VOL. 40, NO. 3
Accurate, useful equipment benchmarking
Paul Olsen leadership tales
Conservation-based add-ons help maintenance programs bloom
Entrepreneurs: Brace up and embrace risk
Reflections on a career: Linda van Vulpen
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Contents EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Lee Ann Knudsen CLM | firstname.lastname@example.org
APRIL 2018 VOL. 40, NO. 3
ASSISTANT EDITOR Scott Barber | email@example.com
ART DIRECTOR Kim Burton | firstname.lastname@example.org LANDSCAPE ONTARIO MAGAZINE EDITOR Robert Ellidge | email@example.com
hile environment-friendly features can help W contractors sell new landscapes, green add-ons can be even more beneficial over longer maintenance relationships.
MULTIMEDIA DESIGNER Mike Wasilewski | firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNTANT Joe Sabatino | email@example.com
BY SEAN JAMES
SALES MANAGER, PUBLICATIONS Steve Moyer | firstname.lastname@example.org
ACCOUNT MANAGER Greg Sumsion | email@example.com COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR Angela Lindsay | firstname.lastname@example.org ADVISORY COMMITTEE Gerald Boot CLM, Laura Catalano, Mark Fisher, Hank Gelderman CHT, Marty Lamers, Bob Tubby CLM, Nick Winkelmolen, Dave Wright Landscape Trades is published by Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association 7856 Fifth Line South, Milton, ON L9T 2X8 Phone: (905)875-1805 Email: email@example.com Fax: (905)875-0183 Web site: www.landscapetrades.com LANDSCAPE ONTARIO STAFF Darryl Bond, Amy Buchanan, Tony DiGiovanni CHT, Denis Flanagan CLD, J. Alex Gibson, Meghan Greaves, Sally Harvey, Heather MacRae, Kristen McIntyre CHT CEM, Kathy McLean, Linda Nodello, Kathleen Pugliese, John Russell, Ian Service, Tom Somerville, Myscha Stafford, Martha Walsh, Cassandra Wiesner
Landscape Trades is published nine times a year: January, March, April, May, June, August, September, October and November. Subscription rates: One year – $46.90, two years – $84.74; three years – $118.64, HST included. U.S. and international please add $20.00 per year for postage and handling. Subscribe at www.landscapetrades.com Copyright 2018. All rights are reserved. Material may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. Landscape Trades assumes no responsibility for, and does not endorse the contents of, any advertisements herein. All representations or warranties made are those of the advertiser and not the publication. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the association or its members, but are those of the writer concerned.
ISSN 0225-6398 PUBLICATIONS MAIL SALES AGREEMENT 40013519 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO: CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT LANDSCAPE TRADES MAGAZINE 7856 FIFTH LINE SOUTH, MILTON, ON L9T 2X8 CANADA
14 A CAREER IN DESIGN
Linda van Vulpen of Halifax reflects on her career as a landscape designer.
INTERVIEW BY ANITA JACKSON
22 HAND-HELD MARKETING
Tailoring a landscape company’s web presence to display well on a smartphone delivers superior profile.
BY COLIN BECKINGHAM
COLUMNS 28 Road To Success
Taking risks is critical to success, and less scary in hindsight.
BY ROD McDONALD
32 Legal Matters
The courts frown on using contracts to obscure or entrap.
BY ROB KENNALEY AND JOSH WINTER
34 Management Solutions
Benchmark equipment costs the right way for a tangible competitive advantage.
BY MARK BRADLEY
46 Mentor Moment
Landscape professionals from across Canada remember Paul Olsen’s leadership.
DEPARTMENTS NEW PRODUCTS 36 INDUSTRY NEWS 41 EVENTS 45 ADVERTISERS 45 CLASSIFIEDS 45
APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
greenpencil If the green industry turns over at a high rate...
How high is it?
Facts are one thing, numbers are another. Everybody knows the green industry has a high turnover rate. Everybody knows the reasons. A low entry barrier attracts lots of would-be entrepreneurs. Hiring is difficult. At retirement time, many operators find selling their companies a challenge, and liquidate instead. But I have never seen the green industry turnover rate quantified. Well, we had an idea to get a real number for company attrition. Landscape Trades is in a unique position, since our subscriber list is the most current and accurate green industry list in Canada. Since advertising pays the bills, our distribution is upgraded constantly, By Lee Ann Knudsen and significant cash is required to do that job. We even get charged $1.50 by Canada Post for each non-deliverable magazine, on top of original postage. So you can be sure our list is not padded with old names. Careful vetting adds to the circulation list’s value. We have hard documentation showing every LT subscriber is a bona fide industry participant. In magazine industry terms, LT’s circulation is “100 per cent qualified.” Every copy is addressed to an individual’s name, plus his or her company name. The high number of unique companies on our list is interesting, supporting the small-business nature of the landscape business. Larger companies with several manager-decision makers may receive individually addressed copies, but the typical subscriber is a company owner. Currently, our total circulation of 8,666 is comprised of 7,998 unique companies. So, we decided to do a list management exercise, and compare all current subscriber companies (not individuals) with the companies on the subscriber list in 2008. Beforehand, I guessed the attrition rate would be over 50 per cent. In fact, the company turnover rate over the past decade, based on Landscape Trades circulation, is 69 per cent. Only 2,058 of the company
4 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
names on the 2008 subscriber list, or 31 per cent, are still active. Out of curiosity, we did the same exercise for Landscape Ontario magazine, the association publication for Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association. The attrition rate since 2008 came out almost exactly the same, at 68 per cent. Disheartening? Yes and no. After all, there is real value in quantifying a fact that is already known, even if that value looks high. Knowing the attrition percentage may help new companies understand the odds to be faced. It also could help show that the common shoveland-pickup business model might not be sustainable. Another conclusion relates to the Landscape Trades mission — to help readers prosper in business. We need to continue helping new entrepreneurs with tools and confidence, such as marketing and efficiency strategies. Plus, the challenge to help business owners craft workable succession plans never goes away. Looked at a different way, 31 per cent of our subscriber companies have at least 10 years in business. That is a significant amount of history and expertise — one If you remember this Landscape Trades issue might call it industry from 2008, you belong to an elite group. equity. It just makes us wish for sales figures. That 31-per-cent segment could easily generate two-thirds of all landscape revenues, or more. At a guess! Another positive way to look at the 69 per cent figure: The green trades offer plenty of opportunity for LT energetic new blood.
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Take conservation strategies beyond construction, to enhance maintenance programs I don’t sell green. I just do it. If folks ask why I’ve chosen the plants I have, or included the features I have, certainly I have handy answers. Almost everyone is super-excited to find their beautiful landscape will also be doing good. It’s true that if asked at the beginning of the process, many folks will say they’re not interested in being environmentally friendly. Yet, when presented with a rain or pollinator garden, they’re good to go! Does this apply to maintenance as well? Many customers are used to sketchy horticulture such as globing shrubs and other terrible pruning practices. They are used to asking for every leaf to be removed, even through it costs more and depletes organic matter, in-
BY SEAN JAMES
stead of mulching and cycling nutrients back into the soil. Part of this is because they see it being done by pros and assume that’s the right way. We have to educate folks and maybe creep, bit by bit, towards proper methods, both for the garden and for the environment. We should leave bits of organic matter to nurture soil and life, and reduce tilling to a few areas at a time. But that’s really the point, isn’t it? Not just maintaining the status quo, but improving. Pick a few perennials to leave standing for the winter. Build on that. Somewhen, we in horticulture made a huge mistake and relinquished control of our most valuable commodity: knowledge. We allowed the phrase, “The customer is always right” to apply to our trade. We let customers forget the depth and breadth of knowledge that is necessary to do our jobs properly. How do we sell green? We sell it by being educated about the newest science and methods, and by showing customers the advantages of doing it right. We stand our ground and refuse to do things poorly, knowing it will pay off in the long run. Jobs are long-term projects, from the first plant in the ground, to the month-by-month maintenance, guiding the landscape into maturity. Some households can be supportive to the point of being more like benefactors or patrons than plain ol’ customers. One of my most notable is the only family to move from a home with one of my landscapes, to a home with one of my landscapes. When we started, I asked if they consciously thought about being envi-
Sustainably maintained gardens don’t have to be a visual sacrifice. Proper plant choice for texture, colour and seasonal interest should make it as beautiful as any other part of the landscape.
