The Growing Concern March 2023

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Central Ohio Evening Meeting: Mike Rorie March 30, 2023 / NorthStar Golf Club (Sunbury, OH) / PAGE 7 TheConcernGrowing MARCH 2023 A PUBLICATION OF THE OHIO LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATION
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It’s been a bizarre winter. At the time of this article, we are 26 inches under our normal snowfall totals for the year, and it seems as if we’ve averaged near 50-degree days in February. Yes, “False Spring” (a concept popular to most of us mid-westerners) is upon us and has been prevalent for some time now. To that end, I’m guessing that most of our businesses have decided to try and implement the winter-to-spring “Alakazam” necessary to hit the ground running for when spring really hits. Like it, or not, the busy season is right around the corner, which begs me to ask: Will our crews go into it roaring like lions, or wandering around like bleating lambs?

I like to think that, in order to go into the year roaring, many of the changes we decided to make at the end of last year need to be ready to go! But, as is the question with all change, how are you going to know what is working and what is not? It’s important to get this question answered sooner than later, or else why make the change?

When implementing change, I always like to consider using a PDSA cycle. Let’s break it down.

PDSA, or Plan-Do-Study-Act, is an iterative, four-stage problem-solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change. When using the PDSA cycle, it’s important to include internal staff and external customers, as they can provide objective feedback about what is working, and what isn’t. Additionally, PDSA should be combined with other QI (quality improvement methods) such as six sigma or total quality management. So how can PDSA help us and our companies?

PDSA focuses on the most decisive part(s) of any issue, or change, and helps by translating ideas into actionable items. It is based on proven scientific methods and can help moderate impulsiveness – not that any of us are impulsive, by any means! It is important to remove emotional impulsiveness from the equation because – more often than not – knee-jerk reactions tend to harm our business.

What’s also nice about PDSA is that it can help us test changes on a small scale. This smaller scale can then be built on/up before wholesale implementation is rolled out.

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The Growing Concern | March 2022 | 3
STEPHANIE GRAY BrightView Landscape



9240 Broadview Road

Broadview Heights, Ohio 44147

Phone: 440.717.0002

Toll Free: 1.800.335.6521

Web: and


Rick Doll, Jr.


Michael J. Donnellan, M3 Wealth Management

Dr. Jim Funai, PhD., Cuyahoga Community College

Shelley Funai, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stephanie Gray, LIC, BrightView Landscapes

Sandy Munley, Ohio Landscape Association

Bobbie Schwartz, FAPLD, Bobbie’s Green Thumb


Submission deadline: 10th of the month, prior to the month of magazine publication. For advertising rates and ad specs, please call 440.717.0002, or email Rick Doll Jr. at


The Ohio Landscape Association, its board of directors, staff and the editor of The Growing Concern neither endorse any product(s) or attests to the validity of any statements made about products mentioned in this, past or subsequent issues of this publication. Similarly, the opinions expressed in The Growing Concern are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Ohio Landscape Association.



Stephanie Gray, LIC

President – Elect

Cameron Maneri


Ryan Drake

Immediate Past President

Brian Maurer, LIC


Brandon Barker

Tina Graver, LIC

Matt Malone

Tim McCaskey

Bob Ramser, LIC

Kate Stone, OCNT


Executive Director

Sandy Munley

Associate Director

Rick Doll, Jr.

3 5 8 14 18 22 26 30 34 35 PRESIDENT’S COLUMN In Like a lion, or a lamb? WELCOME NEW MEMBERS PERENNIAL FOCUS 10 Early-Blooming, Cold-Hardy Pollinator Magnets FISCAL FITNESS Credit Ratings & the Debt Ceiling FOR SAFETY SAKE Stay Safe as You Gear Up for the Spring Season PLANT OF THE MONTH Prunus laurocerasus: Cherry Laurel FEATURE ARTICLE Leveraging Social Media for Business Connections FEATURE ARTICLE 7 Ways Your Landscaping Business Can Save Money on Gas DIRECTIONS ADVERTISING INDEX FEATURES 4 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
COVER: 2022 Landscape Ohio! Honor Award winner, in the category of Commercial Installation, #1 Landscaping.




MARCH 8, 2023 (NE OHIO)


Crew Leaders work side by side with employees while having to direct and motivate them. They will learn how to effectively manage their team, handle tight deadlines, all while increasing

MARCH 9, 2023 (NE OHIO)


Crew Leaders work side by side with employees while having to direct and motivate them. They will learn how to effectively manage their team, handle tight deadlines, all while increasing



Crew Leaders work side by side with employees while having to direct and motivate them. They will learn how to effectively manage their team, handle tight deadlines, all while increasing



(Mike Rorie: Level Five Leadership)

Now more than ever, your business will benefit from your ability to provide a vision, operate within ethical standards and be decisive. These principles will be the glue that holds your business together during challenging times. Join us as Mike Rorie (GIS Dynamics) discusses Level 5 Leadership and the keys to constructing and managing a competent leadership team. See page 7.


JUNE 15, 2023


Join Ohio’s landscape community for an evening out as we reveal the 2022 Landscape Ohio! Award winners. This is a great opportunity for those of you who have been contemplating entering, or for those of you just looking to spend an elegant night out with industry leaders as we celebrate our industry!


JULY 11, 2023 (Tentative)

PLANT I.D. CLINIC (Central Ohio)

This clinic is a hands-on training opportunity for you and your crews covering the basics of Plant ID for plants typically used in Ohio. Sponsored by Premier Plant Solutions. Registration opens in May 1, 2023.

