcat® equipment that brings it to life. When your competition says it’s impossible, you can say yes.
Bobcat is a Doosan company. Doosan is a global leader in construction equipment, power and water solutions, engines, and engineering, proudly serving customers and communities for more than a century. Bobcat®, the Bobcat logo and the colors of the Bobcat machine are registered trademarks of Bobcat Company in the United States and various other countries. ©2019 Bobcat Company. All rights reserved. | 1359
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What You’ve Been Waiting for— the Top Five Landscape Trends of 2019 What do your customers crave in their landscapes this year? The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) is about to tell you with its official list of the top 2019 landscape trends. Drawing upon the expertise of the industry’s 1 million landscape, lawn care, irrigation and tree care professionals, NALP annually predicts trends that influence the design and maintenance of backyards across America in the year ahead. “Homeowners yearn for beautiful outdoor spaces without the hassle of upkeep. With the rise of multifunctional landscape design and automated processes, consumers can spend more time enjoying their landscapes than ever before,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP. “This year’s trends reflect current lifestyle preferences, as well as innovations happening in the industry that are transforming landscapes across the country.” NALP predicts the following five trends to influence outdoor spaces in 2019:
Landscape Trend #1: Two-in-One Landscape Design
Functional elements are no longer a perk, but rather a necessity in today’s landscapes. Consumers desire stunning outdoor features that have been cleverly designed to serve a dual tactical purpose. An edible vertical garden on a trellis that acts as a privacy fence, a retaining wall that includes built-in seating for entertaining, and colorful garden beds that divide properties all combine function and style.
Landscape Trend #2: Automated Lawn and Landscape Maintenance
The latest technology and equipment allow tasks to be more streamlined and environmentally efficient than ever before. Robotic lawn mowers continue to rise in popularity among both homeowners and landscape professionals. Also, programmable irrigation systems, and advanced lighting and electrical systems help outdoor spaces become extensions of today’s smart homes. Homeowners relish knowing that these technological advancements give them more time to relax and enjoy their outdoor spaces.
Landscape Trend #3: Pergolas
A staple of landscape design for years, pergolas constructed of wood or composite material are now becoming more sophisticated. In fact, today they come with major upgrades, including roll-down windows, space heaters, lighting and sound systems. When paired with a luxury kitchen, seating area or fire feature, pergolas can become the iconic structure for outdoor sanctuaries.
Landscape Trend #4: Pretty in Pink
Pops of coral and blush are anticipated to add a more feminine touch to landscapes this year. With Living Coral named the Color of the Year by Pantone, a provider of color systems, and an influencer on interior and exterior design, landscape professionals predict that this rich shade of pink could bring fresh blooms of roses, petunias, zinnias and hibiscus to flower beds. Experts also anticipate light blush tones to become the new neutral, and another option for hardscapes and stone selections.
Landscape Trend #5: Mesmerizing Metals
Whether homeowners want a bold statement or whimsical touch, incorporating metals can bring new dimensions to landscape design. Used for decorative art, water features, or furniture and accessories, creative uses of metals including steel and iron can make for lovely accents or entire focal points.
How We Do It
The NALP develops its trends reports based on a survey of its members. It also draws from the expertise of landscape professionals from across the U.S. who are at the outdoor trends forefront. NALP’s trends support Americans’ growing passion for the triedand-true elements of landscapes: well-maintained lawns, outdoor living spaces and more. Along with industry insight, broader lifestyle and design trends influence the landscape trends.
OPEI FILES LETTER WITH TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, ADVOCATES BEFORE CALIFORNIA AIR RESOURCES BOARD As part of the partial government shutdown and required staff furloughs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently suspended the processing of engine certifications. Manufacturers could still make engines, but they could not ship or sell them without the proper certification. Additionally, engines and the products they power shipped from overseas could be forced to sit at ports, awaiting required certification. “The manufacture and shipment of our members’ products is, in many cases, subject to seasonal demand, making the uninterrupted and efficient certification of engines by the EPA absolutely essential,” wrote Kris Kiser, president of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), in a letter to President Trump. Kiser also sent the letter to leadership in the House and Senate.
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NATIONAL HISPANIC LANDSCAPE ALLIANCE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RESPONDS TO PRESIDENTIAL TWEET Donald J. Trump on Twitter: "H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S." National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA) executive director Ralph Egües issued a statement in response to the President’s tweet, addressing the critical need for reform in the H-2B seasonal worker visa program that is currently severely underserved. “The NHLA applauds the President’s efforts to reform the H-1B program, which is so important to securing a strong talent pipeline for specialty industries. We seek the President's support in addressing the greater need for additional H-2B visas for seasonal workers as well. Reputable businesses across the country are being crippled by the inability to fill jobs to meet seasonal peak demand for services. The effect on their customers, on their existing workforce and on the economic growth of their respective communities is great. We strongly urge the President to take action, and to encourage Congress to OTHER TOP NEWS provide thoughtful and lasting legislative solutions to the H-2B visa shortage crisis we are currently facing.” • Foodscaping, Edible Landscaping: If Congress does not provide significant and permaA New Way to Create a Garden nent H-2B cap relief, there may be severe consequences for seasonal businesses and the www.greenindustrypros.com/21041299 economy generally. Some seasonal businesses denied access to the program due to the • Firm that Offers Classes for Pesticide insufficient cap have already been forced to scale back their operations, cancel or default Licenses Fined $50,000 www.greenindustrypros.com/21041307 on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers, and in some cases, shutter their operations • U.S. Companies Request Record Number entirely. Continuing with the status quo of failing to reform the H-2B program is going to of Seasonal Immigrant Work Visas Because result in more closures or scale-backs for these businesses. Details regarding the current status of the H-2B seasonal worker program include: • The NHLA has been working in a bipartisan fashion for years to find an acceptable, permanent legislative solution to the problems plaguing the H-2B program. • As recent filings show, there is no doubt that the statutory cap of 66,000, which was set more than three decades ago, is inadequate to meet the demands of today’s seasonal businesses. • Recently, due to the strong national economy, employers are struggling to find U.S. workers for seasonal positions, which are, on average, six- to nine-month jobs. • This increased demand, coupled with Congress’s inability to reform the program to meet the economy’s needs, is causing an increasingly urgent issue of visa scarcity in which employers are simply unable to attain sufficient workers to meet their labor demands. • This year, shortly after midnight on January 1, 2019, the Department of Labor’s iCERT system, through which employers seeking H-2B workers request temporary labor certifications—a necessary step in the H-2B application process—was inundated with a record number of requests and almost immediately crashed. • In the brief moments before system failure, iCERT received in excess of 97,000 applications for the 33,000 available visas for the second half of the fiscal year.
They Can't Find Anyone Else to Hire www.greenindustrypros.com/21041302
• Suit Alleges Herbicide Caused
Man's Parkinson's Disease www.greenindustrypros.com/21040946
• Facing Gridlock, GOP Senators Seek
Big Immigration Deal to End Shutdown www.greenindustrypros.com/21040949
• California Steps up Enforcement
Actions on Pesticide Laws www.greenindustrypros.com/21040950
• California Continues to Move toward
a Post-Lawn Future www.greenindustrypros.com/21039922
• Bill Cracks down on Residential Lawn
Fertilizers, Requires Bans and Buffers www.greenindustrypros.com/21039963
• Feds to Relaunch Internet System for
Requesting Foreign Guest Workers www.greenindustrypros.com/21039902
• Plants Can Feel You Touching Them—and
Sometimes They Don't Like It www.greenindustrypros.com/21039396
The OPEI and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) also recently met with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to discuss small engine emission modeling and the development of the state’s new emission regulations, which could dramatically impact the future market for engine-powered equipment in the state. The CARB is developing a new rule that aims to reduce emissions from the off-road equipment sector by more than 80 percent by 2031. The OPEI and EMA presented industry data and an updated model that disputes CARB’s analysis, and forecasts an almost 50 percent reduction in the sectors’ emissions by 2031. The CARB’s existing model projects small engine emissions to increase through 2031. The OPEI’s model takes into account the mid-2000s housing crash, the Great Recession, California’s decades-long drought and recent strong electric product growth leading to a slower rate of engine-powered equipment adoption in the state. Industry remains optimistic that, by sharing industry data, the CARB may recognize opportunities to update its current rulemaking materials, and develop a model reflective of the current and future California small engine market. The OPEI looks forward to continuing to engage with the agency and working together to achieve the additional reductions needed in order for the state to meet clean air goals with minimal consumer impact.
• Learn How to Prevent Salt Damage to
Landscape Plants www.greenindustrypros.com/21038908
• Phone to Landscaper: Fungus on the Way,
Time to Spray www.greenindustrypros.com/21038922
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GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 7
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BILLY GOAT® BRINGS THE
BEST IN SPECIALTY TURF PRODUCTS TO MARKET
For more than 50 years, Billy Goat has been the leader in making properties across the globe look fantastic. With close attention to details — both big and small alike — Billy Goat innovates the best in specialty turf products with vigorous efforts to make products simple to operate, highly productive, less fatiguing and a pleasure to use. In other words, Billy Goat takes the chore out of the chore. We’re meeting industry demands for more ergonomic products with intuitive self-propelled hydro drives in our overseeders, sod cutters and new generation of reciprocating aerators. The common controls across these hydro-drive machines offer a consistent operating experience, improved productivity, and reduced fatigue. Most recently added to the Billy Goat line-up is the Next Gen 25” Hydro-Drive Reciprocating PLUGR aerator. The unit offers up to 42,550 sq. ft. of aeration per hour in a single pass and an estimated 30-plus percent greater return on investment vs. traditional drum units for unprecedented aeration productivity! Variable Aeration Density,™ a Billy Goat exclusive, lets operators vary hole spacing from 8 to 45 holes per sq. ft. The unit features selfpropelled rear-wheel hydro-drive and front casters for ultimate in-ground turning and best in class drive controls for feathering speed with fingertip control. Combined with patent pending EZ Lift n Drop™ tine engagement / disengagement for uninterrupted aeration—there’s simply no aerator easier to maneuver and smoother to operate. And cleaning up with Billy Goat became even easier with the new Hurricane stand-on zero turn radius blower. Combined with its family of Force™ walk-behind blowers, the Hurricane addition takes leaf and debris clean-up to a whole new level.
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Look What Blew in From Billy Goat ! ®
Billy Goat’s Hurricane™ Stand-On Blower adds the next level of clean-up productivity to its blower line-up!
X3000: 6500 CFM; 627cc Vanguard® V-Twin
Z3000: 8500 CFM; 993cc Vanguard® V-Twin
Leading the market in leaf and debris cleanup with its Force™ walk-behind blower, Billy Goat’s new addition of the Hurricane X3000 and Z3000 now offers the largest line-up of blowers on the market from 6 - 35hp!*
Patented Quad Control Handle System™ offers seamless forward/reverse direction, automatic return to neutral, integrated operator presence control and a self-activating parking brake.
Patented Dual Deflector Air Flow System™ changes angle of airflow for deeper leaf and debris cleaning
Joy Stick Deflector Control allows quick and easy air flow adjustment from left, right or forward and closes flow for transport. No need to blow in reverse!
*All power levels are stated gross horsepower at 3,600 RPM per SAE J1940 as rated by Briggs and Stratton®
Take the chore out of the chore with Billy Goat! Visit www.greenindustrypros.com/10155710
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The World’s Most Compact Track Loader ASV presents its RT-25 Posi-Track as the industry’s smallest sit-in compact track loader for contractors working in tight spaces. The company says the RT-25 Posi-Track also provides: • A 3,755-pound operating weight that reduces the risk of damage to turf or other sensitive surfaces, while also contributing to increased flotation and traction for snow clearing on sidewalks, driveways or alleyways. • A width of 48 inches, making it easy to drive through tight spaces, while minimizing the risk of property or machine damage. • A rated operating capacity of 665 pounds, a tipping load of 1,900 pounds and an 8.4-foot lift height. • A 10-inch ground clearance that allows the unit to easily travel over logs, stumps, rocks and other obstructions with less risk of getting hung up. • A 25-HP Perkins diesel engine and 5.1-MPH top speed to move around quickly, digging and lifting more.
Caterpillar designed its four Next Generation mini hydraulic excavators—the 301.5 1.5-ton, standard tail-swing excavator with a canopy; the 301.7 CR 1.7-ton, compact-radius excavator with a canopy; the 301.8 1.8-ton, standard tail-swing excavator with either a canopy or cab configuration; or the 302 CR 2-ton, compactradius excavator with a canopy or cab configuration—to provide performance, versatility, safety and convenience in the smallest possible packages. Features include: • Approximate minimum operating weights from 3,500 to 4,500 pounds, with weights increasing from 3,900 to 4,900 pounds, depending on the specific machine configuration. • Dig depths of 7 feet, 8 inches or 7 feet, 9 inches, depending on the model, plus an available long stick to increase depths to 8 feet, 4 inches or 8 feet, 5 inches.
• A chassis with a 55-degree departure angle for effective uphill travel. • A safer alternative to stand-on or walk-behind loaders because the cab shields the operator from outside elements and offers rollover protection.
