Photo courtesy of Dave Mitchell

Dave Mitchell feels confident in saying that over the course of your lifetime, you’ll meet a group of people that will fundamentally irritate you.

Mitchell, a keynote speaker at Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 event in Nashville, told attendees that people sometimes meet others and instantly know they’ll get along. Statistically, Mitchell said this happens roughly 25% of the time, while another 25% of the time, “you say to yourself, ‘You know, you might be the Antichrist.’”

That estimated arithmetic leaves 50% of interactions to be somewhere in between, where good communication comes in waves. Mitchell would know: He’s the founder of The Leadership Difference and has authored books on understanding people, yourself and peak performance culture.

To find success, he said leaders need to find ways to improve those numbers and make it so that great initial connections with people goes from 25% to closer to 50% or even 75%.

“That to me is the leadership difference,” he says. “Those are the people that excel most in life.”

Private islands.

While Mitchell says there’s always going to be a subset of the population you can’t quite figure out, a good starting point is recognizing we all have our own cognitive schemas.

In short, cognitive schemas are how we analyze and process information. Our brains take the information provided to us and use past experiences to influence our reactions. For example, a baby isn’t likely to react to a ball being thrown its way, but after a while, children learn to try and catch the ball, dodge the ball or at least flinch.

Another instance Mitchell offered was how an American traveling in Europe might react to driving on the left side of the road rather than the right. But the experiences don’t need to be so jarring — we all install different schemas based on countless interactions we have with our environment.

“In other words, we are all delusional – we are all living in our own private island,” Mitchell said. “Two people can have exactly the same experience but walk out with different cognitive schemas. How are we able to communicate at all when we are living in our own delusion?”

Knowing the score.

Mitchell said that because of our own schemas, we might have difficulties interacting with certain people. He handed out an assessment at the event, that can be found at bit.ly/lawnmitchell so attendees ranked themselves on several categories and tallied their scores below.

Questions on the assessment tasked attendees with ranking themselves on a scale of “1” on the answer that best matches the statement, with “4” being the lowest score.

The lowest scores meant attendees most identified with those personality traits.

Hitting the right buttons.

Acknowledging those personality differences is not necessarily the outright solution to communication problems, but Mitchell said keeping that perspective in mind is helpful.

Once you can properly figure out what personality traits matches with the person across from you, Mitchell said you can strategize on how to deal with them.

This can be particularly helpful in managing clients. Romantics, Mitchell said, want a professional who will empathize with them.

Meanwhile, the Warriors want a professional who can just get it done on time without bothering them. The experts will ask questions and want to work with someone who offers detailed, accurate information. On the other hand, the Masterminds want a professional who offers a unique experience; for landscaping, they want their lawns to look different from everyone else’s.

Mitchell said these differences are not a matter of right or wrong.

“These are not opposites,” he said. “They’re just different styles.”

Visit bit.ly/lawnmitchell to take the assessment.”

Neighborly acquired by global investment firm KKR

Neighborly is the parent company for the Grounds Guys, which ranked No. 25 on our Top 100 list.

NEW YORK — KKR, a global investment firm, has acquired Neighborly, a provider and franchisor of home service brands. KKR, which also owns BrightView, acquired Neighborly from Harvest Partners, and financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Through a portfolio of 28 brands, including The Grounds Guys, the company offers a wide array of services including plumbing, pest control, restoration, electrical, cleaning, HVAC, home inspection and more. Neighborly has built a network of more than 4,800 franchises both in the U.S. and internationally.

“Today’s milestone is a strong validation of our business-building strategy and differentiated ability to deliver essential home services,” said Mike Bidwell, president and CEO of Neighborly. “We are excited to embark on our next chapter of growth with KKR’s support and global expertise and look forward to continuing to be a partner of choice for both customers and franchise owners in the years to come.”