6 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
If folks want to know what’s native, tell them. If they don’t show interest, just use natives and nativars such as Potentilla and gayfeather. What they don’t know won’t hurt them, but it will help nature. Perhaps tell them after they fall in love with their garden.
APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
At Knox Church in Milton, Ont., we built a garden and seating area. The seating area is simply crushed brick to complement the building. Giant downspouts, which previously just went underground to the sewers, now lead to an infiltration trench under the patio. Without educational signage, no one would have been any the wiser; an opportunity to do the right thing and educate many about doing the right thing … beautifully.
Motivations: What makes people tick? When proposing green alternatives in maintenance programs, keep the customer’s point of view in mind; motivations are different for everyone. Budget: saving money on water or disposal costs. Aesthetic: preferring a more jumbled English cottage style. It is not always about the plants, but also the birds and butterflies that flutter through an eco-friendly garden. A few simply try and do the right thing for the right reason. Granted, it’s a small percentage of the population, but it’s a loyal percentage, and that’s huge! For those customers who have no motivations to be ‘green,’ start small with a few natives and a few plants to support biodiversity. Concentrate also on doing no harm. Avoid invasives, and plants which offer no biodiversity support.
View jobs as long-term. Customers can remain loyal, even friends, for decades, over 25 years and five houses, as in this case. Simply by looking after them, slowly incorporating more and more elements in tune with Mother Nature. Build relationships, not landscapes!
8 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
ronmentally friendly. The reply: “That wasn’t our prime motivator. We were looking for someone who could help us establish a different look — both overall aesthetics and plant selection. It was important to have colours throughout the growing season and to have a structural look that suited our property. At the time we started, we had a highly visible property and wanted it to make a statement in the neighbourhood.” Give customers what they want, but with good plants and techniques, build relationships and look after their needs. Still together after all these years! On their second property, we added a rain garden, more plants for pollinators and, at their request, cattails along the property line. The cattails really got me excited! This was to deal with an area that was constantly moist. When we upgraded the gardens, few cared or noticed. This year it will be on the local garden club tour! These are folks who want to do the right thing whenever possible, even if it’s a bit more expensive. I asked about the cost aspect and the answer was, “To a large extent we believe you get what you pay for. As such, paying a bit more helped us to achieve designs that were different from others in our area. Green initiatives are good from an environmental perspective. Well-differentiated green initiatives are beneficial from a return-on-investment perspective.” Even so, aesthetics do win out in many cases. Although this family’s yard is a haven for nature, cleanup is done in the fall. This is partly because they prefer “a more tailored look” through the winter. Beauty is still key! A valuable lesson. My longest-term customer and friend entered my world as our family’s vet. I first babysat for her at age 13. By the time I started landscaping, we were already a natural fit for each other. Not only
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This customer LOVED her natural setting and requested a ‘meadow,’ but it’s tough to make meadows public pleasers. It’s not her favourite, to say the least. She finds it too wild, with its drifts of native plants. Most folks need to see masses of plants to see their beauty.
is she all about doing things right for nature, she understands the budgetary need for efficiency. Every time I come up with an idea to save money, she’s IN. A great example would be how we’re using my battery powered mower (recharged with renewable Bullfrog Power) to mulch garden waste and fallen leaves, putting them right back on the garden, instead of paying for bagging up leaves and taking them away. Of course, then she’d also need to pay to bring in mulch! Whether you’re talking about eco or not, take BACK the power of knowledge. We are experts in a complicated trade. Potential cus-
tomers don’t necessarily understand our value. We have the tools to tackle most of the world’s serious problems. Remember that, and be confident when selling maintenance concepts. Confidence is an LT amazing sales tool! Sean James is owner of Fern Ridge Landscaping, an Ontario-based design/build/maintenance company, as well as an eco-consultant and a popular speaker.
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Linda van Vulpen in her Pictou County woodland-themed garden bed in Halifax.
Linda van Vulpen CLD on her career in landscape design AS INTERVIEWED BY ANITA JACKSON CLD
A career change led Linda van Vulpen to enrol in a Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) horticulture program, and become one of Atlantic Canadaâ€™s most respected landscape designers. Now retired, she reflects on her profession with designer Anita Jackson.
14 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
AJ: I recall you were an early adopter of CAD in landscape design. LV: I had this great big thick manual on how to self-train. I spent the winter working on it every day, and I learned to do my own design work in AutoCAD. AJ: What about your symbols and graphics? Did you develop those? LV: The software had a few tree and shrub symbols built into the program, although I found they cluttered the drawings. The specification drawings for tree planting or concrete driveways, etc. were all drawn by myself in AutoCAD. Some came directly from Associated Landscape Contractors of Americaâ€™s Installation Landscape Training Manual for Installation Technicians, of course crediting this manual. For others like concrete, I went to the industry itself to get the information. A lot of information is required to create a good set of drawings, and there was a lot of learning. It took years to develop so the information was logical and not confusing. We also got away from plotters, as printers producing 11x17 printouts came to the market at very reasonable prices. Then it became simple
Space must have a purpose and functionality.
to convert drawings into PDF format. I was able to make one main printout for the client and copy the package onto a DVD, allowing clients to email finished drawings to the contractor or make copies of their own. A package could then be as large as 10-20 pages, with each focused on specific relevant information; one page would address grades, another dimensions, a third might have explanation notes and so on. AJ: What year did you go out on your own? LV: It was late June of 1995. I remember trying to contact landscapers to tell them how I could help them, but they wouldn’t talk to me. So, it was not the best of years. But I had a few friends of friends who called on my services. I just drove everywhere. I probably spent as much money trying to find work as I was paid in those days. I tried phone calls, friends-of-friends, I probably did some work for next to nothing or because I just wanted the practice with AutoCAD. The second year I volunteered with Landscape Nova Scotia at the Ideal Home Show, working in their booth. I got a couple of jobs and I remember thinking, “Okay this is where I have to be,” so in ‘97 I took my own booth. I got a lot of work and that got me off my feet. Then my partner and I separated. It was a stressful year, but it worked out well.
Designers must consider the practicality of their work and ensure materials used are suitable to each project location.
