September 2015 VOL. 37, NO. 7
Hold-harmless clauses benefit contractors Motivate crews 12 months of the year Balance sheets Part 2: Itâ€™s all about relationships
Special feature issue:
SNOW and ICE BOOST PROFITS in 2016
Fall/winter TRANSITION STRATEGY TRAINING and RESEARCH update PRODUCT ROUNDUP
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PUBLISHER Lee Ann Knudsen CLM | firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Sarah Willis | email@example.com ART DIRECTOR Kim Burton | firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Allan Dennis | email@example.com WEB EDITOR Robert Ellidge | firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGNER Mike Wasilewski | email@example.com ACCOUNTANT Joe Sabatino | firstname.lastname@example.org SALES MANAGER, PUBLICATIONS Steve Moyer | email@example.com INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS REPRESENTATIVE Greg Sumsion | firstname.lastname@example.org COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR Angela Lindsay | email@example.com ADVISORY COMMITTEE Gerald Boot CLM Paul Brydges, Laura Catalano, Mark Fisher, Hank Gelderman CHT, Marty Lamers, Jan Laurin, Bob Tubby CLM, Nick Winkelmolen
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SEPTEMBER 2015 VOL. 37, NO. 7
IT’S SNOW TIME! Special focus on winter maintenance and new products for snow warriors
6 Easing into a new season
Strategies to help transition your business from fall to winter operations BY SUSAN HIRSHORN
12 Get to know your balance sheet
Financial ratios are simple to calculate, and provide valuable insight into the health of your business BY LEE ANN KNUDSEN
16 New risk management tools for winter operators
Online training that is Smart About Salt available this winter; and researchers and contractors collaborate to produce defensible deicing rates BY SARAH WILLIS
LANDSCAPE ONTARIO STAFF Darryl Bond, Myscha Burton, Rachel Cerelli, Tony DiGiovanni CHT, Denis Flanagan CLD, Sally Harvey CLT CLM, Jane Leworthy, Heather MacRae, Kristen McIntyre CHT, Kathy McLean, Linda Nodello, Kathleen Pugliese, Ian Service, Tom Somerville, Martha Walsh
Landscape Trades is published nine times a year: January, March, April, May, June, August, September, October and November.
24 MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS Create accountability for crews to build a better company BY MARK BRADLEY
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28 LEGAL MATTERS A good hold harmless/indemnification clause protects all parties in a contract BY ROB KENNALEY
Copyright 2015. 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.
30 MENTOR MOMENT Tim Kearney on understanding overhead: “You gotta know what it looks like!”
22 SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING Careful planning is required to recreate the work of Mother Nature BY SEAN JAMES
32 ROAD TO SUCCESS Don’t be afraid to ask: You will find takeaways from any successful community business BY ROD McDONALD
DEPARTMENTS 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
GREEN PENCIL NEW PRODUCTS INDUSTRY NEWS PROVINCIAL UPDATE CNLA NEWS COMING EVENTS CLASSIFIEDS WHERE TO FIND IT
4 18 36 42 44 46 48 50 SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
greenpencil Disruptors come to the snow clearing business
Uber 2.0: Risk and reward O
ne of my new
favourite TV shows is Silicon Valley. The fictional protagonist is an awkward programmer in California who founds a software company to market his unparalleled file compression algorithm. I enjoy it because the show is about a business environment completely alien to me — the tech world. It’s a world where disruptors are generally the heroes, as they drive innovation that improves a product or service in an unexpected way.
Disruptors have changed the retail economy, as people can now use apps to borrow or rent tools, cars, bikes, and even land to garden on. Many chain stores now sport a sign at their entrance By Sarah Willis saying, ‘Order online, pick up in store,” encouraging their customers to shop at home with clicks and swipes. Technology and GPS have also caused great change in the winter maintenance business in the last 10 years. But it is about to be disrupted again, as a new emerging model is making it possible for landscape and maintenance contractors to target very specific service areas for their work, as well as reduce the cost of the sales cycle in order to get a signed service contract — without ever meeting the client. In this model, developers have taken the Uber
4 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
rideshare idea one step further and become the matchmaker for the homeowner wanting his snow cleared, or lawn cut, and the contractor who is looking to add more clients on maintenance routes. One app uses an algorithm created by the developer to determine the price of the quote, and another sets the service cost based on the size of area to be cleared and the priority level of service required by the homeowner. What is missing from the equation is a formal contract between the homeowner and company. With the click of a mouse or button you can receive a job with all details sent to your phone, while you are plowing your route. Payment is received with another click of a button. Is a contract with no human contact the brave new world of service companies? Whether it is, or isn’t, remains to be seen, but creative disruptors can challenge us to change for the better. However you get your next job though, making sure you have insurance coverage is still a best practice. Whether the software developer works only with reputable companies through industry associations, or the developer is named as an additional insured on your policy, it falls to you to protect yourself and your business. In Silicon Valley, the disruptors lurch from extreme highs to lows and back to highs again, as tech business models can change faster than their computer processors. In the case of the service industry, it will be interesting to see if microchips and wireless air waves can replace the human connection. LT
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transitions Strategies to cope with spring and fall unpredictability BY SUSAN HIRSHORN
6 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
andscapers who also clear snow and ice work hard year â€˜round, but nature throws in some extra challenges during the transition periods from fall to winter and winter to spring. That early November day scheduled for fertilizing lawns might bring an unexpected snowfall. An early spring melt could leave your plow crews with nothing to do while your customers clamour for landscape cleanup and repairs. These and other situ-
ations can be logistical nightmares if you haven’t planned ahead. Here are some strategies for making transitional periods less chaotic and more profitable. REVIEW CONTRACTS AND SALES PROSPECTS EARLY Having trained crews and the right equipment to handle the unexpected is key to easing those hectic transitional periods. Since staff and equipment decisions are tied to the type and amount of business you generate, industry pros advise reviewing your customer contracts and new prospects as early as possible: June or July for winter work and January for spring to fall work. It takes time to hire and train additional staff and to negotiate deals with subcontractors. If you’ll need to order new equipment, remember that delivery can sometimes take weeks or months. Consider offering your customers and prospects an incentive to sign up early with you. For example, Gelderman Landscaping in Waterdown, Ont., guarantees pricing to condominium and HOA customers who sign on for fiveyear, twelve-month contracts. “Our prices tend to be 20 or 25 per cent higher than our competitors’ at the start of the contract for year one,” explains Nathan Helder, Gelderman’s president. “But I don’t raise prices every year like some other firms do. I want to get paid upfront for our work. That’s why our price is higher initially. But then year two has no increase, year three has a three percent increase and years four and five have no increases. So, for the five-year period all they are seeing is a three percent increase.” Don’t keep or take on customers you can’t serve costefficiently. Consider: do a customer’s unrealistic demands take up too much of your crews’ time? Is a prospect too far away from your normal routes to be profitable? Says Helder, “With winter work, we always leave some room for late signups in December, but only if that site is near our existing sites — for example, in the middle of two of our other sites. If it makes sense and we’re in the area, okay. If it’s not we’ll say no. It would be too expensive for us to service them properly and most would be unwilling to pay extra.”
DON’T CARRY MORE EQUIPMENT THAN YOU NEED Once you have a sense of the business that next season will hold, it’s time to review the state of your equipment and whether it should be repaired or replaced. Helder’s philosophy is to have no unnecessary equipment sitting around in any season. “We try to be like McDonalds and take a cookiecutter approach. We use 4 x 4 plow trucks. We use a single stage snowblower. We don’t want to have too many different types of equipment. If we need to do something special we’ll hire a subcontractor or rent the special equipment.” These days Gelderman rents a lot of their equipment, Helder says, “because I only want the cost incurred for a particular time period. I might be paying a little more by renting but I’m not using cash, and equipment depreciates so quickly. I look at return on assets. What’s my net income divided by my total assets? I find with most landscape businesses they have a lot of iron kicking around. They’re really not making the income that they should with all this iron. They say, Oh, it’s paid off. Yeah right. It’s sitting on your balance sheet and not doing anything for you.” A bonus in having rented equipment, he adds, is that it’s always new. “Our breakdowns are fewer. And employees like new equipment. They take better care of it.” KEEP WHAT YOU HAVE WELL SERVICED YEAR ROUND Whether you rent or own, you’ll reduce unexpected breakdowns by keeping equipment ready to go year round. “With trucks, make sure all the servicing schedules are followed. That’s important,” says Helder. Although Gelderman does not have a mechanic on staff, “We have strategic service relationships with providers throughout our area,” he explains. “We’ll drive in, they’ll take care of us and we’ll have it the next day. And we have a fleet manager who takes care of all that stuff. We’ve had fewer breakdowns in the last year thanks to him being on top of things. He’s not involved with snow or landscape operations — just fleet operations. He’s always making sure everything is top notch.” Kindergan Landscaping in Bergenfield, N.J., serves a SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
Training sessions ensure staff is current on the proper use of snow removal equipment.
variety of residential and commercial clients. The firm has one full time and two part time mechanics on staff, said its president Danny Kindergan in a Landscape Live! radio interview. Mowers, blowers, trimmers, aerators and other spring equipment are serviced all year, he explained, but his crew spends a little extra time servicing them before putting them into storage for the winter. And, to make sure equipment is accounted for at all times, Kindergan assigns his crew to colour-coded teams. So, for example, anyone on his “red” equipment team is responsible for the “red” truck and everything in that truck and trailer. PREVENT SEASONAL AMNESIA Although landscapers sometimes use the phrase “seasonal amnesia” with a chuckle, being rusty on the use and care of seasonal equipment is no laughing matter. If you haven’t used a piece of equipment for several months, you’re bound to forget a few things and this can lead to workplace accidents as well as equipment breakdowns and delays. ULS Landscaping serves residential, institutional and commercial clients in Calgary and Regina. The firm uses a combination of tools to address seasonal amnesia, according to its vice president Paul Atkinson. These include training sessions from equipment manufacturers to web-based equipment training modules provided by a firm called LS Training. Although the modules are intended as basic training for new employees, they can be used as refreshers. ULS is currently formalizing a comprehensive training/ accreditation program which classifies crew as operator in training, probationary operator and professional operator. According to Atkinson, only professional operators use equipment independently and they must be deemed capable by the firm’s safety training coordinator.