• The hydraulic capacity to generate high digging and lifting forces, as well as to handle powered attachments.
• The ability to transport the loader on a trailer pulled by a 1/2-ton vehicle. • Filters and other daily serviceability checkpoints within easy reach thanks to a large hood opening that gives access to all sides of the engine. • Availability of a completely smooth turf track to minimize the risk of damage to manicured lawns. • An optional heated cab for additional comfort during winter operation.
Next-Generation Mini Excavators
• The Cat C1.1 engine, a three-cylinder diesel rated at 19.2 net horsepower and 21.6 gross horsepower, while meeting Tier 4 Final emissions regulations. • A load-sensing hydraulic system with an electronically controlled variable displacement piston pump capable of oil flows to 17.4 GPM. • A standard auxiliary hydraulic system (complete with quick-disconnect lines) for one-way, two-way and continuousflow operation. • An expandable undercarriage that narrows to enter work sites through restricted access points, then extends to provide a stable work platform.
• A dozer blade to handle backfilling and grading tasks, above and below grade, with a float function and dig-to-blade operation for more efficiently handling loose materials. • The Stick Steer system, which allows the operator to switch— from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to left-hand joystick control—for less effort and more operator control. • Easy-to-read machine information on the LCD monitor and a jog dial for easy, ergonomic interaction with the monitor. • Protective structures designed to promote a safe working environment for operators. • Controls protected via a hydraulic lockout. • Halogen boom lights to help illuminate the work area. • A tilt-up cab to allow access to major hydraulic components. www.greenindustrypros.com/21033518
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Operational Control Based on Smart Insights, Not Just Guesswork Husqvarna is planning to launch its cloud-based Fleet Services system to connect lawn and tree care operators, and their entire fleet of machines, directly to an online portal or mobile app via Bluetooth. According to the company, Fleet Services further features: • The power to offer professionals insights into their operations at their fingertips. • The capability to capture machine status data, translating it into valuable information that can be used to help boost productivity and improve the bottom line, by mounting a small wireless machine sensor to an outdoor power product. • The ability to enable operators and business owners to improve routines, schedule maintenance and control inventory based on smart insights, not just guesswork. www.greenindustrypros.com/21031633
Fuel System Treatment Formulated for Maximum Small Engine Protection
A Tuff Lockbox for 2019 GMC Sierras and Chevy Silverados
Chevron Products introduces its Techron Protection Plus Powersports & Small Engine fuel system treatment for a wide range of engines in lawn care, turf management, agriculture, construction, logging, equipment rental and more. The company says this additive is additionally highlighted by:
Tuffy Security Products specifically designed its Model 352 rear under-seat lockbox to fit 2019 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab and Double Cab pickup trucks. The lockbox offers:
• A proprietary alcohol- and emulsifier-free formula that optimizes performance, improves engine responsiveness, reduces emissions and stabilizes fuel to keep it fresh for up to 24 months.
• A formfitting design that is concealed from view when the 60/40 split bench seats are lowered. • The Pry-Guard locking system that incorporates a 10 tumbler double bitted security lock with built-in weather seals to protect the contents of the box. • A weather-resistant lid with an exclusive hinging system and a built-in lid stop that supports the lid when open.
• The power to optimize fuel efficiency as it cleans injectors, throttle bodies, carburetors and combustion chambers.
• 16-gauge powder-coated welded steel construction with 1/8-inch welded steel components and chamfered edges.
• The ability to dissolve intake valve deposits, gum and varnish buildup, resulting in smoother idling and enhanced throttle response. • Immediate and continuous performance upon first application, cleaning and protecting engines from new deposit accumulation as it is refueled, retreated and run.
• Easy installation with included mounting hardware, which works in conjunction with the original equipment manufacturer hardware and does not require drilling.
• The use of only one ounce of formula to treat four gallons of fuel. • Corrosion protection. • Compatibility with two- and four-stroke engines. • Applications that include residential and commercial blowers, chain saws, drills, generators, lawn mowers, power washers, pumps, saws, snow blowers, shredders, sprayers, tillers, trimmers, vacuums and more. • Suitability for use with ethanol-free gasoline, plus the capability to fight off the harmful effects of ethanol-blended fuels, from E10 to E85.
• Quick removal using the mounting system, which can only be accessed from inside the lockbox.
• Three sizes to choose from—an easily stored 4-ounce size to treat up to 16 gallons of fuel, a 10-ounce bottle to treat 40 gallons and a 1-gallon jug to treat 512 gallons of fuel.
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 11
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A Smooth, Level Ride while Towing Materials Cemen Tech introduces its DT-100 and DT-200 dump trailers for hauling concrete, sand, stone, mulch and other materials. These rugged dump trailers offer: • Capacities of 1 and 2 yards. • An adjustable load-leveling hitch to maximize tow capacity and provide a smooth, level ride while towing materials. • Department of Transportation-approved lighting to ensure safety and compliance on the road. • A double-action hydraulic pump, adjustable relief valve and forward self-adjusting electric brakes. • Fabrication from high-strength 10-gauge steel. • Heavy-duty fenders, a one-piece rubber splash guard and supporting tongue cross bars for added durability. • Suitability for small- to mid-size jobs.
More Stand-on Stability, Traction and Maneuverability Exmark recently unveiled its 2019 Staris standon zero-turn mower to deliver the commercial performance, durability, ergonomics and ease of service landscape professionals need to maximize productivity and profitability. According to the company, the Staris also boasts: • Increased stability, traction and maneuverability in a wide range of cutting conditions. • A quality cut thanks to an optimized frame design and caster wheel positioning for each cutting deck width.
• Smooth control with drive speeds of up to 7.5 MPH on the E-Series and up to 10 MPH on the S-Series. • A low center of gravity and enhanced weight distribution for improved stability and overall performance. • Availability of the E-Series with a choice of 32-, 36- or 44-inch UltraCut Series 3 cutting decks, or the large-frame S-Series with a choice of 48-, 52- or 60-inch UltraCut Series 4 cutting decks.
GPS-Guided Spray System Maximizes Efficiency and Saves Money SiteOne Landscape Supply recently launched the LESCO Smart Guided precision spray system with easy-to-install GPS that maximizes labor efficiency, minimizes application error and optimizes chemical budgets. The company says other features include: • TerraStar GPS satellite technology that allows the system to spray within a 2-inch level of accuracy so there are no missed areas, overspray or overlap. • Precise control of each separate nozzle to reduce overspray.
• A Kawasaki V-twin commercial engine on the E-Series, whereas the S-Series comes with a choice of a carbureted Kawasaki or Kohler electronic fuel injection V-twin engine. • A flip-up front cover, giving operators tools-free access for routine maintenance and cleaning, while the rear cover also lifts and locks into place, easing access to fill and change engine oil or hydro fluid. • The use of hard hydraulic lines in the drive system to reduce potential leak points, while improving durability and hydro oil cooling.
• Automatic shutoff if a nozzle is outside the defined application boundary.
• A frame constructed from high-strength tubular steel.
• The power to track when and where certain products are sprayed to simplify documentation and record-keeping.
• An adjustable suspension system for increased comfort.
• The capacity to remember and repeat boundaries after they have been driven once and saved.
• Intuitive controls to facilitate operation. • A compact design to fit through gates as narrow as 36 inches.
• The flexibility to connect with most common sprayers. • The ability to save up to 75 percent of initial costs compared to buying a new sprayer unit with a built-in GPS.
• Optional side-discharge UltraCut cutting decks to mulch or bag clippings when equipped with the appropriate accessories from Exmark.
12 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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Honda Engine, your customers see this:
Weekend warriors know the difference between lawn mowers that make child’s play out of yard work and those that are mere toys. They trust the equipment backed by a reliable Honda Engine. That’s because Honda GCV160 engines pack power, legendary performance and quiet operation into a lighter weight that increases fuel efficiency, and user satisfaction. Go with the engine that tells your customers they’re getting the very best — Honda Engines.
Learn more at engines.honda.com For optimum performance and safety, please read the owner’s manual before operating your Honda Power Equipment. © 2019 American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
2/6/19 10:38 AM
Wind-Fighting Nozzles Perform Efficiently Hunter Industries presents the I-80 gear-driven rotor as its most technologically advanced commercial rotor available, offering power, performance, versatility and ease of use. The company says the I-80 is also highlighted by:
Hearing Loss Is One Less Occupational Hazard to Worry About
• A dirt-tolerant gear drive that offers a high-torque output and extends to a radius range up to 97 feet.
Exposure to noise from loud machinery and construction, and the resulting hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), is just one of the many occupational hazards with which green industry professionals have to contend. But high-definition earplugs and earphones from Etymotic can reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. More specifically, according to the company: • HD•Safety high-fidelity earplugs reduce sound levels while preserving clarity, instead of muffling the sound. They are available in two sizes to fit most ears.
• Dual-trajectory, wind-fighting nozzles for efficient performance in a range of applications. • An integrated surface-mounted snap-ring to increase serviceability. • An advanced ProTech Turf Cup System in which living or synthetic turf is retained in a cup mounted to the top of the rotor and installed flush to the surrounding turf, yet features no-tool quickrelease removal of the turf cup, arc adjustments without riser removal and a fully contained riser assembly that stays together when removed from the sprinkler’s body. • Availability of a riser-mounted version for turf or dust control in pastures, corrals and sandy areas. www.greenindustrypros.com/21033517
• HD•15 electronic earplugs are ideal for workers who need protection from sudden loud impacts or sustained loud sounds, but also want to hear naturally when sound levels are safe. These electronic earplugs allow safe sounds to pass through, yet instantaneously react to reduce loud sounds and protect hearing. • HD•Safety Earplugs + Earphones block external sound (like earplugs) to reduce external noise, yet are engineered for safe music listening and optimized sound quality. They lessen the likelihood of workers turning up the volume to hear music over the machine noise and putting their hearing at risk. www.greenindustrypros.com/21032731
Everyday Hustling with the New DASH and Raptor SDX Zero-Turns Hustler Turf Equipment recently launched its DASH to bring Hustler performance into a smaller model zero-turn mower for residential properties, whereas the Raptor SDX zero-turn mower is designed to tackle the toughest yards. More specifically: • The compact DASH is ideal for the user looking to make the switch to a zero-turn mower, as well as for frontyard and backyard mowing. With an automatic park brake, foot-operated deck lift and the ability to easily fit through most gates, the machine is available in two welded fabricated steel deck sizes—34 or 42 inches—with a heavy-duty fully tubular frame. • The Raptor SDX is an aggressive residential mower with 22-inch tires. Built to handle yards up to three acres in size, the Raptor SDX is equipped with SmoothTrak steering for responsive and precise control, an automatic park brake, a bolstered adjustable seat with internal suspension and a foot-operated deck lift. Powered by a Kawasaki FR Series engine, the mower is available in a 48-, 54- or 60-inch welded fabricated steel deck. www.greenindustrypros.com/21028508
14 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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What are you working forward to?
2/6/19 10:38 AM
Compact Wheel Loaders with More Lift Capacity and Maneuverability having to manually shift the machine thanks to a smooth auto-shift hydrostatic transmission coupled with an automatic two-speed gearbox, which provides a faster travel speed of up to 23 MPH.
• A 73-HP Final Tier 4 engine. • Rim pull control to extend tire life by allowing you to adjust the torque of the machine to the conditions of the jobsite. • The flexibility to leverage over 100 John Deere Worksite Pro attachments.
• An 8-foot, 3-inch full-lift dump height and a full-turn tip load of 8,157 pounds on the 244L, while the 324L with high lift reaches a 10-foot, 3-inch height and the 324L with standard lift is capable of a full-turn top load of 9,766 pounds. John Deere recently launched its 244L and 324L compact wheel loaders with increased productivity and faster travel speeds. The 244L and 324L are also highlighted by: • The proprietary Articulation Plus system to provide greater stability and more lifting power while turning tighter. • The power to move faster without
• Availability of JDLink telematics for real-time data and health prognostics to suggest maintenance solutions that decrease downtime. • An optional air-ride, high-back operator seat to ensure a smooth ride.
• An enhanced linkage to improve parallel lifting, with only 6 degrees of rollback.
• A full machine warranty, which promises to fix any defects in materials or workmanship for two years after delivery or 2,000 hours—whichever comes first.
• Better visibility to the loader arm and bucket. • An interior layout of the switches and gauges that improves overall efficiency.
• A rear enclosure for better debris management.
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16 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
Servicing dealers and distributors only.
