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The GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America kick off today, bringing green industry professionals from across the country to Louisville, Ky., for three days of new product releases, equipment demonstrations and educational courses. Nearly 17,500 attendees and exhibitors are expected this year, according to show organizers.
On Wednesday, Hardscape North America, Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) held pre-show courses. Here is a breakdown of what took place and what’s to come.
New this year at PLANET’s GIC is a pair of virtual tours conducted for the association by Lawn & Landscape.
Building on a history of successful on-site tours at conferences in years past, this year’s tours give conference attendees a chance to see how two leading companies – Jacobsen Landscape and Construction in Midland Park, N.J., and Chapel Valley Landscape in Woodbine, Md. – set up their shops, organize their equipment and structure their internal operations for maximum efficiency.
Presented by Lawn & Landscape editor and associate publisher Chuck Bowen, Wednesday’s virtual tours comprised a video tour of each company, a presentation by one of the company’s principals and then a question-and-answer session.
GIC offered a course on one of the fastest growing trends in the industry. The session “Vegetative Green Roofs – How to Capture this Hot Opportunity” was taught by Louisville-based C. Merrill Moter, principal-in-charge at Joseph & Joseph Architects.
Moter covered the key material components of green roofs, as well as how to market the service and the number of contractors – everything from roofing contractors to irrigation and landscaping contractors – involved in the construction of this type of project.
Green roofs are a lot of work and don’t come at a cheap price, so it’s important for landscapers thinking about adding the service to know the local and state incentives for building a green roof so they can pass the information along to clients. Many people know green roofs can help a building become LEED certified, it can save the building owner heating and cooling costs and it can increase the life of the roof by two to two and half years, Moter said. But in Louisville, for instance, the sewer company will help pay for green roofs to be built and it’ll decrease a customer’s costs because the green roof helps with stormwater management. That is a fact that is not well known, Moter said.
The three-hour class ended with a stop at two of the green roofs Moter worked on in the Louisville area. The stops showed the range in which green roofs can be designed and used.
“I think green roofs are wonderful for lots of reasons, but from a business standpoint, I think green roofs are a great opportunity,” Moter said. “It’s an area of expertise you can develop that a lot of people don’t have.”
Hardscape North America 2011 kicked with its Distributor Program that featured speaker Ed Fioroni, giving suppliers tips on setting expectations and developing a customer relationship management (CRM) program. Fioroni said the four keys for setting expectations for employees are:
Setting them in the right climate: A place where the employee won’t feel uncomfortable or defensive.
Teaching and providing input: “If you want someone to succeed, you have to put them in a teaching situation,” Fioroni said.
You have to give managers a chance to speak up and give their opinions.
You have to provide feedback, be it positive reinforcement or constructive criticism.
As far as building a CRM, Fioroni said the program will falter before you even begin if you don’t have one thing in place. “If you have the wrong culture, you will fail,” he said, adding that approximately 90 percent of the time you will fail if you have the wrong culture.
Another key aspect of CRM is retaining your current customers that spend the most money, and giving them more attention. “You can really make a difference by paying attention to the customers you have,” Fioroni said.
Lisa Lackovic, western sales manager at Pavestone Co. in Omaha, Neb., gave tips on how to develop creative marketing on a small company’s budget.
Lackovic said you should have a showroom that displays a project, and is kid-friendly. That way, when parents are shopping, they aren’t being rushed by an anxious child. “The longer a customer is in your showroom, the more time you have to upsell them on more of your products,” she said.
Day one from the GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America brought a plethora of product launches and industry courses. Here we break down some of the products and classes.
John Deere Introduces Fuel-Saving Zero-Turn Mower
The pitch: John Deere revealed the ZTrak PRO Z925 zero-turn mower with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), which can provide up to 25 percent fuel savings for landscape contractors.
The mower offers a closed-loop fuel injection system that monitors engine performance for maximum efficiency.
A 27-hp engine fine-tunes the amount of fuel injected into the engine, resulting in fuel savings.
A cross-porting system routes the coolest hydraulic fluid to the hydraulic pump doing the most work.
Offered in 54-inch or 60-inch models, the mower’s 7-IronPRO mowing deck is stamped from 7-gauge steel.
Case Unveils Nine Alpha Series Skid-Steers
The pitch: Case Construction Equipment launched the new Alpha Series line of skid-steers, introducing nine models ranging from 46 hp to 90 hp.
