NALP hosted its annual Renewal & Remembrance, an event designed to honor those buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Lauren Rathmell

Colonel Andrea Stahl, now retired, served in the U.S. Army. Not in the positions most think of, like the infantry or artillery. Colonel Stahl spent her career as a medical service officer, first as a military ambulance platoon leader and later on working to support medical research.

Most people, Colonel Stahl said, don’t realize the importance of medical research in the army. Our servicemen face injuries and illnesses not common to civilians.

For example, Colonel Stahl shared the story of Dr. Leonard Smith. He worked at Ft. Detrick as a lead investigator developing a Ricin Vaccine. Smith’s son David, joined the Marines right out of high school.

“By all accounts, he was a wonderful young man,” she said. “His father said he joined the Marines because he wanted to make a difference and he felt strongly about putting the lives of others ahead of his own.”

David was killed January of 2010 by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. He was on guard duty at a local market. David was buried in section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery.

It’s stories like the Smith family that represent why Renewal & Remembrance takes place each year. Those who volunteer are doing so as a way to give back to those who gave the most for their country.

This year, at the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ 23rd annual Renewal & Remembrance on July 15, hundreds of landscape professionals, suppliers and their families were on site ready to work. Split into multiple teams and spread throughout the over 400,000 grave sites, volunteers spread lime, evaluated irrigation systems, planted flowers and aerated the grounds.

“As you walk and work these grounds, 31 Americans will be interned in the earth,” said Ken Taylor, the general sales manager of John Deere’s Corporate Business Division. “It is to these defenders of freedom and the American way of life, that we now dedicate our work at Arlington National Cemetery.”

The next day, NALP hosted education sessions to help landscape professionals work together with the government on policies and procedures to benefit the industry. Later in the week, attendees met with state representatives on Capitol Hill for the annual Legislative Days. Look for coverage of Legislative Days in an upcoming issue of Lawn & Landscape.

The wait is on

Bayer experts shed light on how they get a product approved for commercial use. By Jimmy Miller

NAPLES, Fla. – Lawn care operators always want new products to battle emerging weed pressures, but the process of manufacturing those products might take nearly a decade’s worth of work.

At Bayer’s recent Focus on Florida event, company officials gave media a glimpse at what goes behind establishing a new product. When the company develops something with a new active ingredient, the rigorous process involves somewhere between 120 and 180 studies. Scientists might screen up to 10,000 different molecule compounds, and field trials. None of that’s to mention how getting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency can take years, and the EPA often tweaks its own deadlines to accommodate for backlogged requests.

And if a case study goes poorly somewhere along the way? The whole project is sunk, and the company might be out millions of dollars with nothing to show for it.

“The cogs are turning. It’s a huge investment in time, money. It’s just tremendous,” said Sheryl Wells, one of Bayer’s field development representatives. She previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry and said studies on how the product affects air or water quality don’t pertain to her last line of work. “There’s more studies and more requirements for a product in this industry than there is in the products that you put in your body, like the drugs that you take.”

How it starts.

Bayer’s scientists will develop thousands of chemical compounds in the process of finding just one that will make it to commercialization. Those scientists will narrow down the options to just a handful for field trials, which Wells said must be kept secret to protect the company’s intellectual property.

This process alone takes four or five years as product development representatives define how the product actually works: They help answer questions like how well does it mix? What’s the viscosity like? Does it go in suspension and will it stay in suspension? Does it have a smell when mixing or applying? They’ll send the product back to scientists, who will tweak the product to prevent small details like strong odors or discoloration on nearby hardscapes.

Though fungicides are often tested in northern climates, many of these trials on herbicides are conducted in Florida, where Bayer has several testing facilities. This is also because of the state’s distinct climate that promotes the growth of various weeds and pests.

“If a pest exists,” Wells said, “it happens here (in Florida).”

Bayer’s Sheryl Wells and Zach Lane (left) pose with Terry Wood, the director of grounds operations at Mediterra in Naples, Florida, and Bayer’s Todd Lowe (right). The company hosted a media event in July.
Photo by Jimmy Miller

Getting the green light.

Around the seventh year of production, a team of regulatory officials at Bayer will start compiling a dossier to submit to the EPA. This could include hundreds of pages of data that needs submitted, and it could take two or three years to even get approved.

If approval is achieved, it doesn’t take long after that until a product is launched. Sales managers start doing large-scale demonstrations to convince users that the product will be worth purchasing. The patent life on a product ranges between 17 and 20 years, so Bayer officials said their sales team have the disadvantage of only having the remaining seven to 10 years after a product hits the market to make up for millions spent on development.

But the headaches don’t often end once the regulatory team submits the dossier. The EPA is required to set dates by which they have to take an action, though the action doesn’t mean deny or approve the new active ingredient. The action could be that they request more trials, or it could be that they are pushing back the decision date even further.

