While landscapers acknowledge the importance of safety to their business operations, they seldom know the full extent to which a safety program is defined. In fact, it is not uncommon for landscapers to believe they are legally compliant if their safety program consists of: having new employees watch safety videotapes on their first day of work, conducting weekly tailgate sessions and distributing PPE to employees. There is much more to it than that.
This article summarizes many safety concepts required by federal/state law into three categories – administrative, behaviors, consequences – to help landscapers understand the entire scope of a safety program. This simplified ABC model allows landscapers to systematically audit their existing safety programs, develop appropriate action plans and track improvement.
To be clear, the documents listed below must not be developed and then stored in an office file cabinet never to see the light of day. Rather, each component must be shared with all employees in a manner clarifying its respective role in improving employee safety, procedural efficiency, and organizational success.
Behaviors like safety meetings, training sessions and audit procedures emphasize the salient role of safety as part of the company’s culture, each employee’s standard work routine, and procedural expectations. Depending upon its specific contribution to the safety program, a behavior may be demonstrated daily (e.g., vehicle audit), weekly (e.g., tailgate session), monthly (e.g., safety committee meeting), annually (e.g., OSHA safety audit), or on an “as-needed” basis (e.g., New Employee Orientation).
Based upon these measurements, suitable changes must be made at the employee, procedural or organizational level to continuously improve safety results.
Naturally, the lists provided above must be tailored based on the relevant state laws applicable to a particular landscape company.
It is important that landscapers realize the full extent of a safety program; thereby generating initiative to devote resources to ensure their safety culture achieves desired results.
When I installed irrigation systems, we would keep track of everything by hand. The passenger seat, wheel wells and glove box of every repair van were littered with crumpled and torn job sheets of chicken scratch.
And every week Lynne, our long-suffering office manager, would harangue us about our poor penmanship and inability to keep anything clean.
At any successful landscape company, the books, trucks, supplies and people are tracked and allocated by computer, little invisible ones and zeros keeping tabs on everything from spray rigs to lunch breaks.
But when it comes to choosing a program, many landscapers are stuck. It’s one of the questions I get from readers most often. “What should I use? What works best?”
Unfortunately, there’s no good answer. It all depends on your management style, company size and how you organize things.
But whatever type or brand of software an owner chooses, the end result is the same. If you can’t keep tabs on how many hours your crews work, or where they drive once they leave the yard, or who has paid their bills this month, how can you ever hope to get out from under it all to plan for higher-level projects or markets?
Having tools in place to track – and then manage – the key parts of your business is one of the most basic ways to grow. This strategy of the small stuff – what Seth Godin calls “the thankless work of lower-leverage detail” – is so important for small companies, but it’s something the big guys have to do, too.
On page 50, in an exclusive interview with L&L, the new CEO of TruGreen LandCare, explained a similar focus for his firm for this year. “Our 2012 focus is resetting the foundation, getting back to the basics, making sure we do them right every day,” says Vidu Kulkarni. “Ours is a relatively straightforward business. We’re not building rocketships. Longer term, our focus is on profitable growth, not being the biggest dog on the block. I want to be the best dog on the block.”
When it comes to those small things, Godin writes: “An organization with feet on the street and alert and regular attention to detail can build more trust and develop better relationships than one that hits and runs.”
So this month, sit down and take a look at how you and your team handle the small things in your day-to-day work – everything from your time sheets to your job tickets to your order forms. Every company has a Lynne, and she has a point.
– Chuck Bowen
|Bottom: Tom Grosh, left, was given the Certificate of Merit Award from the Washington County Commissioner for his role in the phone book collection.|
In this digital age, there are some kids who have never looked in a phone book, and a few who don’t even know such a thing exists. But, thanks to Tom Grosh, students of the Washington County School System in Maryland now not only know what a phone book looks like, but also learned a valuable lesson about recycling.
Grosh, who owns Grosh’s Lawn Service in Clear Spring, Md., along with the help of now retired recycling coordinator Harvey Hoch, decided to start The Washington County Phone Book Recycling Contest.
For three years, the students in the Washington County School systems have collected and recycled used phone books so they can be kept out of the waste stream. This contest also raises awareness about the importance of recycling in the area. In 2011, more than 9,700 phone books were collected by 13 participating Washington County Public Schools. This year, the group collected more than 10,000 phone books, which is the first time that number has been eclipsed.