The Alpha Series includes six radial-lift and three vertical-lift skid-steer models.
More than 70 attachments are available, including hammers, rakes, grapples, pallet forks, brooms, dozer blades and augers.
A front/rear weight distribution of 30/70 and a longer wheel base keep the center of gravity from moving when the loader arms are raised.
The skid steer cabs are 25-percent wider, with improved visibility, operator comfort and control.
ROUCH CleanTech Propane Autogas Trucks
The pitch: ROUSH CleanTech has announced their latest propane autogas product offerings, unveiling the new 2012 Ford F-250 and F-350.
The ROUSH CleanTech Ford F-250 and Ford F-350 trucks offer two tank options: an in-bed, 49-gallon tank or an under-bed, 25-gallon tank.
The trucks include a new 6.2-liter V8 Ford engine with improved performance characteristics over previous versions.
Delivery is planned for the second quarter of 2012.
Gravely offers Commercial Pro-Turn 400 XDZ Series Mower
The pitch: Gravely’s new Pro-Turn 400 zero-turn mower features an air-suspension seat and new effortless deck lift.
The air-ride isolated operator area promotes comfort.
The air pressure seat is adjustable with the touch of a button.
A rubber isolated foot platform minimizes vibration.
The mower includes a dial adjust height-of-cut system.
The Pro-Turn 400 is available in 52-inch, 60-inch, 66-inch, and 71-inch deck models.
Mean Green’s CX-62 Commercial Pure Electric Zero Turn Riding Mowers
The pitch: The electric mower is built to commercial standards, and will last a full day by using a two-minute battery exchange system.
The mower has a 62-inch floating deck with four cutting blades.
The batteries offer more than 15 KWH of power.
E-Tron fingertip controls and a full suspension seat are for operator convenience and comfort.
E-Series Push Mower Engines from Briggs & Stratton
The pitch: The 2012 E-Series engine line-up from Briggs & Stratton offers reduced emissions and one-step starting.
Design improvements to the 625e, 675ex, and 725ex Series engines include one-pull starts and a starter rope, and an optional electric start.
A strengthened cylinder design reduces bore distortion for less friction and wear.
The replaceable Maxi-Clean air cleaner captures dirt and debris.
The Super Lo-Tone muffler reduces noise levels and improves tonal quality.
In the dealer resource Pavilion, attorney, Gary L. Antoniewicz gave dealers tips on how they can be better prepared with the legal aspects of their businesses. The first piece of advice, which can be applied to any business, was to call your attorney before making a decision. Too often, a dealer will call asking about how to take action after, for example, firing someone. The dealer would have been better off asking about the potential legalities before firing someone.
“Proactive advice is always the best advice,” Antoniewicz said. “Find out the pitfalls before you take an action.”
Antoniewicz also said a dealer should get everything in writing, and not to only depend on a verbal promise from someone.
“A manufacturer rep telling you something has no credibility in my mind,” he said.
Finally, Antoniewicz said that many dealers aren’t aware of what the legal rights are when they work on someone’s equipment, and the owner of the equipment hasn’t paid. In this economy, bankruptcy filings are more common, and dealers need to be aware of those laws. You should also always have the full, legal name of a debtor in a contract.
“You have to know lien laws in this day and age,” he said. “Always make sure you have the proper name.”
The skies finally cleared up and Day 2 of GIE+EXPO and HNA brought more outdoor demonstrations, courses, products, networking and awards.
Lawn & Landscape handed out its Environmental Business Awards to three companies leading the industry by demonstrating a commitment to business practices that conserve, protect and enhance the environment. This year’s winners were: Pacific Landscape Management, Hillsboro, Ore.; Ruppert Landscape, Laytonsville, Md.; The Mustard Seed, Chaska, Minn.
Here are a few of the highlights that won each company the award.
In 2009, Pacific Landscape Management installed solar panels on its facility’s roof to produce 95 percent of the overall power usage. It also has 150 weather-based irrigation controllers installed, which has saved the company 30-40 percent on water usage. It is also updating its fleet with 150 pieces of new generation 2-cycle equipment that produces 80 percent less pollution.
The Mustard Seed has a 600-feet-long rain garden that it uses to channel runoff. The runoff then enters two sediment control ponds that cover more than 2 acres. The sediment control pond is then used to irrigate the nursery’s plants daily. The Mustard Seed also has installed a 39 kw 160-feet-tall wind turbine that provides 100 percent of the company’s electric.
