Roughly 200 attendees bared the bitter cold and rough storm conditions to head to Nashville, Tenn. for the 2014 Lawn Care Summit at the Omni Hotel. Over the span of three days, lawn care professionals attended networking receptions and educational sessions that spanned topics over two specific tracks.
Business track sessions. People who attended the business-related sessions were able to get a better understanding of the new healthcare law and how it applies to their specific business, depending on how many employees the company has. Another session focused on how to build well-rounded, productive teams in the 21st Century, especially when the way you usually run your business may be considered “old fashioned.”
A session titled “How to add diversity to your business” ended up running a little off track because the original presenter, Phil Fogarty, was stuck in the snow of the Northeast. Instead, Bob Williamson and Bobby Jenkins stepped in to explain how they each diversified their businesses, and why. Two more sessions on Tuesday looked at the benefits and process of Hydroseeding, and small business accounting tips to help lawn care professionals run their business more effectively.
Technical track sessions. The technical sessions on Tuesday included topics on how to manage insects and pests while also conserving the beneficial in the landscape, giving a specific focus on new products and how best to implement them in your program. Another session looked at how lawn care professionals can predict and diagnose turf problems. In the afternoon, attendees learned about practical approaches to weed ID, management and control using many tools to be more effective and efficient.
A session titled “Defining Sustainable Turfgrass Systems” looked at connecting the landscape to the community in ways that can benefit both. The final technical session of the day looked at the 2, 4-D herbicide. Wednesday’s sessions were all technical-based, focusing on the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance, how to understand and manage turfgrass shade stress problems and USGA turfgrass and environment research for the lawn care industry.
Sponsored sessions. Each of the two days started with a sponsored session for attendees, both focusing on a more business-oriented topic. Tuesday’s session was sponsored by Real Green Systems, the Platinum Sponsor for the Summit.
The session focused on how to out-train your competition and was presented by Craig Goodwin of Rollins University. Wednesday’s session was sponsored by the Summit’s Gold Sponsor: Bayer. “Engaging a Changing Workforce” was presented by Mary Kausch, the owner of HR, Etc. and how today’s workforce requires new rules and new roles.
Evening networking. Monday and Tuesday evening provided attendees with a chance to network over food and drinks. As Omni wait staff walked around with trays of mini crab cakes and tables were filled with different types of sliders, lawn care professionals were able to discuss session topics and industry news with each other. Smaller rooms off of the main room gave sponsoring companies the chance to provide their own refreshments while they discussed industry trends and new products with potential clients.
For the Summit, Agrium Advanced Technologies, Dow AgroSciences, Ryan, and Holganix sponsored the networking lounges.
Exhibitor tables. When not in sessions, attendees were able to speak with vendors on products relevant to the industry. A good number of the products focused on technology specific to the lawn and landscape industry. Vendors offered products such as telephone integration, online payment software, and office management software. Other vendors highlighted their pest control products, as well as herbicides and fungicides.
Representatives from each company were on hand to speak with attendees, and a couple even had the products on hand for demonstrations.
Tuesday’s luncheon highlighted that year’s sponsors, with each discussing what was new with their company. Along with the previously mentioned sponsors, Ewing and Syngenta were both Silver sponsors for the Summit. The Summit was presented by PLANET and NPMA.