AJ: Over your career you’ve been involved with quite a number of organizations, Landscape Nova Scotia (LNS), the Atlantic Association of Landscape Designers (AALD), Hort East… LV: I joined the Nova Scotia Home and Building Designers Association (NSHBDA). There was a nice overlap with what they did and I did. They were a very progressive organization They had many of the same issues as landscape designers. They had to deal with rightto-practice issues as well as Name Act matters. NSHBDA taught classes on CAD design, Google SketchUp, construction matters, solar and other low energy consumption design, design creativity, as well as inviting guests (including myself) to speak on topics related to design in and out of building structure. I saw a lot of commonalities that were shared between the NSHBDA and AALD. 16 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
AJ: Tell me a little about your relationship with Landscape Nova Scotia. I noticed on your drawing notes about liability insurance, making sure that landscape contractors had proper insurances. You used the specifications from the CNLA. So, were you getting good information from that group? LV: Yes, I did use the CNLA specifications for all things related to site preparation through to the care required after the job was completed. Over time, I modified these specifications considerably, to better represent what was required for the job and to make them an easier read for the client. AJ: I noticed that you attach construction details. LV: They originally were based on what I was taught at NSAC, but it became obvious to me many of these practices were not always possible and with new materials, construction details changed. AJ: With Landscape Nova Scotia, did you have any special relationships? Who did you recommend to clients to install your designs? LV: I had to trust “word of mouth.” I remember going to Ross Godfrey and asking for a recommendation. He gave me Tony Pierce’s name. I’ve been working with Tony Pierce since. Landscape Nova Scotia meetings provided opportunities. I met Doug Conrad through LNS and we maintained a strong working relationship for many years. He gave me practical pointers on how to make my drawings more realistic. He asked if I would accept his advice and I said I wanted and needed to hear it. I also met and worked with Russell Beakhouse of Groundcover Landscaping. I did my NSAC work term with Earthcraft Landscaping. That experience brought the reality of design and landscaping into place. I do believe this experience is quite essential, and I probably could have used more. AJ: How would you describe your design style? LV: I feel my style is about functionality. How a space had to have purpose. As the contemporary began to move in, I found myself really liking it. AJ: By contemporary you mean more minimalistic? LV: Yes, I suppose. It wasn’t that it was easier to design. I liked working with different forms and dealing with space in a different kind of way. I was getting bored with curvy lines and multitude of colour. This provided an opportunity to explore something different. The design still had to be practical. This angular design style could be quite high maintenance. A lot of contemporary gardens displayed in design magazines were impractical, like the ‘right-angle’ garden bed — unless metal edging was used — an expensive consideration for the client. White or near-white large, square cut concrete slabs would stain with our vegetation debris. Our climate with lush vegetation and lots of rain is just not suited to a white paving material. continued on page 18
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Plan (right) and completed project show Linda’s vision come to life.
AJ: You mentioned you were referencing magazines. How did you get inspiration? LV: I didn’t have anyone to banter ideas about with, so I collected books like crazy. It seems to me Pinterest is a more recent source of inspiration. I did scour the internet and began to rely on it a great deal for inspiration near my last years of design practice. AJ: Talk about those booksere there any by Van Oehme and Sweden? The New American Garden style? Did you buy books by plant interest or by site? LV: I bought books for plant interest in the earlier years, and later for design styles. Some books were about naturalized gardens, green roofs, natural elements and simplicity as in The Scandinavian Garden by Karl-Dietrich Buhler. And then The Gardens of Russell Page by Marina Schinz and Gabrielle van Zuylon would show designs of ‘controlled’ nature or very strong traditional Italian styles. Many other books would be specific to a topic like estate design, pools, stone, decks or water. AJ: As they say landscape design is an art and a science, particularly when understanding and creating environmental plantings like a meadow. You can buy a lot of meadow mixes, but they are mostly annual seed, and then you need proper mowing regimes and a sickle bar mower or whatever. It’s not an easy thing. The lawn is still with us. LV: It seems that way. With the increased tick populations in Nova Scotia, a meadow may not be so attractive to many clients.
AJ: What about plant pathology issues, like picking phloxes that don’t mildew and crabs with scab resistance? There is so much to it to do it well. LV: There is, and I’m kind of getting away from that now. I’m just poking around in my own space, which I didn’t have the opportunity to do before, and I’m enjoying that. I’ve read about some landscape architects focused on maintaining as natural a landscape as possible on their own properties. I find that interesting because I felt that we (designers) were not creating nature, and yet we market ourselves as nature creators. AJ: We are creating artificial environments. LV: I have been creating native woodland habitats on this city lot I currently live on with my husband. I have transplanted native plants from my parents’ woodlot in Pictou County. As small as these spaces are, looking upon these soft native plants is the best, most soothing part of the entire lot. These plants include an assortment of ferns, hemlock and Cornus alternifolia (pagoda dogwood). I also dragged mossy logs back to the garden. It gave me great pleasure when I was able to convince a client NOT to cut down that piece of natural woodland which she didn’t know what to do with. A job well done was being able to provide the client a vision of this woodland as a haven worthy of saving and visiting, to educate this person on its value to the natural life dependent upon it and to make it accessible and enjoyable. AJ: Any advice for those starting off in the landscape design business? LV: I would advise a new designer to return calls in a timely manner, be on time when appointments are scheduled, be a good listener, take good notes, be respectful at all times. The design should be realistic and understanding of the installation process. The best way to appreciate that is to get experience in installation and talk to contractors. The ‘business’ of design takes almost as much time as designing. Keep good records and practice good organization skills. LT Don’t get behind on all things to do with business.
Designs should be realistic, with a clear understanding of the installation process.
18 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Anita Jackson CLD runs a design consultancy from Seabright, N.S., and is an enthusiastic garden history researcher.
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Hand-held marketing BY COLIN BECKINGHAM
As online traffic moves briskly to smartphones, landscape companies are working to compete in the mobile ecosystem
In 2016, worldwide mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop usage for the first time. Should landscapers, nurseries and garden centres in Canada sit up and take notice? While mobile usage world-wide has made this dramatic step, desktop access is still dominant in Canada. However, its share is declining and that of mobile devices is rising. Some landscape professionals are not yet dependent on the Internet or are just in the process of adoption. Paul Cooper, landscape designer and contractor in St. John’s, Nfld., says, “I’m an old-fashioned guy, I used to get most of my business from Yellow Pages, side-of-the-truck and wordof-mouth advertising. But now I have been forced into developing a website.” Others have invested in capable websites, including versions friendly to mobile devices, only to find that little business comes that way. Ellen de Carmaker of Eternal Seed in Powell River, B.C., comments “Our site is already mobile enabled. Not a lot of difference in sales though.” Yet others find their online presence invaluable. Tereska Guessing of Urban Seedling in Montreal, Que., says “We estimate 80 per cent of our business comes through the Internet; it is an essential tool for us because we have a specific agenda.” Line Plante of Robert Plante Greenhouses in Navan, Ont., says, “We were not active on the Internet in the past — we could not take care of the site properly. But now with our young people on staff, who make a wonderful contribution, we are getting incredible feedback every day.” The Internet is important to the landscape trade. On the one hand a website might only be a source of institutional advertising, getting the phone number before potential customers. On the other hand, the Internet allows much more detailed and customized access to information such 22 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
as inventory. As Kevin Hill of Potter’s Nurseries in Kingston, Ont., notes: “Our website is currently under constructon, to update it and particularly to provide more information on the material we carry on a normal basis.”
How does it look on mobile? Maintaining a website, particularly with a rapidly changing inventory to report, is time consuming. Back in the early days of the Internet some landcapers and nurseries, particularly small family businesses, launched themselves onto the Internet by providing simple static pages which worked well. These early adopters had fun capturing a small but growing part of the market with their clever use of basic HTML (HyperText Markup Language). And when mobile devices first appeared some were even clever enough to build in cascading style sheet instructions to respond intelligently to the different display screens of mobile devices. They achieved this in-house by hand coding or using a design tool to create the code viewable on a browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. One landscaping company that uses a webpage Strong Landscaping site, displayed on 5.5-in. diagonal screen in portrait mode.