JULY 13, 2023 (Tentative)


This clinic is a hands-on training opportunity for you and your crews covering the basics of Plant ID for plants typically used in Ohio. Sponsored by Davis Tree Farm & Nursery. Registration opens in May 1, 2023.


AUGUST 3, 2023


Join us at Mallard Creek Golf Club for the OLA Scholarship Golf Classic! Our golf outing was created to help generate funding for our scholarship program, targeting qualified students interested in a vocation within the green profession. Call the OLA at 440.717.0002 for available sponsorship opportunities.

AUGUST cont.

AUGUST 23, 20212


Whether you’re an owner, operations manager, dispatcher, or anyone in between, the OLA’s annual snow and ice management clinic is a can’t miss event for any company focused on improving how they handle the “white side” of their business. More information concerning this year’s event, including presenters, to come! Vendors may call the OLA at 440.717.0002 for available booth/sponsorship opportunities in our mini-trade show exhibit.






The Ohio Landscape Association is delighted to welcome the following members:


Great Lakes Grounds Management, LLC.

P.O. Box 384

Amherst, Ohio 44001

(440) 584-0556

Greg Taylor II

Willow Hill LLC

6291 Chittenden Road

P.O. Box 933 Northeast Ave.

Tallmadge, Ohio 44278

(330) 907-0693


Great Lakes Business Advisors

4644 Graford Lane

Stow, Ohio 44224

4644 Graford Lane

Brad Ruth

Halstead Media Group

600 N Broad St, Ste 5 #2149

Middletown DE 19709

(845) 475-8162

Corey Halstead

The Growing Concern | March 2023 | 5

continued from page 3

Breaking down this system, Plan is the method of setting an objective and coming up with a hypothesis, or prediction. In this phase, we will set the who, what, where and when and how to collect the data. Do is carrying out the plan and documenting our observations. Study is analyzing the data and comparing the results to our predictions and then summarizing all that was learned. And finally, Act will be the initial implementation of the decided upon changes and determining the next cycle, if any.

If there is a particularly big issue that arises, or any thorny problem, I suggest utilizing a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and the 5 Whys. An RCA and the 5 Whys go hand in hand when trying to solve a problem and are part of PDSA. The 5 Whys help explore the relationship of a problem and its underlying root cause, or defect. Asking WHY 5 times is not a lesson in futility, but is a drill down technique to help move past the symptoms of an issue and get to the root of the problem.

So, here’s a quick example of PDSA and the 5 Whys...

Every day you walk out into the garage and it’s a disaster. Everyone’s just leaving tools everywhere. So, what is it you would like to accomplish? A clean garage! And, how are you going to accomplish that?

Plan: Determine one – preferably responsible – person to monitor and police people as they are loading and unloading items in the garage. Ascertain what tools should go where and how they can be checked in and out.

Do: Assign said person, set up storage areas, create checklists.

Study: After an allotted period of time, discuss what is working and what is not. Is the garage cleaner? Can crews find their tools easier? Are the checklists being used on an on-going basis?

Act: If it is working well, problem solved! If not, what changes can be made to further dial it in?

Even before beginning this type of implementation, we can start drilling down concerning what it is that’s causing the mess in the garage by asking WHY?

Why is the garage so messy? Have I ever communicated to my employees that I want it clean and organized?

Why is the garage so messy? Is everyone using the same tools? Would individual tools for individual crews make sense?

Why is the garage so messy? Do people just not care? Do they not feel a sense of ownership?

Why is the garage so messy? Are my crews just in that much of a hurry to get out the door in the morning that they don’t want to stick around at the end of the day?

Why is the garage so messy? Are there no assigned areas for tool storage in my garage? Are these areas not labeled?

While asking the Whys is the beginning of the process, a PDSA cycle is ongoing, and our organizations will inevitably become more efficient as we intuitively adopt the process of looking at all our problems in this manner. That said, don’t forget to:

• Celebrate improvements and lessons learned.

• Communicate accomplishments to internal and external customers, when applicable.

• Take steps to preserve your gains and accomplishments.

• Make long-term plans for additional improvements.

6 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association



MARCH 30, 2023




6:00 PM TO 7:00 PM


7:00 PM TO 8:45 PM





Now more than ever, your business will benefit from your ability to provide a vision, operate within ethical standards and be decisive. These principles will be the glue that holds your business together during challenging times.

Leadership is a basic and essential quality that is paramount to the success of your company. It’s a critical management skill that is often taken lightly and considered a by-product of your efforts rather than a calculated discipline. Your skills in motivating and influencing others toward a common goal may be more important in today’s business environment than ever before.

Join us, March 30, 2023, as Mike Rorie (Former CEO of GIS DYNAMICS) discusses the keys to competent executive leadership, including:

• Leadership lessons he’s learned throughout his career.

• How to construct your leadership team.

• Messages to develop your companies, future leaders & management teams.

• Methods in managing your leadership team.

As former CEO of GIS DYNAMICS and a current board member of Groundsystems, of Cincinnati, Mike enjoys mentoring industry owners for strategic growth and organizational development for their companies. He has spent his entire career in the commercial green industry spanning over four decades, growing his first compan, Ground Masters, into a fivecity regional platform that served over 1,200 customers with over 500 staff members. Mike sold Ground Masters in 2006.

In 2010, Mike became interested in a small business, GIS DYNAMICS, and created the brand GO I LAWN which allowed contractors to do desktop measuring and estimating versus field measuring. He operated the business for 10 years before selling it to Aspire Software, where it now resides. This has turned into PROPERTY INTELLIGENCE.


In 2014, Mike, his daughter Rachel, and former GroundMasters managers incorporated GroundSystems into a Commercial Grounds and Snow Management company.