8 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
REDUCE CREW STRESS ULS’s policies around safety, pay, strategic routing and scheduled shifts go a long way towards easing the stressful uncertainty of transitional periods for the firms’ crews and reduce the risk of burnout. Says Atkinson, “Our staff is paid hourly in the summer months and then, in November, we switch them to a guaranteed-hour contract. So whether they work or not they get paid. That relieves a lot of the stress right there. They might not work for a week or two, or work very little. Then when it snows they’re all rested up.” As for winter routing, high priority clients such as hospitals are scheduled for early morning, while lesser priority sites — like back parking lots that are rarely used — are slotted for the end of the day. Adds Atkinson, “when crews know they’re done at a certain time, the work is much easier on them — especially for the overnight plowing teams. They know that at a certain time, they hand the keys over to someone else and go home.” The thought of going home to a hot meal is uppermost on the mind of anyone nearing the end of a harrowing shift. And there are things you can do to give your crews something to look forward to. For example, Gelderman provides comforting meals like lasagna or chili to operators who won’t have a meal waiting at home, says Helder. In any season, he adds, you need staff you can count on so you, the boss, can be thinking ahead. This is what separates the amateurs from the pros, whatever nature has in store. LT
Susan Hirshorn is a Montreal-based writer, editor and communications consultant.
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Vehicle may be shown with optional features. *With F-450, when properly equipp equipped. Class is Full-Size Pickups over 8,500 lbs. GVWR vs 2015 competitors. **440 HP with 6.7L V8 Diesel. Class is Full-Size pickups over 8,500 lbs. GVWR vs 2015 competitors. †F-Series is the best-selling pickup truck in Canada for 49 years in a row based on CCanadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association statistical sales report up to 2014 year end and YTD May 2015. ^860 LB.-FT. of torque with 6.7L V8 Diesel. Class is Full-Size pickups over 8,500 lbs. GVWR vs 2015 competitors. ‡The 2016 Super Duty with 6.7L Power Stroke diesel has best-in-class fuel consumption. Class is Full-Size Pickups over 3 856 kg (8 500 lbs) GVWR. Diesel fuel efficiency claim based on Ford -simulated city-suburban drive-cycle tests of comparably equipped 2016 Ford and 2015 competitive models, consistent with SAE Standard J1321. Actual fuel consumption will vary ©2015 Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. All rights reserved. Based on the Vincentric 2015 Canadian Fleet awards analysis, Full-Size Heavy Duty ¾-Ton Pickup and Full-Size Heavy Duty 1-Ton Pickup segments and the F-250 Super Duty XL Reg Cab 2WD and F-350 Super Duty XL Reg Cab SRW 2WD.
No More Guessing BY COLIN LYONS
Let’s talk about how Lyons’ is taking its landscape + snow operations paperless. Our company used to do detailed job costing and reporting on paper. This was a tedious task that involved entering information into spreadsheets and I’ll be honest, a detail always got missed. These errors became more noticeable as projects and crews got bigger. This whole process was counterproductive and cost us money, because we would have to pay an employee several extra hours to re-enter the proper information and ensure it was done right, the second time around. We started using LMN this year and we have noticed a dramatic difference in the consistency among our estimating department and the productivity and efficiency in our crews. We now know that nothing is being missed in our estimates; our crews are being more accountable and are taking ownership of their team and projects. Tell me more about how your estimating department is adjusting to the changes you have implemented. We are proud to say that our estimators are now streamlined and the entire team is quoting with the same techniques and numbers from the detailed estimating catalogue found in the LMN software; this allows us to be precise and meticulous when we are estimating new projects for our clients. Our field staff now have all the information they need at their fingertips, at any given
time. The up to the minute time tracking, job reports and payroll, are particularly useful. With more estimates being made on a daily basis, the results are quite honestly speaking for themselves. Please describe some challenges that your company has recently faced. Over the last several years, we have consistently grown without putting up a stronger net profit. With growth comes several new challenges, especially being a seasonal service provider. Since using the LMN software, payroll and job costing are becoming more accurate than ever before and there is much less wasted time in the field. And with the detailed reporting that LMN produces, we are now accurately able to identify areas of concern and deal with them and roll them into positive profit areas. We also recently attended an LMN Snow Workshop in July (?!) held at the local CAT dealer in Toronto, ON. I’ll be honest, after only 5 minutes of sitting in the workshop with the LMN team, our thought process immediately shifted from summer to winter! The knowledge and experience that was shared with us was invaluable and some of the tips we received were even better. My Snow Ops Manager and I were astonished to discover that after reviewing what we learned in those two days and applying those best practices to our own business, I think we are going to save $5,000 a month this coming snow season. Sounds like a lot of change at Lyons Landscaping, how have you and the team coped with the transition and implementation? LMN offers FREE support and training. The online training videos provided by the LMN team at www.learnlmn.com were completely seamless and they explained everything in detail. The support team at LMN was always available and willing to help if we had any questions. The live support chat was especially useful; it saves you from having to research online and look for an answer. Instead, you can go straight to the source and get the help you require right away from one of their ‘Super Heros’. Now, that’s great service! If you could ‘forecast the future’ – what do you see down the pipeline for your company? Is there any exciting news that
you could share at this time? Starting down the LMN road just this past spring, we no longer have the same start up and implementation costs we had before. LMN has made our net profit stronger without doing anything differently. When it comes to what lies ahead, we are excited to say that we have had our sights set on opening up several satellite offices for the landscape division in new locations and expanding our service area. We are also working on developing a division of our company which involves general contracting, and pushing into the construction industry. The future outlook for Lyons is a very positive one.
Lyons Landscaping is a full service company encompassing all aspects of “Everything Landscaping”. Lyons has been providing professional landscaping services to the Kamloops area and the Interior of British Columbia since 1995. Their Landscape design and installation team are always available to assist customers in helping build their outdoor paradise. www.lyonslandscaping.com. Developed by landscape contractors for landscape contractors, LMN’s online tools, systems, workshops and training modules offer one-of-a-kind access to drive productivity and profit. LMN proudly offers budgeting software, estimating software and mobile timesheet software, giving business owners the unique ability to convert their company into a profitable landscaping business. For more information please visit: www.golmn.com.
“Payroll and job costing are becoming more accurate than ever before and there is much less wasted time in the field.”
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the balance Part 2
BY LEE ANN KNUDSEN
Resist the urge to ignore financial ratios. They are the guideposts to success â€” however you choose to define it. Note: This story builds on Understand the balance, from the June 2015 issue of Landscape Trades. Read it at www.landscapetrades.com/balance-2.
ccording to Nathan Helder, balance sheets are all about relationships. Understanding how the asset and liability line items within your business relate to each other is key to guiding your business toward your ultimate goals. Helder is president of Gelderman Landscape Services, Waterdown, Ont. He is enthusiastic about applying financial management principles to the landscape industry. Helder also helps business owners from any sector improve financial position through his company Southbrook Consulting. ARE YOUR ASSETS PAYING OFF? There is no question, a shiny new four-by-four excites the emotions. But Nathan Helder encourages business owners to look at trucks, 12 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Helder prepared this sample balance sheet for fictional companies A and B to illustrate his discussion on ratios.
Who says the Long Green Line can’t fit your bottom line? When it comes to your operation, here’s the real bottom line: downtime and poor performance hurt more than your revenue, they hurt your reputation. When you invest in a John Deere compact utility tractor, you’re investing in the performance, reliability, and uptime that pay big dividends when it comes to your bottom line. Whether it’s our value-spec E Series Tractors, or our Premium R Series machines – you’ll boost efficiency with features like standard 4-wheel-drive, high-capacity hydraulics, and standard eHydro™ transmission with easy Twin-Touch™ pedal controls. Plus – choose exclusive time-saving options like our iMatch™ hitch that lets you switch 3-point implements* as fast as you change your mind. Now add in hundreds of rugged, reliable implements from John Deere and Frontier and there’s nothing your compact tractor can’t handle. Now’s a great time to make the move to John Deere quality and reliability. Stop by your John Deere dealer today to learn how your investment in a John Deere compact utility tractor can improve your bottom line. *Implements and attachments sold separately.
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Nathan Helder from Gelderman Landscape Services in Waterdown, Ont., is a strategic thinker who wants to see businesses succeed.
while contractors that do only design and construction should have a 30 per cent Return on Assets ratio.
other equipment and assets as components of numbers in your balance sheet. The Return on Assets Ratio expresses what your assets do for you as a percentage. This ratio is very important for landscape companies, as it measures how effectively your company uses your total invested equipment capital. Return on Assets Ratio = Net Profit ÷ Total Assets l Company A has $150,000 in net profit divided by $1,300,000 in total assets, for a Return on Assets Ratio of 11.5 per cent l Company B has $25,000 in net profit divided by $1,090,000 in total assets, for a Return on Assets Ratio of 2.3 per cent With this ratio, you want to achieve a higher percentage, which means your company is using your assets more effectively. Bringing that percentage up means your assets are doing more for you. Use this ratio to help evaluate whether to buy or lease equipment. Many landscape contractors are proud of owning all their equipment, but Helder says the key question is, “How effective are you in converting those depreciating assets into net income?” Many contractors believe that paid-off equipment is not costing them anything; Helder likes this ratio because it helps illustrate the misconception behind that attitude. Higher-risk sectors of the green industry should expect a higher ROA ratio. After all, higher return goes hand-in-hand with higher risk. Helder sets a benchmark ROA ratio for design/build/maintenance contractors also offering snow management at 25 per cent. His benchmark for companies that do maintenance and snow only is 20 per cent, 14 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
IS YOUR INVESTMENT PAYING OFF? The Return on Equity ratio is one step up in importance from the asset ratio above. It looks at your whole company, and quantifies return on the money invested in your business. Return on Equity Ratio = Net Profit ÷ Owner’s Equity (Total Net Worth) l Company A has $150,000 in net profit divided by $500,000 in total owner’s equity, for a Return on Equity Ratio of 30 per cent l Company B has $25,000 in net profit divided by $225,000 in total owner’s equity, for a Return on Equity Ratio of 11.1 per cent Stated simply, Company A’s investment is producing return at nearly triple the rate of Company B. Helder is constantly careful to note that there is no Right or Wrong to these numbers; rather they are tools that can help owners achieve a range of goals. But if your goal is to build a balance sheet that will attract a buyer for your company, you want the highest percentage return possible. An optimal Return on Equity ratio for the landscape industry is 25 per cent.