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Strong Landscaping site, displayed on 5.5-in. diagonal screen in landscape mode, after navigation to find contact phone.
design tool is Strong Landscaping of Houston, Texas. On a desktop the site is readable and informative; viewing it on a 5.5-in. diagonal screen is a bit different. The goal is to find out how easy it is to get to the contact page to make a phone call. Shown are some views of the site as seen on a smartphone. Compare that with a custom-designed website from the Bahamas, Proscape, displayed on a 5.5-in. diagonal screen in portrait mode. Note the phone number is readable, but not sensitive to tap. Likely a user would first see the page in portrait mode (taller than wide). In the Strong Landscaping example, the phone number is not readily visible. Landscape mode is easier, but it takes some searching and navigation. A mobile user would rotate the device to landscape mode, and then use
A single code source for all devices Some landscapers and nurseries have decided to use Facebook, or create content with WordPress and various plugins, to produce browser code. This code is able to sense the type of device in use and provide content specially formatted for screens, whether smartphone, tablet or desktop. Text and pictures float around each other on the page. WordPress interfaces are an alternative, and a wide variety of plugins are available. The pages must be presented through a browser, which may be limited to using a single core on a multi-core device. For the user this means doing only one thing at a time, limited by the browser’s capacity.
And yet others have decided to go the full customized professional route, for a website that is very capable on both desktop and
An example of a site generated by WordPress, Burt’s Greenhouses, viewed on a 5.5-in. diagonal screen.
mobile. Take the case of Personal Care Landscaping in Bedford, N.S., where Sean Murphy says, “Most of my quote requests come from the Internet, either our webpage or Yellow Pages online. Our site is fully mobile friendly.”
Proscape, displayed on a 5.5-in.
screen gestures such as tap and hold, twofinger pinch and spread, and sliding and dragging. The user must then remember the number and type it in. The Proscape Bahamas page is a similar arrangement, but readily shows a legible phone number at the top right. Ideally, tapand-dial encourages repeat visits. 24 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
A Facebook view of the Robert Plante Greenhouses site, viewed on a 5.5-in. diagonal screen.
The most effective way to use all the features of a smartphone or tablet is to write specific software. Having done so, you will have at least two applications to maintain, the desktop version and the smartphone/tablet versions. The advantages of dedicated smartphone
applications are ease and speed of navigation on small devices due to precise use of resources and elimination of the overhead a full browser requires. Also, access to special features such as the dialer, compass, location tracking via GPS, and direct access to multiple cores, allows more than one activity to progress at the same time. The downside of a special app is you have to decide which operating systems to cover, how to distribute the app to your customers, and giving them the confidence to install it on their devices. Since there are browsers
for all major operating systems and devices, simply loading a webpage is a breeze by comparison. According to web analytics firm Statcounter, there are currently two major mobile operating systems in use on Canadian devices: iOS (61 per cent) and Android (35 per cent). With these two we can cover 96 per cent of current mobile use in Canada. However, if your target market is worldwide, then note that Android is more popular, with 69 per cent of market share, compared to 24 per cent for iOS. Distribution can be
as a download through an existing website, email attachment or through a recognized app store. Despite potential advantages, landscapers in general are not yet utilizing dedicated apps. An exception is Urban Seedling, where Tereska Guessing says, “We did build an app. We have a web developer on staff, but it was only for internal use.” And Brian Burt of Burt’s Greenhouses suggests, “My first reaction to the possibility of an app was no, but that is not quite true — it would depend on the development costs. We do online ordering and in theory we could have an app, but
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The Personal Care Landscaping site, viewed on a 5.5-in. screen, an example of a fully customized approach.
if you are not getting a lot of orders you can’t justify it. Mobile visitors at a guess are about 25 per cent and growing.”
Need to adapt Mobile use is growing, and the trade is taking steps to respond to the trend. Landscapers are using available tools as best they can, and may need to continually review their online presences to ensure effectiveness. LT
Phone: 877-727-2100 17525 Jane St. | Kettleby, Ontario | L7B 0J6
26 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Colin Beckingham is a freelance writer living in eastern Ontario, with experience in the green industry. He works professionally with opensource solutions for database management, accounting, voice control and telecommunications. 26 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Taking risks When I was 20 years old, I had a part-time job at a local bakery where I delivered bread and goodies to six retail locations. It was two hours each morning except for Saturdays when it was three. The head baker would often say to me ‘don’t let anything but fear hold you back.’ I don’t criticize or make fun of people for their fears. All of us have fears in one area or another and fears are not always rational. I played football as a young lad, yet I have a fear of eye drops rather than charging fullbacks. Last week I was at a community meeting and a group of people were discussing how fearful they were of change. I get that. Change can be scary, but it can also be positive if we embrace it. I told the group that if someone informed me that tomorrow morning I would be 30 pounds lighter, stronger and feel no aches from my arthritis, I would leap at that chance to change. We are not as afraid of change as we claim to be, I said. We change every day as we try to improve our lives. I am not certain if what I said made sense to anyone except me, but I am sticking to my
BY ROD McDONALD
assertion that we don’t need to fear change (I am almost channelling FDR). More often than not, our fear of change is more disabling than the change itself. Rarely is change catastrophic. I had a friend who was let go from her job at 55 years old. The change terrified her at first and then she settled into a search for a new position. Where do you find a great job when you are 55? She had a few interviews that appeared promising but didn’t pan out. She kept plugging away. Eventually she found a new job, where she went on to work for the next 12 years. She told me the new job was more rewarding than her old one and the change turned out to be good for her. Several recent conversations about the willingness to change lead me to this stream of consciousness. I was advising a family-run greenhouse on how to deal with their parking shortage. The business started out with one greenhouse and a small parking lot out front. For a time, it worked, however as their business
grew they added more greenhouses until eventually their parking lot was encircled and the increased traffic spilled onto the adjacent highway. The business owners knew they needed to significantly increase their parking spaces, but while they had the land, they were snookered by the surrounding greenhouses. It was obvious the solution was to move two of their greenhouses further back on the property to free up space for parking. There was no other physical possibility. Yet the business owners refused because they had built the greenhouses themselves and they didn’t want to rebuild. I understood that reluctance, so I told them a story. Adrian Byland, the patriarch of Byland’s Nursery in Kelowna, B.C., and I were walking around his nursery in 1981. He had a small apple orchard that had been there for more than twenty years. He needed the space for his nursery products and the orchard had to go. Adrian said, “Do you know how difficult it is to tear down something that you built or planted with your own hands?” continued on page 30
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roadtosuccess Changes in sales processes might be challenging, but are often necessary to improve the bottom line.
Often business owners will hang onto methods because “that’s the way it has always been done.” I remember the greenhouse op-
erators in the 1980s who refused to change from fibre to plastic trays and from soilbased to soilless mixes. All of them are gone and, sadly, and many don’t understand what happened. Change can be baffling. You never know how successful you can be until you try something new or different.
I understood. He was a practical man and finished by saying, “It has to be done.” Sometimes we have to dismantle something we built to improve our businesses. At one time, a structure may have served us well, but it no longer serves that purpose. It is a hindrance and yet we can be reluctant to make a change. We hang onto things long after they outlive their original purpose. I get that. My dad died fifty years ago and I still have his typewriter in my basement. I often wonder, when I pass away, will my kids hang onto that typewriter saying “It must have been important to dad because he kept it for all of these years.” Hopefully my dad’s typewriter will not become a multi-generational heirloom albatross.