GIS Dynamics was founded in 2005 as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) company providing custom solutions to a variety of clients. In 2009, a GIS project for a New Jersey landscaper was the catalyst for what GIS now focuses on, Software as a Service applications Go iLawn (www.GoiLawn. com) and GoiPave ( These web based applications are designed to help lawn and landscape, snow removal and pavement maintenance contractors measure properties online to expedite the estimating and proposal process. The company now operates on the ASPIRE software platform, a Service Titan company.





Spring has sprung in many parts of the country, and hungry pollinators are on the wing, looking for food. Planting early blooming perennials is one of the easiest things for a gardener to do to support their local pollinators. The reward is in those delicate first early blooms after the rugged and bleak landscape of winter. Bonus – these early bloomers are some of the toughest and easiest care plants around.


From prolific early-spring blooms to gorgeous, dark red-purple leaves, darkstar Purple Leaf Sand Cherry is rock solid and drought-resistant like others of its kind. Plus it has a compact, upright habit and foliage that doesn’t fade. Pollinators flock to the profusion of white-pink flowers in early spring when many other plants aren’t blooming. Zones 3–9.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies, and birds

Pictured: Darkstar Purple Leaf Sand Cherry

continued on page 10

8 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association PERENNIAL FOCUS
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continued from page 8


A darling of the shade garden, bleeding hearts were loved by Grandma and are just as popular today. Poetically and aptly named, these plants are heavy with pollen-rich flowers that seem to drip from the stems. This variety’s vivid golden foliage can be used for contrast and to brighten darker shade gardens. Heartshaped pink flowers dangle from long wands. Zone: 3–9

Attracts: Native bees, honeybees

Pictured: Gold Heart Bleeding Heart


Lungwort blossoms change from pink or red to blue as the flowers age. Younger pink or red flowers have more pollen and nectar. This signals to pollinators that dinner is served while blue blooms are not going to be as rewarding. Cool, huh? Bees, its primary pollinators, see very well into the ultraviolet. In that range of light, the color change is dramatic. Zones 4–8.

Attracts: Bees, night moths

Pictured: Trevi Fountain Lungwort


The redolent scent of peonies is a “come hither” lure for pollinators. It lets them know there’s yummy pollen and sweet nectar hidden inside those pretty petals. Early Scout Fernleaf Peony is one of the earliest hybrid peonies to bloom. The open petals with huge clusters of pollen-rich, golden stamens make for easy pickings. Zones 3–8.

Attracts: Bees, moths, hummingbirds

Pictured: Early Scout Fernleaf Peony


Many pollinators swarm for blooms with bell-shaped flowers that hint at nectar inside. Jacob’s Ladder produces sweet little blue blooms where little bees fit just right. The pictured variety, Variegated Jacob’s Ladder, is particularly interesting. It has cream and green striped variegation that lends a pop of light to the shadier spots in the garden. Zones 4–8.

Attracts: Bees, hummingbirds, hoverflies

Pictured: Variegated Jacob’s Ladder

10 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association


Who can resist a lilac shrub? Not most gardeners, and certainly not bees. It’s like planting perfume. Even better? A lilac that blooms twice a year, like Little Darling Lilac. This blooms heavily to welcome pollinators in spring, and then blooms again in fall. Zones 4–8.

Attracts: Honeybees, leafcutter bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies including Two-tailed Swallowtail and Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.

Pictured: Little Darling Lilac continued on page 12

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continued from page 11


Compact flowering plants like this Genti White bellflower can have scores of bees working the plant at the same time. Clusters of tightly grouped, pure white, bell-shaped flowers bloom profusely through the summer. Remember, large blocks of the one plant are more attractive to pollinators than ‘one each of everything.’ So plant this one in a mass of many. Zones 4–8.

Attracts: Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies

Pictured: Genti White Bellflower


Hummingbirds love tubular flowers, especially pendant-shaped blooms that nod downward, as this helps stop nectar from being diluted by rain. This new bush-type clematis has indigo blue flowers that are larger and more prolific than similar varieties. After blooming, silvery seed heads develop, lasting into early winter, feasted on by migrating birds. Zones 3–9.

Attracts: Hummingbirds, hoverflies, bees

Pictured: Blue Ribbons Bush Clematis


Plants with a long flowering period are especially valuable to bees. During bad weather, they cannot leave their hive which can result in completely missing a short flowering period. These sweet little shrubs (only 3-ft. tall and wide — so useful!) blooms from spring through fall and their flat, open petals make it easy to drink up. Zones 3–8.

Attracts: Honeybees, native bees, moths, hoverflies

Pictured: Gingersnap Potentilla


Low-growing groundcovers with early blooms provide a special service to bees, especially honey bees. Honey bees cannot pollinate with winds over 25mph, so the lower the food source during windy spring weather, the better. The pictured Chocolate Chip Ajuga is a dwarf evergreen groundcover. It creates a tight mat of bronze-tinged foliage with purple spring flowers. Zones 4–9.

Attracts: Honey bees and native bees

Pictured: Chocolate Chip Ajuga

12 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association


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There were more than 60 AAA rated companies in the early 1990s. Today, only two remain. As recently as 30 years ago, investors could buy many publicly traded company’s stock or debt that bore the most coveted of all credit ratings: AAA.

According to Standard & Poor’s, the AAA rating signifies that an “obligator’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation is extremely strong.”

In determining credit ratings, agencies take several factors into consideration.

In other words, if you bought into a business that had a AAA rating, you were perceived to be buying a company that was viewed as rock-solid.

