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Horsing around

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This lawn care company has turned treating horse riding rings into a successful year-round service.

Lee Chilcote | October 24, 2011

Many lawn and landscape companies that have a heaping of snow each winter convert their trucks into plows come November to earn a few extra bucks.

Yet plowing in the winter just wasn’t for Andrew Adams of Capital Turf Management. He simply didn’t want the set-up costs that were involved in this seasonal enterprise.

“We could plow and make really good money, but there would be a $5,000 setup fee and my truck’s transmission might go right when I needed it,” he says.

A few years ago, one of his employees who rode horses introduced him to the high-end horse farms in Delaware County, Pa., and other parts of the Tri-State area. He learned that the chemical magnesium chloride could be used to control dust, and soon an idea was born.

“A lot of people used to take their horses to Florida and ride them down there in the winter, but now, with the economy being the way that it is, they’re not doing that as much,” says Adams. “Instead, they’re trying to keep their horse farms open as long as they can.”

Yet these horse farms face a challenge when it comes to the dust that gets kicked up inside arenas. “The dust gets so bad sometimes that people can’t see,” Adams says.

That problem has turned into a profit center for Capital Turf Management. “We apply a chemical that helps the dust to adhere to the soil, and it’s safe for horses and people,” Adams says.

Today, dust control is a service that Capital Turf offers year-round, and it fills in some of the gaps during the off-season. The company also offers a liquid brine application prior to crews pre-salting roads in the winter. The two services combined make up 8-9 percent of the company’s $1.5 million business. “It pays some bills during the winter,” Adams says.
 

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