ABOVE (from left): Leadership Award winners Larry Wilson, Zachary Johnson, Paul Fields, Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta, Larry Ryan and Chuck Bowen, editor and associate publisher of L&L, pose following the awards ceremony, held in Louisville, Kentucky, in October.
Photo by Brian Horn

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Lawn & Landscape welcomed four industry leaders to its 2016 Leadership Awards class.

The Lawn & Landscape Leadership Awards, sponsored exclusively by Syngenta, are given annually to business owners, educators and others allied to the green industry who have gone above and beyond in their dedication to their field.

The awards were presented in late October at the Ice House in Louisville, Kentucky.

“This industry and profession would not be successful without leaders like those we honored last night,” said Stephanie Schwenke, turf market manager at Syngenta.

“They set a great example for the rest of us to continue to strive for excellence in our work. Syngenta is proud to partner with Lawn & Landscape to honor these industry leaders and their impact on the lawn and landscape profession.”

This year’s winners are:

  • Paul Fields, Lambert’s Landscape
  • Zachary Johnson, Colorado State University
  • Larry Ryan, Ryan Lawn & Tree
  • Larry Wilson, Lawrence Landscape Design

“We are so lucky to share the stories of this year’s Leadership Award winners,” said Lawn & Landscape Editor and Associate Publisher Chuck Bowen. “They are living examples of what makes the landscape industry great.”

Ask The Experts

Vehicle inspection, driver training and installation ratios

Q: Our admin just asked me a question about the daily vehicle inspection reports. We currently fill out a single form for each vehicle for each day that it is used. It appears these forms are really stacking up. How long are we required to store these forms? Is there a DOT or OSHA requirement?

A: Depending on the size of the vehicle (I would assume commercial trucks), you may need to comply with both federal and/or state department of transportation requirements.

If your firm does not have larger commercial trucks, then you would not need to be concerned with the Federal Motor Carrier regulations. These refer to large trucks like over-the-road semis used in interstate commerce. I worked for a landscape firm many years ago that owned three large tractor-plus-trailer rigs that hauled sod and ornamental plants from state to state and obviously had to comply with interstate regulations from the feds. These regulations have become more stringent with time and inspection reports must be filed and maintained for up to 12 months.

However, if your firm's commercial vehicles are trucks like stake-body or pick-up truck types, and your drivers are required to fill out daily inspection reports, the consensus appears to be to maintain the reports for six months. The final say would obviously come from your state DOT, so you may want to forward an online question on record maintenance to their website.

© Takoburito | Thinkstock

Sam Steel

NALP Safety Advisor

Q: Would you be able to help me find any available information on driver training and driver safety? I am working on revamping our driver training to make it more systematized and thorough with specific requirements that each new driver must complete before being authorized to drive a company vehicle (e.g. drug test and DOT card, drive with a supervisor on the road for a total of 24 hours, back the truck and trailer into a parking spot, complete a circle check, etc.) A guideline would be helpful.

A: One option for you and the firm would be to check with the National Safety Council on their defensive driving programs.

There are various programs customized to the type of vehicle fleet your business utilizes.

The National Safety Council's website (bit.ly/defensedrive) should have a complete description of the various programs and a listing of available trainers in your region.

Your approach with ride time of 24 hours minimum with a supervisor is a very good idea as long as the supervisor is well trained, perhaps the driver training supervisors could be enrolled in a formal driver training program and then provide the ride time supervision of new drivers for the firm.

Some regions are high-traffic areas and vehicle fleets use interstates and a multitude of congested highways to reach jobsites. Please keep in mind that your drivers (and crew members) may be parking along roadways where they need to be visible to passing vehicles. Under these conditions, I would suggest training on safety vests and traffic cones to clearly mark and identify the work areas where your employees are present. OSHA has recommendations on their website about this topic.

And if your firm performs snow removal during the winter months, you should consider specialized training for your plow, sanding and salting vehicles.

Sam Steel

NALP Safety Advisor

Q: Where can I find industry installation ratios? I am looking for ratios for how long it would take to install a tree of certain dimension.

A: Production numbers are very important to track. I recommend tracking all jobs with actual hours vs. budgeted hours. Then after each job, determine if your hours were on target or not and why. Was it bid too low? Did you run into rock underground? There are so many variables that change from job to job. You will then want to get an average of the actuals for each task for future bidding.

The Illinois Landscape Contractors Association used to offer a book full of installation cost studies with production numbers. Also, look into Frank Ross’s book, “Pricing for the Green Industry.” This will help you make sure you know your cost of doing business and what to charge and why. The book is available on the NALP website.

It isn’t always easy to find industry data, so tracking your own is a good start. You can also ask other companies that you network with, peer groups or other places.

