As I sat down to write this month’s Editor’s Note, I had my thoughts jotted down and was ready to put those random notes into some semblance of a column. But as I thought about recapping what I heard in Louisville at LANDSCAPES 2019, GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America, I went back to last year’s November issue to see what I wrote. I discovered robotic mowers at GIE+EXPO was a main topic and that’s going to be the case again.
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I’m not writing this to show you I like to recycle column ideas. It’s to show you how something like this continues to grow in popularity. Even though the number of autonomous mowers on display did seem to increase this year on the show floor, I still haven’t actually seen any in operation on a lawn.
According to Robin Autopilot, Cleveland, where Lawn & Landscape is headquartered, has the highest concentration of autonomous mowers in the country, so there is a good chance I may have come across one driving around. To me, that’s exciting. These are picking up steam, and they still are very uncommon to see in residential neighborhoods, which means they still haven’t even reached their potential.
It’s good to know that those in the industry are leaving no stone unturned.
In our story on pg. 48, Robin’s new CEO, Logan Fahey, who acquired the company in July, says within the next two years, there’s going to be a flip in favor of autonomous mowers, and it’s going to be quick. I look forward to watching this change take place, as the lack of quality labor continues to be an issue for a lot of companies.
Speaking of labor, another interesting concept I learned more about was the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Women in Landscape Network, which was launched in September. The organization is hoping they can encourage a male-dominated industry to look at women as viable members of the hiring pool. When I met with members of the network, they wanted to stress that this wasn’t just women recruiting more women into the industry.
The goal is for women and men to work together to make landscaping companies more open to hiring women, and to drive home that women bring skills and an important voice to businesses. They can be productive on a jobsite just like their male counterparts.
Regardless of whether the solutions for one of the biggest problems in the industry involve robots or humans, it’s good to know that those in the industry are leaving no stone unturned to solve it. – Brian Horn