2/6/19 10:38 AM
InfoHub Expands to Cover Diesel Engines and Dealers Briggs & Stratton recently expanded InfoHub for Commercial Turf, adding new capabilities one year after its initial launch. More specifically, the business optimization tool now offers: • A version of InfoHub designed specifically for diesel equipment to provide the same realtime and historical tracking and maintenance capabilities for diesel engines that it currently provides for gas-powered equipment. • Suitability for a wide range of fleet equipment, including diesel- or gas-powered landscaping, hardscaping and snow removal equipment, covering everything from skid steers to backhoes to zero-turn radius machines. • A version of InfoHub designed specifically for outdoor power equipment dealers to help track the location and maintenance needs of rental and demo equipment, resulting in a better understanding of how equipment is being used. • Geofence technology that can alert dealers when a piece of equipment leaves the dealership, providing peace of mind. • A simplified process of knowing where each unit is for dealers with multiple locations, plus detailed information for invoicing purposes. • The convenience of installing all three InfoHub devices—for gasoline-powered equipment, for diesel-powered equipment and for trucks—by a trained mechanic in less than 15 minutes. • Sensors that feed real-time data via the cloud to an easy-to-use online dashboard and onboard diagnostics to track vehicles. • Tiered product pricing for commercial cutters, including a basic tier for maintenance information, and live and historical equipment tracking; and the full package that comes with geofence technology and alerts, profitability and efficiency reports, and routing, scheduling and jobbidding analysis. www.greenindustrypros.com/21029171
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GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 17
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Facilitating Debris Cleanup with Angle and Pickup Brooms John Deere recently updated its line of Worksite Pro attachments with three angle brooms—the BA72C, BA84C and BA96C—and five pickup brooms—the BP72C, BP84C, BR60C, BR72C and BR84C. Designed for effortless cleanup in turf, snow and construction applications, these brooms also boast: • Ideal suitability of the pickup brooms for dust mitigation challenges and restrictive barriers, like curbs and sidewalks. • A 0.5-inch single-bevel cutting edge on BP models, whereas BR models have a 0.625-inch double-bevel cutting edge. • An adjustable baffle on BP pickup brooms to increase hopper capacity by 22 percent, offering greater sweeping impact in each pass. • A front caster wheel on BP models to allow the brush to follow ground contours, while a front bumper on BR models provides extra strength and protection when sweeping close to walls or obstacles. • The usage of bolts on the BR models for precise brush-contact adjustment, while the BP models incorporate a tool-free system for fast, easy adjustment. • A hydraulic-angling range of 30 degrees to the right or left of the machine on the angle brooms. • A 32-inch-diameter brush with standard 50/50 poly-wire segments on the angle brooms, a well-suited combination for dirt and debris cleanup on hard surfaces. • A 26-inch-diameter brush with standard 50/50 poly-wire segments on the pickup brooms. • A high-torque bidirectional motor coupled to the brush core through a 2.5-inch hex hub.
• Optimal compatibility with John Deere skid steers and compact track loaders, plus compatibility with most competitive models. • The power to help comply with Occupational Safety & Health Administration silica dust exposure rules. • Optional 25-gallon broom-mounted or 30-gallon roof-mounted water-tank kits available for dust-suppression applications. • An optional 20-inch gutter brush with wire bristles that can be mounted on the right or left side of any model pickup broom for collecting material close to curbs. • An optional hood extension for 180-degree brush coverage, while a rubber deflector prevents snow from blowing back onto the machine when winter strikes. www.greenindustrypros.com/21041125
The Edge All-Electric Rider Works Smarter—Not Harder American Power Products recently unveiled its Edge all-electric riding lawn mower as a way to help operators conserve both time and energy. The company says the Edge comes equipped with: • Lithium battery power, eliminating air emissions and excess noise. • Ergonomic Autosense controls that adjust power as needed. • A digital control panel and auto-adaptive cruise control. • Quiet motors, in addition to a clean and green drive system. • No belts or filters to replace, and no fuel to supply, thus reducing the cost of ownership • No need to worry about gas spills, which waste over 17 million gallons of fuel each year. www.greenindustrypros.com/21039766
18 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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New Options for Cat Compact Wheel Loaders Caterpillar now offers the 918M compact wheel loader with four new options—a high-lift loader linkage, Cat Fusion coupler, five-piece guarding package and wider tires. More specifically, according to the company: • The high-lift loader linkage is designed for applications that can benefit from an increased lift height and reach. The loader arm assembly can provide up to 10 percent more lift height and reach compared with the standard loader linkage equipped with a similar work tool interface. A 918M configured with both a high-lift linkage and 20.5R25 tires is going to have a bucket pin height over 13 feet, 5 inches. • The Cat Fusion coupler system uses an advanced constant-pressure wedging mechanism to create a tight, rattle-free fit with work tools, eliminating the play (relative motion between coupler and work tool) and wear that can result. The coupler applies constant hydraulic pressure to wedges that continually pull the work tool tight to the coupler in two directions, in and down, providing secure tool control and increased productivity. The coupler is available for Fusioncompatible work tool attachments.
The High-End Look You Want with the Durability You Need Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting designed its Solid Brass landscape lighting collection with durable thick-wall, die-cut construction and the aesthetic appeal of brass. The collection consists of six models—four Up & Accent lights and two path lights: • The 2216 and 5006 Up & Accent models feature tempered, shock- and heat-resistant soda-lime glass lenses, as well as tool-free, rotatable shrouds for easy fixture entry and aiming by hand. They include Vista’s high-performance LED 4.5- or 5.5-W MR-16 lamp in 25-, 36- and 60-degree spreads, and come with solid-brass adjustable knuckles with half-inch NPS and silicone O-ring gaskets. • The 5014i Up & Accent contains tempered, shock- and heat-resistant soda-lime glass lenses, as well as tool-free, rotatable shrouds for easy fixture entry and aiming by hand. It features integrated chip-on-board LED technology in 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 W with outputs up to 400 delivered lumens in 25-, 36- and 60-degree spreads. It also incorporates solidbrass adjustable knuckles with half-inch NPS and silicone O-ring gaskets for a reliable seal. • The 5105 Up & Accent has a bordered, high-impact tempered lens with a high-performance anodized aluminum reflector. It comes with the same chip-on-board LED technology as the 5014i, but in 2, 3 and 4 W, all with outputs up to 400 delivered lumens. The 5105 further offers solid-brass adjustable knuckles with half-inch NPS and silicone O-ring gaskets for a reliable seal.
• Three new 20.5R25 tires offer several benefits, compared to standard 17.5R25 tires, including up to 20 percent more tire life, and increases in traction, stability and tipping capacity. The new options include the general-application Goodyear E/L-2A Sure Grip Loader, a 12-ply-rated bias tire with directional and self-cleaning tread; the Michelin X Snoplus, specially designed for operation on snow and ice, and incorporating a non-directional tread pattern with self-cleaning characteristics; and the Michelin XHA2 radial, a wide-lug tire with non-directional tread, heavy shoulders and protected sidewalls for heavy-duty applications. • New guarding options, which can be used with steel-front fender deflectors, provide protection for vulnerable areas, such as front light assemblies, the articulation point, the powertrain, the drive shaft and crankcase. www.greenindustrypros.com/21041204
• The 2265 and 2267 path lights have heavy-gauge brass stems with half-inch NPS and textured polycarbonate optic lenses specifically designed for even light distribution. Both models also include Vista’s high-performance T3 chip-on-board LED lamp running at 2.5 W with a 193-lumen output. A lamp life of 30,000 hours reduces maintenance and lamp replacement costs. www.greenindustrypros.com/21041044
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Waterproof, Commercial-Grade Battery-Powered Outdoor Power Equipment EGO Commercial Series battery-powered outdoor power equipment delivers the power of professional gas equipment, an all-day runtime and an optimal recharging time, according to the company. Suitable for the professional landscaper, the Commercial Series offers weatherproof construction—including an IPX56 rating so the tools can even be submerged in water for several minutes without harm—to withstand tough conditions, while also providing quiet operation, measuring around 80 decibels during use. All powered by an advanced backpack battery with 1,568 watt-hours, up to seven continuous hours of runtime and a 3.5-hour recharge from 0 to 100 percent, more specifically: • The 15-inch string trimmer features an efficient brushless motor for up to 5-1/2 hours of runtime, a durable, yet lightweight carbon fiber shaft, and a heavy-duty aluminum motor housing and gear box. Its variable-speed trigger has a lock-off for convenience. The trimmer weighs just 14.3 pounds and is IPX4 rated. • The 600-CFM blower achieves a maximum air velocity of 132 MPH, and includes a narrow and cone nozzle attachment for specialized airflow control. The blower incorporates an efficient brushless motor for up to 5-1/2 hours of runtime, a four-level power mode selector with boost, a variable-speed trigger, a hanging hook for storage, a weight of 5.9 pounds and an IPX4 weather rating. • The 25-1/2-inch hedge trimmer delivers longer run times with an efficient brushless motor and a cut capacity of 1-1/4 inches with a dualaction double-sided cutting capability. The runtime with its backpack battery is up to 7 hours. The trimmer features a metal cutter guard, a blade tip protector and a serviceable gear box. It weighs 8.5 pounds and is IPX4 weather rated. www.greenindustrypros.com/21041049
Fueling the SmartControl of Your Fuel Scepter designed its SmartControl containers for fast fuel fills without spills. According to the company, this easy-to-use fuel can system comes equipped with: • A unique push spout that makes it easier, faster and cleaner to fuel equipment like portable generators, lawn mowers and leaf blowers.
Engine Packs a Lot of Power in a Compact Premium Package
• Simple use and storage—just press the lever up to unlock the child-safety feature with the palm of your hand, then squeeze the large button to vent the container, with a single motion, then place the nozzle over the tank and simply squeeze again to pour just the right amount of fuel. • Availability in 1-, 2and 5-gallon sizes for gasoline, diesel and kerosene.
Kubota developed its D902-T-E4 engine to pack a lot of power in a compact premium package, providing a lighter and smaller profile than many engines with comparable horsepower. The threecylinder, 0.9-L displacement D902-T-E4 also delivers:
• Construction from durable and safe highdensity polyethylene to provide a reliability that landscapers can depend on for daily continual refueling without spilling a drop.
• An output of 18.5 kW at 2,800 RPMs and a maximum torque of 78 Nm at 2,000 RPMs, thereby producing minimal noise. • A turbo-charger that makes the engine more versatile and powerful, thus especially useful for applications at high altitudes.
• A user-controlled flow that makes it easier to direct the amount of fuel being dispensed.
• Suitability for use in the turf industry, as well as applications including utility vehicles, mini excavators, mini track loaders, trenchers and welders. • EPA Tier 4 Final and EU Stage V compliance.
• Easy storage of the container because it stores with the spout on, so hands always stay clean.
• A mechanical fuel injection system.
• A child-safety lock and flame mitigation device for added protection. • Compliance with safety standards.
20 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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Family owned and operated, E-Z TRENCH® has been manufacturing walk behind trenchers since 1982. Our mission has long been to provide innovative, quality equipment that lasts and provides you years of service. Our owner, Gail, and her sons Monty & Scotty are involved in all facets of the business. When you call our office you will likely talk with one of them. E-Z Trench’s product line consists of the Groundsaw trencher, Bedscaper bed definer / mini trencher, and EZ Cable Installer. 843-756-6444
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 21
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FRONTMOUNT™ 500V SERIES GRASSHOPPER’S MOST COMPACT AND ECONOMICAL FRONTMOUNT™ SOLUTION. Grasshopper innovated the 500V Series FrontMount™ mowers – the fastest, most compact out front, zero-turn mower. While the rest of the competition matches each other and cranks out the same configured units, Grasshopper developed a small frame unit that increases forward visibility. Choose a 42-inch or 52-inch low profile cutting deck that reaches under and around obstacles to greatly reduce secondary trimming chores. The PowerFold® Electric Deck Lift is a standard feature that raises the deck to a near vertical position for easy underside access and spacesaving storage in the garage, shed or on a trailer. The same cutting deck is convertible from side discharge to Down Discharge™ mulching or PowerVac™ Collection. Other brands require the purchase of a dedicated deck for each method of clipping handling. Because each mower is built from the blades up, Grasshopper is famous for delivering a high-profile, manicured cut that is the envy of any neighborhood. Starting with 1/4-inch thick GrassMax™ blades made out MARBAIN® steel blades that hold their edge longer. The superior airflow of these low-profile, 5.5-inchdeep decks handle a higher volume of clippings, leaves and other material at faster speeds without sacrificing the quality of cut. The front-mounted decks float independently from the power unit and follow the contour of the landscape for a better cut. Comfort is designed in the 500V Series mower beginning with the Ultimate Operator Station™ that includes an iso-mounted ComfortZone™ seat that eliminates the jostles and jolts associated with mowing. The seat is covered with breathable, scuff-resistant CoolTemp Cordura® fabric that dissipates heat and keeps the operator cooler. A six-point weight distribution of the 500V Series mower contributes to an extra-smooth ride with a lighter footprint, low center of gravity and terrain-hugging traction in forward or reverse. More information and specs for the 500V Series FrontMount™ mowers: http://www.grasshoppermower.com/mowers/frontmount-500v/.
grasshoppermower.com/mowers/frontmount-500v/ 22 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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YOU DON'T COMPROMISE.
NEITHER SHOULD YOUR MOWER. When your cut is your calling card, you can’t compromise. Neither should your mower. With Grasshopper, you get top quality, comfort and durability. And a cut on which you want to put your name. GRASSHOPPERMOWER.COM
©2019 The Grasshopper Company
2/6/19 10:38 AM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
2019 By Carrie Mantey
—A YEAR OF
, Y T I L I B A T C I D E R P UN What can the green industry expect 2019 to bring in the form of economic and market conditions, regulatory pressures and outdoor power equipment trends?
autious optimism seems to best sum up the sentiment from several green industry experts heading into 2019. Green Industry Pros spoke with Sabeena Hickman, former CEO of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP); Don Evans, president of LandOpt; Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI); and Kevin Kehoe, founder and managing partner at Aspire Software to get a pulse on what’s going to drive the green industry in 2019 and beyond—whether it be economic and market influences, regulatory pressures, equipment trends, or more likely, a bit of all of the above.
