From left: STIHL VP of Operations Lorraine Holder, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and STIHL President Bjoern Fischer.
Photo courtesy of STIHL

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – STIHL hosted U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, the Hampton Roads Chamber and local business leaders earlier this month for a roundtable discussion highlighting workforce development and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“We have about 7 million vacant jobs and about 6 million people looking for them,” said Secretary Scalia. “This is a request to businesses to pledge to create job training and education opportunities for workers as STIHL has done by joining the 430 companies across the country that have signed on to the Pledge to America’s Workers.”

As part of the visit, Scalia toured the Virginia Beach, Virginia-based STIHL manufacturing facility to see modern manufacturing in action and to learn about workforce development initiatives like the STIHL apprenticeship program. Part of the tour included discussions with a STIHL employee who is a recent graduate of the apprentice program and employees from several departments where skilled trades are highly regarded and sought-after, including machining, assembly and injection molding.

“We must work together to identify our needs and find solutions. That is why I am encouraged to see the leadership from Secretary Scalia and the Labor Department,” said Bjoern Fischer, STIHL president. “They have an unwavering commitment to the American workforce, as do we here at STIHL.”

Scalia, left, tours the STIHL manufacturing facility at Virginia Beach.
Photo courtesy of STIHL

“A challenge we face now in our region is there are not enough young, skilled professionals to fill newly created jobs,” said Bryan Stephens, Hampton Roads Chamber president and CEO. “I am excited to see the Labor Department recognize the skills gap and provide young workers with the necessary tools to succeed in our 21st-century economy.”

In response to the growing skills gap, STIHL is involved in several different workforce development initiatives, including an apprentice program, dual-enrollment program, STEM sponsorships and an annual manufacturing technology summer camp for high school students.

The company’s operations in Virginia have grown since its start in 1974, with only 50 employees, assembling one model of chain saw. Today, more than 2,000 employees are working in over 1-million-square-feet of operating space at STIHL, producing over 80 models of outdoor power equipment. The manufacturing facility manufactures millions of powerheads and accessories a year to be sold through a network of more than 9,000 authorized local STIHL dealers, and exported to more than 80 countries around the world.

The takeaways from a trip to Tempe

Aspire’s user conference focused on how to better transform your business and the rollout of a new payday service. By Lauren Rathmell

For the second year in a row, Aspire held its annual user conference in Tempe, Arizona, and the company’s founder, Kevin Kehoe, opened the welcome reception with a magic show and comedy act. After that, it was down to business.

Kehoe said the theme for this year, and for Aspire’s year in general, is transformation. “We’re looking to transform business with the means we have (technology), a set method of operating and a little bit of magic,” he said.

CEO Mark Tipton said users employed a combined total of 43,000 people in 2019 and logged 35 million hours of work during 4.5 million job visits on the software.

Part of Aspire’s 2020 roadmap involves the roll out of a new pay solution. Aspire DailyPay will offer employers a way to give employees an advance on their pay almost instantly.

“When you’re trying to attract the same talent as the guy down the street and your guy would get paid tomorrow versus two weeks from now, it will make a difference,” he said. The on-demand pay advances are controlled and approved by the employer for no extra cost. There is a small fee for the recipient of the money though.

The funds are transferred through a payroll debit card and Aspire users currently using Integrated Payroll Systems are eligible for the add on.

Attendees gathered into the ballroom to listen to the keynote speaker, Lt. Colonel Rob Teschner, who talked about his time in the Air Force.
Photo by Lauren Rathmell

The education.

Greg Herring of the Herring Group offered some insight into how companies can enhance their culture with information they already have. He suggested using key performance indicators to show your employees that their company is winning, or to at least know what it would look like to be a winning company.

“You don’t want incentives to be like a lottery,” he said. “You don’t want them to feel like they just have to hope they’ll get it.” For example, if you create a list of win/loss percentage for everyone on your sales staff, the competition will create itself among the employees.

And, in order to create incentive plans, it’s imperative that you have accurate data to base your benchmarks and data that you can actually take actions on. “You need to give the employees permission to control the outcome,” Herring said. “If the incentives aren’t aligned with the company goals, the people will win but the company will lose.”

Lt. Colonel Rob Teschner, this year’s keynote speaker, spoke about his experience in the Air Force and how he was able to transform himself to move up through ranks by understanding the value of teamwork.

“Real teamwork leads to transformation,” he said. “Transformation leads to true excellence, and true excellence is enabled when you can learn from failure.”

Teschner recalled that in the beginning, his training gravitated towards the idea of being alone in his fighter jet once he was a certified pilot. It turns out, being a fighter pilot is everything but a solo job. “Teamwork must be learned,” he said. “Real teamwork takes effort. Team excellence begins with team purpose.” Teschner commanded the mission that deployed the day after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, just four years after graduating from him training program.

This lesson also followed him into his personal life after years of ignored illnesses turned into a serious tumor on his colon. “I was trying to fly solo at home, too,” he said. While surgeries surrounding his illness ended his career in the Air Force, Teschner still had a legacy behind him and went on to become an F-15C instructor pilot at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

“You have grow and learn through your failures,” he said.