back, “What does growth mean? Is it more revenue, or better net profit? Or does it mean you are building more infrastructure for security? Growth, like success, can have different meanings for different business owners.” Helder says strategic thinking, based on what your balance sheet reveals, can mean everything for your business. On the one hand, conservative business owners may leave lots of cash in their companies, to build security. But stagnant cash is not producing income, and it may even heighten vulnerability to lawsuits, or worse yet, take your “foot off the gas pedal” and slide backwards. On the other side of the coin, less fortunate business owners may continue pumping their own funds into a company to keep it afloat; Helder says negative-figure retained earnings are all-too-common. He sees this as a very dangerous financial position, and cautions that things can go bad really fast. Can a business owner in this situation turn it around? “Sure,” says Helder, “but you have to be really committed, motivated and willing to spend five years or more being tough on yourself and your business.” The biggest hindrance to turning a business around, according to Helder, is pride. He is convinced that if a contractor can get past that ego hurdle, folks will always help. “You are not by yourself.” Helder says he learned a lot from his predecessor at the helm of Gelderman, Hank Gelderman. He learned that the landscape business is never likely to see huge windfalls, but one should always take out little bits to invest when you can. Building your family’s future outside of your company, as well as within, is smart. “Smart” is what Helder calls people that look to create wealth outside of their business. He says, “I like the parable of the talents in the Bible. We should be like the servant that took his five talents, and went and traded with them to make ten. Not the servant that buried his talent in the earth. What do we do with our money? Do we spend it on wasteful luxury? Or do we make it grow? “I like seeing people grow.” LT
The relationships shown in your balance sheet indicate the direction your whole company is taking.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Helder approaches numbers with lots of energy, and projects a sincere desire to help other landscape companies prosper. His first recommendation is to actually study your balance sheet monthly or quarterly — always keeping an eye on key ratios. This is not about the size of your numbers; your Income Statement (P&L) reveals revenue and expense trends. Rather, the relationships shown in your balance sheet indicate the direction your whole company is taking. When asked whether the balance sheet shows if a business is growing, Helder fired
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Risk management tools for snow warriors BY SARAH WILLIS
Online Smart About Salt training coming soon; research helps support application rates George Bernard Shaw said, “progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” That’s the premise behind the Smart About Salt Council (SASC). The council is a largely volunteer-operated not-for-profit, created by industry and municipal government in 2009 in response to elevated groundwater chloride levels in the Waterloo Region of Ontario, says Lee Gould, Executive Director of the SASC. Winter salt helps keep roads, parking lots, and pathways clear of snow and ice. But as populations, traffic, and infrastructure grow, our reliance on salt is beginning to cost us. It can damage our buildings and infrastructure, cars, footwear, plants, wildlife and water. Armed with the most upto-date research, the SASC educates snow and ice control contractors, facility operators, as well as homeowners and tenants, on how to stay safe in winter and minimize the impact of salt and other products on our fresh water resources. In 2014, Gould notes, the SASC education program was revised to provide separate courses specific to winter maintenance professionals and facility operators. SASC courses aimed at winter maintenance professionals can help contractors institute good risk management practices and record keeping, save money and win tenders, help the facility operators they work with mange their risks and protect their infrastructure, while at the same time protecting freshwater resources. ONLINE TRAINING — A RESPONSE TO NEW CHALLENGES Dramatic changes are coming to the snow removal and de-icing business, such as legal Clean Water Act stipulations requiring infrastructure managers to implement risk management plans to protect municipal drinking water sources, as well as performance metrics for road authorities that have been proposed by Environment Canada. These follow on the heels of the Lambton County (Ont.) court decision that ruled in favour of a local farmer, who sued for property damage resulting from salt application. The farmer was awarded six-figure compensation. 16 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Gould reports the SASC, “is responding to these challenges and striving to be proactive by developing online training capabilities that will likely be available in late 2015. Training will complement a graduated certification program to differentiate the competency and capacity of industry leaders.” For a list of face-to-face courses currently offered to winter maintenance contractors, visit www.smartaboutsalt.com/operators. STUDY PROVIDES BULLETPROOF DEICING RATES Until recently, winter maintenance contractors have had minimal guidelines when applying salt to sidewalks and parking lots. Deicing rates for roads and highways don’t translate directly to paved surfaces that are subject to lower traffic speeds and foot traffic. Contractors and facility operators tend to err on the side of caution, by applying salt with a heavy hand to lessen the likelihood of an accident or slipand-fall in parking lots. Thanks to support from Landscape Ontario’s Snow and Ice Sector Group, researchers from the ITSS lab at the University of Waterloo are investigating Snow and Ice Control methods specific to Parking lots and Sidewalks (SICOPS). In Phase I of the SICOPS study, the team collected data through conducting three years of field tests, and determined deicing rates for parking lots and sidewalks based on a variety of weather conditions. Dr. Kamal Hossain, a key researcher working on this project, says the second three-year phase will verify and fine-tune the rates. Dr. Hossain notes, “after the six years of study are complete, we should be able to defend the rates.” Phase II began in January 2015, with four snow and ice contractors onboard to test the deicing application rates in real life, along with GO Transit, who is using the rates from the SICOPS study on its train platforms, and monitoring the results with the Waterloo team. Dr. Hossain says data collected includes pavement temperature, ambient temperature, as well as weather data from Environment Canada. Cameras capture pavement conditions before, during and after treatment. In the winter of 2015 alone, 28,000 pavement condition images were captured. Landscape Ontario Executive Director Tony DiGiovanni is excited about the prospects offered by this research. “Once we have verified rates, we are bulletproof. If they follow these rates for sidewalks and parking lots, contractors will be able to say, “We followed the contract, we did exactly what we said we would do.” LT
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Inside and out, Kubota has again re-defined performance, luxury and power with its new R-Series wheel loaders. Whether your operation demands maximum power for stockpiling, efficiency for lift and place work or utility for attachment usage, our 2 new models deliver the right feature for every loading job you do. The R-Series Hybrid Link System keeps your load upright and steady, even while raising or lowering the lift arms. And for greater stability and more comfort on rough terrain, a unique centre-type joint allows for 8째 of frame oscillation and 40째 of articulation in either direction. Visit your nearest Kubota dealer to find out how the new R-Series will help you make your workload easier and more efficient than all others.
newproducts Rotary broom SnowEx introduces a versatile new walk-behind rotary broom with a plow attachment for snow removal and other cleanup applications. Powered by a 160 cc Honda GXV Series engine, the SS-4000 features a floating pivotal broom head with five angle settings to adjust the trajectory of snow. The 16-in. diameter broom works against curbs, walls and other obstacles from either the left- or right-hand side. For heavier snow conditions, the operator can install a front-mounted blade attachment, which comes standard with the SS-4000.
V-plow The new 9200 series commercial-duty torsion-trip V-plow from Hiniker features double-acting hydraulic cylinders that hold wings securely in position, even while backdragging. Simple, reliable torsion-trip edges provide independent protection to each plow wing. Moldboards feature a low-friction, high-density polyethylene surface that is corrosion-free and dent-resistant. Wrap-around curb guards with chrome-alloy wear bars provide protection from premature wear and damage. Available in 8.5- and 9.5-ft. widths. Customize with optional skid shoes, cutting edges, and snow deflectors.
Hiniker Company www.hiniker.com
Snow blower attachment Steiner has added an all-new dual-stage snow blower to its winter attachment lineup. The SB648 Professional Snow Blower is constructed of cast iron and heavy-gauge steel and equipped with an 18-in., four-blade impeller, a sawtooth auger and 237-degree chute rotation. The Professional Snow Blower’s 48 in.-wide clearing path (52 in. with optional extension wings) moves snow up to 27 inches deep, making it ideal for use on large residential driveways, parking lots, walkways and other thoroughfares. Steiner www.steinerturf.com
Snow removal referral service Easyplow connects you to homeowners in your neighbourhood who require occasional service. Register your service areas at easyplow.com and receive premium-priced service calls to add along your route. Take on as many additional driveways as you want. Payment is through fast direct deposit. Easyplow www.easyplow.com
Straight blade plow Boss Snowplow introduces a new series of HTX Straight-Blade Plows for half-ton and light-duty trucks, SUVs and Jeeps. Available in mild steel, super slick poly or stainless steel finishes, the HTX StraightBlade Plows come in 7 ft. or 7 ft., 6 in. widths. The manufacturer claims built-in mounting locations for plow shoes and snow deflectors make rigging for options easier and quicker. Standard features include Boss’s SmartTouch2 Control System and a highperformance, fully enclosed hydraulic system. Boss Snowplow www.bossplow.com
18 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
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newproducts Chain saw Efco’s new MT 6500 chainsaw has been designed for demanding use by professionals. The lateral chain tensioner simplifies adjustments avoiding any contact with chain. An adjustable oil pump activates automatically when the chain starts moving. Maintenance on the air filter is easily accessible with a no-tools-required air filter cover. A separate one-piece handle section reduces vibrations and increases operator comfort. The 63.4 cc engine delivers 4.7 HP, delivering a high power-to-weight ratio on a professional saw that weighs only 14.8 lbs. Efco www.efcopower.com
Compact excavator JCB has added a 9.9-ton zero tailswing compact excavator to its rapidly expanding compact excavator range. The 90Z-1 boasts a powerful engine with a large dig end and increased hydraulic capacity to further boost performance. Longer digging equipment provides the 90Z-1 with a maximum digging depth of 13 ft., 7 in., a dump height of 17 ft., 9 in. and a reach at ground level of 24 ft., 3 in. Digging equipment has individual hydraulic piping for easy maintenance and hose replacement. All hoses feature O-ring face seal technology and are colour coded for rapid identification.