24 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
INSTABILIT Money Talks: The Economy
“The fundamentals of the economy are strong,” according to Kiser. “Interest rates are good, but the uncertainty of the political environment gives me great pause. So much of where the economy’s likely to head depends on the ability for our elected officials to govern. We’re a regulated industry. The landscaper needs equipment, but a lot of that equipment is regulated.” Overall, the business climate is positive, although it remains to be seen whether the consumer confidence that shrunk during the recent partial government shutdown is going to bounce back. The political rift, which recently caused a regulatory stalemate on many issues facing landscape contractors and outdoor power equipment (OPE) dealers, is still standing on shaky legs. As of press time, President Trump negotiated to temporarily reopen the
SAW BUMPS IN PAY
AS MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES WENT INTO EFFECT JANUARY 1 ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE
2/6/19 9:56 AM
prohibitive for the green governindustry in the upcomment, at ing year. Kiser believes least until that the unpredictability February 15, of the political landafter 35 days of a partial shutdown, OF AMERICANS WITH A YARD scape, and the resultant instability it creates to reignite border for the economy, are wall discussions and going to dominate landlessen the burden scape contractors’ and for federal workers National Association of Landscape Professionals OPE dealers’ concerns who already missed in the new year. It’s difficult to strattwo paychecks. “But if Republicans egize a business model when you’re and Democrats cannot reach agreeuncertain what tomorrow may bring. ment on wall money by the February He asks, “Is the economy going to be deadline,” according to The New strong? Is housing? Are folks going York Times article “Trump Signs Bill to be hiring landscapers? Are people Reopening Government for Three going to be looking to buy equipment Weeks in Surprise Retreat from Wall,” or enhance their inventory? So much President Trump “indicated that he of that is predicated on the economy. was ready to renew the confrontation, What are interest rates? What does the or declare a national emergency and foreclosure rate look like? So much of bypass Congress that is driven by government policies. altogether.” “One of the critical challenges now The threat of in the landscape community—finding government shutlabor, largely rising out of the H-2B down and the labor problem—is a political problem. If we shortage are going can’t iron out some of the instability, it’s to continue to be going to be an ongoing challenge. If the government, Congress and the administration can’t sort these things out, we’re looking at a further destabilized marketplace. Currently, there’s a lot of instability and business likes stability.” While the volatile political climate may be worrisome, there are many positive trends to report as well. Kehoe reassures, “I think it’s hard to ignore interest rates because they have a big effect on the housing market and I don’t think that gets worse. There is a pretty big backlog of work that is waiting to be done because there is more demand than supply. My sense is the market is going to do well this year.” In fact, Kehoe predicts that, because demand for landscaping labor is outstripping supply so much, contractors are going to be able to charge more for their services. Lots of landscape conDEPENDING ON LOCATION tractors are not even bidding on some projects because they don’t have the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONALS labor capacity to tackle them. What may seem like an exorbitant price to
HIRED A PROFESSIONAL
2013–2018 OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS:
U.S. LANDSCAPING SERVICES HAVE GROWN BY
TO REACH A REVENUE OF
$93 BILLION IN 2018
NUMBER OF BUSINESSES HAVE GROWN BY
1.9 % (TO 513,305) NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
WAGES SHOULD RISE $5.4 BILLION
3.2 % (TO 1,076,732)
90– 1 300 ANNUALLY,
THIS YEAR WITH AVERAGE WORKERS SEEING BETWEEN $ $ ,
HAVE GROWN BY
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 25
2/6/19 9:56 AM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
RATE OF HOMEOWNERSHIP FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION Home Improvement Research Institute
71% BOOMERS a contractor may seem reasonable to a determined consumer. “If you are a client, whether commercial or residential, and you want it done, you’re going to pay. I don’t expect a spectacular price gain, but enough to cover the cost increases incurred by labor,” says Kehoe. Evans suggests a middle-of-the-road approach to business this year, despite the strong market. “While project sales are still bullish, our coaching to the LandOpt Network focuses on proactively growing your maintenance base, your recurring revenue stream, through a targeted marketing and sales approach,” he cautions. “While your project revenue typically rises and falls with the economy, a strong recurring base an sustain your business through the down cycle and position you to take early advantage on the next upswing if you are properly communicating with your clients. Pricing should be in line with the value and quality you deliver, so it should always be rising.” Evans emphasizes the
26 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
2019 or later, we should manage and grow our businesses in a sustainable way to assure that we can survive and even thrive through any correction.”
By the Book: Regulations to Watch
Your next zero-turn could cost more. Kiser believes this administration’s trade policies, and tariffs on steel and aluminum in particular, could drive up costs in the green industry as OPE manufacturers can only absorb so many cost increases without having to pass on some of that cost to consumers. He also envisions the trend toward restricting emissions and noise as continuing in the new year—from ordinances restricting the hours of operation of OPE to all-out leaf blower bans. “The reason leaf blowers are ubiquitous is because they work well, but we are seeing equipment bans, largely along noise lines, so that’s troubling. We’re also coming into an cyclical nature of emissions time of change BUT GAINING SPEED AS THEY in the regulated commuthe economy, so ACCOUNT FOR MORE THAN although some ONE-THIRD OF ALL RECENT nity on the engine side of may feel confithe equation,” he adds. HOME PURCHASES dent, riding high Kiser is referring to the on the economic California Air Resources tide, it’s only a matter of time before Board’s (CARB’s) proposal to update that wave breaks. He advises to temper emissions standards for the state’s small confidence a bit in case the economy off-road engines. According to the right-sizes itself sooner than expected. board, “In 2020, the CARB will consider “While I am typically an optimist, we new emission standards to achieve addishould not forget that economic cortional reductions from small engines to rections are as certain to happen as help California meet its goal of reducdeath and taxes. Whether that is in ing smog-forming pollutant emissions from mobile sources by 80 percent in 2031. Significant emission reductions will be achieved through a combination UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND CRASHED THE iCERT SYSTEM of regulatory and incentive approaches, and a major shift to zero-emission electric equipment will be needed to
WERE REQUESTED IN APPLICATIONS FOR 33,000 AVAILABLE VISAS WITHIN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF THE SEMI-ANNUAL H-2B CERTIFICATION PROCESS JANUARY 1 National Association of Landscape Professionals
2/6/19 9:56 AM
REAL PEOPLE. STIHL PEOPLE. BRETT RUSSELL | NORFOLK LANDSCAPING
When dependability and service are more than words Reliability is the key to Brett Russell’s bottom line. “My customers want the job done, and done right, so I need tools that help me keep them satisfied. STIHL offers the power and dependability I need to get each job done and keep my business growing.” Before Russell switched to STIHL, it was a guessing game. “You can’t run a landscaping business that’s as busy as we are with unreliable equipment. That’s why my trailer is full of STIHL.”
JOIN US. #RealSTIHL
Brand Among Landscape Professionals
To find a dealer: STIHLdealers.com For product information: STIHLusa.com *”Number one selling” claim based on 2007-2017 Irwin Broh Research syndicated study data of the U.S. professional landscaper market. ©2019 STIHL
2/6/19 9:56 AM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
meet the 80 percent reduction goal.” Kehoe is most concerned about the costs of environmental regulations for landscape contractors, especially in states like California where manual labor must substitute for banned or otherwise restricted equipment: “It adds tremendous cost if you have to substitute manual labor for machine labor. Noise regulations increase the price for your customers because it takes longer to sweep and rake than it does to use a backpack blower to blow off the property.” He is concerned about restrictions on pesticides and herbicides as well, but he credits the green industry with having the ingenuity to quickly figure out organics, even if they don’t perform as well as the synthetic formulations and cost more. He elaborates, “You end up paying more for [organics], but ultimately, it’s just like anything else. If you can’t do it anymore—you can’t get H-2B labor, for example— you find another way. Likewise, if you can’t use certain kinds of chemicals, you find another way, even it’s a hassle form a cost point of view.” Evans’ opinion is that there are many regulations on the horizon and, many times, it’s better to just get ahead of them, not unlike social preferences, such as the recent demand for organic materials and products. “Organics is a hot topic—a great way to do well by doing good! Issues such as noise, emissions or chemical use will continue
to be part of the agenda, whether driven by regulation or increasing social pressure. We encourage our LandOpt Network members to address these issues on a proactive basis and then shine a light on your results—it’s a great way to differentiate your organization in a crowded market,” he recommends.
SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS YOUR CLIENTS USE MOST? THE
FOLLOWING PERCENTAGES OF PEOPLE USE THE FOLLOWING SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS AT LEAST ONCE WEEKLY:
82% FACEBOOK 75% YOUTUBE 53% INSTAGRAM 39% SNAPCHAT 38% PINTEREST 36% TWITTER
A Labor of Love: Employee Hiring and Retention
According to a USA Today article entitled, “Five Housing Takeaways: What Should You Expect from Home Sales in 2019?,” “Forget fevered bidding wars and snap home-buying decisions. Slower and steadier will characterize next year’s housing market.” While the market for landscaping and other home services is going to remain robust as housing continues to thrive, albeit more slowly, the green industry is still going to be hamstrung by the workforce shortage. A business can’t operate efficiently without reliable labor, but the green industry is competing with many other industries, so the workforce shortage isn’t going to resolve itself any time soon. Hickman concurs, “Finding and retaining quality employees is the challenge that keeps landscape professionals up most at night because they need employees to handle their increasing workload.” How many landscape contractors do
LANDSCAPING COMPANIES BY REVENUE
% OF INDUSTRY
LESS THAN $50,000 19% $50,000–$199,999 22% $200,000–$499,999 17% $500,000–$999,999 14% MORE THAN $1,000,000 24% NO ANSWER 4%
Manifest 2018 Consumer Social Media Survey
you know who turned away work last year? Prepare for more of the same in 2019 unless something drastic changes. “The critical issue that comes up in most every conversation is the shortage of labor,” Evans agrees. “With unemployment at record lows, and economic growth driving more demand for project and maintenance services, our industry needs capable and willing labor to get the work done. The labor shortage is both a quantitative problem (we don’t have enough warm bodies) and a qualitative issue (we don’t properly train the bodies we have). Until we get a solution to the numbers problem, our focus at LandOpt is on getting the most out of our teams through clear organizational structure, systems and processes—improving the productivity of our teams allows us to get more work done with the labor resources we do have. Rising
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wages are inevitable as we compete and why. Rising wages are ineviGearing up for 2019: for limited labor supply—but rising table when labor resources are tight. Equipment Trends wages don’t solve the problem.” The critical issue is to know your Because the labor shortage is Kehoe takes Evans’ idea one step pricing and your market to assure hemming in landscape contractors’ further. He thinks “the finding, acquithat you are passing these increased ability to expand, Kiser predicts robotsition and retention of labor” is the costs through instead of eroding your ics and remote-control technology are first part of a two-part problem. The margins. Unlike a fuel surcharge, the going to continue to grow in popularsecond obstacle is the expense of escalabor shortage and increasing labor ity, while coming down farther in price. lating wages and more training to bring costs are not short-term issues. Make In an environment where you can’t rely new hires up to speed, in part to help sure your pricing accounts for it.” on a consistent and available workmitigate another extra cost, damage to That’s part of why Kehoe doesn’t force, equipment that can help keep equipment. He’s not think that the increasing of the you productive is going to look increaswaiting on a break in minimum wage in some states is going ingly attractive. He says, “Robotics and the H-2B discussion to affect the green industry much. “In remote-controlled units may be the next that’s been ongoing as our experience, looking at the data, big thing, in many ways, just to deal part of the immigramore than 90 percent are paying above with the workforce shortage. The robots tion and border security minimum wage in every starting job are predictable.” (Speaking of predictcontroversy. He says, anyway. The wages are going to conability, the OPEI is set to introduce its “I think the tenor of tinue to rise and not so much to get, but first ever robotic mower safety standard the Democrats and to keep, people because construction later this year, which could catalyze Republicans on immiwork [and other competitive industries] even further development in this space.) gration is not even pays more than landscaping. I think “We expect robotics to become more reasonable anymore. and more interesting, espePeople are dug in cially in cases where it on both sides.” can supplement labor,” So while the PERCENTAGE confirms Evans. “These American populaare good opportunities EMPLOYEES COMPANIES OF INDUSTRY tion is wringing their for differentiating your hands over the larger company from others— % immigration debate explaining how you or even more hotly are always looking for % contested border better ways of working wall, the green indussignals that your team % try is playing the is capable of managing pawn in getting a your client’s property.” % response to the H-2B Hickman echoes, worker visa program “Battery and alterna% to help address the tive power-sourced labor shortage. Evans equipment will con% notes, “While I am tinue to grow, as well extremely pleased as robotic mowers. Any % with the advocacy equipment that conwww.lawnstarter.com/blog/uncategorized/lawnstarter-market-and-industry-statistics-resource-list/ work the NALP has tributes to increased been doing on H-2B, efficiency and producI caution anyone who is banking that puts a lot of pressure on retaining tivity in the field will trend, as well as on H-2B workers in their workpeople. I think we’re going to see a lot any equipment that helps reduce the force. Make sure your plan ‘not-2B’ more people figuring out how to live life labor needed to complete the job.” is adequate to carry you through. without H-2B and, in fact, doing it fairly Kiser acknowledges it’s hard to “If you know your margins, focus successfully. Like anything else in life, if ignore the battery trend in the marketyour limited resources on the higher something stops working, you figure out place with “the emergence of a wide and more sustainable accounts. a way to work around it. You’re going to range of consumer and commercial And then communicate, communihave to still get the work done, so you offerings by a wide range of manucate, communicate with your entire put some more emphasis on retention facturers,” especially considering the client base on what you are doing and training, and paying people more.” market was traditionally dominated
INDUSTRY COMPANY SIZE BREAKDOWN
1 – 4 5 – 9 10 – 19 20 – 49 50 – 99 100 – 249 250+
72,907 14,766 7,800 4,344 1,150 472 128
71.78 14.54 7.68 4.28 1.13 0.46 0.13
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 29
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Less maintenance. More profit. Oil Guard™ technology means 500 hours between oil changes. Your customers are on tight schedules — don’t let maintenance interfere. Only Vanguard®features the Oil Guard™ System to deliver fewer, cleaner, faster and easier oil changes — resulting in up to 60 percent lower oil maintenance costs.*
Vanguard BIG BLOCK™ V-Twin engine
Learn more at vanguardengines.com. *Per unit, per season. Cost savings based on standard oil maintenance with 100-hour service interval versus Oil Guard™ System 500-hour service interval. © 2019 Briggs & Stratton Corporation. All rights reserved.