Carmine Schiavone to take over as next SavATree CEO

Long-time CEO Daniel van Starrenburg moves into the company’s executive chair position.

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. – SavATree has named Carmine Schiavone to succeed Daniel van Starrenburg, the company’s long-serving CEO.

Van Starrenburg will continue with SavATree as executive chairman, overseeing the company’s strategic direction and acquisitions program.

“We are very excited to have someone of Carmine’s caliber join SavATree,” he said. “Under Carmine’s leadership, SavATree will continue to deliver exceptional service for our customers, while I will focus on growing the SavATree family through strategic acquisitions.”

Schiavone spent four years in senior leadership positions at Johnson Controls, most recently as general manager and vice president of Fire Protection Solutions & Services. Prior to Johnson Controls, Schiavone spent 16 years at Tyco, where he took on increasing responsibility as vice president, general manager and acting chief operating officer across various business units. Carmine holds the Six Sigma Green Belt certification and Lean certification.

“SavATree stands out as an exceptionally well-run firm, with people and processes more often seen in Fortune 500 companies,” Schiavone said. “I am excited to join a rapidly growing organization with an ongoing commitment to customer service excellence.”

Van Starrenburg began his career as a certified arborist in Bedford Hills, New York, purchasing SavATree in 1985 when it was a well-respected local business. Through organic growth and 27 acquisitions completed under van Starrenburg’s leadership, SavATree has reached 39 branches operating in 18 states. In June 2017, New York-based private equity firm CI Capital Partners invested in SavATree in a transaction that included a substantial reinvestment of proceeds from van Starrenburg.

“Each tree care firm has a unique way of doing business. There is something to learn with every acquisition, and we have grown as an organization thanks to the collective wisdom of the fine firms and people that have joined forces with us,” he said.

Sperber Landscape Companies branches out into Florida

Top Cut Lawn Services is in Palm Beach County, Florida, and is the third addition of its kind for SLC.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – Sperber Landscape Companies entered the Florida marketplace as it teamed up with Top Cut Lawn Services. Top Cut is headquartered in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the addition is the third of its kind for the newly launched SLC brand. It followed moves with Kujawa Enterprises in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Conserve LandCare in the Coachella Valley of California.

“I’m excited to be re-entering the Florida marketplace where we’ve always experienced amazing relationships with clients and high-quality projects," said Richard Sperber, SLC’s managing partner, who also expressed his enthusiasm in being able to work alongside Top Cut Founder Stephen Miller. “Steve’s field expertise and dedication to providing quality work is unmatched in the industry."

“We’ve worked hard over the years to build a strong brand and company culture. I knew that partnering with Sperber would allow us to maintain what we’ve built which is very important for our leadership team, employees and clients," Miller said. “Richard Sperber has an outstanding reputation, and I’m excited for the added growth and success that this partnership will bring our team and clients.”

EPA determines no human health harm in glyphosates

Glyphosate has been studied for decades and the agency reviewed thousands of studies since its registration.

EPA has concluded its regulatory review of glyphosate – the most widely used herbicide in the United States – and determined that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen.

These findings on human health risk are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the European Food Safety Authority and the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The agency is requiring additional mitigation measures to help farmers target pesticide sprays to the intended pest and reduce the problem of increasing glyphosate resistance in weeds.

Glyphosate has been studied for decades and the agency reviewed thousands of studies since its registration. Glyphosate is used on more than 100 food crops, including glyphosate-resistant corn, soybean, cotton, canola and sugar beet. It is the leading herbicide for the management of invasive and noxious weeds and is used to manage pastures, rangeland, rights of ways, forests, public land and residential areas. In addition, glyphosate has low residual soil toxicity and helps retain no-till and low-till farming operations.

Davey Tree announces several manager promotions

In different markets across the U.S., Dash Schenck, Kevin Marks and Aaron Garver all recently received promotions.

KENT, Ohio – The Davey Tree Expert Company announced Dash Schenck, Kevin Marks and Aaron Garver all received promotions in their respective markets.

Schenck will now be the district manager in the Portland, Oregon, Residential/Commercial (R/C) services office. He joined Davey as a groundman in the San Francisco R/C office in 2009. In 2010, he worked as a groundman at both the Menlo Park and San Francisco offices before being promoted to plant health care technician the same year. In 2013, he was promoted to trimmer at the East Bay R/C office and in 2014 was promoted to sales arborist. In 2017 he was promoted to assistant district manager of the East Bay office and in 2018 transferred to the Portland, Oregon, R/C office as assistant district manager.

“Dash brings a wide variety of technical, leadership and business-savvy experience to the Portland team,” said Jason Evans, operations manager, Western operating group. “He has a proven track record of high-quality customer service, and does a fantastic job engaging with Davey’s clients.”