“I knew that if we could get the kids interested in this during the week of Earth Day – there would be other projects going on that week – we would allow them to see that they made a difference from the stacks of phone books,” he says. “As they say ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ but in this case they could see just how much space these phone books will use up in our landfill.”
Grosh said every family has phone books, so it was easy to drum up interest in the project because every child could participate by donating.
“This project is growing each year and kids are finding ways to find more books,” he says. “Some schools kept graphs to show the progress each day of how many books were collected and some schools set a collection table with student-made posters.”
Teach your children well
Colin Vincent, branch manager at Southern Spray Lawn Care in Nashville, shares this photo of our youngest reader to date – his son, Ethan, enthralled with our March issue.
Colin explains: "He can’t go to school in the morning without a copy of Lawn & Landscape. Ethan is 2 and a half and absolutely loves lawn equipment. Southern Spray concentrates on turf and ornamental applications, so he knows a spray truck when he sees one, but he prefers big zero-turn mowers. He also can spot a “weedeat-eater” and even an aerator in the ads. He spends his morning ride to preschool with Lawn & Landscape. No DVD player in this truck!"
Bigger isn’t always better
In your June 2012 issue, I read the letter to the editor “On staying small and local,” and I would like to say how much I appreciate you recognizing these companies. Many companies choose to maintain this mindset despite their number of clients or their revenue. Actually, the article and idea of a very small business starting, growing and maintaining the ma and pa shop feel completely mimic my company’s story and mission.
After being a full-time mother to my two children and working a few part-time positions at local retailers, I decided I wanted a change. I wanted to start my own business. After baffling countless ideas of what to do, I decided I was going to start a lawn care company by myself. No one would have ever known that this idea of trying to find something to do to pass time and generate a little spending cash would quickly transform into my dream and passion.
My husband knew of a general contractor who had recently moved to a new home and was looking for someone to maintain his lawn. There was my chance and I ran with it.
Starting off with one customer, a self-propelled push mower, a hand-me-down blower, my SUV, a homemade trailer and both of my kids in the back seat, my company was born and I began my first day at my new job. Despite critics and speculation of me, a female, developing a successful business in a predominantly male industry, I have proved quite the contrary.
Through maintaining a focus on relationships, consistency and personalized service with every client, my business has grown year over year since that day in the mid 90s when I started with one customer. Over time, I have transitioned from a maintenance only company to offering full landscape services including design and installation, construction of hardscapes and outdoor living spaces, and beginning in 2013 will even launch our new fertilization and lawn treatment segment. In 2011, our revenue exceeded $350,000 – a first for us.
We never deviate from the idea of being a small, local business in our daily activities. Keeping the small business feel is our culture and how we will remain as an organization with both our clients and our employees. We continuously look for ways to demonstrate our culture to the community.
Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to sponsor sports teams of client’s children, charity events and fundraisers held in local neighborhoods and private clubs in which we work - all to continue to build on that small, local business mentality.
Thank you for your contribution and information into our industry and especially recognizing the little guys (or girls) out there and I look forward to my next issue of Lawn & Landscape.
K.G. Bates, Inc.
Doing business the right way
My name is Scott Beauregard and I have been in the landscaping business for over twenty years.
I have always run my business according to state and local laws. I am insured, pay sales tax to the state and make sure any employees working for me are documented and legal to work in the United States. I realize that with the economy the way it is that people are doing whatever it takes to make ends meet.
However, I take offense to people that throw a little trailer on the back of their vehicle load up with equipment and call themselves landscapers. More and more of theses companies pop up every day. I work very hard to make a living and do things the right way to keep my business going.
In the past, I would take down license plate numbers or phone numbers off of these companies and turn them into the New Jersey Catch program for businesses that are tax cheats and usually would see some of them gone within a few weeks. However, there seems to be an infestation of companies lately.
I know that it is illegal to operate a commercial business in New Jersey without commercial plates and signage on your vehicle, but local law enforcement does nothing about it.
I have contacted Gov. Chris Christie’s office in regards to this matter several times but have never received any answers as to why the state does not go after the millions of dollars in lost sales tax revenue.