“In a large and highly fragmented industry, Neighborly stands out for its differentiated strategy of bringing together adjacent services under a diversified and tech-enabled platform, and — most importantly — for its unrivaled dedication to customer service,” said Felix Gernburd, managing director at KKR. “We are thrilled to be investing in the Neighborly team as they continue to execute on their mission: enriching people’s lives by delivering amazing experiences.”

The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2021.

The Greenery acquires Martex Services

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — The Greenery recently acquired Amelia Island-based Martex Services Landscape Management. This acquisition will allow Martex Services as a division of The Greenery to grow as a landscape provider in the greater Amelia Island/Jacksonville market. The company provides commercial landscape services to resorts and hotels, office parks and distinguished gated communities of northeast Florida.

“The team at Martex Services is excited about this new relationship working with The Greenery,” said Tom Livingston, president of Martex Services. “Our employees are staying on board and will continue to work hard to preserve our long-standing reputation in the community for the very best landscaping services.”

Over the past 50 years, The Greenery is employee-owned and has grown to over 850 employee-owners.

“A strong connection between The Greenery, Inc. and Martex Services is longevity. Each business started in 1973, with both companies thriving through a reputation for superior work and customer satisfaction,” said Lee Edwards, CEO of The Greenery. “We look forward to continuing to provide quality landscape services to the people and businesses of Amelia Island and Jacksonville.”

Martex Services will now operate under the leadership of The Greenery. The leadership team will work closely with Martex, their preexisting management, and their employees over the next several months to ensure a smooth transition. The company employs 75.

Clean Scapes becomes fully employee-owned

The company ranked 30th on Lawn & Landscape's Top 100 list.

AUSTIN, Texas — Clean Scapes recently transitioned to an 100% employee-owned company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

"The success of our company can be directly attributed to the culture we have created and maintained at Clean Scapes,” said Ivan Giraldo, co-founder and president of the Austin-Texas based company. “Transitioning to an ESOP allows Clean Scapes to maintain its character while executing its vision of becoming Texas’s most trusted commercial landscape partner.

“With quality labor being one of the commercial landscaping industry’s largest concerns, it is important for Clean Scapes to establish a benefit that attracts new employees and incentivizes those wanting to establish a career with Clean Scapes.”

An ESOP is a type of tax-qualified defined contribution plan through which eligible employees will receive a benefit linked to Clean Scapes’s future value. The company ranked 30th on Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 list with almost $70 million in 2020 revenue.

“Clean Scapes has always valued our employees, without them we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Damien Matherne, CFO. “In my opinion, commercial landscaping is an under-appreciated industry. From technology to logistics to relationships, it is a complex business that requires multiple skill sets. By transitioning to an ESOP, we are establishing ourselves as more than just industry leaders. We are establishing ourselves as a business leader in Texas regardless of industry.”

Aspire acquired by ServiceTitan

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Aspire Software has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by ServiceTitan.

ServiceTitan, most recently valued at $9.5 billion, serves more than 7,500 trade businesses across various home and commercial service verticals.

Founded in 2014 by Mark Tipton and Kevin Kehoe, Aspire serves hundreds of commercial landscapers that collectively count more than 50,000 and perform just under $4 billion in annual transactions across landscaping, snow and ice and construction.

As a part of the acquisition, Aspire will continue to build its business in St. Louis with the support and investment of ServiceTitan. Aspire customers can expect, over time, access to ServiceTitan's suite of Pro Products.

John Deere offering JDLink connectivity service at no additional charge

Customers with active JDLink connectivity will no longer be required to renew their subscriptions.

MOLINE, Ill. — John Deere is improving the ability for customers to maximize machine performance and uptime through updates to the JDLink platform. Customers now will no longer need to renew their JDLink connectivity service subscription and can enable their JDLink service on any compatible machine in their organization at no additional charge. Additionally, once customers enable JDLink connectivity, they can select to automatically activate all future JDLink compatible models, further streamlining fleet management.