Meanwhile, Marks is now the market manager, South Central operating group, Residential/Commercial (R/C) services. In his new role, Marks will continue to report to Andy Ferguson, vice president, Western R/C operations, and will be responsible for Davey’s Colorado and Nebraska offices. Marks started his career with Davey as a plant health care technician in 1995 with the acquisition of Wilhelm Tree & Lawn Care in Denver. In 1998 he was promoted to sales and service coordinator at the East Denver R/C office. Marks was promoted to sales arborist in the Boulder R/C office in 2005 and then assistant district manager in 2012. Marks was named district manager of the North Denver R/C office in 2015.

“Kevin encourages himself and his team to perform at the highest level of safety and professionalism every day,” said Jed Day, vice president and general manager, Western operations U.S. R/C services. “With 25 years of excellence at Davey, he is a respected leader that engages with clients to exceed their needs. I look forward to the continued growth he will bring to Davey’s Western offices and the success he will have with our clients.”

Garver is now the district manager of the South Baltimore Residential/Commercial (R/C) office. Garver started at Davey in 2005 as a tree trimmer in Davey’s South Baltimore R/C office. In his 15-year career with Davey, Garver has held several client service and sales related positions, including tree care foreman, sales and service technician and sales arborist.

“Aaron’s experiences working in numerous management roles while building strong client relationships in the Baltimore area will guide him as he takes over the reins of a growing office,” said Chris Klimas, operations manager. “Clients can expect nothing but the best from Aaron and his team of experts in Baltimore.”

Wacker Neuson promotes Miller to VP of sales and marketing

The retiring Johannes Schulze Vohren will be the director of digitalization for the remainder of 2020.

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. – After 26 years of service to the company, Wacker Neuson’s long-time executive vice president of sales and marketing, Johannes Schulze Vohren, will retire from the organization at the end of 2020.

As a result, Joe Miller has been effectively promoted to the role. Schulze Vohren will assume the position of director of digitalization for the remainder of his tenure with Wacker Neuson. He will focus on the implementation of special projects, as well as transition his previous responsibilities to Miller.

Schulze Vohren began his career with Wacker Neuson in 1994 in an IT functional role and has held a variety of management positions within the organization. During the last 12 years, he was instrumental in developing a dedicated distribution network across the United States and Canada, while achieving sales growth and market share for the company’s extensive construction equipment line.

“The entire Wacker Neuson organization would like to thank Mr. Schulze Vohren for his commitment and leadership to the company,” said Gert Reichetseder, Wacker Neuson CEO and president, North America. “We are pleased that he will spearhead key digital initiatives throughout this year and we wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement.”

Named director of marketing for North America in 2017, Miller came to Wacker Neuson after 12 years with a US-based compact equipment manufacturer, where he held management positions in sales, marketing, product management, brand identity and customer satisfaction. Miller will now be responsible for the continued growth of Wacker Neuson’s distribution network and expansion of the company’s market share in the United States.

“I welcome Joe to the Wacker Neuson leadership team in the US,” Reichetseder said, “and I wish him success in his new role, as we focus our sights on the future.”

Landscape Workshop acquires EcoLandcare

With this expansion in the Lexington, Kentucky area, the company has nine branch locations throughout the Southeast.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Landscape Workshop recently acquired the landscape maintenance, enhancement and snow operations of EcoLandcare, based in Lexington, Kentucky.

With this expansion in the Lexington area, Landscape Workshop has nine branch locations throughout the Southeast.

“EcoLandcare is a highly respected company that we are eager to bring under the Landscape Workshop banner under the leadership of our Lexington General Manager Sammy Shores,” said J.T. Price, CEO of Landscape Workshop.

“This acquisition offers LW the opportunity to expand in the Bluegrass area while continuing to provide exceptional service to our clients,” he also said.

EcoLandcare was originally founded by John Thomson in 2010. Thomson will continue to operate Thomson Lawn Care as a key turf chemicals subcontractor to Landscape Workshop and will also serve as senior adviser to Landscape Workshop throughout the transition.

“Landscape Workshop shares the same passion and commitment that EcoLandcare was built on, I have no doubt that they will continue to provide the same quality service our clients are used to receiving,” Thomson said. “I look forward to working alongside Landscape Workshop.”

Landscape Workshop is a full-service grounds management company that has been providing professional service and expert maintenance for outdoor commercial spaces since 1984.

OPEI, ANSI publish industry standard for robotic lawn mowers

The standard was approved on September 5, 2019, and will be sold through the ANSI website.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Manufacturers and start-ups will now be able to design robotic, battery-powered and electrical lawn mowers to the industry standard, with the recent publication of the standard for this equipment by the American National Standards Institute and OutdoorPower Equipment Institute.

The ANSI/OPEI robotic mower standard is “ANSI/OPEI 60335-2-107-2020 (Standard) for Outdoor Power Equipment - Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety - Part 2-107: Particular requirements for robotic battery powered electrical lawnmowers (national adoption with modifications of IEC 60335-2-107).”

The standard was approved on September 5, 2019 and will be sold through the ANSI website.