Hopper spreader Boss Snowplow introduces the VBX 9000 Hopper Spreader with a 3.0-cubic yard capacity for truck classes one-ton and over. Customers can choose from both pintle chain and auger feed options. The VBX 9000 Hopper Spreader’s stainless steel drive train components are corrosion resistant for reduced maintenance and longer life. The LCD Screen Controller is backlit and features dual motor control for quick adjustments on the fly. A rear-mounted dump switch allows operators to quickly dispose of remaining materials at the end of the day. Boss Snowplow www.bossplow.com
New growing substrate A.M.A. Plastics has partnered with BVB Substrates of The Netherlands to produce a new product for growers. Called BVB Impress, it is described as a new version of ‘sticky peat,’ suitable for press block production and as a germination mix in plug trays. The company says white peat is used with a mixture of other 100 per cent organic materials with no chemical additives, to make BVB Impress more water absorbing for better roots; more dimensionally stable so it holds its shape; and importantly, much lighter for lower handling and transport cost. A.M.A. Plastics www.amaplas.com
20 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
The new Hiniker stainless steel tailgate spreader provides optimum control for material spreading applications. The manufactuer claims the “No-Dribble” bubble auger design means the flow stops when the auger stops. The spreader features a convenient in-cab variable-speed controller with blast control and control for optional vibrator. Hiniker’s high-quality brushed-finish 304 stainless steel hoppers are available in 6- and 10-cu. ft. capacities. An optional swing-away hitch provides easy access to the truck bed and tailgate. Hiniker Company www.hiniker.com
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Working in harmony with Mother Nature
BY SEAN JAMES
I recently had the opportunity to design and build a landscape on a large country property, and the process offered a lot of lessons. Picture a man-made pond, created 150 years ago and naturalized, untouched since then — a biodiversity jewel. We were a bit late on the scene and the customer had already contracted someone to clear the land. Not only had Roundup been used illegally (yes, this still goes on), but almost everything had been cut to the ground. Perennials have been doing better than expected, considering that they lost their shade canopy, but it’s still quite a shock to them — hundreds of pink lady’s slipper orchids, suddenly out in the sun. At first I was amazed by Mother Nature’s resilience. Later, I noticed the difference in size, health and bloom duration of the plants in the open, as opposed to those under the shelter of their plant neighbours. Plants and trees that were left were not necessarily the most ornamental, special (rare, flowering, good habitat, etc.), or healthy. We soon realized that some of the remaining trees had weak or damaged roots or had poor form. The biggest awakening came during a windstorm when we noticed the roots on several trees actually beginning to lift out of the ground! As you can imagine, this necessitated an emergency trip to the hardware store to purchase wires, clamps, hose and stakes to guy-wire the trees to save them until they can establish new, stronger roots. We had to try and save the remaining trees and give them a chance to establish properly.
A succession plan for older trees Knowing that some of the trees were under stress also guided us to transplant younger specimens under and around some of the older stands to replace them as they pass on, and help shelter them from wind. It’s important to remember that as trees grow, if they 22 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
start with the support and shelter of neighbouring trees, they’ll rely on that throughout their life. Removing too many trees will result in the specimens on the edge of the stand falling over, one at a time — good to be aware of! One of the locals took me out to a virgin forest which was being logged nearby. To see the ancient trees, those too big for the loggers, left standing on their own and their slow death from giant limbs breaking off was heartbreaking. If you’re in this situation, pruning the remaining trees and large shrubs to bring out their form will help the landscape fit into our ideals of beauty. Focus on the best that will need to be enhanced with pruning. It’s rarely optimal to simply limb up trees to get the view. Thinning out a few of the lower branches can create a veil to look through while preserving the tree’s health and structural integrity. Limbing a tree up too far means that the trunk of the tree will not have the necessary energy provided by nearby leaves. The tree will decline over a few years. This means that eventually it will need to be removed — a waste, and an expensive proposition.
Refereeing the landscape Our next big lesson was about how folks think. What makes us see a man-made landscape as beautiful, and a natural landscape as ‘weedy’? The answer may be in how we landscape designers mass plants, as opposed to the way Mother Nature scrambles them together. Massing allows us to see the beauty of each species separately. The jumble has its beauty too, and of course it’s more resilient and less prone to pest breakouts since there’s a better predator/prey relationship, but we seem to need to see a bit of control. I think of landscaping as ‘refereeing’…helping Ma Nature look her very best. Take the time to walk a grid pattern, look-
ing for special plants that might need to be worked around. If you must move something, find another area where the species is already doing well and mass them there. Perhaps try moving a couple first and see how they do over time before jumping in with both feet. Generally, it’s not advisable to move something like an orchid, but perhaps compromises must be made so we can live in harmony with nature but maintain the necessary usefulness and aesthetics. Accordingly, we began by rescuing plants from some areas and massing them together in large drifts. It will be a stylized version of nature — one with biodiversity, resilience, yet still with appeal to humans. This was a moral conundrum for us since, if we didn’t manipulate nature to fit human ideals, someone with a much heavier hand would have been hired to strip it bare and sod over it. We chose to use it as an opportunity for education about how amazing native plants can be… but are still conflicted. As always, when figuring out how to redesign, consider texture first. A balance of grassy, feathery and bold will make things look great. If you have the luxury, try to hold off from landscaping for a year, so you can take the time to observe seasonal changes, fall colour, winter interest and even interactions with nature. This will allow you to design with more subtlety and success. Perhaps we can all live together in harmony if we think a little more and design more with native plants. It’s worth a try, and seeing the community’s positive reaction to our work backs this theory up. LT Sean James is owner of an Ontario-based environmentally-conscious landscape design/build/maintenance company, an eco-consultant and a popular speaker.
Developing accountable staff, 12 months of the year BY MARK BRADLEY
We’ve all been there.
Over the slow season, you put together an improvement plan for the company. You’ve made a list of the biggest problems from last year, and some new methods and systems to fix them. You pull together all your key staff — maybe even all your staff — for the big kickoff meeting at the start of the season. You share the opportunities, the challenges, the “new ways” for this coming season, as well as the reasons why everyone should buy in. Most of your staff nod in agreement. You sense some new-found motivation and engagement. Things look up… … and then you find yourself, in the middle of the busy season, exactly where you were in the last busy season. The new systems and ways lasted a few weeks. Some of them never even really started. Everyone has forgotten, or ignored, all the reasons and methods to improve. In six short weeks, many companies go from energized spring meetings right back to the way things have always been. It frustrates owners who are under
paid and overworked. It’s just as frustrating for employees who hope that better success for the company will bring better compensation. Change isn’t easy. Change is hard. Walk down to your bookstore and you’ll find 50 books in the business department on this topic. I don’t believe in Five secrets to successful change or anything like that, but I do believe the following points have been critical for our transition from a “one-owner show” to a company that successfully implements changes each and every year, on our path to continuous improvement. Measure estimated vs. actual hours If we’re not tracking and reporting upto-date estimated vs. actual job hours, then we’re running without a scoreboard. Without a scoreboard, good staff members have no motivation to excel and poor staff have no real motivation to get better. Most, then, put forth just enough effort to avoid getting terminated. Consequently,
these companies end up making just enough profit to avoid going out of business, and little more. Day-to-day, permanent accountability begins when crews know there is a reward and a measurement for success. All too often, the new initiatives fall off because no one knows whether they are working or not. So, if your foremen don’t know whether they are winning or losing and we’re never talking about ‘the score,’ the company will more than likely slip into neutral as staff go back to old, familiar habits. When job successes and failures are shared as they happen, the entire company sees, and attacks, the inefficiencies, mistakes, and oversights that cause failures. Update goals monthly Personally, I don’t believe there’s anything secret about sales goals for a company. Most big companies have goals — and share them — and perhaps that’s part of what got them to where they are. Start the spring with sales and production goals for
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managementsolutions the year. Share them with your staff. Each month, update your progress. Build in some kind of incentive for beating it! Even something as simple as 10 – 20 per cent of every dollar above goal becomes “bonus capital” for key staff. Just make sure you have a budget so you know exactly what your sales goal needs to be.
accountable. Use an inspection checklist so that you are not the only one who can do inspections. Let the office staff inspect the shop and trailers. Have the foremen inspect the office. You don’t have to do it alone, but you do have to communicate exactly how it’s to be done.
Inspections Something we struggled with for years is maintaining a neat and organized shop, yard and crew trailers. We would employ a part-time crew to clean house and organize everything. Going into spring, we were organized like a surgical room… and six weeks later, you would never know we had cleaned at all. If you want to organize your shop/ yard/trailers, and keep them that way, try the following: l Label every shelf. Have a specific place for everything. It might seem like overkill, but without labels, staff (especially new staff) will put things back anywhere and everywhere. Labels give everything a defined space and it’s clear to everyone where things go. l Inspect, inspect, inspect. If you want something to succeed, make time for it. Inspect regularly and hold people
Dedicated equipment assignments Dedicated, assigned equipment to crews was one of the best decisions I ever made. This includes both small tools (stocked tool trailers) but also heavy equipment, such as skid steers. Not only were each of my crews equipped properly to do any job efficiently (we significantly improved our job speed), but equipment was better cared for. Without dedicated equipment, it is too easy to “leave the problem for the next guy.” Implement an incentive program Without an incentive program, your crews are working for nothing more than their hourly wage. You, the owner, will be the only one who truly cares about improving productivity, because you are the only one who will benefit. Vague promises of “more money for everyone” quickly wear thin when there is no objective system to
measure performance and rewards. Start with an operating budget to identify a baseline that will pay your salary, and generate a fair profit for the business. Recognize that sales and production, over and above the goals identified in your budget, generate “super profit” for the company. If you can exceed your sales goals in the same number of working hours, you will drastically improve your profits, as your payroll, equipment, and overhead costs do not increase significantly. Share some of the super-profit with your key staff — especially the foremen. Foremen make the biggest number of daily decisions that influence job success or failure. Be 100 per cent committed Sometimes you need to take off the gloves and get real. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Too many owners are too afraid that if they set rules and consequences, their people will quit. You cannot build a company with staff who are “good at what they do,” but are all off doing their own thing. If you accept people who are good at their trade, but refuse to improve at managing paperwork, equipment care, training others, and more, then your company will never get past the basic struggles to implement change. As George Urvari of Oriole Landscaping in Toronto likes to put it, “The people will change, or the people will change.” Set the rules, hold people accountable and once in a while, accept that you have to make an example of the worst offenders. It’s difficult to replace people, but it’s even more difficult to build a company with systems when you allow people to not follow them. LT
Mark Bradley is president of TBG Landscape and the Landscape Management Network (LMN), based in Ontario. Clearly labeled shelves ensure everything is in its place and even new staff will return items to the correct spot.