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A new approach to oil maintenance. The Vanguard® Oil Guard™ System revolutionizes oil use and maintenance. Here’s how.
Q. WHY WAS OIL GUARD™ DEVELOPED? A. Vanguard developed its innovative Oil Guard™ System to increase productivity and reduce downtime associated with oil maintenance.
S Y S T E M
Once you’re done, pop the cap back on, replace the hose and you’re good to go — no additional tools necessary.
Operators are often too busy working to faithfully check and change the oil on a regular basis. It’s an industrywide issue — if you’re not checking your oil often enough and your levels get low, you’re inviting engine trouble. For example, if you’re working in an off-angle situation you might deprive the top bearing of oil lubrication, potentially leading to premature engine failure. Q. HOW DOES OIL GUARD™ DECREASE MAINTENANCE? A. The Oil Guard™ System uses a five-quart aluminum reservoir — that’s two-and-a-half times more oil than the traditional two-quart system. We also moved the oil storage away from the sump and added a highquality, automotive-style oil filter that offers up to 80 percent more efficiency. The addition of more oil storage and the new filter means operators only need to change the oil every 500 hours. Q. HOW DO I CHANGE THE OIL WITH THE OIL GUARD™ SYSTEM? A. The only tool you need to change the oil with this system is a drain pan. Instead of having a spin-on filter cartridge that’s in a low, difficult-to-reach spot, we placed the filter in an easy-to-reach position on top of the reservoir, allowing easy access and a clean exchange. You simply drop in the new filter, unscrew the cap of the hose and drain the oil into a pan. It only takes a few minutes to drain the oil out of the reservoir.
Q. DOES THIS SYSTEM INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY? A. Absolutely. It increases productivity across the board. It’s all about innovation — making the cutters more productive, decreasing downtime associated with oil changes, cutting down on dealer trips for oil and filters, and empowering operators to change the oil themselves when needed. Not only are you getting increased productivity, but you’re also seeing cost savings per season of 60 percent* — not including costs associated with downtime.
Learn more about how Oil Guard™ can improve your bottom line at vanguardengines.com.
2/6/19 9:56 AM
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
by only a few companies. According to him, this battery blitz is going to further drive down prices, making them even more alluring, in addition to the fact that they’re becoming lighter and ergonomically easier to handle, with more consumer options. Utility vehicles are going to continue growing in popularity as well because of the versatility they offer landscape contractors. They have a smaller profile—not to mention a smaller price tag—than a pickup truck, so you can travel, work, haul and load in tighter spaces. Kiser summarizes, “They work, they’re easy to operate and they serve all kinds of purposes, so more are finding their way into the marketplace, price points are coming down, and more options and more accessories are becoming available.”
NEW YORK $3,088,336,000
At Your Service: Technology and Service Collide
Kehoe mentions that, although approximately 95 percent of his clients service their own OPE, “the big guys are leading the charge in getting rid of the shop. That’s going to be an industry trend because the shop is a black hole for most companies. They have no idea what goes on in there.” Having a shop in house lures some landscape contractors into a false sense of security that, because it’s under their control, it’s more cost efficient than outsourcing
TOP FIVE STATES BY REVENUE www.lawnstarter.com/blog/uncategorized/lawnstarter-market-and-industry-statistics-resource-list/
service to a dealer, “when really, it might be more expensive to manage that shop than you think,” according to him. On that note, however, Kehoe predicts that the green industry is going to move toward smarter management of the shop by taking advantage of the opportunity that unprecedented connectivity presents when tethered to a fleet of landscape equipment. He says, while landscape contractors always seem to know where they’re making and losing money on labor and materials, they turn a blind eye toward the equipment, which can be a big missed opportunity. He elaborates, “If you look at the profit and loss statement of a typical
CUSTOMER TYPE BREAKDOWN CATEGORY Residential Commercial Federal Government State/Local Government Non-Profit
PERCENTAGE OF MARKET 43.9% 46.2% 1.6% 5.9% 2.4%
ESTIMATED REVENUE $22.7B $24.0B $830M $3.1B $1.2B
32 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
contractor, anywhere from 13 to 14 cents of total dollar sales costs they have is related to equipment, so the cost of the mechanics, the parts, the space in the shop. It’s the actual equipment and the life of it. The only way to manage that is to have the technology to drive the data so you can understand what pieces of equipment are being utilized the most. Most people have more equipment than they need just to make sure they’re covered. Which pieces of equipment are breaking down the most? Which guys are breaking the equipment the most? Without the technology, most contractors are only guessing what’s going on in terms of managing that 13 to 14 cents. If you could make that 12 or 10 cents, that’s big. Track the data. Plug in a telematics device on a mower. Technology allows you to do 30 to 40 percent more work. I can manage more clients. I can get more done in a day.” Amongst the political turmoil, overall strong economic indicators, mounting regulatory pressures, and many captivating equipment and technology trends to monitor, 2019 may be a mixed bag. But remember, with change comes opportunity. Just approach that opportunity with a healthy dose of cautious optimism. ›
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WORLD’S LARGEST SUPPLIER
of outdoor power equipment parts
ounded in 1957, Rotary is recognized as the world’s leading supplier of outdoor power equipment parts, serving customers in all 50 states and 75 countries around the globe. Altogether, Rotary offers over 9,500 different parts, tools and accessories. From minor mower repairs to complete engine overhauls, Rotary has the replacement parts it takes to get the job done. Air filters, oil filters, belts, tires, starters and internal engine parts are available for a wide variety of commercial and consumer mowers. Plus piston assemblies, carburetors, electric starters, idler pulleys, tune-up kits and much more. Backed by an exclusive warranty that ensures quality and performance, Rotary’s Copperhead brand features mower blades, trimmer line and chain saw bars and chain that are available from leading dealers nationwide. In addition, Rotary has a complete line of parts for trimmers, brush cutters, pressure washers, snow blowers, garden tillers and more.
pre-filters that are professionally designed to protect engines under extreme operating conditions while ensuring maximum efficiency and peak performance. With over 50 years of manufacturing expertise, Rotary parts are recognized around the world for unsurpassed quality.
Next Day Service to 85% of the USA
American Made, American Proud
As a family-owned business, Rotary takes exceptional pride in manufacturing guaranteed quality parts at its state-ofthe-art facilities in Georgia and Arizona. A longtime manufacturer of lawn mower and edger blades, Rotary produces one blade every four seconds or nearly 10 million blades annually including Copperhead brand commercial mulching blades and a variety of flat, high and low-lift blades. Rotary blades are engineered and tested to exceed all OEM standards for operation and are ISO certified for quality, durability and superior craftsmanship. The company’s blade division was one of the world’s first to become ISO certified for achieving high quality standards.
In 2017, Rotary acquired Desert Extrusion, a leading manufacturer of nylon copolymer trimmer line including its best-selling Copperhead Vortex brand. Each year, Rotary manufactures enough trimmer line to stretch around the world 10 times, utilizing a unique, quality-driven extrusion process that ensures maximum tensile strength and elasticity. The company’s filter division manufactures paper element, foam and
Rotary has built one of the industry’s most advanced distribution networks. Most orders are processed and shipped the same day, ensuring next day delivery to nearly 85% of its customers in the continental U.S. from eight U.S. distribution centers. As part of a strategic plan to enhance its supply chain and distribution system, Rotary completed a major expansion and upgrade of its shipping and fulfillment operations a few years ago. The company’s fill rate is setting industry standards, exceeding 95% in 2017. ■
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 33
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A total fleet platform to move your business forward. Connect your vehicle, worker, job and asset data all on one screen. Visit verizonconnect.com or call 866.844.2235 for a fleet management consultation.
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Â©2018 Verizon. All rights reserved.
2/6/19 9:56 AM
By Angie Mellor
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS THE FOUNDATION Customer service, a tailored approach and trained technicians providing natural, organic treatment are the three keys to success for NaturaLawn of America in Pittsburgh.
ike Weiner, franchise owner of NaturaLawn of America in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, believes that solid customer service plays a vital role in the success of his business. In fact, the customer connection was one of the reasons he chose to buy into the NaturaLawn of America franchise. “NaturaLawn was chosen because of its approach (to integrated pest management or IPM), awesome organic-based fertilizers and the customer service focus of the company,” Weiner notes. “I truly believe customer service should always come first,” he emphasizes. “This may require extra explanations, resetting expectations and sometimes doing something at no cost, even if it’s not your fault. I do believe that we work for [the customers] and making them happy is the only way we stay in business.” Weiner credits the CEO of NaturaLawn, Phil Catron, for this model of going the extra mile, which Catron calls the two-scoop service— essentially, giving the customer more than what is expected. According to www.naturalawn.com, one example of the two-scoop service is treating customers as neighbors rather than numbers. For example, technicians introduce themselves and say hello before giving a lawn treatment, clean up leaves from the driveway, sidewalk and porch areas after completion, and leave a personal note, including tips to see the most benefit from a treatment. In fact, customer service begins before any technicians are dispatched.
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Mike Weiner, franchise owner of NaturaLawn of America in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, believes customer service is vital for success. NaturaLawn administers a laboratory soil test to help determine the needs and treatment options for each individual client’s lawn rather than taking a cookiecutter approach. The NaturaLawn franchise’s integrated pest management approach focuses on three basic principles— prevention, monitoring and controlling.
Catron states that conversation is the first step. “Our conversation begins with us asking customers about what concerns or improvements they would like to see with their lawn,” he says. Following the initial conversation, a laboratory soil test is administered, which helps to determine the needs and treatment options for an individual client’s lawn rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach. Not only does a study of the soil provide a great deal of information about the health of the soil, but it also
ensures that each client receives a treatment tailored to his or her specific lawn needs. The test can determine so much that Weiner calls the soil probe one of his favorite pieces of equipment: “We use it not only for soil tests, but also to check thatch, how much soil there is, how compacted the soil is and how moist the soil is,” he says. Following a soil test, technicians can provide clients with different options for lawn treatments. “Our lawn care technicians primarily use LESCO push spreaders and Turfco
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COMPANY NAME: NATURALAWN OF AMERICA OWNER: MIKE WEINER LOCATION: PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA YEARS IN BUSINESS: 12 GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: NORTHERN SUBURBS OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA TYPES OF CLIENTS: PRIMARILY RESIDENTIAL, WITH LESS THAN 1 PERCENT COMMERCIAL CLIENTS SERVICES RENDERED: ORGANICBASED LAWN CARE (INCLUDING A PESTICIDE-FREE OPTION), AERATION, OVERSEEDING, AND A 100 PERCENT NATURAL FLEA AND TICK PROGRAM
Trained and Empowered Technicians
T3100 ride-on spreaders. We chose the T3100 after trying a few other brands because of its ease of training, use and repair. Our flea and tick control technicians use the STIHL SR 450 [backpack] blower/sprayer,” according to Weiner.
Catron describes NaturaLawn of America’s IPM approach as focusing on three basic principles—prevention, monitoring and controlling. He believes this approach helps put more control in the hands of the technician. “Rather than simply going out onto lawns and applying control materials, whether needed or not, by teaching and following these three principles, it allows for technicians to utilize and practice their knowledge and skills, which many times, helps prevent and/or control specific pest problems without the use of a control material,” he says. “Once these practices are put
into place, technicians first identify what can be done to prevent a recurrence of the problem. We want to solve the problem by figuring out the underlying issues first and correcting them rather than simply treating the symptom of the problem.” Catron notes that the results are monitored and shared with the client. If there continues to be any issues, NaturaLawn consults with the clients and advises them about the use of
NaturaLawn of America’s integrated pest management program calls for the minimal use of control materials.
