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Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as Gary Vee, knows a thing or two about leadership. As an entrepreneur, author and speaker, he’s learned what elements of leadership are obvious and what’s not talked about enough.

“Work ethic, determination, tenacity, ambition – all those are incredibly great traits for leadership,” he said. Vee said these are all part of an ‘old world’ approach to leadership, while things like empathy, compassion, gratitude and humility trump those other qualities.

Vee delivered a keynote speech to green industry professionals during Jobber’s Professional Development Day in March.

“I believe that most people hate accountability,” Vee said. “They’d rather blame somebody else. It’s just the way it is. And I think it’s a huge mistake… no question the thing that’s helped me the most in my career is realizing that any mistake anyone’s ever made is completely my fault because I am the person who hired them.”

Vee said that by first recognizing that you’re wrong before focusing on what someone’s mistake was helps you take on more accountability.

He also suggested finding someone who actively takes accountability during times of crisis to serve as leaders within your company.

“I say to a lot of my leaders, ‘I don’t need any peace time generals,’” he said. “Show me what you do when there’s adversity. Show me what you do when the pressure comes on. That, to me, is pure leadership.”

Vee said empathy also goes hand in hand with accountability. By remembering these two things, a leader can have a meaningful conversation with someone who’s made a mistake that will lead to resolution.

Vee said another characteristic of a great leader is curiosity. “Have you spent time trying to figure out if LinkedIn can help? Or does a podcast help?” he asked.

Vee recommended being curious and reflecting on if direct mailers, or print ads, or any other marketing approach are really working for your company.

Gary Vaynerchuk, or ‘Gary Vee,’ told attendees at Jobber’s Professional Development Day that good leaders are often empathetic and curious.

He added that good leaders should spend 30 to 40 hours mastering something new, like how to utilize social media or YouTube, in order to grow their business.

“It’s hard to inspire your organization to be more progressive in its marketing if you yourself haven’t really gone there or dismiss it,” he said. “Complacency is a huge mistake.”

While accountability and curiosity have certainly helped Vee, he said there are elements of leadership that he’s struggled with over the years.

“As a manager of people, I struggled with delivering bad news,” he said.

Vee said early on when he’d address someone for a lackluster performance, he would dance around the issue and wind up boosting that person up, then the next time an issue arose, he would get frustrated and end up firing them.

Now, Vee said he focuses on a form of kind candor.

“I think people use candor as a way to be mean, and to rear their insecurities and talk down to people. I don’t love that,” he said. “That’s why I call it kind candor. You have to be able to deliver feedback to people and you need to be kind about it.”

Vee said good leaders make a note to hedge with kindness. He recommended starting with a positive note, transitioning into the problem and then finishing with a resolution.

By making it a point to embrace these traits, Vee said that also promotes humility – his final cornerstone of a good leader.

“Humility is incredibility important,” he said. “I think a lot of you would have a lot more success if you didn’t need to take credit for everything your team is doing. It really matters. I highly recommend you get into an honest place of self-awareness.”

Kenworth debuts new truck line

The models are designed with increased cab space and more safety features.

PHOENIX – For the first time in nearly 30 years, Kenworth Trucks is releasing an all-new line of work trucks that will be available sometime in the third quarter of 2021.

The company debuted their trucks to media during a preview event in downtown Phoenix last week. Of the five new trucks, the T180 is perhaps most notable for landscapers. It’s a Class 5 truck that can come with a 16-foot stake bed, which could help moving materials or equipment for crews out in the field. It can come equipped with a three-person bench seat and offers a 2.1-meter cab (eight inches wider than previous trucks) for more user comfort.

“The biggest thing was cab space,” said Kevin Baney, Kenworth’s general manager. “That was probably the top feedback from customers was just providing additional room.”

Kenworth revealed five new trucks at a recent media event in Phoenix, marking the company’s first all-new line of trucks in nearly three decades.
Photo by Jimmy Miller

The company also revealed four other trucks: the T280 (a water tank and box van models were both available), T380 and T480. Kenworth has not yet determined prices for any of the models.