26 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
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Avoid hold-harmless clauses? No! BY ROBERT KENNALEY
Although written for this year’s winter maintenance issue, this month’s topic should be of interest to anyone who enters a contract for maintenance or construction. Winter maintenance contractors, of course, need insurance. Being properly insured is not only a sound business strategy, but clients will almost always require proof of suitable insurance under the contract. As many of you are aware, however, obtaining proper insurance, at a good price and from a good carrier, can sometimes be difficult. Over the years, the process of underwriting winter maintenance contracts has become more specialized for good and obvious reasons, given the number of claims and risks involved in the industry. The number of companies offering insurance to winter maintenance contractors has dwindled, and those that continue to do so have tightened their underwriting policies. The underwriters look at the percentage of work a contractor commits to winter maintenance (as opposed to other activities such as summer maintenance or construction), at claims history, at the experience and training of employees and at application methods and processes. In addition, those underwriters have, in the last five to 10 years, become more interested in the terms and conditions of the contracts into which their insureds are entering. The CNLA has been actively working with insurers to help educate contractors about the difference between a good contract and a bad contract. Throughout this process there have been growing pains. One area involves the ‘hold harmless’ or ‘indemnification’ clause. Conflicting advice from professionals Recently, a client of ours advised that his insurance company had asked to review his contract as part of the underwriting 28 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
process. The contract in question included a hold harmless/indemnification clause that was very similar to the one adopted by Landscape Ontario and CNLA as part of the standard form contract (available for download at horttrades.com/standardform-snow-and-ice-maintenance-contract). The insurance company objected to the clause on the basis that it clearly stated the contractor would indemnify and hold harmless the client in certain circumstances. We were told, the clause should be removed; the insurance company did not believe that the contractor should ever acknowledge that the owner would be held harmless or indemnified. Unfortunately, the insurance company’s advice was simply wrong. Equally troubling is the fact that this company’s approach is becoming more and more common. Brokers have often stated that they do not want their contractors agreeing to indemnify the client — in any circumstance. Some have suggested that the removal of the clause is a condition of getting insurance. In giving this advice or taking these positions, however, the companies do not understand the difference between good and bad hold harmless/indemnification clauses. More to the point, the advice fails to recognize that a good hold harmless/ indemnification clause is extremely important, because it provides protections that the contractor would not otherwise have. Simply put, where there is no hold harmless/indemnification clause, the contractor will be exposed in very real ways. Good clause states the obvious Allow me to elaborate. A good hold harmless/indemnification clause does nothing more than give clients what they already have. The clause essentially says to the client, “Look, if I screw up, I will pay. If I breach my contract or am negligent, I will
pay.” The reality is, however, that the client really doesn’t need the contractor to admit this in the contract; if there is no such clause, the client will still be able to claim against the contractor if he or she suffers damages due to the contractor’s screw-ups (i.e. breach of contract or negligence). By analogy, saying to a contractor that his contract should not acknowledge his obligation to indemnify, is like saying he should not write a will, because this would be admitting he is going to die. It is like saying that he should not admit that his five-year-old is his responsibility, because he shouldn’t formally admit that he has that responsibility. The reality is, of course, that we are all going to die and our fiveyear-olds are our responsibility. It doesn’t change anything to admit this. So why do we want a hold/harmless/ indemnification clause? Why not just let the chips fall where they may, and take the clause out? The answer lies in what a good hold-harmless/indemnification clause can do for us. A properly-worded clause sets out and limits the scope of the indemnification. Just as we prepare wills to control what happens when we die, we prepare hold-harmless/indemnification clauses to control what happens when we screw up. The good hold-harmless clause clarifies what the indemnification is for, and indeed, rolls back what the client would otherwise be entitled to in the absence of a clause. Provide specific protection So how does a good hold-harmless clause clarify and roll back liability? Well, the first thing it does (or should do) is clearly set out that the indemnification will only be in relation to claims arising from the contractor’s breach of contract or negligence. A bad hold-harmless clause is not clear in this regard. Clauses that provide that the client will be indemnified for any claim
“relating to the contract” (or in relation to any other unclear set of circumstances), for example, should be avoided. Similarly, clauses that clearly provide that the contractor will indemnify even if not at fault should not be agreed to. Simply put, a good hold-harmless/indemnification clause should clearly indemnify for only the contractor’s breach of contract or negligence, and nothing more. A good hold-harmless/indemnification clause will also, however, go further than this. It will also provide that the contractor will only pay in relation to personal injury or property damage. This means that the contractor will not have to pay for pure economic loss. He will not have to pay for someone’s lost profits or revenues in the event that the factory or shopping mall he was to maintain could not open because the contractor didn’t show up. A good clause will also expressly limit the scope of your indemnification to the limits of your insurance. This means that if you have agreed to provide $5 million in
insurance under the contract and a claim arises that ends up costing the client more than your $5 million in insurance, the client will be out of luck for the difference. Finally, the good hold-harmless/indemnification clause will expressly provide that the indemnification will not be provided unless the client gives the contractor notice of the potential claim within a reasonable period of time after the client first becomes aware that it might exist. While the time frame can vary, it should not be more than several days. Good hold-harmless/indemnification clauses are important. While they acknowledge liability in some circumstances, they don’t give the client what the client doesn’t already have. Indeed, although a good hold-harmless/indemnification clause acknowledges liability in some circumstances, it clarifies what those circumstances will be and rolls back the scope of the indemnification to personal injury or property claims and to the limits of the contractor’s insurance, where proper and
timely notice of the claim is provided. It is therefore important that contractors come to understand the difference between good and bad clauses, and to seek advice in that regard if the language under discussion is unclear. LT
Robert Kennaley of McLauchlin & Associates practices construction law in Toronto and Simcoe, Ont., and speaks and writes regularly on construction issues. He can be reached for comment at 416-368-2522 or at email@example.com. This material is for information purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice in relation to any particular fact situation. Readers who have concerns about any particular circumstance are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in that regard.
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Advice is yours for the asking This month’s mentor is Tim Kearney CLM of Garden Creations of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ont. His leadership roles have included sitting on the board of directors of Landscape Ontario, a mentor delivering LO’s Prosperity Partners program, and he is currently a facilitator with LO’s new Peer-to-Peer network. Q. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to work in the green trades? A. When I was 16 years old I worked at a local garden centre and landscape company for the summer and fell in love with plants and horticulture. The second summer I worked for the company’s landscaping division and loved all aspects of the job. In 1981, after nine years working for the company I started my own business, Garden Creations Tim Kearney, Garden Creations of Ottawa of Ottawa. We are a full-service company, with design/build, construction and year-round maintenance services. After 34 years in business, we have close to 30 people on staff. About half of my team is full time and half seasonal. Q. Companies often seem to win enough work, but never make a profit. What are they doing wrong? A. If you aren’t making a profit, chances are you don’t understand your overhead costs, so you aren’t pricing your jobs right and recovering your overhead. You need to price your jobs to cover overhead, and understand it, or it will bite into your profit. It could be that you didn’t budget the correct amount of time or material to do the job, but most 30 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
likely you haven’t covered your overhead, and unfortunately most guys are so busy during the season they only find out in the winter. Too late! Overhead can be quite dramatic and is different for everybody – when I look at the numbers I have to include in each quote to make sure my costs are covered, it is relatively large. A smaller company may have a lower overhead, but the number is still critical to business success. I tell people, “You gotta know what it looks like.” Contractors have to recover their expenses, as well as set aside money for future equipment purchases — success is all in the overhead. Once your overhead is factored in, then you can add your profit. Q. How can landscape companies find the time and money to provide training? A. This is a culture that has been adopted by our company, it is also a line item in our overhead. But you have to be careful — you can’t overcharge for your education budget, or you can price yourself out of competition. My company has a philosophy that we are going to educate and train our staff. We tell all new employees that they are beginning a journey — there are many different jobs in the industry and they will gravitate to the one they enjoy. We will support their career with training through the year, including tailgate talks in season and seminars that LO offers in the off-season, apprenticeship, and at trade shows. I try and bring staff to association events and meetings whenever possible. Several years ago, we committed to the Jim Paluch Working Smarter Challenge for an entire year of training and development. Our core values reflect the need to train. TEAM stands for Talent Excellence Adaptability and Mentoring. That starts right at the top and continues down to the entrylevel people. Some of my staff might grow and leave my company, but you know you aren’t going
to keep everyone forever. The ones that have left over the years have started their own companies, and are doing well. That makes me proud. Lack of skilled or willing labour is a limiting factor in our industry. There aren’t enough graduates from all the hort programs in the country to go around. If you get a young, smart, bright person that shows an interest in working for you, you’d better get them involved and support them with training to develop a successful career. Q. How do you avoid wasting time on dead-end calls? What is a professional way to prequalify customers? A. I don’t know if there is a perfect solution. The only way people communicate with us now is online. Our website is our electronic portfolio and my staff directs people to it to see the type of work we do and read about us, and then call us back if they are still interested. We find that weeds out a lot of tire kickers. After that, we rate calls. Obviously referrals are qualified leads we hop on right away. Leads through the website or phone we might be a bit slower to follow up with, and there isn’t a year that goes by that I don’t get stung, chasing a lead that wastes company time. Q. Any business books to recommend? A. One book I have read many times, and keep close by is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. If you are ready to start growing your company, it deals with all the silos and personalities that a company may have and how to build a team with everyone on the same page. It is an easy read, and Lencioni is quite comical. It’s like a ‘business for dummies’ book. Let’s face it…the best-looking company with the most systems will not be successful if your staff doesn’t work as a team. We are in the people business, and your people can really affect the success of your company.
Is there one specific moment or action you can pinpoint that took your company to the next level? What prompted you to make that change?
A. The moment that stands out to me was attending Charlie Vander Kooi’s estimating seminar at Landscape Ontario’s Congress in the early ‘80s. I had started my company, I was a really good landscaper, but I sucked at being a business owner. I was working hard, clients loved my work, but I was struggling to make money. During Vander Kooi’s presentation on estimating and pricing, I took notes like a fiend. I think I filled an entire notepad, and still remember he said, ”Recovering your overhead is your God-given right!” Learning how to account for all my costs and price jobs right changed everything for me. Jean Paul Lamarche has also been a great influence and I would highly recommend a new company connecting with someone like JPL. I have had the opportunity to meet with lots of green industry business owners through my involvement teaching the Prosperity Partners program and helping with LO’s new Peer to Peer Network. I know a lack of business knowledge is a major limiting factor for struggling companies. When I first started landscaping, I had to learn by doing and making tons of mistakes. But now there are so many estimating or pricing courses available through your horticultural trade association, that there is no excuse not to be successful. Not all of us need to be top accountants, but as a business owner you must be able to read a balance sheet and P&L statement. Again, I say, ”You gotta know what it looks like,” in order to be accountable to your business. Q.