“The hope is that, soon, there will be a natural, effective and costefficient weed control that has a low impact on the environment, and is safe for humans and pets.” – Mike Weiner, NaturaLawn of America www.greenindustrypros.com
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 37
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control materials, such as a biological or biorational spot treatment, rather than a blanket treatment of the entire property. In fact, Catron doesn’t endorse the traditional lawn care practice of see and spray. He credits NaturaLawn of America’s IPM for minimizing the use of control materials. “The implementation of IPM puts the decision-making back into the hands of the technicians and helps remove the irresponsible use of control materials,” he says. “[It’s] not an easy task as it takes ongoing and continuous training, and that’s a commitment most companies do not make.” Catron adds that providing additional training to technicians is key in the use of control materials. NaturaLawn of America provides continuous and rigorous training to technicians to empower them to make decisions and provide safe applications. “This, in conjunction with our IPM system, allows for a much more judicious use of any control materials, whether they be biological, biorational or synthetic. Additionally, NaturaLawn uses only those products that have minimal impact on the environment,” Catron concludes.
Two Treatment Options
NaturaLawn of America offers two treatment programs—the Alternative Program and the Natural Alternative Program. According to the company website, the Alternative organic-based
“We want to solve the problem by figuring out the underlying issues first and correcting them rather than simply treating the symptom of the problem.” – Phil Catron,NaturaLawn of America program includes, but is not limited to, natural organic-based fertilization, slow-release nutrients to promote deep root growth of grass, 100 percent natural soil conditioner to replenish depleted soils, selected weed controls, crabgrass reducer, insect controls and specifically formulated lawn care treatments using its proprietary products. NaturaLawn does not include phosphorus in its proprietary products and does not apply it unless it is required for strengthening root systems during seeding. The Natural Alternative Program is similar to the Alternative Program, but does not use control materials. Catron says the Natural Alternative Program “relies more on building the soil profile, correcting soil deficiencies, and creating a thicker, healthier turf through annual aeration and overseeding. It is our 100 percent pesticide-free program.” While the Natural Alternative
Mike Weiner, franchise owner of NaturaLawn of America in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, takes the time to make sure customers understand everything and know what to expect from NaturaLawn services.
38 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
Program stipulates that no pesticides or weed controls are applied to the lawn, a client can specifically request treatment, although there may be an additional charge. NaturaLawn of America still reserves the right to refuse to apply pesticides if deemed inappropriate, however. Catron adds that spot control and pesticide use are often unnecessary because of the formula of NaturaLawn’s fertilizers, which help provide insect and disease control. NaturaLawn of America uses proprietary fertilizers that are either organic-based or natural organic. Catron notes, “NaturaLawn defines organics as a material made from something that was once living, such as plants or animals.” Weiner, the Pittsburgh franchise owner, views NaturaLawn of America on the forefront of natural lawn care. In fact, Catron mentions that NaturaLawn of America is introducing a comprehensive 100 percent organic weed control later in 2019. Weiner is noticing more companies taking a natural approach using IPM, and anticipates changes in the future that align with NaturaLawn’s new approach to weed control. “The hope is that, soon, there will be a natural, effective and cost-efficient weed control that has a low impact on the environment, and is safe for humans and pets,” he says. For Weiner, success with NaturaLawn of America comes through dedication to customer service and support via an individual approach to each client’s lawn, trained and competent technicians, and an emphasis on natural lawn care and treatment. With the new year giving way to NaturaLawn of America’s 100 percent organic weed control, Weiner’s hope of a more environmentally friendly weed control is well on its way. › Angie Mellor teaches communications and writing classes at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while freelance writing and editing.
2/6/19 9:22 AM
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2/6/19 9:22 AM
SPECIAL REPORT: ENGINES
By Tom Billigen
TOP ENGINE MAINTENANCE
TIPS & TRICKS
Performing proper engine maintenance is always going to be an integral component of ensuring your fleet is primed for productivity.
aintenance. It’s an unavoidable part of the job, necessary to keep things moving, mitigate equipment failure and limit downtime. Maintenance can also be a hassle—not unlike any routine task—but, thanks to recent advancements in engines and engine design, it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately for the industry, manufacturers are developing features that reduce maintenance and its associated downtime. Unfortunately for contractors, nobody has yet discovered how to eliminate maintenance needs entirely. When it comes to maintenance, regular and preventive measures are essential. Here are the top seven maintenance tips and tricks to keep your engine in premium condition to improve productivity on the jobsite.
Fuel for Productivity
An engine is only as good as the fuel you put in the tank. For years, fuel choices were limited to regular, unleaded and diesel. Nowadays, you can add ethanol fuel blends to that list. Lower-level ethanol, typically 10 percent or less, is safe to use in most engines. Ethanol-free gasoline with an octane rating of 87 or higher is generally a good fuel choice. Choosing a
40 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
fuel that is optimized for your engine is key to ensuring performance and avoiding engine issues, such as misfires, and long-term damage.
While gas is the familiar industry fuel, in some instances, fueling with propane can offer benefits and advantages for your operation. Propane eliminates some elements of operator error in environments where that can be a significant problem. For example, if you’re working on a golf course, gas spillage can cause dead or brown spots. With propane, spillage is never an issue. Using propane can also help avoid fuel storage issues, as equipment can be stored for long periods of time since propane isn’t susceptible to going stale. Using propane can impact your maintenance schedule by reducing the amount of time a crew spends refueling. If your crew of four stops at a gas station for 15 minutes, that’s a combined hour of lost productivity. With propane, you can easily refuel on the job.
Storing your equipment is unavoidable at times,
but doing so can quickly lead to stalefuel issues. Once fuel is added to an engine tank, it starts to lose volatility. To mitigate issues associated with stale fuel, such as diminished performance and vapor lock, fill your tank with fresh gasoline after removing equipment from storage. If you know equipment is going to be stored for significant periods, use a fuel stabilizer to combat stale fuel. Often, fuel stabilizers help prevent gum and varnish buildup, and can combat the corrosion associated with ethanol fuels and chemical breakdowns.
Swap out Spark Plugs
With time, spark plugs can be susceptible to carbon deposits and other types of performance-inhibiting damage. Worn spark plugs can lead to engine misfires, stalling and difficulty starting. Regularly removing and inspecting your engine’s spark plugs, and replacing them when necessary, can help you avoid these issues.
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Opt for Oil Changes
Skipping oil changes opens the door for significant engine damage. Relying on oil past its service life means relying on oil with decreased viscosity, and a diminished ability to correctly clean, cool and lubricate your engine—all of which may lead to lower engine performance capabilities and lasting damage. While the industry is starting to see advanced oil management systems and improved oils that extend oil change intervals, it’s still important to know and understand the guidelines for your fleet’s engines. Changing oil too often can waste resources, while waiting too long can lead to engine damage. Knowing your engine’s oil-change intervals and adhering to them ensures your fleet can run like a well-oiled machine.
Give Your Engine Fresh Air
Fresh air is one of the key performance components in small air-cooled engines, which means regu-
Until self-maintaining engines are developed (a person can dream!), understanding your engine’s maintenance needs and sticking to a schedule is key to keeping your fleet up and running. larly changing the air filter is critical. Generally, air filters should be changed every 100 to 250 hours, depending on the application and filter type. With advancing technologies, such as cyclonic air filtration, it’s important to choose original equipment manufacturer (OEM) filters designed specifically for your engine to guarantee fit and performance. Often, these filters have a longer lifespan and ensure better engine productivity.
Assess Your Fleet
At the beginning and end of each season, take stock of your equipment fleet and the engines you rely on to keep it running. Are the engines older, no longer performing efficiently or experiencing frequent issues? Can these performance issues be improved with proper maintenance practices or are they simply related to old age? If so, it may be time to repower. Engine maintenance needs are being reduced and simplified as advanced technology continues to improve in the industry. However, performing proper maintenance is always going to be an integral component of ensuring your fleet is primed for productivity. Until self-maintaining engines are developed (a person can dream!), understanding your engine’s maintenance needs and sticking to a schedule is key to keeping your fleet up and running. ›
Tom Billigen is a customer education training manager at Briggs & Stratton.
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 41
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ALL-NEW STARIS STAND-ON MOWER IN AUGMENTED REALITY Exmark has launched an augmented reality (AR) application to highlight the revolutionary features of its new 2019 Staris stand-on zero-turn mower. Designed to deliver commercial performance, durability, ergonomics and ease of service, Staris features optimized weight balance and a lower center of gravity for increased stability, traction and maneuverability. Staris offers smooth control, with drive speeds of up to 7.5 mph on E-Series, and up to 10 mph on S-Series models. Staris positions the operator between the drive tires, making them feel integrated into the machine, and has an innovative operator suspension system for increased comfort. Staris S-Series also features a large open platform and non-slip rubber mat, so operators can easily change stance or position. Intuitive controls make Staris easy to operate. S-Series models feature Exmark’s innovative Smart Controller, which reduces downtime with maintenance reminders, on-screen machine health diagnostics, and engine and PTO hours. An enhanced LCD screen increases visibility in any light. Staris is available in E-Series models, with 32-, 36- or 44-inch UltraCut Series 3 cutting decks, and large-frame S-Series models, with 48-, 52- or 60-inch UltraCut Series 4 cutting decks. Optimized frame design and caster wheel positioning for each cutting deck width delivers a superior quality of cut. The sidedischarge cutting decks also offer the ability to mulch or bag clippings with appropriate Exmark accessories. The compact 32-inch Staris E-Series model fits through 36-inch gates, enabling landscape professionals to maintain more yards, more quickly, with less fatigue. Staris E-Series features Kawasaki V-twin commercial engines, while Staris S-Series offers a choice of carbureted Kawasaki or Kohler EFI V-twin engines. Visit the Google Play or Apple App Store to download the Exmark AR app, and visit Exmark.com/AR for complete details.
Exmark.com/AR 42 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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THE REVOLUTIONARY STAND-ON MOWER Exmark® engineers reinvented the stand-on zero-turn mower from the ground up. The all-new Staris® delivers the commercial performance, durability, ergonomics and ease of service that landscape professionals need to maximize productivity and profitability. The Staris is available with 32- to 60-inch UltraCut™ cutting decks and Kohler® EFI and Kawasaki® V-Twin engine options. E- and S-Series available Spring 2019 exmark.com
AUGMENTED REALITY EXPERIENCE 1 Download & Open Exmark AR App 2 Scan the Staris above 3 Explore Download the FREE EXMARK AR App to see the Staris come to life with an augmented reality experience right in front of your eyes.
ASK YOUR DEALER ABOUT FLEET DISCOUNTS WITH THE PURCHASE OF TWO STARIS STAND-ON RIDERS Visit www.greenindustrypros.com/10155791
2/6/19 9:25 AM
BEYOND THE BLADE
By Marcia Barnes
A GOOD CALL IN THE GREEN INDUSTRY
Landscaping companies should follow these four strategies to ensure no call goes unanswered and no lead goes cold.
hen it comes to shopping for tractors responded to the inquiries lawn care or maintenance pro- and 55 percent of those that responded viders, customers are often did so after at least one full day. looking to quickly compare services and Many landscaping companies are costs, then decide which company best investing significant dollars to genermeets their needs ate leads through and budget. But all sales and markettoo often, during ing efforts. The fact that research phase, is, when a potential homeowners are not customer reaches receiving prompt out only to not be call-backs—or promptly responded worse, they are not to, that spend is receiving any call essentially wasted back. Ultimately, due to poor lead the lack of quick management. Lawn response by comcare companies panies means a loss must improve their in business and lead management any future business efforts in order to from this customer. see a full return on Unfortunately, this marketing spend. scenario is all too Aside from making familiar in home financial sense, manservices indusaging leads better tries like lawn care also helps compaand landscaping. nies bolster a positive Research just reputation through released from marword of mouth and keting agency online forums. Valve+Meter indiThere are several cates that as many considerations and Valve+Meter as 40 percent of best practices landPhoto: mixformdesign, iStock/Getty Images Plus outdoor services scaping companies companies are not responding to cusmust look at when developing a lead tomer inquiries within five days of management protocol that fits the size receipt, essentially ignoring the potenand scope of the company, as well as tial customer. As part of the study, the budget. Here are some top considValve+Meter contacted more than 450 erations to ensure no lead goes cold: home services companies (including lawn care professionals, plumbers, elec1. Determine a Standardized tricians and more) via forms on the Lead Response Cadence companies’ websites. Response times Lead responses should happen within were tracked. Only 60 percent of confive minutes of the submission. This
40% OF OUTDOOR
SERVICES COMPANIES ARE NOT RESPONDING TO CUSTOMER INQUIRIES WITHIN FIVE DAYS OF RECEIPT.