Adam Linnemann, Linnemann Lawn Care & Landscaping, NALP Trailblazer

Ask the Experts is brought to you in partnership with NALP, the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Questions are fielded through NALP’s Trailblazers, the industry’s leading company mentoring program. For more questions visit Landscapeprofessionals.org.

BrightView names new president and ceo

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. – BrightView Landscapes named Andrew Masterman president and CEO of the company.

Masterman, who will also join the company’s board of directors, succeeds Pat Velasco, who served as interim CEO since July when Andrew Kerin resigned. Velasco will remain on BrightView’s board of directors.

“On behalf of the board, we are pleased to welcome Andrew to the team,” said Paul E. Raether, chairman of the board of directors. “He has a proven track record of delivering strong operational results and we feel strongly that he will continue that record of leadership at BrightView.”

Masterman said, “I am thrilled to join the team at BrightView. This is a tremendous opportunity to work with a passionate and talented team to grow the premier commercial landscaping company by continuing to deliver best-in-class landscape services across the nation to our valued clients.”

Masterman is joining BrightView after serving as executive vice president at Precision Castparts, a Berkshire Hathaway company that specializes in manufacturing structural investment castings, forged components and airfoil castings for aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines. At Precision Castparts, Masterman served as president of the Wyman Gordon and Structural Casting segments, two segments within the Investment Cast Products and Forged Products segments.

Masterman will be working out of BrightView’s Plymouth Meeting location.

SnowCare for Troops celebrates seventh year

CLEVELAND – For families of deployed military personnel and post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability, clearing driveways and sidewalks of snow and ice can be a real challenge.

To overcome that challenge, Project EverGreen, in partnership with BOSS Snowplow, established the SnowCare for Troops initiative in 2010 to provide complimentary snow and ice removal services to these deserving individuals who are our nation’s heroes.

From Nov. 13 to 20, Project EverGreen recognized National SnowCare for Troops Awareness Week to raise the profile of the program and spotlight the efforts of the initiative’s volunteers, military families and the wounded and disabled veterans it serves.

Now in its seventh year, SnowCare for Troops has seen more than 5,000 military families and 1,500 snow removal contractor volunteers across the country registered to either receive or provide services.

“SnowCare for Troops provides military families with peace of mind and lifts a significant burden from their plate,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen.

“We’re very grateful for the commitment of our dedicated volunteers and the continued support from BOSS Snowplow. The leadership they have demonstrated in support of military families goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

More volunteers are always needed for SnowCare for Troops.

In particular, Fort Drum, New York, and Groton, Connecticut, are two high-demand service areas.

Snow removal contractors, able-bodied veterans or anyone with a shovel are encouraged to volunteer.

Visit ProjectEverGreen.org for more information on how to volunteer or sign up for Project EverGreen’s SnowCare for Troops.

SiteOne acquires Kansas City nursery business

ROSWELL, Ga. – SiteOne Landscape Supply has announced the acquisition of the distribution business of Loma Vista Nursery.

Loma Vista has two distribution locations in the Kansas City area and distributes nursery and hardscape products to landscape professionals.

The acquisition provides SiteOne with its first nursery locations in the area.

“Loma Vista is a strong leader in the market and their nursery and hardscape business is a perfect complement to our existing business in agronomics, irrigation and outdoor lighting,” said Doug Black, CEO of SiteOne Landscape Supply.

“Joining forces with the Loma Vista team allows us to continue to expand our reach in the Kansas City area to better serve our customers with a full suite of product offerings.”

LandOpt appoints new president

PITTSBURGH – LandOpt has appointed Don Evans as its new president.

Evans holds a bachelor's degree in international affairs/economics from George Washington University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia.

While he began his business life as a corporate lawyer, Evans has spent most his career in customer-facing and solutions-focused roles.

According to a press release, Evans “looks forward to learning more about the challenges of landscape contracting and finding pragmatic and effective solutions to serve each member of the LandOpt network.”

L&L announces winners of the 2017 Turnaround Tour

CLEVELAND – Lawn & Landscape magazine and the Harvest Group have chosen three winners of the inaugural Turnaround Tour.

“Bill and I have been coaching landscape business owners for 15 years and we can’t wait to get started helping these three companies,” said Head Harvester Ed Laflamme. “These folks are talented and driven and ambitious. We just need to help them focus and make some adjustments, and they’ll be able to really harvest their potential.”

A panel of experts sorted through nearly 50 applications and conducted several rounds of interviews to choose the three winners of the program.

“We’ll work closely with all three companies throughout the year, touring their facilities, regular phone calls and help them develop what we call a Playbook,” says Head Harvester Bill Arman. “At the end of the next 12 months, if they follow our advice, they’ll see healthy growth and a true change in their operations.”