If you decide to grow your business, make sure you have enough sales to support it. Sometimes in the heat of the season, people are pressured into taking on more staff to get more jobs done, to satisfy all the customers that are calling. It all goes back to knowing your costs. My advice is to slow down and look closely at your numbers. Sometimes it’s ok to table growth, or to just say no, we can’t do that job for you. Often, just doing work for the customers you have is enough. It will allow you to sleep
at night and not be fielding phone calls from angry or impatient customers. It’s all about quality of life. My final word is, the green industry is full of willing mentors. If you get involved and are not afraid to talk to people, the advice you will receive is priceless. LT If you have suggestions for questions, or a leader to be featured in an upcoming issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to grow our business because we constantly hear that in order to survive and create lasting sustainability we have to. When and how do we determine when and how to do this?
A. This is really two different questions, as I know many small companies, who have purposefully stayed small and are incredibly successful. They treat their company operations like a big company, but have found their niche. Not everyone needs to grow to be a large company. SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
Learn from the best Last month,
I wrote that the box stores offer up two distinct stories regarding their garden centres. The first story is they generally do a very poor job of running their operations, with dead plants and nonexistent service more often the norm. The second story is that they do not lack for customers, a paradox, no doubt. In the 1990s, there were futurists who would describe the retail scenario yet to come. There would be next to no independent garden centres and greenhouses left in the marketplace. At a convention in Vancouver in 2000 or 2001 (the memory grows faint) the always-popular Brian Minter of Minter Country Garden, Chilliwack, B.C., was the speaker. Brian began his speech by saying, “I am glad to see that you are still here, in spite of the predictions.” Everyone laughed. Fair enough. We are still here. Those who have survived did things differently than those who lost their operations, either through bankruptcy or by closing the doors, as there was no profit left to keep things running. In my community, in the last 20 years, many independent garden centres have closed. At one time, they owned the mar-
ketplace, selling out each spring by the first week of June. The owners grew older, but no one wanted to buy their operations and carry on the business. The reason was simple; sales had slipped. One of my friends had seen his sales drop from $600,000 in 1982 to $200,000 in 2004. When you factor in inflation, the drop was much more than two thirds. There had been a failure to change and to adapt to the always evolving retail marketplace. Those who refuse to change will eventually pay a price. Each community in Canada has seen independents disappear, but rather than complain, we should always ask those who survived, how they did so. Whenever I speak about competing with the box stores, the first point that I address is: Not everyone wants to shop at Walmart. I had a greenhouse manager who was suffering battle fatigue (it happens) during the insanity we call May. She was worried that people would be going to the closest box store for their hanging baskets, as the box store price was half of ours. I went to the box store and I checked out their hanging baskets. They were overcharging for their baskets. Three seedling
BY ROD McDONALD
petunias, transplanted into a ten-inch basket the previous week, did not constitute competition for our baskets. There are many ways to reduce the price of a hanging basket and there are many growers who are willing to do so, but what about those customers who want a quality product and are willing to pay for that quality? That, in essence, is the independents’ niche and the road to success. Whenever I am in another city I always take the time to visit garden centres, nurseries and greenhouses. Often, I know the owners or I will introduce myself and, I am shown around. What we, in the trade, call the ‘nickel tour.’ I learn so much by asking questions about how they do certain things, and more importantly, why? I have never met a garden centre operator who wouldn’t take the time to spend an hour answering the question ‘why?’ I was in Edmonton this past May long weekend. I flew up, on a whim, to visit my granddaughter so that we could play hideand-seek, and I could push her on the swing at the playground. Grandfathers get to do those things. Her father is my youngest son. He and his wife asked me if I wanted to visit their favourite garden centre. By the way, if you ever run into me in your city, I don’t need to be asked that question twice. Over the years in Edmonton I have visited Hole’s, Greenland, Millcreek and SalisEdmonton’s Ellerslie garden centre impresses, from sales staff to organization.
32 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
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roadtosuccess bury, but I had never been to Ellerslie Gift and Garden. In fact, I had never heard of it, nor have I met the owners. We got into the car and headed down the road in a southerly direction and pulled into the Ellerslie parking lot. The car park was quite full, it being a nice Victoria Day Monday. The entrance was neat and tidy and there were handicapped parking spots, clearly signed, close to the building. We wandered around as my eyes took note. They had seasonal greenhouses set up, clearly marked with what each contained. ‘Hanging Baskets for the Sun’ told people who had a sunny location that this was the right spot. Just as ‘Hanging Baskets for the Shade’ told a different story. Those two signs, no doubt, reduced the number of times customers would ask, “Does this grow in the shade or the sun?” My rule of thumb is: If you are asked the same question three or more times
each day, it would be helpful to have another sign in that vicinity. Signs, indicating that a greenhouse contains only sunloving baskets, are a brilliant idea. Every garden centre should have a basic repertoire of signs. Having written this, I surely do not support the overuse of signs. As with anything, if you have too many, people stop reading them. Finding that elusive balance is difficult, but it is something requiring attention. Goldilocks has it right: “This is too many, this is not enough, but this number is just right.” The aisles were clean and while there were many customers, I did not notice much congestion except at one till. What seemed odd was, while one till had a dozen people lined up at it, another till had no one except the cashier. The trees and shrubs were well organized and my adult children asked me what I thought. I told them that the quality was excellent and that the plants had
been grown at reputable nurseries. The kids asked how I knew where they were grown. I showed them the easily identifiable (to someone in the trade) display tags. “These tags tell me that they are buying from good growers and they are willing to pay extra for quality plants. After all, people are coming to the independents to purchase ‘the good stuff.’ When I walk into a so-so garden centre, I note that their plants come from cheaper nurseries where quality is not a concern and that is so wrong.” In the tree and shrub section, they had an older gentleman, probably around my age, selling. He was easily identifiable with his apron and he had the right appearance, to customers, of a gardening expert. I hung around, watching and listening, as he worked. He did things right. He was cordial, asking a few pointed questions to ascertain what it was they really wanted. Let’s be straightforward here: Most cus-
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tomers do not know what they need or want when they arrive at any garden centre. It is our job to assist them in purchasing what will serve their needs. Left to their own devices, many customers would leave with an unsuitable purchase. This fellow would find the right plant and explain the benefits, keeping that information simple, no techie talk. If you want to lose customers, just techie talk them ‘til they get that glazed look in their eyes. He explained how to plant it when they got it home, wished them well, and approached the next person. There were customers waiting to talk to him. Watching him work was a lesson in text book garden centre selling. My hat is always tipped to those who do it so well. I had a super sales person at Lakeview Gardens as well. I always thought I was a good salesperson until I stood beside Joan Harris. Hanging out beside her induced the metaphor ‘standing in the shadow of genius.’ She could sell anything and was Ms. Personality. One thing I learned, as a manager, was to always ask Joan what she
wanted to sell the next week and to order lots. If you didn’t order lots of what she was going to be selling, you were going to be out of stock quite early on. Always involve your sales staff, especially your best ones, in the ordering process. We wandered through the rest of Ellerslie Gift and Garden and we were impressed. I took note of how well they stocked their display of ornamental grasses. I can remember a time when selling twenty or so in a season was more the norm. It was one of those places that have not only survived the box store wars, but they have succeeded. Survival is not a goal when success is within reach and so much more fun.
tors who impressed, inspired and amazed me with their talents. I have never been turned away by a successful owner. In fact, it is the ‘never do wells’ who have turned me away claiming their pig sty was a ‘work in progress.’ Stop me from laughing so hard, please. Each and every sharp operator has always taken the time to explain to me their personal theory on operational strategies which translated means: How to stay on the road to success. Just take the time to visit the good ones to see how it is done, talk to them, and you are half way to being the success you want and deserve to be. Not everyone wants to shop at the box stores. LT
Every community of a decent size has excellent business people whether it is a cafe, a lumber yard or a garden centre/greenhouse. It is imperative to seek those people out and ask them how they succeed when others have failed. They will tell you. In all my years in this trade, and this is my 39th, I have spoken with hundreds of opera-
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.
What we say to customers
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industrynews New time and location for Garden Expo at Thrive Garden retailers asked, Landscape Ontario listened. The new, earlier dates for Garden Expo, Sept. 16-17, are better timed for garden retailers to place merchandise orders for spring 2016. At sharp new venue in the heart of Ontario’s green belt, the Ancaster Fair Grounds, affords opportunity for both an indoor and outdoor marketplace. Now in its 16th year, Garden Expo was first created in response to garden centre owners who wanted a buying show in the fall timed to place orders for next spring sales. As the retail marketplace has matured, buyers again spoke up wanting an even earlier show, so Garden Expo has been reimagined as the anchor for a new multi-sector fall event produced by Landscape
tion, enjoy dinner with friends and colleagues at the Golden Horseshoe Chapter Chicken Roast, and learn about current snow and ice management trends and research at Snowposium. A Garden Expo trade show pass is $15 for members of Landscape Ontario and CNLA affiliate trade organizations, and $20 for nonmembers. Don’t get caught waiting in line, go to LOThrive.com to register.
Mori Nurseries to close in November
Ontario — Thrive’15. Visitors to Thrive will be able to connect with suppliers at Garden Expo, bid on Ontario’s best plants at the Industry Auc-
DON’T LET SALT SLIP YOUR MIND THIS WINTER.
After 65 years in the nursery industry, Leno Mori, of Mori Nurseries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., is closing down the operation of the nursery company by November 30, 2015. Mori, a pioneer in the Ontario nursery industry, got into the nursery business after branching out from his family’s fruit farm in the Niagara region. Mori says that in the first years when he was learning the trade, the accommodating plant hardiness zones of the Niagara Peninsula helped with the success of his company. With a diversified inventory of farms that has at times included land in Michigan, New York state and various parcels throughout southwestern Ontario, Mori Nurseries is known for ornamental trees and shrubs, topiary junipers, hardy fruit trees and perennials. “It’s been an interesting time,” says Mori. The nursery thanked its valued customers for their business over the years, and is continuing to sell existing inventory until the fall.
FIHOQ aquires Quebec Vert magazine
The Fédération Interdisciplinaire de l’horticulture ornementale du Québec (FIHOQ) has purchased Québec Vert from TVA Publications of Saint-Laurent, Que. The trade association is now the publisher of Québec Vert magazine, and its Buyer’s Guide. Former TVA staffers François Huot and Stéphane Dionne have joined the FIHOQ ranks to support the publications.