Unbelievably, virtually no companies, or even the U.S. government, bear the AAA rating any longer. In August 2011, the United States, which was the largest country in the world measured by Gross Domestic Product (total amount of products and services produced), lost its coveted AAA rating.

Standard & Poor’s knocked the United States’ long-term credit rating down one notch to AA+, with the ballooning federal budget deficit following the Great Recession the ultimate culprit of the downgrade.

Less than five years later, in 2016, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil would also lose its AAA credit rating for the first time since 1949. Plunging oil prices and the amount of debt on ExxonMobil’s balance sheet made the company riskier. Many other blue-chip companies’ ratings were downgraded soon after: General Electric, drug giants Pfizer and Merck, Coca-Cola and UPS were a few.

There are now only two companies with the highest credit rating: Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. And remember, the United States is one notch below them.

continued on page 16

14 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
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continued from page 14

This segues into a topic you might have been hearing about: the debt ceiling and can this affect the United States’ credit rating yet again?

The debt ceiling is the amount of money the U.S. Treasury is authorized to borrow to pay its bills. Those obligations include Social Security and Medicare benefits, tax refunds, military salaries and interest payments on outstanding national debt.

The current ceiling is about $31.4 trillion. Now that the U.S. has hit that limit, it is unable to increase the amount of its outstanding debt — and paying its bills becomes trickier.

There is a date at which the U.S. Treasury has no more space available to deploy “extraordinary measures” and maneuver to remain under the debt ceiling. At that time, the Treasury would have exhausted its borrowing authority and not have sufficient funds to pay all its bills and legal obligations in full and on time.

Reaching such a date is not necessarily an event of default or the equivalent of missing a debt service payment. Default occurs when a payment of a security is missed.

Under the Constitution, Congress has the power to authorize the U.S. government to issue debt based on the credit of the United States. Since 1960, Congress has raised the debt ceiling, on-time on over 80 occasions.

When the government’s debt reaches the ceiling, the Treasury Department has historically ceased to issue new debt in the market and has used “extraordinary measures” to avoid defaulting on debt and on other government obligations. Such measures largely rely on borrowing through various means from government accounts, including public-sector retirement funds. Once the president signs a new debt ceiling into law, the Treasury can repay the money it borrowed from government accounts by issuing new debt.

Following the 2022 midterm elections, Congress is even more divided than before. The Republicans now have a slim majority in the House and the Democrats in the Senate, setting the stage for a partisan political debate over the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department announced that it might exhaust its room to maneuver from undertaking those “extraordinary measures” after early June. This gives Congress roughly four months to address the issue. Given the current political dynamics in Congress, there is likely to be

16 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association FISCAL FITNESS

Spring Contractor Workshop

7300 Fair Oaks Rd, Oakwood Village, Oh 44146

Bigfoot Landscape Supply will be holding a Spring Contractor Workshop geared towards contractors new to the business. We will be talking about patio paver installation basics, grass seed and fertilizer application along with Herbicides and insecticides, and will be demonstrating the benefits of a dump bed insert along with many other things. Lunch and Refreshments will be provided.

Thursday April 20th 9am-12pm

• FREE Lunch & Refreshments

• 50/50 Raffle

• Vendors in Attendance & Giveaways ( Buyers Products Company, Unilock, Alliance-Gator, Finn

protracted debate before the issue is resolved. Congress must act to avoid chaos in the financial markets, higher borrowing costs and frozen benefits.

As always, talk to your financial professionals and tax advisors, to determine your specific needs and goals.

Scenarios illustrated are hypothetical in nature, results may vary. Investing is subject to risk which may involve loss of principal. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

The M3 Wealth Management Office does not provide legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation. The information herein is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Trust services are provided by third parties. Neither our firm nor our financial professionals can serve as trustee

Michael J. Donnellan specializes in stock selection and retirement planning. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments at the M3 Wealth Management Office at 17601 W. 130th Street – Suite 1 in North Royalton, Ohio.

Phone number (440) 652-6370 Email:

Securities and advisory services offered through L.M. Kohn & Company

Registered Broker/Dealer Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB 10151 Carver Rd. Suite 100 – Cincinnati, Ohio 45242

Phone:(800) 478-0788

The Growing Concern | March 2023 | 17 SERVICE - SALES - PARTS OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT Most makes and models 12126 York Rd., Unit A North Royalton, OH 44133 440.230.3807
All Seasons, A.M. Leonard )


As the weather grows warmer, and mowers and other outdoor power equipment are put to greater use and new equipment is acquired, remember to instill safe operating practices among your employees. “Think safety first,” says Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “I can’t stress enough the importance of your employees, seasonal help and H2-B workers understanding and following manufacturer’s guidance for safe operation, especially mowers.”

OPEI offers these tips to get your crews and their equipment ready for a safe season:

Identify the differences in your machines. Whether you’re using a zero-turn, ride-on, mid-mount, rear-mount, garden tractor or other type of mower, make sure you and your crew members understand their unique design, requirements, weight classification, and other differences that impact how to use it safely.

Review equipment with your work crews before the season gets rolling. Make sure that all of your workers understand the safety features of all the equipment they are using, and that they are following the manufacturer guidelines and onproduct messages for safe operation. You should perform spot safety checks on your job sites, and incorporate safety checks into your morning roll-out, as well.

continued on page 20

18 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
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Make sure safety features are operable. Take the time to review all of the safety features on all your equipment, and make sure they are operable. Do not disable or modify manufacturer-installed safety equipment. Be sure that you review this with your work crews and check equipment when it returns from a work site.

Keep children away from machines during operation. A child should never be on the equipment. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for bystanders who may be nearby.