Five years ago, Kenworth started talking with customers about what they could do to redesign the trucks. Ultimately, they conducted roughly 500 interviews with clients during the design process, some of which were commercial landscapers. They frequently received feedback on comfortability and the three-person bench seat. Plus, they added additional storage spots in the cab to let drivers leave phones, wallets, keys and more in the truck without those items rattling around, and a new climate control system that’s easy to navigate.

Kenworth released five new trucks, including the T180, which can come with a stake bed.

“We’ve always leveraged our customer councils (but) medium duty is a little bit different – it’s more about the driver,” Baney said. “We pulled in a ton of drivers, and all of the different applications represented by these trucks, we had to go get their requirements.”

Comfortability wasn’t the only factor considered when designing the new models: They’re equipped with a PACCAR TX-8 automatic transmission and, for the T180 specifically, a PX-7 engine that generates up to 325 horsepower. The T180 and T280 come with tire sizes ranging from 19.5 to 22.5 inches and rear axle ratings of 11,500 to 21,000 pounds. Those two models also come with a low roof as the standard option but can come with a raised roof instead. Frame lengths are determined by the customer order and what they specify in their needs, whether it needs to become a dump truck, snow plow or something else entirely.

“Medium duty customers, a lot of them put bodies on the back of the trucks, so we worked very closely with the body builders and got a lot of feedback from them as well while we were designing the vehicle,” said JT Mansurov, Kenworth’s medium duty marketing manager. “When the customer orders the vehicle, they already know which body they put on the truck, so they already give us that information and the plant builds it according to spec to make sure that body fits properly.”

Additionally, Baney said visibility and safety were frequently discussed when designing the new trucks. The front windshield on all five models is larger than before, increasing visibility by up to 17%. The new Kenworth Digital Display is also a seven-inch high-definition display that’s standard on all five trucks. It displays the speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure and coolant temperature, though it can also display various pieces of information like gauges or trip information.

With the right specifications, the display also analyzes speed limit signs and determines how fast the vehicle directly ahead of the truck is going. If the driver inches too close, the display lights up with clear warning signs, and if the driver drifts into another lane, the vehicle makes sounds that mimic rumble strips.

Cagwin & Dorward joins Sperber Landscape Companies

Cagwin’s CEO, Steve Glennon, will continue his leadership of the company alongside his existing management team.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – Sperber Landscape Companies has expanded into the Northern California marketplace as it joins with commercial landscaping services company, Cagwin & Dorward.

Headquartered in Petaluma, California, Cagwin & Dorward ranked No. 37 on our 2020 Top 100 list. The company was founded in 1955 and has grown to include multiple locations servicing California’s Bay Area, Sacramento, and the Central Valley.

“We are honored to partner with such a well-respected company. Cagwin & Dorward has the type of brand recognition that only comes from decades of hard work and strong multigenerational leadership,” said Richard Sperber, Sperber Landscape Companies’ managing partner. “This is a big step for Sperber as we expand in our home state of California.”

Cagwin’s CEO, Steve Glennon, will continue his leadership of the company alongside his existing management team.

“We are very excited to partner with Sperber Landscape Companies,” Glennon said. “Combining our management teams and resources will provide the means to take Cagwin & Dorward to the next level and create more opportunities for our employees.”

Transaction terms were facilitated by Bill Arman of Harvest the Green Partners.

Robin Autopilot acquires Mowbot

Robin Autopilot will launch a newly expanded partnership with Husqvarna Group, a Mowbot investor.

Robin Autopilot USA has acquired Mowbot, a robotic lawn care franchise business with 16 locations throughout the U.S.

As part of the acquisition, Robin Autopilot will launch a newly expanded partnership with Husqvarna Group, a major investor in Mowbot and a current equity partner of Robin.

Following the transaction, Mowbot will become known as “Mowbot Powered by Robin” and will move its headquarters from Durham, North Carolina, to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex where Robin is looking to expand its U.S. headquarters.

The business will be managed by Robin Holdings, led by CEO Logan Fahey.

Mowbot's operators will gain full access to all of Robin's key offerings, including a proprietary software package of fleet management, surveyor and customer acquisition tools, plus patented products such as Robin's robotic door system for navigating around fences and tight spots.