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aggressive benchmark ensures your competition doesn’t gain potential business due to your sluggish lead response time. Different industries require different cadences when it comes to lead response times and which mediums should be used (phone, email, text, etc.). In the residential lawn care, landscaping and irrigation industry, an aggressive approach to response is vital. There is often a lot of competition in any given market and customers are likely looking to make decisions about which providers to utilize quickly. The most successful lead response cadence would include multiple attempts to connect with leads, through multiple channels, and across multiple days until contact is made.
2. Introduce New Technology into Lead Response Strategies Sales teams shouldn’t rely on old means of tracking and responding to new leads. According to The Bridge Group, companies in 2018 are spending $371 per representative per month on sales acceleration technologies. Modern lawn and landscaping companies are implementing call-tracking software, email automation software, call recording and conversation analytics, and more to track and report on the performance of their dispatchers and sales teams. Being able to quickly answer questions, schedule appointments or provide quotes may prove pivotal to winning the business of someone who is researching a competing lawn care company on another website tab. That means home services companies need to make it simple for consum-
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ers to engage online, plus they need to be ready to respond quickly to their website form submissions. A website chatbot is a great option for lawn care leaders who don’t want to keep wouldbe customers waiting for a call-back.
3. Automate Lead Responses
When new inbound leads are received, they should be routed directly to dispatchers and sales representatives through an automated process—not a general email inbox. According to Aberdeen, companies that implemented an automated lead follow-up process saw more than a 25 percent jump in their lead-to-sales conversion rate, year over year. In addition, a customer relationship management (CRM) system enables companies to create a lead distribution system and assign new contacts to a specific team member. On the other hand, outsourcing a sales development team
Being able to quickly answer questions, schedule appointments or provide quotes may prove pivotal to winning the business of someone who is researching a competing lawn care company on another website tab. can also be an efficient option for companies wanting to capitalize on every potential customer. No matter how a company manages leads, the process should be automated and consistent to reduce the risk of leaking leads.
4. Incorporate Best Practices on Your Company Website Google now warns its Internet users if a website doesn’t have a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. A prominent warning may affect how secure users feel and cause some visitors to leave a site. Over 50 percent of Internet browsers worldwide are using Chrome 6, meaning this change may negatively impact a site’s bounce rate and keep lawn care companies from generating online leads at all. Another aspect that can turn a potential customer off of a company’s website is the requirement to fill out too many fields in a contact form.
Make the important fields required, like name, email address and phone number. Other fields can be optional, and left up to the lead to fill in or not. Home services customers are expecting more out of their contractors than ever before. And the competition in the landscaping field can be fierce, meaning customers have the advantage. Outdoor services leaders must be prepared to offer nearly instantaneous responses in order to see the most value in marketing spend, increase sales, and not lose out on business to a competitor who more quickly and fully replies to a customer’s inquiry. › Marcia Barnes is the founder and CEO of Valve+Meter, a marketing agency focused on delivering growth in the home services industry.
The most successful lead response cadence would include multiple attempts to connect with leads, through multiple channels, and across multiple days until contact is made. This graph illustrates when companies first responded to customer inquiries. More than 150 never contacted the secret shopper. www.greenindustrypros.com
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 45
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Within its contemporarystyled headquarters building in Grand Rapids, Mich., Kawasaki Engines continues to grow its core business of distributing gasoline engines for landscape, industrial and consumer markets. A division of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. the Grand Rapids team has made a significant mark in its business category by offering a full-line of commercial and residential lawn mower engines mixed with units for light industrial applications, all serviced through a network of more than 7,500 independent dealers.
The company’s recently expanded research and development center ranks as one of the most complete in the industry, and provides an important link between Kawasaki’s product development team and the sales, marketing, and service groups housed under the same roof. Together, their coordinated planning efforts provide the types of quick market response and technological improvements that are key to supporting growth and meeting the needs of the customer
The company’s full line of engines provides power for a wide variety of applications in the green industry, allowing numerous well-known OEMs to tailor their specific offerings. The 2019 product line-up from Kawasaki features engines for walk-behinds to zero turns and employ advances that help make these units the engines preferred by lawn care professionals, as determined by independent research. Among these are Kawasaki’s New EFI, which uses a cutting-edge integrated electronic governor and an advanced ECU to continuously match mower engine power to cutting load and ground speed. The EFI feature is available on select FX, FT, and FS Series engines.
Kawasaki dealers also offer a complete line of Genuine Kawasaki parts and accessories, including Ktech™ oil, air filters and tune-up kits.
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By Carrie Mantey
STAND OUT IN 2019
As stand-on sprayer/ spreader technology evolves, landscape contractors can continue to capitalize on lawn care productivity and profitability gains.
rom fertilizer to herbicide, the most efficient way to distribute liquid or granular material in the green industry is with increasingly sophisticated stand-on sprayers/ spreaders. Last year’s Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) was brimming with innovation in the stand-on sprayer/spreader segment as landscape contractors look to boost productivity from their existing labor pool so they can maximize profitability. Matt Smith, co-founder and sales manager at Steel Green Manufacturing, concurs that landscape contractors who are in the market for stand-on sprayers/ spreaders are on the prowl to do more with less, in turn, improving profitability. He says, “Lawn care operators are looking for ways to do their job more efficiently—to provide better service to more customers in less time.” It’s
48 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
one reason why capacity and speed are at the top of the feature wish list, although the convenience of ease of operation, end-user comfort and accuracy are coveted and contribute to overall efficiency as well.
Capacity + Speed = Productivity
Smith notes that landscaping companies are increasingly using liquid fertilizer instead of granular, so contractors are trending toward the purchase of more liquid capacity as they find themselves relying less on granular product. “Some applicators are asking for a zero-turn ride-on sprayer with a high-volume capability and larger liquid capacity. To meet this need, all standard
Steel Green models are capable of running a high-volume roller pump without the need for external charging systems,” he proclaims. “Steel Green offer the highest liquid capacity for applicators who want an all-liquid high-volume ride-on sprayer. The hopper can be removed and an additional 35-gallon tank added in its place for a 95-gallon liquid capacity on the SG52.” He continues, “Higher capacity machines offer more productive time for applicators and the SG52 was built to maximize productivity. With its dual 30-gallon spray tanks, 225-pound hopper and high-den-
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A world-class reputation makes Honda Engines the recognized choice for the landscape, construction, consumer and rental industries. In fact, Honda engines supply smooth and dependable power for thousands of different product applications including pressure washers, lawn mowers, and rescue and construction equipment. Additionally, Honda engines are some of the quietest and easiest to start in the market, even in harsh commercial environments. Such attributes have made Honda engines the popular choice for original equipment manufacturers looking to add value to their own brands.
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sity poly fertilizer trays, Steel Green’s largest model holds a whopping 60 gallons of liquid and 325 pounds of granular product. Need something smaller? The SG36 has all the power of our larger models, but is compact enough to fit through a 36-inch gate.” Again, capacity tops the list of must-haves in a new stand-on sprayer/ spreader, but dimensions are crucial, too, as Smith notes, to fit through gates and around other obstacles. Steel Green's SG46 zero-turn sprayer/spreader comes with dual 15-gallon spray tanks.
After all, what good is a machine that can cover a lot of ground if it can’t access that ground? Scott Kinkead, executive vice president at Turfco Manufacturing, says one of Turfco’s largest capacity applicators can squeeze through a 36-inch gate, which increases its versatility to be able to accommodate a range of property types with just one machine. If you can pair a compact profile with a large capacity, it’s a win-win, efficiently disseminating product both on large and small properties more nimbly and with less refills. “Instead of having to have completely different machines, we said we want to be able to get through a 36-inch gate, but with the addition of our three-in-one tank, you can do up to 132,000 square feet,” according to Kinkead. “With the addition of the three-in-one tank, you can either add core capacity—
The SG52 stand-on sprayer/ spreader from Steel Green holds up to 60 gallons of liquid and 325 pounds of granular product.
50 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
almost double the capacity of the applicator—or you could spray a different chemical, or you could fill one tank with a non-selective herbicide or something else. There isn't another machine quite like ours.”
Intuitive Operation + Comfort = Efficient End Use
While productivity is critical to consider when purchasing a stand-on sprayer/spreader to complete more jobs in a day, it doesn’t amount to much without ease of use to reduce operator training and error, comfort to retain employees and ensure their safety, and precision to cut wasted product and time. Kinkead believes intuitive operation is one of the main attractions when purchasing a new standon sprayer/spreader, especially when many landscape contractors are turning away work because they can’t staff the projects. He says, “Labor is such a big challenge for everybody in today's world. Finding good operators, and having equipment that helps you keep operators and better train new operators, that's the focus—getting that productivity—but doing it in a way that's easy to get up and running on our machines, so if you add another person, you're growing your business. Our design of the T3100 makes it so a guy can be up and running in a day.” Kinkead suggests that it’s a delicate balance to design a machine that’s easy to operate, yet offers the range for both
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The Turfco T3100 stand-on sprayer/spreader features an easy-to-operate steering wheel and hands-free speed control.
new hires and veterans to tackle hills, tight-turnarounds and other backyard hurdles. He says you used to have to send out a seasoned operator to handle some of these obstacles, but with more intuitive operation, you can send even the least experienced of your crew and get good results. He elaborates, “We focused on having the versatility of being able to get into those areas, but also making it simple to operate. We spent a lot of time making sure we kept down the electronics as much as possible, making it very simple to maintain and run.” Another reason Turfco’s sprayers/ spreaders are easy to maneuver, according to Kinkead, is the hands-free speed control. It permits operators to use one hand for steering and the other to control the wand while driving if necessary. It’s so easy, he jokes, “If a guy doesn't know how to operate it, you probably shouldn't have him driving a truck. You can run the wand along the fence line, or hop off and cover a little area with it. We have dynamic braking, so if you step off the machine, it stops. [Another] value of the steering
wheel is, when you come to the end of your path, you can crank it around and match right up with your next path.” If you’re servicing your own standon sprayer/spreader, you not only want it to be easy to operate, but also easy to maintain and repair. Smith says Steel Green engineered its equipment with the needs of both the operator and technician servicing the machine in mind. The company designed its sprayer/ spreader tanks with a simple sump and drain to facilitate complete draining without having to remove the hose. Moreover, they include overfill protection to keep spills away from costly electrical and hydraulic components, and the spray nozzles are easy to access and change, too. “In fact, the entire machine is built to be easily accessible for maintenance and repair,” he mentions. Beyond making the new generation of stand-on sprayers/spreaders easy to operate and maintain, manufacturers are also taking on other important initiatives to get operators on board. With the labor shortage crippling some landscaping companies’ ability to expand, sprayer/spreader providers are striv-
"If you have an operator who's been with you for a while, you want to hold on to him." – Scott Kinkead, Turfco Manufacturing
ing to make their equipment easier on the operator’s body. The more content your employees are at the end of each day, the likelier you are to retain them. If the contractor next door is offering the same wage, but with shoddier equipment, employees are going to opt for the company offering modern, comfortable equipment instead. Kinkead thinks comfortable equipment is an integral part of the employee retention equation. He asks, “Can we make it less physically demanding on an operator? Not many people's yards are as smooth as a football field—you have all these undulations and hills to contend with. At the end of the day, your employees want to spend time with their family as opposed to being exhausted. In today's world, you want [work] to be less physically demanding. If you have an operator who's been with you for a while, you want to hold on to him.”
Honing in on Sprayer Accuracy
If investing in an entirely new sprayer isn’t in the cards this year, you can still try to maximize the return on investment on your existing equipment by boosting its accuracy. For instance, the aftermarket LESCO Smart Guided precision spray system comes equipped with GPS to minimize application error, optimize chemical budgets and maximize labor efficiency as less
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training is needed due to the simplicity of its design. The system can save contractors up to 75 percent of initial costs compared to buying a new sprayer unit with built-in GPS, according to SiteOne Landscape Supply. The new LESCO system offers: • TerraStar GPS satellite technology that allows the system to spray within a 2-inch level of accuracy so there are no missed areas, overspray or overlap. • Precise control of each separate nozzle to reduce overspray—in fact, if a nozzle is outside the defined application boundary, it automatically turns off. • Tracking of when and where certain products are sprayed to simplify documentation and record-keeping, remembering and repeating boundaries after they have been driven once and saved. • The compatibility to connect with most common sprayers. According to John Gertz, vice president of agronomic category management at SiteOne Landscape Supply, “It is a bolt-on GPS system that is easy to install and does not require buying a high-dollar dedicated GPS sprayer … you can use current invested spray equipment. Relative to the cost of a dedicated new GPS sprayer, LESCO Smart Guided delivers that same GPS Steel Green's SG36 zero-turn sprayer/ spreader is compact enough to fit through a 36-inch gate.
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The LESCO Smart Guided precision spray system uses GPS to spray within a 2-inch level of accuracy.
enabled capability at a savings.” Gertz also says the LESCO Smart Guided precision spray system can benefit landscape contractors by helping “maximize labor efficiency by reducing spray tech training and miss applications (skips and overlaps). This allows professional operators to simply get more done, faster, and right the first time.”