“John Deere has offered telematics for well over a decade and the boost in machine monitoring and machine uptime has been an overwhelming benefit to our customers, “said James Leibold, product marketing manager, connected solutions, John Deere. “With the next phase of our JDLink offering, we are making it easier for customers to manage their fleets. Instead of needing to keep track of renewal dates by each machine, owners and fleet managers can look at monitoring their equipment holistically and can focus on what’s important — keep their job sites running.”

Available on most new models, John Deere’s JDLink telematics solution delivers valuable fleet insights directly into the hands of the machine owner or fleet manager. The JDLink service enables customers access to vital data, such as machine location and utilization, time in idle, fuel level, upcoming maintenance, machine alerts, and more, all from a web or mobile platform.

Beyond machine monitoring, the JDLink solution also enables John Deere Connected Support, enabling the dealer to remotely identify issues and take action minimizing potential downtime or by remotely sending software payloads to ensure the machine is running efficiently.

TaskEasy, Home Depot launch program for new DEWALT mowers

Partnership will give TaskEasy contractors improved financing options and priority dealer support.

SALT LAKE CITY — TaskEasy, an on-demand landscaping service with more than 15,000 independent landscaping companies in its network, and The Home Depot have teamed up to launch a program that offers TaskEasy landscapers priority access, preferred pricing and financing for the new DEWALT line of commercial outdoor power equipment.

Exclusively available at The Home Depot, this new lineup of DEWALT commercial mowers is manufactured by MTD Products Inc. and sold under license from Stanley Black & Decker (SBD).

To make it easier for TaskEasy contractors to get commercial lawn mowers, the new program includes financing options and priority dealer support.

“Our goal is to become an even bigger partner to pro landscaping contractors, and when we launched the line of commercial DEWALT mowers, we knew we wanted to offer more ways to support them and their businesses,” said Scott Moore, merchant for chore and riding mowers at The Home Depot.

“That’s why we’re excited to offer this special program featuring financing and support to the more than 15,000 landscape entities within the TaskEasy network.”

The new DEWALT fleet of commercial walk-behind and zero turn lawn mowers are specifically designed for the landscape professional. The line comes with a support program combining the best of local dealer service support and financing with the accessibility of local Home Depot stores.

The new line of DEWALT Commercial Mowers, Pro Support Hub and Project Loan financing options from The Home Depot are all designed to make things easier for the landscape professional.

With the Pro Support Hub, owners will have priority service at a network of local authorized dealers, fast access to dedicated customer support experts, a parts finder to quickly identify and order parts and more.

“Until now, the only real way to purchase a commercial lawn mower was to go to a local specialty dealer, and unless you were spending significant amounts of money with them every year, you just didn’t get the priority support, financing and service needed,” said Karl Sowa, president of TaskEasy. “Now, TaskEasy landscapers can get all of those things by simply walking into their local Home Depot and purchasing any DEWALT commercial mower.”

2 join SePRO’S Turf & Ornamental division

Dr. Aaron Palmateer will serve as a technical development leader, while Casey Zeller has been named a portfolio leader.

CARMEL, Ind. — John Wendorf, director of SePRO’s Turf & Ornamental division, announced that Dr. Aaron Palmateer has joined as a technical development leader for Ornamentals.

“Dr. Palmateer is a great friend to the industry. He has helped so many growers solve their disease issues. It is hard not to know him, through his many speaking engagements, articles and in-person visits” Wendorf said. “He is an authoritative voice in this arena, and we are thrilled to have him join SePRO.”

Palmateer’s career has covered a broad geography that goes beyond the boundaries of the United States.

“I’ve been fortunate to have first-hand experiences in managing pests and diseases in ornamental plants not only in the U.S. but in Central America and the Greater Caribbean, too. This has afforded me the opportunity to better understand threats that our SePRO customers might face,” Palmateer said.

Palmateer received his doctorate in plant pathology from Auburn University and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Plant and Soil Science from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

“I am excited about joining the SePRO team. I’ve watched their commitment to innovation continue to evolve and I am eager to be a part of what’s next,” Palmateer said.

