Photos courtesy of Greenworks

The push for more power and longer battery life comes as a result of industry trends showing an increase in the use of battery-powered equipment.

At the Greenworks North American headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina, Greenworks hosted a launch event for its latest in battery-powered equipment with its line of lithium ion zero-turn mowers.

Juli Denike, market insights manager at Greenworks, said there has been an uptick in battery-powered equipment for the last several years.

The two newest pieces of Greenworks equipment, the Lithium Z 82V GZ 60R Ride-On Mower and the 82V GZ 48S Stand-On Mower, were developed to be true gas replacements, said Kevin Gillis, vice president of product development at Greenworks.

Because the industry has seen more restrictions lately in terms of emissions and noise, the company sees its battery-powered equipment as a workaround to those problems.

“500 cities have a backpack blower ban,” said Tony Marchese, director of independent retail at Greenworks. “That number is up about 250 since October.” Greenworks offers a line of several backpack blowers to fit the needs of commercial contractors. The battery pack is located in the backpack to take the weight off the equipment.

Both the 82V ride-on mower and 82V stand-on mower are powered by an 82-volt 13.8kW lithium-ion battery and feature three 1.5kW brushless blade motors and two 1.7kW brushless drive motors. Battery voltage can be compared to an engine’s horsepower.

After a full charge, which takes approximately 10 hours, the ride-on ZTR is capable of up to five hours of cutting time. The stand-on will cut for six hours on a full charge which also takes 10 hours to fully charge.

During time trials for two-man crews using gas-powered mowers, it was discovered that actual cutting time per day for a zero-turn is about three and a half hours, with 20 minutes of cutting per property.

Battery perks.

Greenworks also announced smart batteries with a GPS option will soon be available for customers. The batteries will be able to communicate diagnostics with the user through an app and intuitively adjust machine performance.

“The battery will communicate with each part of the mower,” said Corey Fisher, engineering manager of mowers and vehicles at Greenworks. “So if one side of the mower needs more power, the battery will tell that blade to give more, not slow down.”

The GPS integration will be available as an add-on for larger products and vehicles.

The company is also introducing a six-pack battery charger. Currently, operators can only charge up to two batteries at a time.

Dr. Robert Ballard, GIE+EXPO’s keynote speaker
© Matt Walker

Ocean of knowledge

Dr. Robert Ballard will bring his tales of discovery, which includes finding the Titanic, to the GIE+EXPO show as the keynote speaker. By Brian Horn

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – Dr. Robert Ballard remembers the first time he talked to his mother after finding the Titanic. The conversation didn’t quite go the way you would imagine a mother talking to her son who just discovered a historic artifact.

“I had been on the “Today Show,” the tomorrow show, the day after tomorrow show, every damn show you can image. I had been all over television. The phone rings and it’s my mom and she says, ‘Too bad you found that rusty old ship.’”

Ballard’s mom lacked the expected enthusiasm, but the statement was actually praise for her son. Ballard had many achievements before finding the ship that sank on April 15, 1912, and Ballard’s mom was afraid that was all he’d be known for accomplishing.

“I know my obituary is going to say, ‘The guy who found the Titanic died today,’” Ballard said.

Ballard will be keynote at the GIE+EXPO making two speeches: one for dealers from 10:30-noon on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and one for contractors from 1:30-3 p.m. the same day.

Lawn & Landscape visited Ballard at the Inner Space Center, which is located in the Center for Ocean Exploration, where Ballard is the director, at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography.

Learning from a leader.

So, what can a landscaper learn from someone who makes their living by making underwater discoveries? Aside from the interesting details of his approach to all of his discoveries, including the Titanic, he can relate to a green industry business owner because he had to be a leader to achieve success. He also had a few missteps along the way to his discoveries, like many entrepreneurs have as they grow their companies.

“Failure is the greatest teacher you'll ever meet,” he said. “You can't avoid failure. You won't learn anything, so you just have to recover from it. You have to have the passion. It’s important to be smart. It’s more important to have a passion to get you up when you get knocked down.”

When Ballard first set out to find the German battleship Bismarck, he failed. On top of that, there was a camera crew to document the search. Afterward, the interviewer asked him how he felt about not finding the ship.

“I looked at the lens and I said round one to the Bismarck. I know where it isn't,” he said. “I'll get it the second time. And I got it. So, I got to put things in perspective.”

It’s that positive attitude that has been a key part of Ballard’s success as a leader.

“People want to be around optimists,” Ballard said. “When you're an optimist, people will bet on your horse. They'll say, ‘well, he seems pretty confident.’ I think it's attitude. It just becomes part of your DNA.”