PRE-ORDER AND SAVE NOW Call your Account Manager today! 416.798.7050 I 1.888.907.SALT (7258)
MTI-Canada is new Efco distributor
36 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES GNL 27448 DS Ad Aug 2015.indd 1
Comet USA has recently signed MTI-Canada as a new distributor of Efco power equipment. MTI-Canada is located in Levis, Que., and will cover Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces in Canada. MTI-Canada has been in business since 1955 and provides not only outdoor power equipment, but also farm implements. 36 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
15-08-10 6:04 PM
SNOWPOSIUM LANDSCAPE ONTARIO
TRY AUCTION INDUS YO U
IO AT IA L I N VIT
SNOW AND ICE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND EXPO
Wednesday, September 16 and Thursday, September 17, 2015 ANCASTER FAIRGROUNDS 630 Trinity Road South, Ancaster, ON
Thrive'15 will feature: GARDEN EXPO Canada's fall buying show for the retail garden centre industry and the anchor event of Thrive'15. INDUSTRY AUCTION The province's growers donate their best nursery stock; proceeds fund research and scholarships. SNOWPOSIUM Exciting new products as well as popular snow removal equipment and technology. GROWERS AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAM Premium stock competes by the skid, judges choice auctioned off at the end! CHICKEN ROAST This community-building dinner hosted by LO’s Golden Horseshoe Chapter provides social time with your ‘other’ family and opportunity to make new connections!
Thrive’15 in partnership with:
KEYNOTE BREAKFAST A chance for the industry to come together for engagement and inspiration, in a friendly, no-hassle setting. AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE GARDEN CENTRE CEREMONY Winners of the 2015 program announced and recognized by their peers. BUDS 'N SUDS Don't miss all of the action in the tent! We'll have a keynote, awards ceremony, a cool band and lots of food and drink. All of this possible through our partnership with Fafard.
industrynews Social responsibility report on peat moss Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sphagnum peat moss for horticultural use. The industry is recognized as an international leader for its sustainable practices. The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) recently released its first social responsibility report. Governance, environmental stewardship, economic performance and working conditions are all addressed, along with CSPMA-identified goals and future objectives. The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) includes 14 peat moss producers and marketers representing 95 per cent of Canada’s total harvesting. The report covers the years 2010-2012, and can be downloaded at peatmoss.com.
Echo Power Equipment Canada received distributor honour Echo Power Equipment Canada recently received the Distributor of the Year Award for North America. The award recognizes Echo
(l to r): Troy Armstrong, National Sales Manager Echo Canada; Ed Zynomirski, President Echo Canada; Mike Best, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Echo Inc.; Laurie Workman, National Marketing Manager Echo Canada; Yoshi Nagao, President and CEO, Yamabiko Corporation; Tim Dorsey, President of Echo Inc.; Terry Tasaki, Director and Senior Executive Managing Officer, Yamabiko Corporation; Kenn Ahrens, National Sales Manager, Distributor Channel, Echo Inc.; and Bill Sigler, Director, North American Sales for Echo Inc.
Canada’s overall success in sales, marketing, service and operational performance for 2014. The award was presented at a ceremony held in Vancouver, B.C.
Camoplast Solideal becomes Camso Magog, Que.-based company Camoplast Solideal has become Camso. For the company,
For the last 20 years HLA Snow has been committed to providing our customers with innovative equipment. With a comprehensive line up of snow and ice management tools HLA Snow has the right blade, pusher, bucket, or spreader for your team. HLA Snow products are engineered and field tested by our dedicated staff. They bear the cold and scrape their knuckles in real world environments to ensure that when you receive your HLA product, it performs as promised. On those cold dark nights when the snow won’t stop falling, you can stay in the cab and rest easy because it’s an HLA.
www.hlasnow.com 1.866.567.4162 38 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
Camso represents the best of Camoplast and Solideal. Camso specialized in the manufacturing of tires, tracks, and track systems for offthe-road vehicles. The company serves four markets: material handling, construction, agriculture, and powersports. Camso works with major OEMs such as Toyota, Caterpillar, John Deere and BRP, as well as several distribution networks. The company has over 7,500 employees in 27 countries.
Equipment manufacturers recognized for excellence The North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA) has announced the recipients of its Dealer’s Choice Award and Gold Level service awards for 2015. The awards are presented annually to manufacturers who receive exemplary ratings in 12 operational categories addressed in NAEDA’s Dealer-Manufacturer Relations Survey. This year’s survey received more than 6,000 manufacturer ratings, which was a significant increase in dealer input, according to Gail Hal-
derman, Chair of NAEDA’s Member Services Committee. Echo and Shindaiwa have again attained Gold Level Status in the NAEDA’s annual Manufacturer Relations Survey. John Deere received the 2015 Dealer’s Choice Award for Full-line Manufacturers. The Grasshopper Company was awarded the 2015 Dealer’s Choice Award, and Dixie Chopper was the 2015 winner of the Most Improved Award.
New line of snow plows
Echo Power Equipment (Canada), Canada’s national distributor of SnowEx products, announces a major addition to the SnowEx product lineup for 2015-2016. SnowEx will release a new line of snowplows, featuring 20 different models made for every segment of the market. The company says its new plow line has been years in the making and was created based on state-of-the-art engineering and design and years of testing to ensure product quality, durability and overall performance in the toughest of winter conditions.
Jeffrey Scott inducted into Consulting Hall of Fame Jeffrey Scott, President of Jeffrey Scott Consulting, based in Trumbull, Conn., is the most recent inductee into the Consulting Hall of Fame. Scott was voted by his peers into Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame. The announcement was made at a ceremony at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. Scott was honored as a leader in consulting, based on his measurable accomplishments in client results, professional contributions, and intellectual property. He is a Trailblazer for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and an Ambassador for the Academics Excellence Foundation (AEF), an organization that commits itself to educating the next generation of landscape professionals.
JCB recognizes service technicians JCB has recently introduced its Master Technician program to all dealerships in the North American network. The program is designed to continue to build the skills of JCB Service Tech-
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industrynews nicians and recognize technicians that are at the top of their class. To be considered for the program, service personnel must be nominated by their dealership and pass an entry exam. Once those qualifications have been met, participants must pass a series of training programs and hands-on skill challenges, as well as all distance learning classes, JCB systems efficiency testing, Core Product Component Testing and other servicebased tests to earn the designation of Master Technician. All who successfully complete the Master Technician Program earn the special Master Technician designation.
flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, recognizes and responds differently to four insect species. Two caterpillar species were placed on the plants and encouraged to chew on their leaves. Researchers also allowed two species of aphids, or small insects that pierce plants with needle-like mouthparts, to attack the plants. Then those plants were examined on the genetic level to gauge their responses. “There are 28,000 genes in the plant, and we detected 2,778 genes responding to attacks depending on the type of insect,” said Jack Schultz, director of the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU and a co-author on the study. “Among the genes changed when insects bite are ones that regulate processes like root growth, water use and other ecologically-significant processes that plants carefully monitor and control,” Schultz said.
Plants can distinguish between attacking insects Scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered that plants react differently to the type of insect harming them. Researchers found that plants can recognize attacks from diverse kinds of insects, such as caterpillars and aphids, and that plants respond differently to each attack. Identifying these defense genes could allow
Arabidopsis thaliana. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
plant breeders to target specific insect species when developing pest-resistant crops. Results showed that Arabidopsis, a small
EU moves toward redefining compost The European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) supports the recently presented EU
SNOWPOSIUM LANDSCAPE ONTARIO
SNOWPOSIUM LANDSCAPE ONTARIO
SNOW AND ICE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND EXPO
SNOW AND ICE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE AND EXPO
September 16 and 17, 2015
ANCASTER FAIRGROUNDS Hosted by the Snow and Ice Sector Group of Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association
This event features displays of new products as well as popular snow removal equipment and technology. OUTDOOR TRADE SHOW: Wed., Sept. 16 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 17 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
CONFERENCE SESSIONS ON: Wed., Sept. 16 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. SESSIONS ON: Job Costing Snow Contracts SIMA’s Best Practices MTO’s Rules of the Road
40 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
report that, after six years of discussion, recommends that composts and fermenting products be removed from the waste stream and be traded as products throughout Europe. The report determines that biological waste that is strictly separated on collection — defined as per origin (household, parks and gardens, cafeterias and restaurants, food production, gardening, landscaping fishery and forestry) — may be considered as raw material for compost and fermenting products. ELCA was represented on the technical European working group, Compost, by its VicePresident and landscape gardening entrepreneur Neil Huck from London, England. Together with the European compost industry, the ELCA welcomes the suggested criteria, which now will have to be accepted by the European Commission.
Garden centre receives first allergy-friendly accreditation The Society for Allergy Friendly Environmental (SAFE) Gardening announced that Nigel Clarke
of Queux Plant Centre, Guernsey, U.K., has been awarded the first SAFE Gardening Accreditation and Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS) Certification. SAFE Gardening was formed to make the world a healthier place by using allergy-friendly plants in gardens and landscapes. It developed a quality standard to determine that an organization has the appropriOso Easy® Lemon Zest rose recognized with ate commitment, horticultural skills, an ARS award of excellence. resources and controls in place to contribute towards achieving an allergy friendly environment, and deserves to be The Oso Easy® Lemon Zest rose was develgranted the use of OPALS. oped by Chris Warner, the highly acclaimed rose breeder from Shropshire, England. After years Oso Easy® Lemon Zest of trials and evaluation by Proven Winners, Oso rose honoured Easy® Lemon Zest rose lived up to the highest The American Rose Society (ARS) has recog- standards. The rose exhibits a very high level of nized the Oso Easy® Lemon Zest rose with its disease resistance and its sunny, canary yellow Award of Excellence. To receive the Award of flowers do not fade to white. LT Excellence, a rose must prove its mettle in six different no-spray trial locations across the U.S.
SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
britishcolumbiaupdate Landscape Trades devotes space in each issue to provincial association news. This issue features an update from the British Columbia Landscape Nursery Association.