I have called the senators office and also received no response. Even after reaching out to the media about a local business trying to stay afloat in such tough times with all this illegal competition, but once again no response.
People don’t realize that this is a serious industry. Homeowners need to understand that having one of these companies work on their property is an accident waiting to happen.
God forbid someone gets injured on your property and they are uninsured, then they can sue you as the home owner. Even worse if one of the employees gets hurt. What if they hurt someone like a neighbor or someone’s child.
Every other business that is open has to go through proper procedures in order to open the doors, except our field. If you can offer me any suggestions on how to help clean up this industry please let me know.
I am tired of spending countless hours bidding jobs, then seeing someone else do the work and pocket every penny.
Owner, Hidden Hills Landscaping
All about Utah
I enjoyed Jim Huston’s article in the May issue of Lawn & Landscape. I appreciate the fact that you highlighted the Utah market and a local contractor.
I lived in Utah up until about a year ago and had been there on and off for about 10 years as a BYU student, LCO and part of the green industry workforce.
It’s got to be one of the weirdest landscape markets around, but I think you nailed it with your summary of market conditions.
Client Relations Manager Eastern Land Management
A quick note to say thanks for your publication, Lawn & Landscape. Every month, my boss’s wife gives me a stack of fresh trade magazines. Today was one of those days, and I got frustrated with a lot of the other magazines, so they found a new home with the trash can (too many ads, weak stories, disorder). Though I don’t benefit from everything in your magazine, I like the order, the depth of the stories and the variety. Thanks for continuing to deliver value.
Account Manager, ValleyScapes
St. Mary’s, Kan.
Think before you irrigate
In far too many industry articles in various publications over the past several years, the theme has been about what services to add. Irrigation services which is 65-70 percent of my business is one area being promoted.
In my area, we are already saturated with irrigation providers. Irrigation in N.J., it is a licensed activity. Despite the huge amount of systems in our area, a big irrigation company may only have six trucks, and they are few and far between.
There are no irrigation firms with 10-20 trucks and dominate players, like some parts of the country. Irrigation is a technical, specialized service, requiring extensive knowledge to even replace a head properly. To service the client right, one must have knowledge and comprehension of best installation practices, operating pressures and precipitation rates.
My company maintains a huge inventory of pipe fittings, nozzles, valve parts, valves, heads, electrical and plumbing supplies to name some items. We have personnel with strong irrigation skills and a decades long background in the business. For a person mowing 50-150 lawns, or a landscape design/build contractor to add irrigation maintenance or installation to their list of services, doesn’t make sense.
Any service requiring special skills, a large variety of special product and performed in low volume, will be a silent money loser despite the perceived revenue enhancement. The time spent to set up a service call, analyze the issue, acquire materials for the service and warranty what is done in low volume, not only negates the revenue but can silently steal more money from your pocket.
When adding a new service in our time of economic uncertainty, it must be one that your customers are asking you about in a volume, where one special person or a crew can be dedicated 3 or more days per week, and remaining days can be productively filled with what are the business’s current mainstay.
Owner, Town Pride Lawn Service
James Ingram named president of Bartlett Tree Experts
STAMFORD, Conn. – Bartlett Tree Experts has named James Ingram president.
Ingram, currently vice president and division manager of the company’s field operations in New England and eastern Canada, will take the helm of the company officially Jan. 1, 2013. Bartlett’s former president, Greg Daniels, announced his retirement in May.
“Based on my personal experiences working with Jim and the success he’s had as a leader in our company, I can confidently say I feel great about this decision.
“He has strong ideas for the continued growth of the company that fit with my vision of where we are now and where we’re headed,” said Robert Bartlett Jr., chairman and CEO of Bartlett Tree Experts.
Ingram joined Bartlett Tree Experts as an arborist representative in 1983 and was promoted to local manager in 1984.
Ingram has held his current role since 1993.
In that time, he established the New England territory as the company’s largest sales region. He is responsible for financial oversight of 17 Bartlett locations and has been actively involved in recruiting, managing and training a staff of more than 40 arborists.
Bartlett Tree Experts ranked No. 8 on the 2012 Lawn & Landscape Top 100 List with revenue of $167 million. The Connecticut-based company has offices in 26 states, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland.