Ballard found the Titanic while on a top-secret mission for the U.S. Navy. His mission was to find two lost nuclear subs. Ballard would embark on the mission in 1985, but since it was the height of the Cold War, he needed a cover, and looking for the Titanic was perfect. He received permission to look for the Titanic if he found the two sunken submarines.

“I was on a highly classified top-secret military mission that I was terrified people would figure that was what I was doing,” he said.

After finding the subs, it took him and his team nine days to find the Titanic. He is currently working with Titanic director James Cameron to help raise enough money to buy the more than $5,000 artifacts after the company that owned them filed for bankruptcy in 2016. The plan is to have them placed in the Titanic Belfast museum.

Giving back in D.C.

Green industry professionals headed to D.C. to pay tribute to fallen soldiers and advocate for the industry. By Brian Horn

When Lt. Col. Priscilla E. Quackenbush helps a wounded soldier as a patient, the patient’s first request is to speak with their mother. But Quackenbush, who is retired from the United States Army Nurse Corps, said the second request is to have a room with a view of the outdoors and especially trees.

Quackenbush said the role green industry professionals have to help these grounds is similar to the role she plays in helping people recover. She stressed the importance landscapes play in helping patients recover.

Quackenbush was the keynote speaker for the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ 22nd annual Renewal & Remembrance. The event allows hundreds of NALP members work on lawns, trees, irrigation and hardscape projects at Arlington National Cemetery.

NALP President Jeff Buhler, who is also senior vice president of customer service at Massey Services, urged the volunteers to take a moment and reflect on the chance to treat the grounds.

“Often the most impactful moments in our life are a blur,” Buhler said.

The NALP members also volunteer to treat the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery where more than 14,000 veterans are buried, including those who fought in the Civil War.

Photo courtesy of Brian Horn

According to the event chair, John Eggleston:

  • Lawn care professionals aerated 108 acres, applied lime to 117.5 acres and phosphorus to 46 acres.
  • Arborists installed lightning protection in four trees (at Soldiers Home).
  • Irrigation professionals revived a non-functioning system at the Administration Building, inspected, repaired, and increased efficiency at all the columbarium irrigation systems, and installed a main line in preparation for a future R&R project at the Coast Guard and North Pole monuments.
  • Landscape and hardscape professionals replaced a failing retaining wall with a new one, replaced a slate maintenance strip around Columbarium 1 – the first phase of a planned nine-year project, and replaced a worn area between buildings at the Service Complex with a new mulched and landscaped pathway.
  • Children planted an additional 15 shrubs and over 300 annuals at the Mast of the Maine memorial.

Dan Krems, CFO at LandCare, attended the event for the first time and said he felt a deep sense awe and of gratitude for the fallen soldiers, and a sense of connectivity and pride in the industry working alongside other volunteers. “Honoring those who serve our country and giving back to our communities represents the highest ideals of our industry,” he said.

INDUSTRY ADVOCATES.

As part of the preparation for visiting legislators on Capitol Hill, there were a few panels about issues being discussed and tips on how to be a better advocate.

H-2B: Laurie Flanagan, executive vice president at DC Legislative and Regulatory Services, NALP’s government relations firm, said the association has had two goals when it comes to H-2B – advocating for more H-2B visas to be released this year, and to get permanent H-2B cap relief (for example reinstating the returning worker exemption.) She said more visas won’t be released, but there is some hope about the returning worker exemption. Flanagan added that when business owners are meeting with representatives, they should explain everything they’ve done to hire American workers. Tim Daniels, who works in the office of congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), said even though there is opposition to H-2B by both Republicans and Democrats, political support for H-2B is at a peak right now. “I’m cautiously optimistic something can get done,” he said.

SOCIAL MEDIA: David Payne, president and founder of Codavate public affairs, and William Lopez, vice president of customer success at Phone2Action, gave tips on how to use social media for political advocacy.

Payne listed a couple of reasons on why you should be using social media for advocacy:

  1. Government uses it. “It’s now more important than emails and phone calls to them,” he said, but he added that a call from a business leader still counts more than reaching out via social media.
  2. A key demo uses it. Eighty percent of people are active on Facebook. Millennials are becoming the face of workforce and 90 percent are social media users. “Your employees customers and advocates are on it,” he said.

Payne said business leaders should also use it to thank a representative for supporting something the business owner supports. He added that it takes 30 actions to influence Congress. If you can get customers, employees and people in the community to comment or like something 30 times on a member of Congress’ account, they’ll take notice.

Lopez said almost 100 percent of politicians are on social media and it’s important to follow the legislator on social media. “It’s a good way to react or comment on what they are pushing because they often solicit feedback,” Lopez said.

Lopez said business owners should engage with legislators. Both warned that taking a political stance on social media can cause some blowback, so you have to be ready for that. “You have to perform a political calculus. I am spending my political capital,” so you have to pick and choose about putting your neck out on an issue, Payne said.