Departments - Industry News

December 12, 2011
Carolyn LaWell

WaterSense, ICC to remove turfgrass restriction

WASHINGTON – EPA's WaterSense program intends to remove the 40 percent turfgrass restriction from the final specifications for single family new homes. The recent notification from WaterSense comes after it reexamined the certification system.

Green industry professionals and organizations have lobbied against the restriction since it was announced in December 2009. The WaterSense single-family new home labeling program contained two options for landscape design – either adhere to a water budget tool or restrict the use of turfgrass to 40 percent of the landscapable area.

While not a mandated program, many in the industry argued it was a catalyst for cities and states to adopt turfgrass restrictions. The International Code Council also adopted the turfgrass restriction requirement as part of the International Green Construction Code and then recently removed it.

"This announcement by WaterSense is a huge win for the irrigation industry," said Irrigation Association Federal Affairs Director John Farner. "With these recommendations, the Irrigation Association looks to be a strong partner in supporting and promoting WaterSense labeled products, irrigation professionals and programs."

WaterSense's recent notification stated that the majority of homes labeled have opted to use the water budget tool. The turfgrass restriction has mainly been used in areas where local or state laws and ordinances are in place, it said.

PLANET's Director of Government Affairs Tom Delaney said he's glad that after three years the EPA and green industry were able to come to an agreement on the specifications, but work still needs to be done.

"The EPA water budget tool continues to be an issue," he said. "PLANET will work with other industry groups to help in the ongoing development of water use tools and guides for lawn care and landscape professionals."


Changes coming for 2012 GIE+EXPO

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A new format has been announced for the 2012 GIE+EXPO, allowing dealers, retailers and distributors exclusive time on the show floor and exhibitors more time with clients.

Saturday show hours will be eliminated and time will be tacked on to the beginning of the week for exhibitors to hold meetings with customers. The changes were made upon request from dealers, retailers and distributors wanting more time to talk about agreements and product pricing with exhibitors, show organizers said in a release. In the past, exhibitors have asked for meeting room access, which wasn't available due to educational seminars.

The associations involved in putting on the show, PLANET, PGMS and OPEI, have also extended their partnership through 2018. The associations also said the GIE+EXPO will be held in Louisville for the foreseeable future.

"With our industry constantly evolving, the GIE+EXPO allows green industry professionals the most opportunity for exposure to all aspects of our industry," said Jerry Grossi, PLANET president. "This partnership promotes strong communication between different segments of our industry."

2012 Show Hours

Monday-Tuesday all day and evening: Meeting rooms available for exhibitors

Wednesday until 3 p.m.: Meeting rooms available for exhibitors

Wednesday 3-7 p.m.: Exhibit floor open exclusively for dealers/retailers/distributors

Wednesday 5-7 p.m.: Floor reception exclusively for dealers/retailers/distributors

Thursday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Indoor exhibits and outdoor demonstration area open to all attendees        

Private equity firm buys Lipinski

MARLTON, N.J. – Lipinski Outdoor Services recently sold to L2 Capital Partners in Radnor, Pa. Robert Lipinski, founder and former owner, sold the company after 35 years in order to focus full time on his defense company, Dynamic Defense Materials.

Lipinski started the company in his parents' basement while working toward an ornamental horticulture degree.

Today, Lipinski Outdoor Services has grown to have a presence in more than 25 states.It was No. 22 on Lawn & Landscape's Top 100 this year, with $42.7 million in 2010 revenue.L2 Capital also helped Lipinski and R.E.I.T./M&H Services merge services earlier this year.

According to Lipinski, the decision to sell to L2 Capital Partners was based on the firm's ability to grow the business on a national level while still maintaining the company's core employees and values.

"I researched several potential buyers before making the decision to sell," Lipinski said.  "In the end, I chose L2 Capital because I felt comfortable that they would continue to operate the business in a way that I would like to see it run. 

"All employees have been retained and the company is still headquartered in Marlton, N.J. Under the new ownership of L2 Capital, Lipinski Outdoor Services is positioned for significant growth, and I look forward to seeing the company's future success unfold."

Want more info? A story on Lipinski Outdoor Services merger with R.E.I.T./M&H Services, as well as a 2008 Top 100 feature on how Lipinski has grown over the years can be found at Visit our website and search "Lipinski Outdoor Services."

McKinney Capital enters market

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Private equity firm McKinney Capital made its first move in the landscaping market by purchasing a controlling interest in the Memphis-based company Environmental Landscape Services.

McKinney Capital invests in family-owned and private companies that have the majority of their employees in the field providing services.

Its focus on the lawn and landscaping industry is commercial grounds management companies, said Sam Eskildsen, managing director of McKinney Capital.

"We like that there is a lot of value-add built into that," Eskildsen said of grounds management companies. "As you build the relationship with those customers, you're really able to get yourself in a position where you can add more and more value. It's more of a relationship instead of a service that can be bid out with a bunch of specs."

McKinney Capital approached ELS, which Jack Roberts founded and owned for about 30 years, said his son, John Roberts, who remains the landscaping company's president.

ELS is a full-service landscape provider with about 45-50 employees and $2 million in revenue. McKinney became the controlling stakeholder Oct. 1.

"They are really looking to take us to the next level," Roberts said. "They're coming in and leveraging a lot of their business discipline and a lot of the efficiencies you get from being a larger company, whether that be knowledgeable employees, current business practices as well as technology and infrastructure."

ELS's personnel and company vision will stay intact, Roberts said.

"We're going to help them focus on doing what they do better and doing more of what they do well," Eskildsen said. "We'll be focusing on growing sales and maintaining the highest possible standard of quality and customer care.

McKinney capital is talking to 10 other companies in the grounds management arena in the Southeast region of the U.S., Eskildsen said. – Carolyn LaWell

Wisconsin grower provides White House Christmas tree

NEENAH, Wis. – Sue and Tom Schroeder, owners of Schroeder's Forevergreens, received the Grand Champion award during the National Christmas Tree Contest at the National Christmas Tree Association's Annual Convention & Trade Show.

The prize-winning tree was a Balsam fir from the Schroeder's farm.

As Grand Champion Christmas tree growers, the Schroeders were chosen to present the official White House Christmas tree to first lady Michelle Obama. White House staff traveled to the Schroeders' Wisconsin farm to select the tree that will be displayed in the Blue Room of the White House and serve as the centerpiece of the holiday decorations.