“You’re basically at the mercy of the (EPA),” said Mike Ruizzo, a Bayer regional sales manager. “We’re sitting there waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting – the clock’s still ticking, we don’t get an extension on patent life. So, if it takes an extra year, we just lost another year in the marketplace.”

There are also regulations on how to advertise a product before it’s officially registered. Companies can talk about the product in a technical way, like giving the facts on what it should help with once it’s out, but they can’t talk about it promotionally. Or, companies can announce they’ll be releasing a new product and give its name, but they won’t be able to say more about what it does. Once you pick one of those paths, you have to stick with it.

All of this amounts to what Bayer officials believe is a tough sales climate. “Two or three failures,” Ruizzo said, “and you’re out of business.” Plus, he said other companies making generic versions of their products can simply cite the original company’s case studies and manufacture their own versions of the product once it receives government approval. This essentially undercuts the first company’s sales teams by offering cheaper alternatives without having spent as much money on it in the first place.

“As long as we can spend to do this kind of thing, there will be new products for lawn care operators,” Ruizzo said. “If things change and get so bad that it’s super restrictive for us to bring new products to the market, there’ll be a lot less tools for the lawn care operator to use.”

A quiet ride

Lawn & Landscape got an up close look at Greenworks’ entry into the UTV market. By Lauren Rathmell

With a trail set up at a vineyard outside Charlotte, North Carolina, the new CU 800 UTV from Greenworks Commercial went on a test drive last month at the company’s official press event.

The latest from the battery powered equipment company, the CU 800 is powered by a UL-certified 13.8kw lithium-ion battery. The design is set up similar to a traditional gas-powered UTV, with a parking brake and throttle. Speed is controlled by an operator switch, indicating higher or lower gears. The vehicle tops out at 35 mph and can sustain 90 miles on a full charge.

Protocols for the vehicle are similar to other battery-powered products. For example, Corey Fisher, engineering manager, says as the UTV sits over a period of time, like during winter months, the battery life will only decrease about 8 percent. He recommends unplugging the batteries completely during long periods of rest.

A carrying capacity of 500 pounds makes the UTV capable of transporting other equipment, and it is capable of towing 1,500 pounds. Customization options include mud tires, a 3,500-lb. winch, full windscreen and a camouflage wrap. As far as color options go, the UTV is also available in black.

Greenworks founder Yin Chen said a UTV made sense for the company as they strive to be leaders in the battery-powered equipment market. With the vehicle proving to be a quieter alternative to gas, he said it will work well in the hunting industry as well.

A prototype of the UTV was previewed at GIE+EXPO last year, and is now officially available through Carswell, Carswell OEI, PACE and Steven Willand independent dealer networks alongside other Greenworks Commercial equipment. The CU 800 comes with a price tag of $24,999 and a two-year battery and equipment warranty.

The company also launched a new system of tools geared toward homeowners that prefer to shop through dealer channels. The new dual voltage 48/24V System operates on a lithium-ion 48/24V power platform. The batteries are designed to automatically switch over from one voltage to the other when inserted into tools matching the voltage platform.

NALP opens national search for next CEO

Former CEO Sabeena Hickman stepped down earlier this year and was replaced by interim leader Carol Keeling.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals has initiated a national search to identify its next Chief Executive Officer.

After nearly 12 years of service to the professional lawn care and landscape industry, former CEO Sabeena Hickman stepped down from the position. NALP’s board of directors named Carol Keeling as interim CEO shortly after.

The organization’s board of directors has identified the experiences and competencies that will be sought in the new staff leader and created an extensive position description that can be found online to recruit interested candidates. Heidrick and Struggles, a Chicago-based executive search firm, has been retained to facilitate the selection process. Expressions of interest should be sent to Heidrick & Struggles.

Juniper acquires Coast to Coast Landscaping

Coast to Coast Landscaping operates in the Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie area with over 220 employees.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Juniper Landscaping, ranked 21st on Lawn and Landscape’s Top 100 list, has acquired the assets of Coast to Coast Landscaping along with its affiliated companies.

The Coast to Coast companies (Southeast Irrigation, Coast to Coast Pest Control and East Coast Tree Company) will continue to operate as Coast to Coast Landscaping with the full backing of the Juniper Landscaping brand and team. All employees have been retained and this is Juniper’s third acquisition, as they’ve also acquired Turner Tree and Landscape and Prestige Property Maintenance.

Coast to Coast Landscaping is a regional provider of landscape maintenance services in the Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie area with over 220 employees.

“The addition of Coast to Coast Landscaping allows us to continue the quest of providing best in class landscape services anywhere in the state of Florida,” said Brandon Duke, Juniper CEO. “Jeff Gomez and his team are a great fit with our core values and we are excited about what our combined strength can accomplish for our customers and employees.”