IA show registration now open
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Attendee registration is now open for the Irrigation Association’s 2012 Irrigation Show, Nov. 4-5, and education conference, Nov. 2-6, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Attendees who register by Oct. 5 will receive discounted rates. New offerings in 2012 include:
- Charlie Hall, professor of horticulture and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University will provide a macro perspective to economics in the industry.
- The Florida Irrigation Society and Workforce Florida are holding a job and career fair open to all people
- A new product contest will offer attendees the opportunity to vote on their favorite products. Visit www.irrigationshow.org to register.
Two top students selected for major GIE Media scholarships
CLEVELAND – GIE Media, the nation’s leading publisher of horticulture and green industry trade magazines, has named the winners of its annual Young Leaders Scholarship.
|Robin Cannon, right, was one of two winners of the GIE Media Young Leaders Scholarship.|
Robin Cannon, a junior at Kent State University-Salem, and Judson LeCompte (pictured), a graduate student at Auburn University, will both receive $5,000 to continue their education this fall.
Cannon, who currently works as a horticulture intern at the Shaker Heights, Ohio, Country Club, has spent several years pursuing her degree and working to support her family. She was the horticulturist for three years at the Boulder Creek Golf Course in Streetsboro, Ohio, which is ranked one of the best public courses in Ohio. She established and ran the greenhouses on site there, and currently manages a crew at Wheeler Landscaping.
“Many people have said to me over the course of the past two years that I should be content with the job that I have, and that I should quit school,” she wrote in her application essay. “I strongly disagree. I believe that you can never stop learning, and that there is always someone that can teach you something that you didn’t already know.”
LeCompte, a first year graduate student at Auburn University, brings a wide range of experience in the green industry to his work. He worked as the manager of a garden center, where he was responsible for 15 employees and $12 million a year in sales, and led several student groups as an undergraduate. His research has focused on the use of gray water and salt water in irrigation, sustainable landscape practices and the development of green roofs.
“Students in the green industry truly are the next generation of the industry,” said Chris Foster, president and CEO of GIE Media. “We view this award as just one way we can support the incoming class of entrepreneurs, stand-out professionals and researchers in all the industries we serve.”
ANLA, OFA to form new trade association
COLUMBUS – The Board of Directors of OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals voted to begin the process of organizing a new association with the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA).
After months of discussion, the working group comprised of leaders from both organizations determined it was time to formally explore creating a new trade association.
OFA and ANLA announced in January 2012 the formation of a joint venture to support business education and government relations activities. The vision statement adopted by OFA’s board of directors expressed the desire to form a new organization if it brings more value to our members and the industry. Since June 2011, OFA’s executive committee has been meeting with ANLA’s leaders about the opportunity for and viability of a formal relationship between the two organizations. As early as the first meeting, the idea of forming a new organization has been discussed by the joint venture working group.
“We are listening to our members. Results of a membership and organizational study performed at the end of last year indicated that members of both associations want the organizations to work closer to unify the industry,” said OFA President Mike McCabe, owner of McCabe’s Greenhouse & Floral in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. “They want their industry association to be all encompassing – one that touches and links all pieces of the horticulture industry, which can be offered by a new organization.”
The timeline is to have a new organization established no sooner than July of 2013 and no later than January 2014. “This is not a merger. This is taking the best of what both associations do to create a new organization that will advance the industry and better serve our members,” said Michael V. Geary, OFA’s chief executive officer.
In further developments of the joint venture, following ANLA Executive Vice President Bob Dolibois’ scheduled retirement at the end of the year, Geary will become the chief staff executive of both ANLA and OFA beginning on January 1, 2013. The organizations will continue to be governed separately, but Geary will lead the day-to-day operations of both groups.
New England Grows announces 2013 programs
BOSTON – New England Grows theme for 2013 is Frontline thinking. Intelligent solutions.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 6 to Friday, Feb. 8 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
More than 30 educational seminars are planned. The speaker lineup includes well-known experts and other trendsetting presenters including Bruce Allison, Kirk Armstrong, Kip Creel, Richard Hawke, Dan Heims, Michael Raupp, and Cass Turnbull.