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I had a grower approach me many years ago looking to sell his poinsettias. I had been reluctant to do so as he grew his plants in a very compact manner. They were much shorter than the ones I usually sold. His sales pitch was simple: “Set a bench of mine beside a bench of yours and you will see that people prefer mine.” He had laid down the gauntlet. I gave it a try believing, deep down, that he was wrong and I was right. I set up two benches, side by side, one with his plants and one with mine. From the first day, his plants sold faster; I was proven wrong. Improving the bottom line is a powerful catalyst for change. And being proven wrong is not a character defect when you learn and adapt. Letting go of something secure is always going to be scary. I kept a poster hanging in the lunch room of my garden center stating: ‘You can’t steal second base by keeping your foot firmly planted on first.’ That poster was my constant reminder that risk is the proverbial four letter word. It can be scary, but it’s critical to success. Successful people see themselves not as risk takers but as opportunity explorers. They want to see how far they can go with an idea. They are prepared to learn from their mistakes. I know a woman who developed a parttime business that has done well because she pays attention to detail. She has the opportunity to take the business full-time, but is reluctant because things are working well. I quote to her the poster about stealing second base. I understand there is comfort in 30 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
security and risk is scary. Risk is also exciting and gets me out of bed in the morning. Challenging the status quo is an important part of success. When I was a young man starting out in this trade of ours, I was told two absolute truths by the old guard. First, the greenhouse operators explained to me that come the first of June, you put everything on sale for half price. Sure enough, every June my phone would ring with customers looking for a sale. Secondly, nursery people told me that I might as well shut down on June 15 as tree sales were finished for the year. These were the two absolutes of their day. These old guard operators were right. No one would pay full price after June 1 and there were no customers after the middle of June. However, they failed to recognize they had trained their customers to expect dramatic price drops. Being young and full of enthusiasm, I challenged both ideas. I started buying up the good quality greenhouse plants on June, and selling them to the cottage crowd well into July. I never put my bedding plants on sale, even though some
people insisted I must. Second, I didn’t close down on June 15, instead marketing, “It is not too late to plant!” It worked, albeit slowly. I was up against years of ingrained consumer habits. There
“ Successful people see themselves not as risk takers but as opportu- nity explorers. ...They are prepared to learn from their mistakes.” was one day in July when the cash register was a negative as the only customer returned 10 bags of cedar mulch. There were lots of $50 and $60 days but eventually those dollar figures climbed. Extending the season and cancelling the June sales were risks that eventually paid off. I realize that being open year round is common place today, but that
was not always the situation. The status quo changes when someone challenges its essence. There will always be those who insist you are moving in the wrong direction. Some of those people will even laugh at the risks you take. At the end of the day, the long day, you will silence your critics; success has that effect. The road to success is filled with fear, risk, criticism and sometimes failure. It is also filled with rewards that are not available to those who keep their left foot planted firmly LT on first base.
Rod McDonald owned and operated Lakeview Gardens, a successful garden centre/ landscape firm in Regina, Sask. For 28 years. He now works full-time in the world of fine arts, writing, acting and producing in film, television and stage.
905-887-3404 / www.404stone.com / 2686 Stouffville Rd., Stouffville, ON L4A 2J4 APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
A case study:
A contractor’s blind reliance on contractual terms
BY ROB KENNALEY AND JOSH WINTER
In 2009, homeowners hired a swimming pool company to install a pool in their backyard, complete with a concrete patio and landscaping around it. Cracks appeared in the concrete, within the warranty period. The contractor refused to correct the problem. The owner had to fix it (and other miscellaneous items) for a little over $36,000. The owner then sued the contractor. The contract was a three-page document on the contractor’s letterhead. The second page of the contract provided, among other things, that soil testing was the responsibility of the owner and that the contractor would be held harmless for damage caused by soil conditions. The second page also included warranty provisions
Residential landscape contractors need to ensure their clients understand what they are agreeing to when signing a contract.
32 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
which, among other things, provided that “acts of God” were not covered by the warranty. The contractor argued the cracking was caused by a combination of soil conditions under the deck and an act of God (being rain, which collected in the soils). It thus argued that it was relieved of responsibility. The contractor, however, had placed the soils under the decking. The court didn’t buy the contractor’s position. It held that the materials under the deck were clayey silt, which the contractor itself had excavated from the pool area. On expert evidence, the court
found the cracking was caused by the freeze-thaw cycles of water which was trapped by the impervious clay beneath the concrete. Not surprisingly, the court did not hold the owner responsible to test the clayey silt, which the contractor chose to use. It did not hold the owner responsible for the soil conditions and did not find the trapped water to be an ‘act of God.’ Although it was probably unnecessary to do so, the court held that the contractor could not rely on the ‘fine-print’ of page two, because the contractor had not drawn the owner’s attention to it before she signed the contract. In this regard, the court relied on Tilden Rent-A-Car Company v. Clendenning, a case of the Ontario Court of Appeal, where Tilden took no steps to alert a client, at the rental-counter at an airport and when everyone was in a hurry, of the onerous provisions in its standard form of contract. In Tilden, the Court had gone so far as to quote a well known English Jurist, Lord Denning, who had once stated, “we do not allow printed forms to be made a trap for the unwary.” The reliance on Tilden goes somewhat against the grain of other cases in Ontario and elsewhere in the country where parties to the contract have been held to the strict language of their bargain, often where the ‘bargain’ is set out in 100-page contract documents. As above, it was probably not necessary for the court to rely on Tilden to avoid the application of the page two warranty provisions. This is because ‘soil conditions’ could reasonably have been interpreted to be in-situ, native conditions and because the water buildup could easily have been attributed to the contractor’s placement of clay and not the rains of an act of God. The court’s reference to Tilden, however, illustrates how a court can and will find a way, where necessary, to avoid the impact of harsh contractual language on a party whom the court believes is being taken advantage of. In this regard, a distinction can be drawn between the circumstance where a contractor puts a standard form contract in front of an unsophisticated or residential client and the circumstance where sophisticated contractors and owners enter into sophisticated and often very lengthy contracts.
In addition, and without any supporting evidence, the contractor had added the concrete supplier as a third party, arguing the cracking was attributable to the concrete mix. It was required to pay the concrete supplier a further $47,000 in costs. When we consider the contractor had to pay its own lawyer (at least) $100,000 in costs, the contractor, who could have repaired the concrete for $20,000 or LT $30,000, ended up paying over $280,000. Rob Kennaley and Josh Winter practice construction law in Toronto and Simcoe, Ont. They speak and write on construction law issues and can be reached for comment at 416-700-4142 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. This material is for information purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers who have concerns about any particular circumstance are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in that regard.
Part of the lesson to be learned from this case is, accordingly, that contractors who work with residential clients should do what they can to ensure their clients understand what they are agreeing to when they sign contracts. This, of course, includes ensuring they understand the scope of work. It also includes ensuring they understand the nuances of the contracts they are being asked to sign. It is good risk management, for example, to take your clients through the contract to explain how the contract works; having the client initial each page as you do so will also help to prevent the imposition of the Tilden Rent-a-Car line of thinking. In the end, the contractor’s efforts to deflect responsibility to the owner were costly in this case. After six day trial, the contractor was held liable to pay the owner over $36,000. The court found the contractor’s conduct throughout the litigation to have been unreasonable, and found the owner had beaten its offer to settle. Accordingly, the court ordered the contractor to pay $100,000 in costs to the owner. APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
Benchmarking your equipment BY MARK BRADLEY
Recently, I attended a meeting with an objective to create financial benchmarks as guidelines for companies in our profession. A few issues ago, we covered overhead benchmarking, and then field labour benchmarking. In this issue, we’ll tackle equipment. Our goal is not to define a company as wrong or right or good or bad by benchmarks. The intent of these benchmarks, and these articles, is to provide a general framework for success for owners and managers who lack experience or a strong financial background. STEP ONE: ESTABLISH A COMMON STANDARD FOR BENCHMARKING The single most important step to benchmarking your data against industry standards, or even in discussions with your peers in the industry, is to standardize the numbers so we’re all speaking the same language. With so many contractors choosing to cost equipment as overhead, this is an easy trap to fall into when discussing equipment. Briefly, here’s what we’re including as equipment costs: l All vehicles and equipment (including trucks, trailers, skid steers, mowers,
mini-excavators) assigned to crews. We are not including trucks and equipment assigned to the owner, office staff, or yard staff. l Straight-line depreciation of all owned equipment. This means we treat equipment depreciation as if it was depreciated evenly each year. A truck that costs $50,000 used for 10 years and was worth $5,000 after 10 years would have an annual depreciation of $4,500 per year, even if you paid for it in cash in the first year. l Any lease or financing costs, including monthly payments and interest. l Fuel costs. l All costs related to repairs and/or maintenance (parts, filters, tires, etc.). l Insurance costs (related specifically to vehicle and equipment insurance). STEP TWO: BENCHMARK The average landscape company spends between 12 and 18 per cent of its revenue on equipment costs. Maintenance companies and landscape companies tend to spend about the same
percentage of revenue on equipment costs. Install crews tend to run less equipment, but the equipment is typically bigger and more expensive. Maintenance crews tend to run more pieces of smaller, less expensive equipment and they typically burn more fuel per day than a landscape install crew. STEP THREE: IDENTIFY AND EXPLAIN EXCEPTIONS What if I’m spending less than 12 per cent of my sales on equipment costs? This could be a good thing. The less revenue you spend, the better your profits are likely to be. It could be the result of very productive crews, which means the equipment ratio is low because revenues are higher than industry averages. Other reasons could be: l A consistent estimating method that always recovers equipment costs on the job. l A small geographic work area, which keeps fuel costs and equipment depreciation to a minimum. l Mostly new equipment with very low repair and maintenance costs. l Most of your work is very hands-on (e.g.