“Palmateer’s extensive background in plant pathology will prove to be invaluable to our customers. Not only is Dr. Palmateer well versed in pest and disease management, his solutions are instrumental in reducing and eliminating threats that could result in severe economic losses,” said Dr. Greg Armel, SePRO’s vice president of research, regulatory and innovation.

Wendorf also announced the addition of Casey Zeller who joins as the portfolio leader for turf & ornamental.

“Casey has spent many years in his career focusing on finding new technical solutions and making them available to customers and helping well-known brands improve their go-to-market strategies to better serve their clientele. He brings to our team a fresh perspective and I’m quite confident he will contribute valuable insights to our division,” Wendorf said.

Zeller, an Indiana native, grew up on a grain and livestock operation where his family continues to farm and raise registered Angus cattle. “In farming, there’s always room for improvement. Ideas to be explored to achieve better results, whether that’s growing a healthier crop or raising healthier livestock,” Zeller said. “The same approach is essential to brands, too, and I have made it a point to place innovation at the forefront of everything I do.”

Zeller received a degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. “I am excited to leverage my expertise to help the Turf & Ornamental division provide even greater support to their customers,” Zeller said. “SePRO is well respected in its category, and I’m honored to be joining the T&O team.”

“Casey’s enthusiasm for pursuing innovative solutions is refreshing and exactly what our growing division needs,” said Sam Barrick, vice president of marketing for SePRO. “He’s clearly passionate about specialty markets, he’s not afraid of leading the charge and he’s well equipped to help us elevate our vision for the Turf & Ornamental division.”

HindSite Software names Rightmire as new CEO

The company’s founder, David Crary, will transition to the role of chairman.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — HindSite Software named Ted Rightmire as CEO of the company.

David Crary, founder and owner of HindSite, is moving to the role of chairman and will be continuing to invest in the company.

Rightmire brings a legacy knowledge of HindSite, returning to the company after being previously brought on as the company’s third employee in 2004. During his first stint at HindSite, Rightmire rose from intern to support manager and, ultimately, to marketing manager before leaving in 2012.

“It’s a great story, to go from intern to CEO over the course of 18 years. HindSite has always felt a bit like home, and it’s great to be back with a team that lives their values, and understands their clients,” Rightmire said.

As Rightmire steps into the CEO role, HindSite looks to accelerate development of FieldCentral, their cloud-based software. FieldCentral provides owners with an “at a glance” dashboard for their operations, and is designed with the built-in tools to help manage and grow their business.

“We’re poised to bring some new exciting tools into the market with our FieldCentral product, to help current and future clients,” Rightmire said. “For us, that’s what it’s all about.”

National Heat Safety Coalition established as advocacy group

Magid, Mission and The Korey Stringer Institute will provide heat safety research and solutions.

STORRS, Conn. — Mission, which provides cooling and heat relief technologies and Magid, the industrial leader in workplace safety innovations, is teaming up with The Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut to form the National Heat Safety Coalition.

Magid, Mission and KSI will serve as an advocate group for heat stress prevention, establishing heat safety solutions and standards for the industrial sectors. The National Heat Safety Coalition will provide heat-safety research, solutions, education and awareness with the sole purpose of eliminating heat-related injuries and illnesses in the workplace. The National Heat Safety Coalition will kick off with a series of virtual roundtable discussions with major companies and consumer groups.

Millions of U.S. workers are exposed each day to heat related illness in their workplaces. 50%-70% of outdoor fatalities, occur in the first few days of working in hot environments. Heat illness is a problem indoors, as many manufacturing facilities, with heat-producing equipment and no air conditioning, are hotter on the inside than the summer temperatures outside.

By forming the National Heat Safety Coalition, the organizations also aim to address the risk factors that may increase susceptibility of heat-related illnesses on the job and establish best-practice recommendations for prevention.

“The formation of this coalition will help develop better methods for heat safety such as body cooling, work to rest ratios, and hydration, which is an important part of our commitment to protecting workers,” said Dr. Douglas Casa, a national expert on heat safety and CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute.