Al’s Complete Lawn Care does more than just provide landscaping services – they’ve integrated charitable works into their regular operations.

President and CEO of Al’s Complete Lawn Care, Allen Sweeney, points to the company’s mission to explain why they complete charitable acts in their community.

Their mission statement is, “To use the opportunities God gives us in the business of professional grounds maintenance to positively impact the lives of our employees, clients and community.”

Sweeney is the president of the United Way Board in a sector of Kentucky and most of the charitable projects the company does are connected to this organization. One of the projects the company took on came through United Way’s “Day of Caring.”

A local elementary school raised funds to purchase playground equipment but did not have the money for installation. Al’s Complete Lawn Care prepped the area and demolished the old set with the help of a contractor. They then built the equipment and poured the concrete for the playground. “It made a difference in the community,” Sweeney said.

While United Way is the source of many projects, Al’s Complete Lawn Care will also complete projects for churches, local high schools and even internally. Sweeney said last year the company started a “care committee” where they quietly look for needs within the company. In one instance, an employee was having a difficult time in his personal life and co-workers were able to help in several ways to make a difference in his life. “Charitable giving is done behind the scenes because you care,” Sweeney said.

Finding the need.

Each year, the company creates an annual budget with a portion of the funds allotted for “good will.” While they create a budget, they do not always stick to that number. “If the need is there and we are in a position to accommodate it, we (do),” Sweeney said.

Sweeney’s advice to companies looking to start charity work is to figure out how much time they are willing to give and how much money they can set aside. “Look for an opportunity that fulfills the obligation that you can afford,” he said. “There are so many organizations who could use help in one form or another.”

If a company is looking to offer a charitable contribution relating to landscaping, Sweeney suggested reaching out to parks or high schools. He said a company will do a better job if they’re passionate about what they do.

Project logistics.

Al’s Complete Lawn Care schedules their charitable projects into their regular workday.

Usually the crew with a lighter workload will take on the project and tackle it as a traditional landscaping gig. Rather than giving a few hours after a long workday, Sweeney said, “We want to make sure it’s professionally done and make people feel like there’s value in the service they receive.”

The company may have to schedule a project two to three weeks in advance while other times the opportunities are seasonal.

Sweeney said the company tends not to complete large outdoor projects in the spring as that is a busy time for their regular services.

In the coming years, Al’s Complete Lawn Care is looking to create a memorial garden at a local high school to honor high school students and teachers who have passed away.

The project would include memorial pavers, irrigation and landscaping. This project is personal for Sweeney, as he knows people at the school as well as some who would be memorialized.

He reiterated that companies should seek projects where they feel a connection. Sweeney said this type of charitable work is important because sometimes people get too busy getting things done for themselves that they forget about taking care of others.

“We make people’s lives better,” he said. “Not to be seen, but to make a difference.”

The author is a freelancer based in Ohio.

Toro Company remembers Ken Melrose

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Kendrick “Ken” B. Melrose, former chairman and chief executive officer of The Toro Co., passed away Sunday, May, 3, 2020, at the age of 79.

Melrose was an extraordinary person, whose wide-ranging accomplishments were driven by his unwavering commitment to serving others. His core values enabled him to positively impact so many throughout his professional career, during his post-retirement mission to advance the principles of Servant Leadership and in his generous philanthropic efforts.

“Ken was a great man, and the epitome of an exceptional leader,” said Rick Olson, current chairman and chief executive officer of The Toro Co. “The culture he instilled continues as a positive influence and will guide The Toro Co. long into the future. Ken was passionate about supporting the industries we serve and helping our customers succeed. The impact of his generous philanthropic initiatives will continue to positively affect many in our industry and our communities.”

Melrose joined Toro in 1970, and over the course of the following decade served in a number of leadership roles with increasing responsibility. In 1981, as the company faced challenging times, Melrose was named president. His belief in and ability to connect with people, his fortitude while making tough decisions, and his commitment to quality and innovation, all helped lead the organization through financial difficulty to record results at the time. His determination empowered him to see the job through and guide the enterprise not only through difficult times, but to ever-greater heights of success. Melrose did so without seeking recognition or accolades, rather he always pointed to employees as the key to what was accomplished during his tenure.