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garden maintenance, install work on very small properties). There’s nothing necessarily wrong with spending less than the industry average. In many cases, it could be a good thing. If your company is consistently profitable, this is likely the case. On the other hand, if your equipment ratio is low and your company is not consistently profitable, it could indicate a problem. If your company spends less than average on equipment, but more than the industry average on field labour and overhead and isn’t making good profit each year, there are reasons for concern. It’s likely you don’t have enough equipment to do the work efficiently. You’re spending too much on labour and your overhead ratio is high because you aren’t completing enough jobs in the year (production is slow without the equipment to do the job efficiently). Companies that share a lot of equipment (in the hopes of cutting costs) often find themselves stuck in this trap. Equipment costs are low, but they are overspending everywhere else because crews are often working without the best equipment for the job, while they’re also spending far too many hours moving equipment to and from jobsites. Finding and keeping good field staff is a significant challenge these days. If your equipment ratio is low, you could look to boost revenue by adding equipment instead of field
staff to make the crews you have more productive and efficient. It’s far easier to better equip your crews than to hire more people. What if I’m spending more than 18 per cent of my sales on equipment expenses? When companies spend more than 18 per cent of their sales on equipment, they often struggle to be competitive on price or they struggle to make a consistent, fair net profit. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. Run through this checklist to see if any of these conditions apply to your company: l You might have the right equipment mix, but revenues remain low because your staff are less productive than the industry average. l You have a lot of snow equipment that sits unused all summer. l You have a lot of old equipment and your repair costs are high. l Your company performs very equipment-heavy work including excavation, grading or large-lot snowplowing. As long as your field labour ratio is low, this scenario should not be a problem. l You have a very large geographic work area, so you burn lots of fuel and put a lot of kilometers on vehicles each year.
overhead. If your equipment ratio is low, but so is your overhead and your field labour, congratulations, you’re likely running a profitable company. If your equipment ratio is high, but so too is your field labour and your overhead, chances are your company needs to improve its efficiency. A solution could be to invest in equipment to help generate more revenue per day or reduce your field labour spend. Tune in next issue when we examine several key methods to improve your equipLT ment ratio and your profitability.
Mark Bradley is the CEO of TBG Environmental and LMN, based in Ontario. The objective of this article is give general guidance on common financial numbers specific to the landscape profession. It is not intended to provide or act as professional financial advice. No LMN user data was analyzed or used to provide information for this article. Financial benchmarks contained in this article are gathered from industry surveys and one-on-one experiences with thousands of landscape contractors across North America.
To truly understand whether your equipment ratio is a strength or a problem, you really need to use it in combination with two other expenses: your field labour, and your
APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
newproducts Permeable paving system The new Aquastorm anti-flooding driveway paver from Techo-Bloc is designed for modern landscape designs and clients interested in green initiatives. Available in grey, the grid style pavers provide a linear look and are suitable for residential or light vehicular traffic. Techo-Bloc www.techo-bloc.com
Battery-powered mower Dewalt unveils the 2x 20 volt Max brushless mower, which is powered by two 20 volt Max five amp-hour lithium ion batteries. The mower features a 20 inch metal deck to cut a large path, a folding handle for upright storage, and carrying handles for easy transportation. The mower also has the ability to either mulch, bag, or discharge grass clippings. Dewalt www.dewalt.ca
Space saver sprayer Rittenhouse introduces the new 300 gallon Space Saver Sprayer, which is available in three different models: general sprayer, medium height tree sprayer, and high-performance tree sprayer. The 300 Gal. Space Saver Sprayer features the same quality construction as the 200 gallon model, but with extra capacity for improved efficiency. Rittenhouse www.mkrittenhouse.com
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newproducts 8.5-ton excavator Bobcat Company has expanded its R-Series excavator lineup with the new E85, the largest machine in the company’s compact excavator family. The 8.5-ton E85 now comes with a standard lift eye, which helps operators properly lift and place objects. The 13 inches of tail overhang allows the E85 to work in compact environments, including construction, landscaping, utilities and agriculture. Bobcat www.bobcat.com
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Large block wall system Techo-Bloc’s new Skyscraper wall system provides the company’s largest wall blocks to date. The blocks weigh a half ton, which means they can be stacked without geo-grid reinforcement as high as desired without causing stability problems, according to Techo-Bloc. Techo-Bloc www.techo-bloc.com
38 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
38 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Suspended platform zero-turn mower Exmark launched a new suspended platform-equipped version of its Radius S-Series zero-turn riding mower. The new suspended platform uses three independent coil-over dampers to isolate the cast aluminum operator platform from the mower chassis. With the capability of three inches of vertical travel, the suspended platform minimizes the effect of bumps and vibration on the operator. Exmark’s trailing arm design minimizes lateral movement of the suspended platform to increase operator stability. Exmark www.exmark.com
Perimeter wire machine Rittenhouse introduces the new Perimeter Wire Machine, which can bury 600 metres of wire in one hour. The machine is designed for the installation of robotic lawnmower or invisible dog fence wiring. It is light-weight, compact, and can bury wire with a diameter of up to 4 mm to a depth of 4-6 cm. Rittenhouse www.mkrittenhouse.com
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APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
newproducts Pull-behind mower Toroâ€™s new Groundsmaster 1337 pull-behind rotary mower includes three contour-following cutting decks, each equipped with dual full rollers for enhanced after-cut appearance. The 12-foot (3.66 metre) width of cut, paired with simple height of cut adjustment from 0.5 to four-inches (1.3 to 10.1 cm). Toro www.toro.com
Circular saw blades Milwaukee Tool introduces a range of new wood-cutting circular saw blades, as well as new solutions specifically designed for fiber cement. The new saw blades are engineered with anti-friction coating, which keeps the blade cool while cutting, and helps resist corrosion and gumming. Each blade is laser-cut from 100 per cent sheet steel to ensure a stable blade with increased cutting accuracy.