Walk the areas you intend to mow and remind crews to do so, as well. Slopes, wet grass and weather may impact the equipment’s performance, as well as safe handling procedures. Remind everyone to pick up sticks and limbs that may have fallen to the ground and any loose objects that could be hit by a mower. Inspect trees for damaged limbs that may get in your way when mowing.

Identify slopes in advance. Follow all manufacturer guidance regarding operating machinery on slopes.

Manufacturer-supplied owner’s manuals and guidance should be readily available. If you have lost the guidance supplied with the machine, look it up online and save a copy of it on your computer, print out a copy, in any language needed, for your employees and keep it in an easily-accessible location like the break room and trucks. Do not remove onproduct safety messages.

Look over equipment before use in the field. Check the air filter, oil level and gasoline tank. Watch for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Replace any parts needed or take your equipment to a qualified service representative. Check to be sure that you have the appropriate, manufacturerrecommended batteries, if needed.

Protect your power. Use only E10 or less fuel in gasolinepowered outdoor power equipment if it is not designed for higher ethanol blends. Add a fuel stabilizer if you don’t use up all the fuel in the tank right away. Burn off any fuel before storing the mower more than 30 days. For more information on safe fueling, go to

For battery-powered equipment, only use battery packs specified by the manufacturer and follow all charging instructions as outlined in the owner’s manual. Be sure to store batteries safely. Keep batteries away from other metal objects, store them in a climate-controlled area, and never stack batteries. Look at your trucks and work trailers and determine how you will store batteries in the field, before the crews leave the garage or office.

Keep your equipment clean. It will run more efficiently and last longer. Always remove dirt, oil or grass before using and storing, and store equipment in a dry place, avoiding damp or wet environments.

20 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
This article was written by Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing outdoor power equipment, small engine, and more. See more at
continued from page 18


• Screened Topsoil (Stored in a hoop house on site.)

• Granite & Sandstone Boulders

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• Prioritize workplace flexibility. Workers prefer jobs that provide more flexibility over those that offer more vacation days. To the extent possible, give workers a say in their schedule, work conditions, work organization, work location, and work tasks.

• Match tasks to abilities. Use self-paced work, selfdirected rest breaks, and less repetitive tasks.

• Avoid prolonged, sedentary work. Prolonged, sedentary work is bad for workers at every age. Consider sit/stand workstations and walking workstations for workers who traditionally sit all day. Provide onsite physical activity opportunities or connections to low-cost community based options.

• Manage hazards. Including noise, slip/trip hazards, and physical hazards – conditions that can challenge an aging workforce more.

• Provide and design ergo-friendly work environments. Workstations, tools, floor surfaces, adjustable seating, better illumination where needed, and screens and surfaces with less glare.

• Utilize teams and teamwork strategies for agingassociated problem solving. Workers closest to the problem are often best equipped to find the fix.

• Provide health promotion and lifestyle interventions including physical activity, healthy meal options, tobacco cessation assistance, risk factor reduction and screenings, coaching, and onsite medical care. Accommodate medical self-care in the workplace and time away for health visits.

• Invest in training and building worker skills and competencies at all age levels. Help older employees adapt to new technologies, often a concern for employers and older workers.

• Proactively manage reasonable accommodations and the return-to-work process after illness or injury absences.

• Require aging workforce management skills training for supervisors. Include a focus on the most effective ways to manage a multi-generational workplace.

The Growing Concern | March 2023 | 21
Call: (330) 274-2569 3498 Frost Road, Mantua, Oh., 44255
The Growing Concern | September 2021 | 23
This article first appeared on the The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) website, located at NIOSH’s mission is to develop new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice. Their vision: Safer, Healthier Workers.

Cuyahoga Community College


Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens


This past January, the two of us were up in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Great Lakes Trade Expo. While not to the scale of the old CENTS show, this is a wonderful trade show to attend in the middle of winter, and well worth the effort to visit and learn.

We’ve always loved getting the catalogs from the growers and nurseries to learn about new plants and refresh on tried-andtrue ones. Sadly, but understandingly, the printed catalog seems to be fading into history, as the cost of printing increases along with the need to stay nimbler.

We visited each of the nurseries to poke around, looking for any plants we’d be unfamiliar with, in effort to nerd-out and learn about them. At one of our favorite nurseries, Eshraghi Nurseries (Oregon), we stumbled upon a plant that just may be a wonderful addition for us still in zone 5 (experiencing temperatures below -10° F).

Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel) is an evergreen shrub in the cherry family, native to Southeast Europe and Asia Minor, It has been used in Western European gardens since the mid

1500s and has also found extreme popularity in the southern states, especially the Carolinas and Georgia.

It is with good reason this plant has high popularity, especially a few select cultivars. Leaves are thick, dark, glossy-green, staying on the plant year-round. Straight species can grow to massive sizes but most landscape plantings will be of classic cultivars, such as ‘Otto Luyken’, which maintains a compact 4 to 5 foot meatball in no need of sheering.

Cherry Laurel’s flowers are incredibly fragrant in spring, in dense racemes between 2 and 5 inches long, shooting out from the shrub. This adds great ornamental appeal in contrast to the dark glossy leaves. Fruits following the spring flower are not so ornamental, reminiscent of our native Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). continued on page 24

22 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
Prunus laurocerasus, Cherry Laurel. Avon 4825 Center Road Avon, OH 44011 Broadview 10001 Broadview Rd. Broadview Heights, OH 44147 Hilliard 6981 Scioto Darby Creek Rd. Hilliard, OH 43026 Better Together Premier Plant Solutions & Willoway Nurseries, Inc
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continued from page 22

It is common to find ‘Otto Luyken’ at home in giant masses (100 plus plants) in commercial plantings in the south, as it builds a dense, weed free backdrop to annual plantings at shopping centers. We’ve found it along the highways, in North Carolina plantings, at exits in the median, looking incredible. This shrub is just as at home in a residential landscape, providing a strong evergreen background to plants that can keep the show going into later spring and early summer.