The acquisition continues Robin's rapid expansion as it increases its position in robotics as a service (RaaS) for the U.S. lawn care industry.

In December 2020, Robin entered a similar arrangement with Weed Man USA to introduce the benefits of robotic mowing to a growing portion of the North American lawn maintenance and landscaping market.

“Husqvarna is a pioneer in the robotic mowing industry, and we are pleased to partner with them even more directly as we work together to change how North America mows,” Fahey said.

“Adding Mowbot's experienced operators to the Robin platform will further our goal to expand our presence as a leader in disruptive RaaS technology for the lawn care industry.

“Robin's innovative platform coupled with Husqvarna's global leadership in robotics will provide leading-edge RaaS solutions for landscapers and industry professionals throughout the sector.”

Massey Services expands in three southern states

Texas, Georgia and Florida have all seen new Massey offices recently open.

ORLANDO – Massey Services, a national pest management company and family-owned company, has expanded its operations in Texas, Georgia and Florida through the opening of several new service centers in these states.

The company opened three new service centers in Texas, located in Denton, Frisco and McKinney in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Massey also opened a new service center in Doral, Florida, to further expand their presence in the South Florida market. In The Villages community, Massey opened two new service center locations. They now have a total of eight offices in The Villages, Florida, that provide pest, termite, landscape and irrigation services. Additionally, the company opened a new service center in Decatur, Georgia, to better serve their customers northeast of Atlanta.

Massey Services also opened two new GreenUP Landspace service centers in Orange Park, Florida, and Destin, Florida. Additionally, they now offer their landscape service in Marietta, Cumming and Dallas, Georgia. Massey’s landscape service includes aeration, custom-blended fertilizers, pH testing and targeted weed, insect and disease control.

Finally, Massey Services has opened new commercial service centers in Cocoa, Florida; Clearwater, Florida; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

These offices provide commercial pest prevention and disinfecting services to all types of businesses, including healthcare, restaurants, hotels, warehouses and many more.

“These new locations continue to establish Massey service centers in local markets to enhance growth opportunities and better serve our customers,” said Tony Massey, president of Massey Services. “We are very excited about these openings and expansions, which provides promotional opportunities for our team members and demonstrates our commitment to total customer satisfaction.’’

Green Group expands in Raleigh, enters Tulsa market

Green Group Tulsa will be led by Green Group’s regional director Benjamin Allen.

TULSA – Green Group, a national turf care company, recently added turf care company Touch’ N Grow to the Green Group platform and entered the Tulsa, Oklahoma market under the Green Group brand.

Touch’ N Grow, a Raleigh turf care company, merged its business with Eastern Turf Maintenance, which joined Green Group last year. Touch’ N Grow owner Bruce Ludlow said this was an opportunity to continue serving his Raleigh-area customers while partnering with another local brand.

“Everyone in this area knows and respects Eastern Turf Maintenance. They have been serving Triangle area customers for more than two decades. That, combined with the ability to come on board and be a part of the exciting things Green Group is doing in the industry, was too good to pass up,” Ludlow said. Touch’ N Grow will now service customers under the Eastern Turf Maintenance brand and, in most cases, still by Ludlow. The companies follow the same lawn care practices, and the transition has been seamless.

Additionally, Green Group entered the Tulsa, Oklahoma market, opening its first location using the Green Group brand. Green Group Tulsa will be led by Green Group’s regional director Benjamin Allen.

“We’ve got a lot growing with Green Group, and I am looking forward to being able to nurture that growth right here in Oklahoma,” Allen said. He will continue working with the other brands in the Green Group family as well. Green Group Tulsa is currently serving customers in the greater Tulsa area.

“We want to show that there is more than one way to grow. We are expanding organically under leaders in the Green Group family and honoring the legacies of respected, well-established brands across the nation. That means creating unique partnership opportunities crafted around individual circumstances,” said Keith Freeman, founder, and CEO of Green Group. “In some cases, we are partnering with owners who are ready to retire; in other cases, they want to continue working and benefit from the synergies, support and growth opportunities we have to offer at Green Group.”

Northern Tool acquires Jacks Small Engines

All Jacks team members will continue to work from the Maryland operations and local retail store.

