Cub Cadet PRO X
The pitch: In late 2019, Cub Cadet unveiled the latest addition to its PRO Series, announcing the PRO X Series of stand-on mowers.
- A fully fabricated 10-gauge deck shell with 7-gauge top and bottom reinforcements gives the PRO X Series a strong backbone.
- The adjustable hip pad with ample side supports offers comfort and stability when mowing slopes. A large, fully adjustable suspension platform allows the operator to adjust tension quickly and easily.
- With a maintenance-free design, the spindles, bearings, hubs, casters, rims, linkages, levers and other pivot points do not need greasing.
For more info: Cubcadet.com
Exmark Staris Stand-On Zero-Turn Riding Mower
The pitch: Exmark’s new Staris stand-on riding mowers deliver commercial performance, durability, ergonomics and ease of service.
- Staris is available in E-Series models, with a choice of 32-, 36- or 44-inch UltraCut Series 3 cutting decks, and large-frame S-Series models, with 48-, 52-, or 60-inch UltraCut Series 4 cutting decks.
- Intuitive, ergonomic controls make Staris models easy to operate.
- Staris frame design and caster wheel positioning are optimized for each cutting deck width for superior cut quality.
For more info: Exmark.com
The pitch: Take on hills with confidence with the Gravely Pro-Stance, designed to deliver power and performance in environments that demand quick on and off versatility.
- Available in a wide range of deck sizes, from 32-inch to 60-inch.
- Redistributed center of gravity for increased stability and maneuverability.
- Adjustable cruise bar limits and expands speed in tight working environments, and a thumb release and vertical pin system adds ease to cutting height adjustments.
For more info: Gravely.com
Toro GrandStand MULTI FORCE stand-on mower
The pitch: Toro’s GrandStand MULTI FORCE features the ability to switch attachments for year-round productivity.
- The new Toro MULTI FORCE aerator attachment can handle 66,000 square feet per hour at 5 mph.
- Operators can turn the Toro MULTI FORCE into a spring cleanup tool with a front-mount tine rake dethatcher.
- The aerator has six floating rotor heads that lift independently, and three caster assemblies with two floating cast iron tine rotor heads.
For more info: Toro.com
Student Spotlight brings you the perspectives of horticulture students and insights into the future of the industry.
It wasn’t too long ago that Harrison Bond thought he wasn’t going to work at his family’s tree care company in Atlanta.
Early on in his time at Mississippi State, Bond says he wasn’t thinking about company culture. He was leaning toward working somewhere bigger, perhaps in another region of the country; after all, he had practically spent his whole life surrounded by his family’s company.
But after three internships at Atlanta Classic Tree Service, the company his dad started in 1987, Bond seems to have changed his tune on that entirely. He noticed that people laugh and hang out together in the mornings there, or have company dinners together after work. He’s noticed how loyal some of the employees have been to his father, including one foreman who’s stayed for over 20 years.
Now, Atlanta Classic is where Bond intends to work after he graduates in May.
“I was kind of chasing money and I wasn’t really thinking about culture, but once you’re in it and it’s something you enjoy doing, I think it completely changes your mind on how a job would be,” Bond says. “It really shows how important (culture) is and how it changes your complete perception of a job. It’s more of a hobby that you get paid for.”
Bond says he always spent time on the crews growing up, which he believes helped him learn the ropes of the industry before he first drove the 4.5 hours west to Mississippi State, where he’s working toward a landscape contracting and management degree. To satisfy the internships requirement necessary to graduate at school – and to work at home over the summer instead of elsewhere – Bond has officially worked in various capacities at Atlanta Classic Tree Service.
Currently, he’s working more in the office than before, learning the ins and outs of sales and financials that he never had a chance to work on previously. Working alongside his mother and others in the office, he’s seeing the behind-the-scenes business work not often explored at internships. Bond says he’s even helping out with acquisition talks as Atlanta Classic eyes another company, which is an experience he doesn’t believe he’d have anywhere else.
This also helped him back at school. He’s currently taking online classes to finish up his degree, but Bond says he felt comfortable with some of his classes because he had already experienced those lessons.
“I think one thing was, I was able to become a foreman on one of our crews early,” Bond says. “Having that little bit of leadership from that, when we had group projects, I was able to help lead the way.”
Of course, that also works both ways: Bond is able to bring some of what he’s learned at school to his family’s company, where he feels his ideas have been considered helpful, such as his computer skills and job estimating ideas.
Bond says he ultimately wants to help Atlanta Classic grow throughout Georgia and, though he’s served various roles in the company, he’s currently hoping to one day lead a sales team there as a sales manager. Being surrounded by the green industry has been a blessing in disguise, Bond says, as he’s grown to appreciate all that goes into the field.