Unlike many plants in the Rosaceae family, Cherry Laurel is not nearly as susceptible to insect and disease issues. Careful siting in well-drained soil – not heavy clay – and a good amount of sun will lead to minimal pest concerns.

So, back to why we’re so excited with what we saw at the show? Eshragi has developed/trialed three new cultivars that are holding up to at least -15°, holding onto the majority of their leaves through the winter, which should cover nearly all of us in Ohio!

One of these options, ‘Green Goblet’, is a cute little meatball that should stay under 30 inches, with yellow-green new growth highlighted in front of the deep-green, older leaves. It also seems to be OK with more shade in our colder climates

than any previous cultivars of Cherry Laurel. This could become a great replacement for our overly used Boxwood, as just as the rest of the species, this will take heavy pruning quite well for your hedge designs.

Another option, ‘Volcano’, has really neat, dark-red new growth on the leaves, reminiscent of improved cultivars of Pieris. Growing a little bigger – into the 5-foot-tall and 4-foot-wide range, this plant can also be used as a hedge/ formal pruning or left to its own to provide a perfect middleof-the-border plant.

Finally, ‘Greenfinity’ resembles the yellow-green new growth found in ‘Green Goblet’ but will more than double the size coming in around 8-feet-tall and 6-feet-wide. Pop these beautiful evergreens in the back of the border, let them do their flowering in the spring then stand backdrop to all the other cool flowers you can add in front of them.

To be fair, we have seen ‘Otto Luyken’ happy as can be in Cincinnati, as well as in Columbus. We’ve even seen it in gardens along the lake (north of where we live), always teasing us that while they may be North, they get the buffer of the lake keeping them just warm enough.

24 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association PLANT OF THE MONTH

We have tried to push ‘Otto Luyken’ in our own garden, and with such lucky timing as two horticulturists can hope for, this experiment was in 2014 when we had lows around -11° at the start of the year. We likely would have had better success in 2020 when we didn’t see any negative temperatures, but we didn’t get that lucky.

It feels better to attempt this species again now that there are cultivars showing stronger cold hardiness for those of you trapped in the pockets of zone 5 in the north of the state. And listen, those of you that have been growing ‘Otto Luyken’ for years now with no problems… let us have this fun little victory!

Jim Funai, PhD, is full-time faculty at Cuyahoga Community College, a NALP accredited associate of applied science in hoticulture degree program. He has a PhD in Landscape Engineering and Forestry and is a Licensed Arborist. Shelley Funai is Grounds Manager at Stan Hywett Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio, which offers a historic estate designed by Warren H. Manning and a beautiful manor house museum. She is Landscape Industry Certified in Ornamental Plant Care.

The Growing Concern | March 2023 | 25

L eve rag i n g So c ial M e d ia


o r B u s i n e ss Co n n e c t i o n s

What’s the status on social media these days, and how can you leverage it for your company? Here’s an investigative look at how companies can find their place on social media and why it matters in an increasingly digital world.

Since its conception, social media has skyrocketed to one of the main ways we communicate. For businesses, social media has become an unmatched tool for connecting with clients and building brand awareness with minimal to no advertising costs.

Social media consists of social networks, platforms and other outlets where users share their interests, news and ideas in conjunction with content creation and media production. Many platforms have niche areas where groups converge to share similar interests and goals.

In 2019, Statista found that more than 70 percent of adults in the U.S. use at least one social media platform. As of 2021, Backlinko found that more than 4.48 billion people worldwide are using social media, with the average user on 6.6 platforms monthly. The opportunity for connection between people on socials is continuing to grow as more platforms, in the form of apps, are released, adopted and used, especially since the height of COVID-19 when people were unable to connect face to face.

The green industry has a thriving section of the web on social media. Green Industry Pros found a growing community on

continued on page 28

26 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association


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continued from page 26

platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and a rising number of connections on LinkedIn. So how can companies leverage social media, and why does it matter?


Facebook is the leading social network at 2.9 billion monthly active users. It’s safe to say that Facebook may be the most recognizable and universally adopted platform on the web today, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the most important. As trends in socials ebb and flow, popularity in platforms often spikes when something new comes on the market.

For example, TikTok has blown up as users, content creators and businesses find use amid its quick form videos and simple searching hashtags. In September 2021, TikTok hit 1 billion active global users at record speed due to the pandemic. If you like making short form videos, it could be. For longer content like commercials and video podcasts, YouTube is your best bet. TikTok is unique in that its algorithm is hit or miss. It’s extremely possible for one video, out of hundreds you post, to gain traction and go “viral” overnight, with zero promotion.

On the flipside, Facebook is often used by businesses in the same way a website is. Through the business suite, which also connects to Instagram (owned by Meta, Facebook’s

parent company), users can set up a full business page complete with phone numbers, web links, addresses and more. Quicker than with a website-housed blog, users can share information on closings and delays or highlight new products and company changes, all while connecting with clients through comments, likes and messages. It’s the “onestop shop” as far as social media goes, and that’s why it’s often the first one taken advantage of by businesses.