Melrose outlined his business philosophy in his book published in 1995, “Making the Grass Greener on Your Side: A CEO’s Journey to Leading by Serving.” As he wrote, “Everyone has the potential to contribute to achieving the goals of the company. If you unleash that potential, market leadership and financial success will be natural by-products.”

After leading the company for 24 years, Melrose retired as CEO in March of 2005. During his tenure, he oversaw a number of acquisitions including Wheel Horse, Exmark, Lawn-Boy and Hayter, and company sales grew from $247 million to $1.7 billion. He was also an advocate in the company’s philanthropic and industry support and played an instrumental role in forming the company’s partnership with The First Tee in 1998. Committed to giving back to employees, he established The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation Scholarship Program in 2002 for dependents of company employees, which has supported 189 students with scholarships. He also helped establish the Melrose/Hoffman Employee Critical Need Fund in 2005 to assist employees experiencing economic hardship.

In retirement, Melrose founded Leading by Serving. In this role, he wrote and traveled extensively promoting the principles of Servant Leadership in both public and private organizations. A champion for ethics and servant leadership, he chaired the board of directors for the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, held the University’s Holloran Endowed Professorship and was a popular lecturer among students. He was also driven to give back through a wide range of philanthropic efforts supporting employee, industry, health care, education and many other interests.

“We owe much to Ken’s principled leadership, and his legacy cannot be overstated,” Olson said. “He was a rare, transformational leader who saw the best in people and knew how to inspire them to work together and exceed their own expectations in order to achieve great things.”

Juniper acquires Green Source Landscape & Sports Turf

With this move, Juniper now employees over 1,200 people in Florida in 10 branches.

Juniper landscaping, a landscape service provider that ranked No. 19 in Lawn & Landscape's 2020 Top 100 list, has acquired the assets of Green Source Landscape & Sports Turf in Fort Lauderdale.

This is the second acquisition in the area for Juniper and the third on the east coast of Florida.

“The gained resources and experience joining Juniper is exciting and provides increased opportunity to our employees.

“We look forward to continuing work in this market and adding value to our customers,” says Jason Wingate, former CEO of Green Source.

Juniper now employees over 1,200 people in Florida in 10 branches.

“We are excited about Jason and his team, they bring a depth of talent and expertise while expanding Juniper capabilities in the region.” says Brandon Duke, president of Juniper.

“Jason and his team have an excellent reputation in the market. They’re considered industry leaders, especially when it comes to sports turf management,” says Dan deMont, vice president of Juniper.

Renewal & Remembrance canceled due to COVID-19

NALP will likely be able to livestream a smaller variation of the ceremony this summer.

Due to concerns around COVID-19, the National Association of Landscape Professionals canceled its Renewal and Remembrance ceremony this year.

For 25 years, the event honored America’s veterans as landscapers lended their skills to care for and beautify Arlington National Cemetery. The following is a statement from NALP:

It is because of the incredible impact of this event that we’ve taken the deliberations very seriously around how and when to host Renewal & Remembrance 2020 in light of COVID-19. Arlington National Cemetery is currently closed to the public and although they may be open in July, they do not anticipate being able to host large events this summer. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Renewal & Remembrance and Legislative Days for 2020.

However, Arlington National Cemetery has indicated that NALP will likely be able to host a small ceremony this summer in honor of those buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and to highlight the lasting impact our industry has made on the grounds. NALP hopes to be able to livestream this ceremony. NALP will share details once confirmed.

“On behalf of the Renewal & Remembrance Committee, the NALP staff, and the Board of Directors, we will miss working side by side this summer,” NALP said in a statement. “We thank all of the sponsors and volunteers who stood ready, willing, and able to come together for a great cause.”