The winners are:

  • Jeremy and Heather Dirksen of Freedom Lawn & Landscapes in Piedmont, Oklahoma
  • William Gruccio, Michael D’Orazio and Jordan Gartner of Vineland Landscaping in Vineland, New Jersey
  • Ira and Deborah Wade, of Wade’s Lawn Service in Goodlettsville, Tennessee

The three winning companies will receive a year’s worth of consulting, including onsite visits, phone calls and a customized plan for operations, growth and profitability from the Harvest Group, a $25,000 value. The entire process will be chronicled by Lawn & Landscape starting with the February 2017 issue.

The Harvest Group also decided to give everyone who entered three months of free access to their Harvest Academy program.

“We had a tremendous response to our inaugural Turnaround Tour program. Nearly 50 companies from across the country applied, and all of them had a great story. It was difficult to choose just three,” says Chuck Bowen, editor and associate publisher of Lawn & Landscape. “But I can’t wait to share their stories and how they work to overcome the challenges they’re facing. It will really help a lot of our readers.”

Heating up for 2017

There were a few engine-related news items at the GIE+EXPO in late October. For more news from the industry’s largest trade show, see our GIE+EXPO roundup.

Briggs & Stratton

After four years of development, Briggs & Stratton is releasing a new oil system that reduces downtime and maintenance costs. Initially, the new technology will be available on Ferris mowers.

The oil tank is further from the engine to keep it cooler and it’s larger at a 6-quart capacity. “So you’ve got more oil doing less work,” said Jim Cross, commercial marketing manager.

The system keeps oil 6 to 18 degrees cooler than traditional systems, which reduces thermal breakdown. It features a dry sump engine, meaning the oil isn’t maintained in the cylinder, but instead in a separate reservoir. So,1 quart of oil remains in the engine with 5 in the reservoir rather than the typical 2 or 2.5 quarts in the engine. This increases the life of the oil, said Ben Miller, product manager.

The cap and the dipstick are located at the top of the system, making them easily accessible for faster oil changes. There are three configurations in two engines: the Vanguard Big Block and the Vanguard 810 EFI.

“We wanted to extend oil change intervals from 100 to 500 hours. Why 500 hours? That’s a typical cutting season,” Cross said.

Cross said that means a 60 percent net cost savings, not including the money owners will save with less downtime and more time for mowers to be at work.

The tool-less oil change design means oil can be drained in less than five minutes.

Kawasaki

Kawasaki’s new 29.5-horsepower FX850V-EFI engine is the latest member of its engines division, using the most technologically advanced EFI system ever built by the company. It incorporates a fully integrated electronic governor (e-Gov) and an advanced ECU that instantly matches power to cutting load and ground speed.

Developed specifically with the commercial market in mind, the Kawasaki EFI system is available on select models of FX Series and FS Series engines, with plans to incorporate it in additional models. The FX850V-EFI joins two other units that currently employ the EFI system: FX730V-EFI, and FS730V-EFI.

Helping to avoid typical hillside mowing slowdowns, the load-matching e-Gov system keeps drive wheels and cutting blades working at peak productivity.

The EFI is matched by a PC or tablet plug-in diagnostic system for troubleshooting and service, and helps minimize downtime. The EFI engines feature SAE Certified Critical Power, ensuring that engines deliver a minimum of 98 percent of rated horsepower for the needed productivity commercial users can count on.

Tillotson

Tillotson, a carburetor manufacturer, introduced its first lawn mower engines: the Diamond Standard Vertical engines. The engines are powered by the Tillotson TCT fuel system, which can reduce emissions by up to 40 percent.

“The Tillotson name and reputation has been a powerhouse in the lawn and garden industry for more than 100 years. Now we’ve taken all of our engineering expertise and a century of industry knowledge to create one of the most powerful lawn mower engines in this space,” said Tillotson President Charles Demirjian. “Our design provides more power and torque along with greater stability and lower emissions.

Tillotson is introducing three engine sizes to the U.S. market: 140cc, 173cc and 196cc. All of the engines feature Tillotson’s new TCT fuel system technology, that is designed to provide more power and more torque under heavy loads.

Verizon completes acquisition of Fleetmatics

NEW YORK – Verizon Communications completed its $2.4 billion acquisition of Fleetmatics Group PLC for $60.00 per share in cash.

As a result, Fleetmatics shares will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

As a Verizon company, Fleetmatics, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with North American headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, is now part of the Verizon Telematics business.

Fleetmatics brings to Verizon more than 42,000 customers, approximately 826,000 subscribers, a broad portfolio of industry products, and a team of 1,200 employees that serve businesses that deploy mobile workforces.

The transaction was first announced on August 1.

“We are very excited to join Verizon,” said Jim Travers, Fleetmatics CEO and chairman of the board.

“Together, we’ll accelerate global market leadership, and empower more businesses with mobile workforces to find new ways to grow, get more done, and delight their customers.”