Instagram and Twitter are much more nuanced. Instagram is a quick scroll of pictures that catch the eye—if you’re highlighting a product or project, it’s great for this. The connection between Facebook and Instagram makes it easy to cross-post without an added integrated software solution. Because Instagram doesn’t allow users to link directly to sites in a post, there are additional free hosting sites, such as LinkTree, that give one central, easy mobile spot for links. Twitter, like Facebook, is a sharing of words—but at a capped character length of 280, which can be limiting. One special thing about Twitter is that it uses hashtags to tag tweets to a specific topic, and those tweets can be found by virtually anyone; therefore, the potential for business-to-business connection is huge, specifically from smaller businesses to larger corporations that may “retweet” something they find pertinent, useful or interesting.

FEATURE ARTICLE 28 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association






Step Treads

(Sawn, Snapped, Irregular)

Natural Stone Veneer


Decorative Gravel


LinkedIn is truly the Facebook of business. It is a platform for professionals and companies to market themselves to other professionals and companies. Most people share thoughts and ideas from a business perspective, and that creates a unique space to brand yourself. Connecting on this platform can put users face to face with big names in the industry.

Having a presence on all these major platforms can enhance your business. They are all free, easy to use and can make your business seem full scale even if it’s small. When you have a host of profiles like this and link them on your website, it creates a polished, inter-connected brand image. Additionally, social media can act as a free marketing and advertising tool that is often as simple as typing something out, snapping a quick picture and hitting send. But be wise—business platforms should remain business related and not feature personal content, unless marketing yourself as an expert through your personal LinkedIn profile.


The boom of social networking has proven to be a permanent fixture in our lives today. In just six years, social media use has seen an increase in users of 115.59 percent, according to Backlinko. Renolon estimates that approximately 30.57 million businesses in the U.S. alone are on these platforms,

making it easy to see why a presence is not just useful but may be necessary for the growth of your company’s future.

Additionally, Renolon found that of those businesses using social media, 59 percent say it’s mostly for customer service and communications, 44 percent use it for brand awareness and 41 percent say they use social media to drive revenue.

“It’s evident that social media is an important tool for small businesses. Not only can it help you connect with more customers, but it can also help you learn more about your customers and what they want,” reports Renolon.

One of the beautiful things about social media is that anyone can use it. Everyone, and every business, has the same chance to share content on any given platform, for free. The awareness that comes with this kind of reach is inexplicable and the specialized, yet diverse offerings of the green industry give way to uniqueness in which social media can be leveraged and conquered.

This article was written by Alexis Mizell-Pleasant for Green Industry Pro’s business management blog, located at Green Industry Pros magazine is a national publication that keeps landscape contractors and equipment dealers on top of the latest products, trends and business strategies.

The Growing Concern | March 2023 | 29 REALSTONE REAL STYLE
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Landscapers are feeling the effects of rising gas costs and inflation, and it’s looking like it won’t slow down any time soon. The costs can and will put a cap on how much a landscape business can make per year. Your yearly landscape business budget couldn’t have predicted how drastic price changes have been for gas, and chances are your landscape business is losing a significant amount of money on gas alone if the appropriate price changes weren’t made to current and future estimates. While you can’t strong arm oil companies, the government, and gas stations into making cheaper prices, here are some ways on how your landscape or lawn care business can save money on gas.


It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that driving consumes gas. The less you drive, the lower gas bill your landscape or lawn care business has to pay. Transportation is a necessary cost of landscape business operations, but there are often times where jobs have unnecessary trips that waste both time and gas. These are the classic “I forgot to pack yard waste bags in the truck” or “I’m missing my Allen wrench kit, but I can run out to the hardware store down the street” trips that sneakily

take 30-60 minutes out of a work day. While these trips don’t sound like much time and you might think that it doesn’t happen often enough that it’ll affect your business, the costs of labor, gas, and knocks to job efficiency really mess with budgets for jobs. The gas costs alone add up if you consider how many gallons or liters it takes for these tiny trips. If you could save your landscape business from burning a few hundred dollars over the course of a season, wouldn’t you?

continued on page 32

30 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association

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Travel time from yard to site is a time sink of unbillable hours. Naturally, you would like your crews to spend as little time in transit as possible so that they can get started on the job quicker and burn through as little gas as possible. Sometimes landscape businesses expand their service area to cover too much ground with that travel time and gas costs eating too much into profit margins.

If your landscape business is losing too much money from travel, it might be time to minimize the service area or premiums should be charged to cover travel time and gas. These measures should take the cost away from gas usage and make every job and trip worthwhile and profitable. Also as you’re scaling your landscaping business, consider how these costs can compound as you add to your fleet of trucks. It really adds up when you have moving pieces moving around counties, towns, and cities.


Not everyone can beat the GPS with savvy driving routes through alleys, dirt roads, side streets, or other tricks of the trade. Some route planning, or lack thereof, can be costly for gas depending on the traffic and time of day, as you might be burning through fuel idly sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Thankfully, there are many digital tools that don’t require contractors to know which routes are the fastest and at what time of the day/week/month.

As far as GPS systems go, there are options of strong mapping tools you can use off your phone like Google Maps or Waze. Route planning and job planning is a different story for landscapers. Look for software that can create the most efficient route for multiple jobs throughout the day. This will cut unbillable travel time for your landscaping business, decrease the cost of labor hours, and ultimately save money on gas with the most optimized route possible between jobs.


Fuel surcharges are a new trend being added to landscaping estimates. The idea is to provide some additional insurance within your estimates to account for the fluctuating and increasing gas costs that affect everything from your trucks, skid steers, and gas handheld landscaping equipment. A fuel surcharge should help you offset those fuel costs and help keep your profit margins so that your landscaping business isn’t operating at a profit loss.

This new fuel surcharge has many ways of being deployed in your landscaping estimate. One way is for your landscape company to estimate how many gallons or liters of fuel they expect to use on a job multiplied by desired fuel rate: ( # gallons/liters of fuel x desired fuel rates = total fuel surcharge). Make sure to explain the rate and total amount of fuel for transparency purposes. The more transparency you can provide customers, the more trust will be built in the customer and contractor relationship. If this fuel surcharge is a deal breaker for future estimates, you shouldn’t take the job anyways as it won’t be profitable.


Securing materials is a big enough task in itself with finding proper rates, but scheduling and planning for materials can save your business money that would’ve been spent on labor hours and fuel. The easiest way your business can save money on fuel is to opt for materials delivered to job sites directly or the yard.

Establishing reliable relationships with preferred vendors can go a long way in ensuring materials that arrive on schedule, and opening up options for delivery at reasonable rates. These deliveries are essential in reducing the amount of unbillable time spent waiting or retrieving materials, and there are opportunities to cut deals for better rates when purchases are made in bulk.


Collect those rewards. Gas reward programs and credit cards that give rebates on fuel costs are fantastic ways for your landscape or lawn care business to save money on gas. Each program provides their own terms and conditions, but more often than not, these are fantastic ways to recoup some of the costs of doing business. While it might not work for larger bulk fuel purchases delivered to your yard, this could be a great way to save money for your fleet of trucks.

Be sure to check out gas price mobile apps to find the best deals if you need to fuel up. An app to save money on gas can be added to work phones or tablets, and can always be highlighted in those morning huddles with the whole crew. Just like GPS apps, there are plenty of apps to help you save money on your gas for both your business and personal life.

32 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
This article appeared on LMN’s contractor resources blog, located at Take your business to the next level by automating your entire landscape business with full proven processes, procedures and efficiencies provided by LMN.
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Many of you might have “met” Corey Halstead when he presented “Never Stop Marketing” at an OLA Webinar in August of 2020, when we couldn’t get together in person. Or, maybe you came out to the November of 2022 OLA Annual Meeting when Corey presented “Recruitment Marketing: Attracting Top Talent, Managing Applicants & Making Better Hires, Faster.”

If you missed those presentations, you missed a lot! Corey has a deep understanding of the lawn, landscape, pool, and outdoor living industries, as he grew up in the industry and worked there for many years before moving into the marketing segment of the business.

We have recieved so many positive comments about his knowledge and the information he presented that it led us to talk with him about providing Halstead Media’s services to OLA Members. We love that Halstead specialized in serving green industry companies!

Halstead can design a marketing system to meet your business goals and reach your desired clients. Whether your goal is to reach luxury homeowners for design/build project

sales, grow your lawn care and plant health business with more and better accounts, laser-in on commercial account decision makers, or build product brand loyalty with content amongst your B2B customers, Halstead’s team can bring all the most effective strategies under one roof.

Outside of the OLA partnership their services are not available a la carte, but rather only as a complete system including all components. The OLA partnership allows members to build their marketing strategy gradually over the course of multiple years. Members receive the same talented team, the same proven approach, and the same Halstead experience – but with increased flexibility and control. Members also receive 15% to 30% off Halstead’s standard pricing.

Halstead’s program with OLA is designed for businesses of all sizes and includes important marketing services such as Building a Marketing Strategy; Website Design and Development; Website Hosting; SEO; Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google Ads; Lead Tracking and Analytics; and Videography.

Watch for more information to be rolled out soon. DIRECTIONS 34 | Official Publication of The Ohio Landscape Association
ADVERTISING INDEX 17 A-1 Power Equipment 19 Abraxus/Royalton Supply Landscape Center 17 Bigfoot Landscape Supply 2 Botson Insurance Group, Inc. 25 Boyas Recycling / Pete & Pete 25 Buckeye Stone Works, LLC 15 Cascade Lighting 33 Davis Tree Farm & Nursery, Inc. 36 Ditch Witch Mid States 13 Ecolawn 19 En Garde Deer Defense 29 Frank Brothers Landscape Supply 11 Klyn Nurseries, Inc. 9 Kurtz Bros., Inc. 21 Lakeside Sand & Gravel 33 MRLM Landscape Materials LLC / JTO 6 O’Reilly Equipment 11 Oliger Seed Company 21 Sohar’s / RCPW, Inc. 15 Valley City Supply 31 VanCuren Tree Services, Inc. 23 Willoway Nurseries, Inc. 35 Zoresco Equipment Company The Growing Concern | March 2023 | 35
Mid-States SK600 SK800 SK1050 SK1550 SK3000-Full Size CTL Small Big Bigger Biggest “The Beast” 1-888-DITCHWITCH Columbus, OH Full Service Branch 3660 Interchange Rd, Columbus,OH 43204 Phone 614-443-9751 | Fax 614-443-9219 Pittsburgh, PA Full Service Branch 9052 Marshall Rd, Cranberry Twp,PA 16066 Phone 724-742-2844 | Fax 724-742-2877 Louisville, KY Full Service Branch 400 Sparrow Dr, Shepherdsville,KY 40165 Phone 502-543-3309 | Fax 502-543-9613 Erlanger, KY Service Branch 3461 Piedmont Cr, Erlanger KY 41018 Phone 859-263-5050 (by appt. only) Cincinnati, OH Satellite Service Phone 513-672-3060 Cleveland, OH Satellite Service Phone 330-220-6585 Rochester, NY Satellite Service Phone 585-334-2920 DARE TO COMPARE Ditch Witch Stand-On Skid Steers - Built to OUTperform 9240 Broadview Road Broadview Hts., OH 44147-2517 Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid Cleveland, OH Permit No. 2280 03/23
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