Ruppert Landscape recently completed two environmentally-friendly projects. The green roof on Shady Grove Adventist Hospital has a stainless steel fountain, deck seating and patio area and boasts 30,000 sustainable plant materials. For Square 80 Plaza on George Washington University’s campus, Ruppert used biofiltration planters, underground cisterns, native plants and rain gardens. The sustainable initiatives allow the project to harvest 100 percent of the onsite rainwater for irrigation.
For more on each winner, check out the December issue of Lawn & Landscape.
New to the Outdoor Demonstration Area this year was irrigation. Members of PLANET’s newly formed Irrigation and Water Management Specialty Group organized the event, which brought contractors, suppliers and manufacturers together to teach attendees the basic things contractors can do to efficiently irrigate landscapes.
“The goal was to bring members of the industry together who wouldn’t necessarily work together and put them in an environment where they worked side by side,” said Ed Klaas of Southern Sprinkler Systems and a member of the specialty group.
There was information on smart controllers, water management and new products.
John Eggleston, chair of the group, said overall the hope was to build relationships and get the message out that the industry can’t have the green without the blue. Irrigation plays a vital role in landscapes and it’s important that contractors take the time to educate themselves and their staffs on how to efficiently water.
“The industry as a whole, we have to work together to put the message out about irrigation and its environmental benefits, its economic benefits and its psychological benefits,” Eggleston said.
And here are some of the product launch highlights from Friday's show:
Core Outdoor Power’s new line of GasLess outdoor power equipment
The pitch: Core Outdoor Power has announced its new, state-of-the-art, emission-free line of hand-help power equipment for the residential and commercial markets, starting in February 2012 with the GasLess CGT400 Trimmer.
The Conductor Optimized Rotary Energy (CORE)-powered equipment uses a printed circuit board stator that cooperates with permanent magnet rotors.
The prismatic power cells enable high-power output for up to 70 minutes.
The 8-pound (11 pounds with power cell) trimmer with instant trigger start offers comfort and convenience for operators.
This clean-technology trimmer significantly reduces noise and eliminates emissions compared with gas-powered equipment.
The CGT400 Trimmer will be available in February of 2012, followed by hedge trimmers, hand-held blowers, and backpack blowers in mid-2012, and a walk-behind mower in 2013.
Edging Revolution’s E3 Landscape Edging
The pitch: Edging Revolution has introduced its E3 Landscape Edging solution with unique pressure snap connection.
The new vinyl edging snaps together, eliminating the need for edging connectors.
Overlapping pieces means there’s no need to cut the edging to size, and there’s no leftover scrap pieces to end up in the landfill.
The edging is available in 7.5-foot or 10-foot pieces.
Bayer’s New Formulation for Armada 50WDG
The pitch: Bayer CropScience has announced a new formulation for its Armada fungicide, changing it from a wettable powder into a water soluble packaging to a water dispersible granule.
The fungicide is specifically formulated for lawn care operators for turfgrass and ornamental disease control and plant health benefits.
The product is now easy to measure and use in a backpack application or large mixing tank.
Now prescribed for turfgrass at a higher rate of 1.5 ounces per 1,000 ft2.
The unique dual mode of action combines systemic and local penetrant fungicides.
Toro’s Z Master Commercial 2000 Series Mowers
The pitch: The Toro Z Master Commercial 2000 Series zero turn mowers offer a solution for part-time landscape professionals and acreage owners.
The mower mixes features from Toro’s consumer TITAN MX and Z Master Commercial 3000 Series.
The mowers are available in 48-inch, 52-inch, and 60-inch widths with 7/10-gauge steel and a bull-nose bumper.
The integrated hydrostatic transmission features commercial hydraulic components, eliminating hoses.
The 22-inch and 23-inch drive tires deliver traction and control.
New Holland Construction’s new 200 Series Skid-Steer Loaders
The pitch: New Holland Construction has launched seven new skid-steer loaders feature vertical lift Super Boom design with forward dump height and reach.
The 200 Series skid-steers load material to the center of trucks with a 53-degree dump angle.
A new self-leveling bucket feature on five of the seven models allows attachments to maintain the preset location throughout the lift cycle.
Five models have a Super Boom loader arm design for enhanced lift and reach, and two compact models feature a radial lift design for digging.
The engines are 20 percent more hp than the previous L Series models.