BURNSVILLE, Minn. – Northern Tool + Equipment has acquired Jacks Small Engines, a second generation, family-owned company providing online replacement parts for major brands of engines, tools, and power equipment.

Northern Tool’s acquisition builds on the company’s expertise in tools, equipment, engine and maintenance services by offering customers millions of parts for maintenance and repair. In addition, it delivers a new dimension of support to its Parts, Service and Repair offering across its 120 retail stores.

All Jacks team members will continue to work from the Maryland operations and local retail store.

Former owners John Cumberland and Adine Cumberland have joined the Northern Tool team and will remain active in the operation.

The acquisition deal was finalized on March 31.

“We share a great amount of customer crossover with Northern Tool + Equipment, and our respective customer-focused strategies really complement each other, which makes this partnership a great match for our brand,” says John Cumberland, CEO of Jacks Small Engines and son of the founder.

Pine Hall Brick names new president, CEO

Walt Steele takes over for Fletcher Steele, the former president and CEO, who will remain onboard as executive chairman.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Pine Hall Brick recently promoted Walt Steele to president and CEO.

Fletcher Steele, the former president and CEO, remains as executive chairman and will continue to be involved on a part-time basis.

For the past three years, Walt Steele has been vice president and chief operating officer and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company.

“I have great confidence in Walt and the team of talented and dedicated individuals that he now leads, and I’m sure that the company is in good hands for years to come,” Fletcher Steele said.

Walt Steele has been with the company since 2011 in a variety of positions. Before he was promoted to vice president and COO in 2018, he was paver business manager.

Prior to that, Walt held positions at Dow Chemical, Aqua Treat Chemicals and Cardinal Health.

“I’m excited to step up now and lead the company as it turns 100 next year,” Walt Steele said. “I am thankful for those that I have the privilege to work alongside as we reach that milestone. Together, we are building a business that is as sustainable as the products we make and sell. As always, we will continue to be an organization that is an innovative leader in building products.”

SavATree acquires company in Rochester, Michigan

Advanced Arboriculture by Arbor-Olin has served customers for over 40 years.

ROCHESTER, Mich. – SavATree has acquired Advanced Arboriculture by Arbor-Olin of Rochester, Michigan, a full-service tree care company that has been serving customers for more than 40 years.

Advanced Arboriculture founder, Terry Jenkinson, an arborist with decades of experience in the industry, will be joining the SavATree team along with members of his staff. This union further strengthens SavATree’s service at its Troy and Orion branches to customers throughout the Detroit Tri-County.

“I’m very pleased to be joining such a successful and well-run company as SavATree,” Jenkinson said. “In addition to the excellent arboriculture customers have received, we will now offer the following additional services: professional lawn care, deer deterrents, organic options and holiday décor.”

“We’re happy to be joining forces with such a respected tree company as Advanced Arboriculture,” said SavATree CEO Carmine Schiavone. “We look forward to offering current and new customers in the Tri-County region our broad range of science-based, environmentally responsible services in the care of their properties.”

Bayer reinstates Armada

The company has decided against phasing out the Armada fungicide and is offering a discount on it through June 30, 2021.

CARY, N.C. – The Turf and Ornamentals business of Bayer, part of the Environmental Science division, has reinstated the Armada 50 WDG fungicide. Armada fungicide offers broad-spectrum control for protection against tough diseases that affect both turf and landscape ornamentals. Bayer had previously slated Armada for phase out but decided to reinstate it after feedback from the industry.

“At Bayer, we strive every day to help make lawn care operators’ jobs easier as they work to give their clients beautiful, healthy lawns,” said Dr. Brad Glenn, fungicide product manager for the U.S, Turf & Ornamentals business. “We value our customers’ feedback and support and were happy to reinstate Armada in our portfolio.”

One treatment of Armada gives lawn care operators broad-spectrum control of a range of turf diseases, such as dollar spot, brown patch, leaf spot, large patch, fairy ring, gray leaf spot and more. It also provides protection against tough landscape ornamental diseases, like Anthracnose, leaf spots, black spot, rust, powdery mildew, scab and more.