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Mike Merlesena offers installers insight after years of working on the supply side.

December 15, 2011
Lindsey Getz

After having worked on the manufacturing side for five years, Mike Merlesena, owner of Environmental Enhancements Irrigation, says it has given him a bit of an advantage as a contractor to have seen the industry from another angle. He offers some of his best tips for irrigation contractors.

Know the products. “I think that it gives you a tremendous advantage as a contractor to really know what types of products are out there,” Merlesena says. “I believe that most contractors probably don’t pay as close attention to this as they should though. They keep going to the same products they’ve always used. But it would benefit you to try and keep up with what’s new. Customers appreciate that and it makes you more knowledgeable.”
Focus on solutions. Merlesena says that better familiarity with products will give you an opportunity to come up with solutions that other contractors may not have thought about. “You should think of every job as a clean slate – different from the last job,” he says. “On each job you have to consider what product might work best and having familiarity with a lot of product will help you. In the 10 jobs I did in my first year, there were applications I needed that were out of the norm, so I have to imagine that most contractors are being faced with situations where they have to be able to think outside the box a little bit. The idea is to come up with a solution that nobody else is going to think of. That’s what will set you apart.”

Go to the shows. The best way to know what products are out there? Go to the shows, Merlesena says. “I go to the IA show every year,” he says. “It gives me a chance to see what products are available. I understand it’s an expense but it’s one that I believe is well worth it. And if you can’t afford to go to the bigger shows, there are always smaller regional ones. Look for shows that are available at a state-wide level. Most manufacturers will also go to those. You just have to make yourself do it because it’s really important to be out there and staying on top of the latest technology.”

Talk to your distributor.
Besides the industry shows Merlesena says to pay attention to the fact that manufacturers are always going to “distributor days” and hosting other similar events. He says these can be incredibly valuable. “Manufacturers often host regional trainings all over the country,” he says. “It seems like they try to keep it off season when contractors have the time available. While those are not cheap things to attend, I really believe the more ahead of the curve you stay, the better off you’ll be.”

This is one of three stories that ran in Lawn & Landscape’s Water Works e-newsletter. For more coverage on irrigation and Environmental Enhancements:

Back to his roots: After making rounds in the irrigation industry, Mike Merlesena returned to where he began, installation.

Environmental enhancements: This irrigation company focuses on conservation and green alternatives.