McCloskey recently added a high capacity, powerful and reliable universal feeder to its line-up. Designed for a wide variety of applications, the UF1200 comes with a standard tipping grid, and Milwaukee Tool offers a number of options including vibrating grid, www.milwaukeetool.com aggregate hopper, mulch hopper or shredder. The stockpile height at 24 degrees reaches four metres, making the feeder an efficient partner for stackers. The Stihl AR 1000 battery backpack was incorrectly labeled a blower in the March 2018 McCloskey issue. Landscape Trades regrets the error. www.mccloskeyinternational.com
45 YEARS INDUSTRY
We Make your day easier: Specialists in caliper trees. Vast selection of container plants. Various nursery supplies for sale. Growing with our customers in mind.
T : 905 683 8211 | F : 905 683 3734 3735 Sideline 16, Brougham, ON, Canada firstname.lastname@example.org | www.dutchmasternurseriesltd.com
40 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
industrynews Green professionals sharpen skills at Grow18 The Manitoba Nursery Landscape Association (MBNLA) brought landscape professionals and suppliers together in Winnipeg for networking and education this past February. Wendy Hofford’s keynote address “Growing pains and hiccups: Turning the side effects of growth and change into success” led off, bringing energy and excitement for the busy day ahead. With five seminar tracks, 20 sessions and 18 different speakers, there was something for every landscape professional. Topics focused on each landscape sector and general business, as well as the emerald ash borer. Strategically placed breaks provided the opportunity to connect between sessions. Lunch allowed everyone to enjoy a delicious meal together and the chance to take in the 2018 Awards of Excellence winners. The day wrapped up with the Grow Social, a true Manitoba-way to connect. Mixing, mingling and silent auction prizes in support of the Land-
Grow18 offered 20 seminars designed to improve landscape business skills.
scape Manitoba Horticultural Foundation culminated the conference. Grow19 is set for Feb. 13, 2019, at the CanadInns Destination Centre Polo Park in Winnipeg.
Stanley Black & Decker buys Irwin and Lenox Stanley Black & Decker has acquired tool and accessory companies Irwin and Lenox. Irwin Tools is Huntersville, N.C.-based manufacturer
and distributor of a broad line of professional hand tools and power tool accessories. Longmeadow, Mass.-based Lenox has more than of a century of experience in cutting technology. Its product categories include reciprocating saw blades, hole saws, jig saw blades, hand saws, drill bits, portable band saw blades, screwdrivers and utility knives. Based in New Britain, Conn., Stanley Black & Decker is listed on both S&P 500 and the
The Canadian Landscape Standard is: A single authoritative resource. Applicable in all regions of Canada. The benchmark standard for industry stakeholders.
To purchase, visit csla-aapc.ca/standard
APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
industrynews Fortune 500 and is one of the world’s largest providers of tools and storage, as well as the world’s second-largest commercial electronic security company. The company’s portfolio includes: Porter-Cable, Bostitch, Facom, Mac Tools, Proto, Vidmar, Lista, Irwin and Lenox.
Brookland Treeland Nurseries founder Paul Olsen passes Paul Olsen, founder of Schomberg, Ont.-based Brookdale Teeland Nurseries, died March 3, 2018. A well-known and prominent supporter of the landscape profession, Olsen was a founding member of both Landscape Ontario and the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, and served each organization as president (LO, 1996-97 and CNLA, 2007-2009). Olsen was proud that his company was and continues to be a family business. “My wife did the books for the company, starting in 1977 to the late 1990s,” Olsen told Landscape Ontario in a 2016 interview. “It was only the last couple of years she drew any pay.” In 2011, Olsen sold the operation to his son Jeff. Son Peter operates MD Growers in Niagara-on-theLake, Ont. while daughter Diane runs the HR department that administers BTN’s 300 peak-time employees.
New England Grows disbands
ganization. Founded in 1993, the Natick, Mass.-based show’s mission was to educate, elevate and support the region’s commercial horticulture industry. Over the course of more than two decades, the not-for-profit organization contributed millions of dollars in educational grants to the industry, as well as to horticultural and community groups like Cooperative Extension, the Horticultural Research Institute, FFA organization, local vocational schools, and the Boston Schoolyard Initiative. “We want to thank each and every one of the countless volunteers who worked so hard to produce Grows over the past 25 years, as well as the loyal exhibitors who supported the show from day one,” said Virginia Wood, Executive Director of Grows. “Grows was known for its world-class educational programming that brought innovative thought leaders from around the world to Boston, and we are proud to have helped bring this level of excellence to New England’s green industry.”
Sellick Equipment completes new manufacturing facility Sellick Equipment recently cut the ribbon on a new $21 million manufacturing facility in Harrow, Ont. The new 126,000 square foot purpose built factory was designed for new product innovation, improvement to quality control and flexibility in product design. To ensure higher quality stan-
After 25 years, horticultural trade show New England Grows announced it is discontinuing operation. The show’s board of directors made the unanimous decision to dissolve and disband both the event and the or-
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Sellick Equipment’s new manufacturing facility
dards, all areas of the manufacturing process were upgraded, including a new machining centre consisting of CNC controlled laser cutting, milling, and turning machines; automated storage and retrieval systems for raw materials and aftermarket parts; and state of the art metal preparation and paint line were implemented to enhance product longevity, Sellick stated in a media release. Nearing 50 years in business, Sellick Equipment produces a wide variety of rough terrain forklifts, each custom built to meet the customer’s application and supported by a dedicated dealer network throughout North America. “Our long term plan is to increase the business through new product,” said president Howard Sellick. “The sky is the limit on what we can produce in this new facility.” Sellick Equipment is a subsidiary of Avis Industrial Corporation of Upland, Ind.
Newfoundland loses Cle Newhook 1-844-298-TURF (8873) email@example.com www.turf-sharkfertilizer.com
42 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Cle Newhook, dedicated industry volunteer and advocate, has passed away after a short battle with cancer. Newhook was a past executive director of Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador Horticultural Trades 42 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Association, and a tireless contributor to the horticultural industry. During the signing of a proclamation to establish Arbor Day in Newfoundland, he is quoted as saying, “As leaders, we must also be environmental stewards.” Cle played a leadership role in many areas of his life and will be deeply missed.
exemptions are made. City inspectors charge a $50 fee to confirm an infestation diagnosis by a lawn care company.
Milwaukee Tool expands headquarters
Ice storms damage lower mainland B.C. parks Winter storms blanketed the Fraser Valley in ice in spells through December and February, racking up thousands of dollars in damages, reports the Times Colonist newspaper. Freezing rain, snow and ice caused power outages and dangerous road conditions across the region, with the worst damage occurring in and around Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Aldergrove and Matsqui Trail regional parks were closed for nearly two weeks while staff assessed the damage and cleared fallen trees and branches. The Times Colonist reports more than 1,500 staff hours will be deployed in the cleanup effort, while tree removal and damages to park facilities has resulted in $12,000 in costs.
Charlottetown council extends pesticide ban exemption Charlottetown, P.E.I., city council rejected a motion in February that would have banned pesticide use by professional lawn care companies where there is evidence of infestation. Currently, city bylaws allow for an exemption to the city’s cosmetic pesticide ban when city inspectors determine an infestation is present. Chinch bugs are one of the primary reasons why
With a planned total investment of $32 million, Milwaukee Tool is proposing another major expansion at their global new product development centre in Brookfield, Wis. A 114,500 square foot, multi-story building would be built on an existing 3.5 acre lot owned by Milwaukee Tool, bringing their global headquarter space to a proposed 504,500 square feet. Over the last several years, Milwaukee Tool has expanded employment at its Brookfield campus from just over 300 jobs in 2011 to almost 1,300. This expansion would lead to the creation of 350 additional new jobs in the next five years.