An aftermarket system that increases the accuracy of an existing sprayer can be beneficial for a landscape contractor trying to save money, but you can find precision in many of the new sprayer/spreader models now inundating the market if you have the cash to spare on new equipment. Kinkead mentions that Turfco designed its sprayers/spreaders “so that you have a hard
trim when you're going along flowerbeds or sidewalks. It's minimizing that cleanup time or off-target frills.” For a company that is celebrating 100 years of making turf maintenance equipment, it’s no surprise that Turfco is on target with its sprayers/ spreaders. Kinkead implies that the company keeps its ear to the ground to inform the innovation of its new machines: “We're not sitting up in a corporate office wondering what's going on out there. We're out in the field.” Smith agrees that customer feedback has a critical impact on the design process of the new generation of standon sprayers/spreaders. He says, “Our customer focus and willingness to incorporate applicator feedback into our manufacturing process is a powerful differentiator for Steel Green Manufacturing. We are listening. We built machine prototypes based on the needs of lawn care applicators, and when we unveiled them at the GIE+EXPO, we welcomed criticism. If you made a suggestion after testing a Steel Green machine, we heard you. “From the color of our tanks to the layout of the control panel, we were open to continuing to improve our machine. We returned from GIE+EXPO and considered all of your feedback. Instead of rushing to production on a machine that was good enough, we took the time to implement changes that would improve the applicator’s experience. Steel Green Manufacturing is only just getting started. We will keep listening and continue to incorporate applicator feedback into our manufacturing process." ›
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BEYOND THE BLADE
By Jake Hundley
HOW TO FIND LAWN CARE CUSTOMERS T Refine your roster of customers by retaining the rock stars and releasing those leading to a low return on investment.
he number one problem most landscapers have with growing their business, besides finding decent employees, is having almost too much work currently, but not being able to justify incurring the expenses of an additional full-time worker or crew. In other words, your margins are too narrow and you’re realizing quantity plus volume does not equal sustainable growth. So how do you grow? You have to take a step back and look at whom your customers are, where they’re located and what value you offer. You have to get rid of the low-quality customers and fill your schedule with high-quality clients located near each other. These high-quality, high returnon-investment (ROI) clients aren’t something out of a fairy tale, and your market isn’t bad or simply oversaturated with competition. You just have to know where to find them and how to communicate with them. Here are fiveand-a-half ways to find quality lawn care customers:
1. Know Your Audience
Your audience isn’t just anyone willing to pay for your service. It’s your best customer multiplied 10,000 times. It isn’t Micromanaging Mark or Cheapskate Chelsey. It’s Heather pearleye
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Your audience isn’t just anyone willing to pay for your service. It’s your best customer multiplied 10,000 times. It isn’t Micromanaging Mark or Cheapskate Chelsey. It’s Heather from 42 Wallaby Way who always pays on time, and thanks you for the quality and dependable work you and your crew deliver.
from 42 Wallaby Way who always pays on time, and thanks you for the quality and dependable work you and your crew deliver. She and her husband work 50 hours a week, and are always busy taking the kids to soccer practice or work has them traveling too much to be able to maintain their own lawn. She doesn’t care or even want to look at pricing from another lawn care service because you always provide quality work on a consistent and dependable basis. If you aren’t able to make it due to rain, you let her know. Whatever she’s paying, she’s happy with
& Karolina Madej, iStock / Getty Images Plus
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2. Know How to Target
Point number one wasn’t just a fun exercise. If these are your ideal clients, there are more like them in your area. Now it’s time to target them. Ask yourself a series of questions about your ideal clients: • What neighborhood are they located in and what’s it like? • What kind of income do they make? What’s their property worth? • How big is their lot size? • Do they care more about quality or price? • How do they consume media? What social media outlets are they on and how are they using them? • How would they look for a new service provider? Do they care about how professional you look online? Do they ask neighbors? Do they use social media to search for service providers? Most of these questions you should already know; others you may have to simply ask your existing customers and, a lot of times, this can be done in a survey. If you run radio ads, ask your ideal customers what stations they listen to. You have to know where the majority of your quality customers are. I can tell you right now, the majority of them aren’t using Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or even Nextdoor. That’s not to say you can’t get good customers there; it’s just where the price shoppers like to hover.
3. Tailor Your Message
Once you know your ideal customers and where they are, you
have to understand how to communicate with them. Ask yourself: • What kind of language do they use? • How do they make decisions—price, value, dependability or appearance? • What kind of people are they? Your message doesn’t have to be the same across the board; in fact, I advise against that. You should have three to five customer personas at minimum, so you should have three to five different messages. You may have three different messages to target three different customers: • One based on price—“Save 10 percent on a six-step fertilization pearleye
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the value she’s receiving. Take Heather and multiply her by 10,000. Create personas like your ideal customers—maybe three to five different personalities of different clients— these are your target market.
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BEYOND THE BLADE
treatment when you prepay.” • One based on value—“Dependable, honest and always on time.” • One based on appearance—“The industry experts that grow and maintain a healthy lawn all year long.” Knowing what kind of qualities your ideal customer is looking for, you can tailor your message to where that type of customer may be. Deliver door hangers in their area with the tailored message; target affinity audiences on social media based on income, location and personality traits; and get off platforms where the majority of these customers are not. Note: A price message is not the best option to shoot for if you’re looking for high-quality customers who aren’t going to try to get discounts. It can be used to add influence to the overall value message, but should not be the sole message.
4. Establish Your Value Offer Stating you are the most reliable or provide the best quality work isn’t a value statement or offer. They’re generic terms like: “Customer satisfaction guaranteed!” Fine diners don’t go to a five-star restaurant to leave feeling satisfied. They go to leave ecstatic, thrilled and impressed. If your value statement was you provide the best quality work, then try something like: “Quality service that’s fit for royalty.” If your value statement was you’re the most reliable, then say something like: “Never worry about your lawn needs again with the most reliable service in the (your location) area.” A value statement is not only something that sets you apart from the competition, but also speaks to your customers’ needs and wants. But the best value offer is one that
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can’t be easily ripped off by a competitor—“Voted the number one landscaping business in (your location) for quality service,” for example. Hint: If your value offer includes words and phrases like cheap, affordable, lowest price or some variation of best price, you can expect to attract the same customers you’re trying to get rid of.
5. Pick Your Routes
Your ideal customers are on the same route as each other. Because ideal customers aren’t just people willing to pay for the value you offer, ideal customers also contribute to lower operating expenses, which means less distances traveled and a more optimized route with better route density. Ideal customers plus route density equals sustainable growth. Stick to your routes with high-quality cus-
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tomers. Get referrals, do five or seven go-rounds with door hangers, target those neighborhoods with social media advertising. Do what you can to dominate the neighborhoods your ideal customers are in.
Scale back before you scale up. Create a highly profitable growth model before you create more operating expenses. Invest in marketing and find your business 1,000 Heathers. ›
ADVERTISERS INDEX Access Construction Equipment . . . . . . . . 17 American Honda Motor Company . . . . 13, 49 Billy Goat Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8, 9 Bobcat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Briggs & Stratton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30, 31 E-Z Trench . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Exmark Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42, 43 Ferris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 The Grasshopper Company . . . . . . . . . 22, 23 JRCO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Kawasaki Engines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46, 47 Kuriyama of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 NaturaLawn of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 PermaGreen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Progressive Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Rotary Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . 16, 33, 56, 59 SiBore Drill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 STIHL Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Sunbelt Outdoor Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Synchrony Financial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15, 53 Verizon Connect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34, 35 Windy Ridge Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5.5. Know Your Worth
Don’t sell yourself short. You’re worth more than being nitpicked and low-balled. You are the professional and you set your price, not your customer. You don’t need to be the highest, but you should still be in the top 60 to 70 percent. The profit from one good customer can pay for three bad ones, and the lack of stress from one good one can pay for 10 bad ones. Knowing your worth means you have to start saying no to a lot more leads. This may scare you at first, but Harvard isn’t Harvard because it lets everyone in.
Jake Hundley is the CEO of EverGrow Marketing, a digital marketing agency that caters to the landscaping and lawn care industry. The company creates digital marketing strategies utilizing search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media, website development and user experience optimization to deliver leads with a return on investment.
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600 PSI PVC-Reinforced Spray Hoses • Spray hoses are made with premium quality PVC compounds. • Ideally-suited for lawn and ornamental spray applications. • Pin-pricked ribbed cover reduces drag and increases flexibility. • Hoses are light weight and easily coiled after use.
» Cordless vacuum lifter » Runs all day on one charge » 1,400 lb. capacity with standard pad » Radio remote control available
Kuriyama of America, Inc.
(847) 755-0360 firstname.lastname@example.org www.kuriyama.com
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 57
2/6/19 9:50 AM
By William Eastman
For more information, please listen to the associated podcast at www. greenindustrypros.com/21044989.
Finance for Landscaping Business Owners of all Sizes
Stay in the black by drilling down on some essential management disciplines for profitability.
ou cannot achieve profitability by focusing on it. Profits are the result of estimating jobs and controlling costs.
Variable costs are any costs incurred from designing, building and delivering to customers, materials, and labor. How well these are managed can determine gross margin or profit contribution. Estimate a job, then track the materials and labor used. The remainder of the customer’s check is gross margin or your contribution to profit. Field employees are variable costs and have a direct impact on profitability. Fixed costs are all the other costs. Expenses like utilities, rent, payroll for support personnel, etc. These costs determine profitability. For example, landscape maintenance contracts are usually lowmargin jobs. Most landscaping companies have an average of around 35 percent. Once that money pays for fixed costs, it leaves about 10
One hour is dedicated to field supervisors and the other hour to internal employees. percent for profit. If you are closer to • Create or enhance work orders to 40 percent, your profit can reach 15 include: first, a list of materials, the percent or better. The cost of the materials, a field has a major impact space for recording how on this pot of money. much material is used Unknown and a space to record standards why it is off budget; Mindset are and second, a list of How do you want employees working on people to approach impossible the job, the estimated work? The job of to meet. labor hours for the job, field employees is a space for how many to complete the job labor hours are used and a space on or under budget. That requires to record why it is off budget. every job to have some form of Collect it at the end of the day. work order. It should contain a list of materials and labor hours • Once a week, meet with superviassigned to the job. Unknown stansors to discuss the work orders. dards are impossible to meet. There only two reasons you are The mindset of internal employees over budget—a bad estimate should focus on cost. Most small or poor supervision. This is a businesses are too small to have discipline. Soon the supervithe measurements in place that sors are going to know what is provide the same information as a expected of them, which is going work order. That means a different to impact how they control work. approach. Since there is no budget • Once a week, meet with internal per job, the focus for employees is to employees to discuss cutting cut costs in their day-to-day role. costs. Pick a theme for the month, electrical usage, for example, and challenge them to reduce it by Methods 10 percent. Keep the theme until The following you achieve the 10 percent or is an example of what is possible. Then move on what can be impleto the next major cost area. Never mented—make it fit stop, you are creating a culture of your operation, but frugality that increases profits. ❯ don’t deviate too far: • Hold a training session and William educate everyone Eastman on how they affect is a senior profitability. consultant at • Rearrange your GreenMark calendar and alloConsulting Group. For more informacate two hours a tion, please contact @GreenMark or week for meetvisit www.greenmarkgroup.com. ings—no excuses.
58 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
2/6/19 9:52 AM
View dealer video.
Over 9,500 guaranteed quality parts and world class service!
Outstanding Dealer Support.
Next Day Delivery to 85% of the USA.
Open 24/7 at rotarycorp.com
Successful servicing dealers depend on Rotary for outstanding customer service, a 95% fill rate, same day parts shipments and higher profit margins – thanks to lower prices and flexible payment options. We offer a vast selection of parts plus dealer incentives, early booking promotions and hands-on assistance from a sales team that builds strong relationships.
Your Partner for Success.
Visit www.greenindustrypros.com/10155905 t O j O i n r O t a r Y ’ S d e a l e r n e t w O r k , c a l l 1 . 8 0 0 . 8 4 1 . 3 9 8 9 O r v i S i t r O t a r Y c O r P. c O m ©2019 Rotary Corporation. Rotary is a registered trademark of Rotary Corporation. Available through servicing dealers & distributors. *Available in most areas. Delivery time may vary and is subject to change.
2/6/19 9:52 AM
WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK. We believe there’s no glory in getting beat up on the job. That aches and pains aren’t trophies – they’re just barriers keeping pros like you from getting the work done. You know better than anyone that this business can be back-breaking, but that’s all the more reason to partner with someone who has your back. We’re all about helping you finish strong and feel good doing it. That’s why we’ve built our equipment for unmatched comfort, durability and quality of cut. And we build you up with world-class customer support. So you can get more jobs done, with more peace of mind, and have more energy to take on tomorrow. Let the other guys keep suffering for the job. It’s time for you to finish one more day of hard work feeling good.
WORK HARD. FEEL GOOD.
©2019 Briggs & Stratton Corporation. All rights reserved.
2/6/19 9:53 AM
Green Industry Pros provides landscaping and lawn care business tips, industry news, landscaping equipment advice, company best practices, a...
Published on Feb 20, 2019
Green Industry Pros provides landscaping and lawn care business tips, industry news, landscaping equipment advice, company best practices, a...