It’s not raining in B.C.! Coastal B.C. has had the unprecedented experience of warm, dry weather from February into August, resulting in an extremely busy and unusual year. With such a lengthy drought, many regional and water boards have imposed severe watering restrictions, adding a new twist to how the coastal B.C. industry traditionally functions. Jeff Foley, BCLNA’s Board Chair and President of ParaSpace Landscaping, reports, “2015 has been an extremely busy year. The watering restrictions have imposed an inconvenient break in our schedule by forcing us to postpone plant installations, European chafer applications and irrigation work. The lack of lawn, plant and weed growth is nice but our hands are full with the cleanup of dry fallen leaves.” Bill Hardy, BCLNA’s Retail Chair, says, “Spring for B.C. retail garden centres started early this year with good weather coming in before the end of February and staying all the way through to the summer. Early spring sales were up, with weekend after weekend of good weather. Sales
softened a little in June, and in metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, sales really slowed through July and August as severe water restrictions were put in place. Overall the year was still great, however, summer did give some of the increases back.” Gordon Mathies, BCLNA Growers Chair and owner of Cannor Nurseries, admits, “We could not anticipate such a busy spring, so we did not bring in adequate numbers of SAWP workers — and trying to get domestic labour was a disaster. We were short-handed all spring. There were significant sales increases locally and in eastern markets, while the Prairies were even.”
The BCLNA office has moved… The BCLNA sold its office complex in late 2014, moving to a leased strata complex in an industrial/retail area. We are now exploring development of an Ornamental Landscape Skills Training Facility in an established 20-acre garden. This would include moving the offices of the BCLNA, HortEducationBC (HEBC) and its allied groups and programs, such as the Landscape Industry Certification test site, to the location and enable on-site training for specific skills such as Plant ID and Pest ID.
The BCNLA Board of Directors from left: Jeff Foley, BCLNA Board Chair; Anne Kulla, Landscape Chair; Len Smit, 2nd Vice Chair; Bruce McTavish, 1st Vice Chair; Bill Hardy, Retail Chair; Hedy Dyck, COO; Gordon Mathies, Growers chair.
CanWest: From city to country The 2015 CanWest Expo is moving to the Tradex Exhibition site at the Abbotsford International Airport in Abbotsford, B.C., expanding to a full-scale Exposition, with outdoor demonstration areas for all sizes of equipment
and machines to ‘dig in the dirt,’ room for skills training and demonstrations, as well as a complete seminar program and trade show. With the benefit of lower costs and easier access, the new CanWest Expo is now also in the heart of the Fraser Valley growing region, with many events and tours organized in coordination with the show. Attendees can now “fly in and fly-out” to attend CanWest, simply walking across the tarmac to the site on the airport grounds.
Building a national landscape standard For over 25 years, the BCLNA has been collaborating with the B.C. Society of Landscape Architects to develop and update the B.C. Landscape Standard to include 17 topics and four appendices, comprising one of the most comprehensive guidelines for good landscape work. The BCLNA is thrilled that the BCSLA has now agreed to move ahead with CNLA and CSLA to use the B.C. Landscape Standard as the basis for development of a Canadian National Landscape Standard.
Certification is growing in B.C.
We held an extremely successful Landscape Industry test this July at the KPU site in Langley, B.C. With 41 candidates we were able to award 16 certifications to 14 different people. Certification has been steadily building in B.C., with many companies seeing it as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition, not to mention increase their staffs’ skills and efficiency. “It is true that many customers have not yet heard of the Landscape Industry Certified brand, but all the customers that we make aware of it
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41 candidates tested their skills to become certified landscape professionals. Thanks to all the industry volunteers who helped with the Landscape Industry test day.
are very impressed. We know that it leads to us being able to land more jobs and also improves our staff retention,” said Nicholas Funke, B.C. Certification Chair. The B.C. Certification Committee would like to thank its sponsors for helping to support
B.C. companies support certification as a way to increase the expertise of their staff and differentiate themselves from the competition.
the test: Vermeer British Columbia (Westerra), Heike Designs, the Invasive Species Council of B.C., Finning Cat and Fraser Valley Equipment Limited. Kwantlen Polytechnic University School of Horticulture is the host site for the Lower Mainland test, while the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific hosts the site for the Vancouver Island test. LT
SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |
cnlanews Plant a tree for Tree Day Would you consider yourself a tree hugger, tree lover or even a tree planter? On Sept. 23, join Canadians everywhere to celebrate National Tree Day. There are events for everyone happening around the country, whether you want to
plant a tree or simply hug one, there is an event for you! Visit the National Tree Day website to find an activity in your area: nationaltreeday.ca. If you own a garden centre or landscaping business, National Tree Day provides a great opportunity to connect with your community. In the past, CNLA members have led planting events, held sales and even festivals to mark the day. Register your event on the National Tree Day website. Remember to use #NTD2015 in your social media posts to harness the exposure of a national event.
Service Canada update The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application has been updated as of June 2, with the same form number. It is a good practice to always get your forms directly from the Service Canada website each time you fill them out. Check the date field embedded in the filename Planting a tree is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to take part in community events.
to ensure that you have the current version. A help manual on Service Canada forms is currently in process; CNLA will notify members when it is available. More information is available at cnla-acpp.ca/industryhr.
CNLA is now on Houzz The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association is now on Houzz. Show your support by adding our badge to your Houzz profile. Not only will you show up under the member section on the CNLA profile page, but you will also increase the credibility of your business with an association affiliation. Check it out at houzz.com/pro/cnla.
An invitation to Kamloops, B.C. Please join us in Kamloops from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, for the 2015 Communities in Bloom National Symposium on Parks and Grounds and B.C. Provincial, National and International Awards Ceremonies. The awards ceremonies and parks symposium are a unique opportunity for elected officials, parks and grounds professionals and community volunteers to learn and share about current issues, trends and challenges in horticulture and gardening. The events are an excellent opportunity for the landscape and nursery industry to network with elected officials, park and grounds managers and local stakeholders. Looking forward to seeing you in Kamloops! Register at communitiesinbloom.ca.
Online Driver Training offered through CNLA Avoidable fleet accidents cause injuries and incur costs to businesses every day. Direct costs of an accident typically include, but are not limited to vehicle, property, or cargo damages; injuries; emergency services or medical costs; revenue losses; insurance deductibles/ surcharges; towing costs; and associated liabilities or Workers’ Compensation Board expenses. The best accident is the one that doesn’t happen at all. Help reduce the risk of fleet accidents and their associated costs with online driver training. The CNLA Online Training Program is a comprehensive, effective, online training system that provides flexible reporting, simple administration, and program management for members. The program consists of two packages addressing seasonal driving risks — 44 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
44 | SEPTEMBER 2015 | LANDSCAPE TRADES
the Summer Package and the Winter Package. The Summer Package includes the modules Safe Driving Practices and Lifting and Ladder Safety. The Winter Package modules include Winter Driving and Snow and Ice Risk Control. These online driver training packages were developed at the request of the CNLA by Marsh Canada Limited, the CNLA’s approved insurance broker and risk advisor. Courses are available for members through the CNLA website at a price of $49 per package. CNLA members who have purchased coverage through the HortProtect Insurance Program will receive a discounted price of $39 per package. As an additional benefit, drivers who complete the courses may be eligible for a discretionary premium discount under the HortProtect Insurance Program. To enrol, please visit the registration site at: www.carriersedge.com/ce/signup-cnla.htm
Name change for certified professionals The CNLA and all of the provincial offices have agreed upon a change to the certified manager designation. Since we have officially changed the name of the designation to Landscape Industry Certified Manager instead of Certified Landscape Professional, we will no longer be using CLP, it will be CLM instead. If you use CLP in your signature please update to the new acronym at your earliest convenience.
Certified Landscape Professional (CLP) will now be titled Landscape Industry Certified Manager
Hold the Canada Blooms contest Even though summer is behind us, there is still time to register your retail garden centre for the 2015 Canada Blooms contest. From now until Oct. 31, registered garden centres can participate by promoting the contest to customers. who are eligible to win a trip for two to visit the 2016 Canada Blooms show in Toronto. The festival, taking place March 11 to 20, is the largest flower and garden festival in North America! The grand prize winner will enjoy a contest package that includes round trip VIA rail travel for two to Canada Blooms with three nights’ accommodations at the Intercontinental Hotel in Toronto. Each participating retailer will also receive a certificate for two free tickets to give to the store winner. If you have any questions or are interested in participating please feel free to email Claudia at email@example.com, or 888-446-3499 ext. 8635. This opportunity is open to GCC members only.
Join the Canadian Federation of Independent Business CFIB’s lobbying efforts and extensive business support resources benefit independent businesses across the country. When you join, you will gain access to business assistance, savings programs and a voice in all levels of government. CNLA members receive a significant discount on membership fees. Check it out at cfib. ca/cnlamembers. LT
The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association is the federation of Canada’s provincial horticultural trade associations. Visit cnla-acpp.ca for more information.
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November 23-25, HortEast Conference and Trade Show, Moncton Coliseum Complex, Moncton, N.B. www.horteast.com December 2-4, New England Grows, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, Mass. www.newenglandgrows.org
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January 12-14, Congress 2016, Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto, Ont. www.locongress.com January 13-15, Northern Green Expo, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn. www.northerngreenexpo.org January 19-22, Sports Turf Managers Association 27th Annual Conference and Exhibition, San Diego, Calif. www.stma.org January 20-22, The Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. www.fngla.org/tpie January 25-27, Great Lakes Trade Exposition (GLTE), Lansing Centre, Lansing, Mich. www.glte.org
January 26-29, International Plant Fair, Essen, Germany, www.ipm-messe.de January 31-February 4, Toronto Spring Gift Fair, International Centre and Congress Centre, Toronto, Ont. www.cgta.org February 3-5, iLandscape: The Illinois Landscape Show, Renaisance Schaumberg Conference Centre, Schaumburg, Ill. www.ilandscapeshow.com February 22-25, TPI International Education Conference & Field Day, Hyatt Regency, Houston, Tex. www.turfgrasssod.org February 16-18, Salon du Vegetal, Parc des Expositions, Angers, France. www.salon-du-vegetal.com
February 18-20, Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals annual conference, Atlanta, Ga. www.aolponline.org March 2-4, The Work Truck Show, Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Ind. www.ntea.com March 11-20, Canada Blooms, Direct Energy Centre, Toronto, Ont. www.canadablooms.com March 14-18, International Green City Conference, Meetings and Tours, Vancouver, B.C. www.cnla-acppa.ca/greencity April 9-14, California Spring Trials, www.springtrials.com
February 17-19, ISA Ontario Conference, Ottawa Conference & Events Centre, Ottawa, Ont. www.isaontario.com
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