Bartlett Tree Experts acquires Reid’s Tree Care

Reid’s is based out of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and has been in operation since 1977.

Tom Reid founded Reid’s Tree Care in 1977 in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and his wife, Sally Futrell, joined him in 1980. Reid’s Tree Care serves the Chagrin Valley and eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Reid’s employees have become members of the Bartlett team in Cleveland, led by Chad Clink, who continues to grow Bartlett’s Cleveland operations.

“Bartlett is a long established, family-owned company with the same goal we’ve had over the years: scientific plant health care,” Futrell said.

Bartlett Tree Experts was founded in 1907, and the organization’s current chairman, Robert A. Bartlett Jr., represents the third generation of Bartlett family management. Bartlett has over 130 offices and over 2000 teammates in the United States, Canada, Ireland and Great Britain.

“We see tremendous opportunities throughout the Ohio market and Cleveland is one of those areas with a bright future for Bartlett. We began our Cleveland operations as a long-distance extension of our Columbus office, led by our manager Brian Moody,” said Scott Jamieson, Midwest Division vice president. “In Ohio, there is a long history of quality tree care, outstanding trees and clients who appreciate great arboriculture. Reid’s Tree Care is one of those outstanding tree care companies in the Cleveland market and we are honored to have them join our team.”

ASV enters definitive merger agreement with Yanmar

The transaction is subject to approval by ASV stockholders and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Grand Rapids, Minn. – ASV Holdings, a provider of rubber-tracked compact track loaders and wheeled skid steer loaders, has entered into a definitive merger agreement with an affiliate of Yanmar Holdings.

Under the terms of the agreement, which been approved by both the ASV and Yanmar boards of directors, ASV stockholders will receive $7.05 in cash for each outstanding share of ASV common stock for a total value of $70.7 million. The ASV board of directors unanimously approved the agreement with Yanmar.

The combination of ASV’s compact track loaders and skid steer loaders with the compact equipment portfolio of Osaka, Japan-based Yanmar, creates a global provider of compact equipment with virtually no overlap in distribution networks.

The transaction is subject to approval by ASV stockholders and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019. In conjunction with the merger agreement, a subsidiary of Terex Corporation, which owns 34 percent of the outstanding shares of ASV, has entered into a stockholder voting agreement in support of the merger.

“We are excited to announce this value-maximizing transaction with Yanmar. Yanmar is a strong strategic buyer for ASV. Yanmar shares our vision to provide the highest-quality products, values the long legacy of ASV and is committed to supporting its employees and distribution partners,’ said Andrew Rooke, ASV chairman and CEO. “In addition to maximizing value for ASV stockholders, the merger will create a strong platform for growth and expansion, bringing together two leading brands with similar cultures and creating value. The ASV product is complimentary to the Yanmar portfolio of compact equipment creating a comprehensive equipment solution for current and future customers.”

Rooke said Yanmar will gain its only manufacturing facility in North America and will, in return, contribute its considerable global presence and financial strength.

Fahey Group acquires robotic mowing company Robin Autopilot

Robin Autopilot operates through 15 franchisees in 12 states and has over 1,000 customers who use robotic mowers.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fahey Group, a Cleveland-based group led by entrepreneur Logan Fahey, has acquired Robin Autopilot, a manufacturer of robotic mowers for the U.S. market.

Robin Autopilot offers robotic mowers on a subscription-based service that are battery-powered, programmable and energy- and cost-efficient. They can be used daily to keep a lawn trimmed to a precise length. The automated mowers may also offer cost savings for landscape service providers who are challenged by a lack of available workforce in many markets.

Founded in 2015 by Justin Crandall and Bart Lomont, Robin Autopilot operates through 15 franchisees in 12 states and has more than 1,000 customers with robotic mowers in use. Landmark Automation, a Fahey Group company, owns and operates the franchises in Cleveland and Tampa, Florida.

Following the acquisition, Robin Autopilot will move its headquarters from Dallas to Cleveland, and it will be supported by 12-plus employees as the company focuses on growth, Fahey said. It also will continue its partnership with Cleveland-based MTD Products, a producer of outdoor power equipment. MTD produces the robotic mowers and is an original investor in Robin Autopilot.

“Headquartering the company in Cleveland where both Fahey Group and MTD are located can help streamline our service and deployment collaboration as we continue to expand the business and bring this technology to new markets,” said Logan Fahey, who will become CEO. “In addition to our strong management team, the deal is backed by investors, including Garrett Baker, who is a current franchisee in Lubbock, Texas who have scaled similar businesses and believe robotic mowing represents the future of landscaping services.”

Robin Autopilot co-founders Crandall and Lomont will continue to support the management team during the transition and will stay on as advisors.