They will address a variety of timely commercial horticultural topics like permaculture, the impact of global climate change on plants and pests, water management and mature tree care, as well as business-growth ideas
“New England Grows is produced by the industry, for the industry,” said New England Grows’ president Mary Hallene of Sylvan Nursery in Westport, Mass.
At New England Grows, green industry professionals can obtain most of their professional Continuing Education (CEU) credits with recertification opportunities for pesticide licenses, NOFA, APLD, LA CES, ISA, CTSP, and most state association credentials.
Early registration goes through Jan. 15 and costs $49 for all three days. The early registration price drops to $45 per person when four or more people from the same company register together.
Pat Jones and Jim Gilbride to lead GIE Media’s Horticulture Group
CLEVELAND – Pat Jones and Jim Gilbride have been promoted to new positions within GIE Media, the leading business media company in the green industry.
Jones becomes business manager and publisher for GIE’s turf publications, including Lawn & Landscape and Golf Course Industry, and Gilbride is now business manager and publisher for the company’s ornamental publications, including Greenhouse Management, Nursery Management and Garden Center.
Jones has led Golf Course Industry as publisher and editorial director for the past three years and recently launched both GCI International and GIE’s new Green Industry Supply Chain Management. He is a veteran golf/turf communications professional and award-winning editor with more than 25 years of market experience in the green industry. In his new position, he will have overall management responsibility for L&L, GCI, GISCM and related digital products and custom media programs.
Gilbride, who has been with GIE since 2004, has been a key factor in the success and rapid growth of the ornamental market publications GIE acquired three years ago. He previously was Associate Publisher and Sales Manager for Greenhouse Management. He will now oversee all aspects of GIE’s ornamental market publications and operations including GM, NM, Garden Center and related products.
“Pat and Jim have both shown they are amazingly passionate about their markets and that they’re incredibly skilled publishing and media pros,” said Chris Foster, GIE CEO. “They are absolutely the right people to lead our Horticulture Group to new levels.”
In a related move, Dave Szy has been promoted to the position of associate publisher for Lawn & Landscape. Szy, a 10-year veteran of GIE’s sales team, was most recently national sales manager for L&L and GIE’s Snow magazine. He will work closely with Jones to manage L&L’s sales and industry relationships.
Climbing the Ladder:
LAYTONSVILLE, Md. - Ruppert Landscape has promoted Fred Key to the role of region manager, where he will oversee branches in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., Lorton, Va. and Gainesville, Va.
In this role, Key will be a resource for each of the branch managers and will help maximize the division’s capabilities in people development, training, customer service, business development and profitability.
Key, a resident of Haymarket, Va., has more than 20 years of industry experience and has been with Ruppert for 10 years serving in a variety of positions including crewman, foreman, area manager, controller, landscape construction production manager, division administrator, landscape management branch manager and region manager. According to Phil Key, vice president and director of the landscape management division, Key’s background with holding so many different positions, in both divisions and in different markets has given him a strong foundation for the position of region manager.
“His knowledge of processes, procedures and systems that he’s garnered in those positions and his willingness to offer his opinion, whether it’s a popular opinion or unpopular opinion, has really helped to increase his value in the organization,” said Phil Key.
(Fred) Key holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Salisbury State University where he majored in accounting. He is a Certified Landscape Professional and in 2009, he received one of the company’s top honors, the Clyde Vadner Merit Award, which is presented to the individual who has demonstrated consistent hard work and dedication leading to exceptional contributions to the organization.
“Bethwyn Todd brings significant experience and broad perspectives to her new position,” said Milton Steele, president, FMC Agricultural Products. “For the past two years, she played a key role within the FMC Agricultural Products Group as the Asia-Pacific Development and Regulatory manager, leading this region’s innovation programs and regulatory affairs.”
Todd will continue to lead and drive the growth initiatives started under previous FMC Professional Solutions director, Amy O’Shea, who recently became division manager of FMC Environmental Solutions, a new division within FMC Corporation.
As marketing manager for FMC Professional Solutions, Fasano is responsible for strategic planning and leadership of the marketing team. In his new role, he will also provide leadership on business development and product management, fostering customer-driven innovation.
Previously, Fasano was head of marketing for Bayer Advanced Consumer Lawn & Garden, and brand manager for Bayer Advanced, where he launched a line of alternative solutions for pest, weed and disease management.