Environmental group fights for pesticide ban in Vernon, B.C. Professional lawn care companies are pushing back after an environmental group lobbied to have a sweeping pesticide ban put on the council table in Vernon, B.C. The Sustainable Environment Network Society presented city council with a petition calling on the body to ban pesticide use in the Okanagan Valley-area town. In February, two local lawn care professions made the case against the proposed ban. “Green Velvet’s goal is to always deal with pest problems in a safe and effective way, with pesticides used only when required,” said Joel Campbell, the company’s owner, as reported by the Vernon Morning Star newspaper. “Whether we use physical control, cultural control or pesticides, a process of integrated pest management is used in making the decision in
Look for these upcoming special feature issues of Landscape Trades: BOOK SOURCE TRADES LANDSCAPE
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industrynews which route of action would be required.” Eight provinces already employ “cosmetic” pesticide bans, as well as numerous B.C. municipalities including Coldstream, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Lumby and Kelowna.
Canada Post launches flower stamp Canada Post introduces the annual flower stamp issue, featuring the American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) and the sacred lotus. The stamps are available in booklets of 10, with five of each design, or coils of 50 offering 25 of each design.
A two-stamp souvenir sheet is available for collectors, along with strips of four and 10 stamps from the coil. The American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) has a creamy yellow flower and needs warmth and sunshine. The rare and threatened species grows at its northern limit along the shores of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair in southern Ontario. It is also found in wetlands in most of the eastern United States and as far south as Honduras. The sacred lotus bears delicate pink and white petals and is the national flower of India. Native to the tropical and warm-temperate regions of Asia and Australia, the sacred lotus is cultivated in North America and can become wild.
Takeuchi adds new VP
Canada Post’s newest flower stamp
13 years with the organization. The position is among a myriad of changes and new hires in the product support area, including Rick MacLeish who recently joined Takeuchi as national parts Jeff Stewart manager. The hires are in response to record sales in 2017, where there were increases in all areas of the business and business segments, according to the Pendergrass, Ga.-based company. LT
Takeuchi-US has hired Jeff Stewart as vice president and general manager. In the newly created role, Stewart will oversee parts, service, IT, facilities and non-machine related warehouse operations. Stewart previously been employed in various roles with Takeuchi, spending
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April 14-19, California Spring Trials, www.springtrialsregistration.com
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Allstone Quarry Products Inc. 38
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May 15-16, The Grey to Green Conference, Toronto, Ont. www.greytogreyconference.org
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June 19-21, Salon du Vegetal, Nantes, France. www.salonduvegetal.com/pro/en/ June 26-29, SIMA Snow and Ice Symposium, Cleveland, Ohio. www.sima.org June 24-26, 2018 GCA Summer Tour, Seattle, Wash. www.gardencentersofamerica.com July 14-18, Cultivate ‘18, Columbus, Ohio. www.cultivate18.com August 5-8, ISA International Trade Show and Conference, San Francisco, Calif. www.isa-arbor.com August 14-16, Independent Garden Show, Chicago, Ill. www.igcshow.com August 22-24, Plantarium, Boskoop, Holland. www.plantarium.nl August 22-24, The Far West Show, Portland, Ore. www.farwestshow.com September 10-12, GLEE, Birmingham, U.K. www.gleebirmingham.com September 26-29, Communities in Bloom Seeds for the Future, Strathcona, Atla. www.communitiesinbloom.ca September 26-28, Canwest Hort Show, Abbotsford, B.C. www.canwesthortshow.com October 3-4, Canadian Greenhouse Conference, Niagara Falls, Ont. www.canadiangreenhouseconference.com
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CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING: All ads must be pre-paid by credit card. Rates: $62.15 (HST included) per column inch (approx. 25 words). Min. charge $62.15. Deadline: 10th day of the month prior to issue date. Space is limited to a first-come, first-served basis. To advertise: E-mail your ad to Robert at classifieds@ landscapeontario.com. Website ads: $67.80 for association members and $90.40 HST for non-members. APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
A mentor remembered Paul Olsen of Brookdale Treeland Nurseries in Schomberg, Ont., passed away suddenly in March. This column breaks format to interview his associates across Canada; everyone contacted appreciated Paul’s leadership, and had a story to tell.
aul was a visionary and a mentor to me,” said Warren Patterson of Barrie’s Garden Centre in Barrie, Ont. “When I told him 17 years ago I was thinking about opening a garden centre, Paul barked, ‘Just do it.’” John Langendoen of Willowbrook Nurseries, Fenwick, Ont., remembered, “I was competing against Paul on a very large quote for a landscaper and he called me up to come and see him regarding this customer. He warned me to be very careful with this customer. This customer had a history of not paying his bills. So knowing that, we approached this customer cautiously. We ended up getting the job and made sure we got paid in monthly installments. This landscaper did go broke. Had Paul not warned us, we might have been burned and we would have lost our business. Thank you Paul! We were competitors and we were comrades.”
“Paul was a progressive businessman who liked new ideas, Paul Olsen innovation and looked for opportunities to grow Brookdale Treeland Nurseries into an industry powerhouse,” said Michael Murray of Murray’s Horticultural Services, Portugal Cove, Nfld. “I remember well the day Cle Newhook and I suggested the CNLA and its affiliated provincial members spearhead a more aggressive stance of political lobbying and government engagement. Paul recommended in his statement to the Board of Directors, ‘You know these Newfoundlanders are right, we need to be more deliberate and consistent in putting our concerns forward to government.’ Paul Olsen and Cle Newhook were great industry leaders. They helped provide a great vision for the CNLA and its provincial affiliated members to engage ourselves, the communities around us and our elected political representatives.”
46 | APRIL 2018 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
From Joan Johnston of Peter Knippel Garden Centre in Gloucester, Ont.: “I always appreciated Paul for being a dedicated volunteer, a forward thinker and a good businessman. He always understood issues with maturity and a broad perspective. He could be concerned about problems but still see the bright side. But what impressed me most was his kindness — not always a strong point of the successful.” “Paul was a visionary who saw the big picture. He was always pushing for the advancement of the industry and associations, always pushing professionalism,” said Tom Intven of Canadale Nurseries, St. Thomas, Ont. Vic Krahn of Lakeshore Tree Farms in Saskatoon, Sask., mused on the P. ramorum crisis, when nurseries were being quarantined, stock ordered destroyed, and nobody was receiving a dime of compensation. Meanwhile, a quarantine pest was plaguing potato farmers in a small area of Quebec; compensation appeared within three months. Krahn reflected on a meeting with a CFIA official, a lifelong bureaucrat in a wonderful suit, coincidentally from Quebec. He remembers Paul Olsen taking control of that meeting: “Paul folded his hands, and said, ‘While there has been a lot of talk, I would never say that Quebec farmers were receiving favoured status. I understand that CFIA is above reproach. However, appearances could certainly be construed that way.’” According to Krahn, the official became quite agitated and it was after this meeting that positive action was initiated towards compensation and eradication of positive P. ramorum plants. CNLA growers’ manager Rita Weerdenburg considered Paul Olsen a good friend and an industry mentor; she was in the same tense meeting. “Desks were pounded. Literally. Thanks to Paul’s persistence, his earlier relationship-building skills with policy advisors, his keen perception to recognize a unique opportunity and his skill to turn that opportunity to advantage, nursery growers in B.C. collectively realized millions of dollars in compensation payments at the LT height of the P. ramorum crisis.”
If you have a mentor to recommend, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Eco-momentum: Conservation-based add-ons help maintenance programs bloom Strive for clear contracts with no traps Entrepreneurs: Brace up an...
Published on Apr 2, 2018
Eco-momentum: Conservation-based add-ons help maintenance programs bloom Strive for clear contracts with no traps Entrepreneurs: Brace up an...