The next Renewal & Remembrance will be held on Monday, July 19, 2021. Also, NALP’s Legislative Days on the Hill, will be held in conjunction with its Workforce Summit in late winter/early spring of 2021.

Brandon Brown joins SavATree

In his role as a district manager with SavATree, he will be responsible for expanding the company’s reach in Florida.

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. – Brandon Brown, an ISA Certified Arborist and former president of Schneider Shrub and Tree Care, will join SavATree to lead its business expansion into the Florida market.

Brown graduated from Clemson University, where he studied trees and hasn’t looked back since. From pioneering “Monday Punday” to creating sustainable tree and shrub care programs for keeping them alive, Brown brings knowledge and experience to the Florida market.

In recent years, SavATree has been rapidly expanding its national presence through acquisitions into new regions. The company is excited to now pursue a number of strategic markets in Florida.

In his role as a district manager with SavATree, Brown will be building an expert team, opening new branches, identifying potential partners, and participating in a variety of industry related associations.

“We have long admired Brandon for his contributions to the industry and are delighted to have him on the team. His deep knowledge of tree care and experience recruiting, coaching, training and building teams dovetail precisely with what we look for in a strong leader,” said Daniel van Starrenburg, the executive chairman.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this venture to develop and grow a new market for a company as well regarded as SavATree,” Brown said.

Cultivate trade show transformed into online event

Cultivate’20 Virtual will debut the week of July 13, 2020.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – With continuing uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, AmericanHort transformed Cultivate, the annual tradeshow and conference, from an in-person event in Columbus, Ohio this July to Cultivate’20 Virtual, a fully online event that will connect customers, suppliers, and colleagues across the industry. Cultivate’20 Virtual will debut the week of July 13, 2020.

“We’re excited to provide a safe and innovative environment where the horticulture industry can still come together, share best practices, learn from each other and connect with peers”, said Ken Fisher, AmericanHort President & CEO. “Although it will be different from the face-to-face interaction we experience at Cultivate, attendees can still find much-needed resources and be able to engage with the new products, new varieties and top-notch industry education to help their business and organization perform better and improve.”

Cultivate’20 Virtual will feature many of the same experiences found at the annual event, such as a 3-D digital tradeshow where exhibitors and attendees can share information, view video presentations, chat live and make the same connections one would at an in-person event.

Over 50 live education sessions will be offered covering all aspects of the horticulture industry along with vibrant demonstrations of new varieties and new products featured in an innovative digital environment. Attendees can also experience the HRI online Garden Party, an event to socialize and show appreciation for the work of HRI supporters and researchers. There will be a virtual town hall, roundtable discussion groups and a variety of opportunities for online networking and interaction.

“We’ve all had to learn to be innovative and adapt our business practices to this challenging environment. I’m excited to be part of an online option that allows our industry to connect with peers and continue to maintain a sense of community,” said Susie Raker-Zimmerman, vice president of Raker Roberta’s Young Plants and chairwoman of the AmericanHort board of directors.

An Expo-Only pass is free for everyone, and the All-Access education pass is free for AmericanHort members and is discounted for non-members.

John Deere unveils new payment program

The “Own it” program is for select compact construction equipment models.

MOLINE, Ill. – A new, monthly John Deere payment program is available for customers who want to own John Deere’s five compact excavators, skid steers and compact track loader models. The 17G and 30G excavators, 312GR and 316GR skid steers or 317G compact track loader are eligible to receive special financing options.

“We are eager to offer a program that can financially support compact equipment customers and empower them to become machine owners as they grow their businesses,” said Juan Raya, manager, Global Compact Construction Sales at John Deere Construction & Forestry. “The ‘Own It’ financial program provides flexibility for customers maintaining small fleets, giving them the quality they expect from a John Deere machine, without breaking the bank.”

Customers who purchase the select equipment models through October 2020 are eligible to receive special financing. To learn more about the “Own It” payment plan, contact an authorized John Deere Compact Equipment Dealer or visit JohnDeere.com/OwnIt.