“There is a little stigma with working with your hands. Sometimes people may think you’re not as smart, but I think through all the innovation, especially in recent years… I think some of that stigma will disappear,” Bond says. “What people don’t see is just how much thought and how much skill goes into all this.”
Chris Kline, production manager • Erik J. Tabor, president
The project was designed to give the backyard veranda style and flow. The property had two small patios connected by a set of four steps, and a grade chance of approximately 12 feet.
The yard was divided into three elevations, ultimately tying the top of the yard to the veranda to the lower patio, where the home has a walk-out basement. The lower level was the first area to have the Vienna Classic Pavers installed on a permeable base atop geo-textile fabric.
The middle patio was installed next, followed by the second set of stairs, and then the final, upper patio. Approximately 2,000 square feet of Dutch Quality Ohio white stone and vein limestone veneer were installed on the sitting and raised walls throughout the backyard.
Finishing touches included the addition of an outdoor kitchen with a large granite counter and a four-burner gas grill.
Dividing the job into three elevations proved to be a challenge for Tabor’s but after disassembling and using some recycled materials they were able to pull it off. The waterfall has to be built with a retaining wall which added an extra step to the project.
“We are particularly proud of the freeform fireplace,” Tabor says. “It’s custom designed and built. We created an arch opening using stone left over from the original construction of the house, which was Indiana limestone. The mantle is a piece of old curbstone from the city of Youngstown, Ohio, that we cut in half to create an eye-catching, large mantle.”
The wet cast hearth and top caps match the steps and wall caps that were installed throughout the yard following completion of the kitchen and fireplace. – Lauren Rathmell
Eric Chester knows the landscaping business. He worked his way through high school and college caring for people’s lawns.
“Nobody woke up and said ‘some day I hope I can install sprinklers’” he says. “Those aren't sexy jobs. But it doesn't mean that they can't be fun, pay well and be meaningful career employment. It's just that we don't have a generation that is focused on that.”
The labor pool seems small, and Chester, also a former high school teacher, has spent time in the trenches with the exact generation of workers that so many companies are trying to employ.
“There's a prevailing attitude of the current workforce: You need me, I don't know if I need you because I could quit here. I have three job offers before lunch. I can swing a bat and hit five help wanted signs,” he says.
In his soon-to-be-released book “Fully Staffed: The Definitive Guide for Finding and Keeping Great Employees in the Worst Labor Market Ever,” Chester digs in on recruiting and retention tactics that professionals may not have considered until this point. He’s presenting some takeaways from his book at NALP’s Workforce Summit next month. “Every second will be spent on your workforce, and we're not just talking about young people. We're talking about a broad spectrum of people,” he says.
“You don’t have to be Google. But if you’re a small landscaping company in Bismarck, North Dakota, you just have to make sure you’re the best small landscaping in Bismarck, North Dakota.”
A great place to work.
“There’s nothing I'm going to tell an audience about recruiting that is going to be effective if you're not a great place to work because they're just going to leave and you're going to be on the hire-and-fire-hire-fire treadmill forever,” he says. And, to be a great place to work, Chester has found several things that, no matter the age, a person will always look for in an employment opportunity.
- Compensation. “They want a paycheck,” he says.
- Alignment. “They want to align themselves with a company that is doing good things.”
- Culture. “You must be continually working on your culture.”
Think of YOU first.
Chester says doing some self-reflection is key. You need to identify what makes your company better than every single one of your competitors. “That is your reason for why your company is a good place to work,” he says. And, that goes beyond having a Christmas party every year or barbecues when the weather gets nice, he says. “Until you can give me another answer, you don’t know why your company is a good place to work.”
Be a relentless recruiter.
It’s not just posting jobs on job sites, Chester says. “Everybody does that. What are you doing to recruit and not just you, the business owner. How is everybody in your organization involved in that pursuit?” Instilling the importance of recruitment at all levels will arm you with multiple recruiters who can reach audiences that you may not even be aware of.
“Do you have other sprinkler installers looking for sprinkler installers? They're probably going to find sprinkler installers before you do. That's who they hang out with,” he says. Business owners should educate their staff on what to look for in a good employee and how they can be recruiting people. And, you should be thinking about what you can do to reward those who do recruit well.
It’s not just posting on job sites. How is everyone in your company working as a recruiter?
Think outside the box.
While it seems obvious, Chester says there are many groups of people that companies still miss when trying to recruit, even in this industry. He offers insights into sources of labor that companies may not have considered and also addresses how to go about recruiting them.
“It’s not just about hiring veterans: it’s where to find them and who exactly you’re looking for,” he says. Another often overlooked route is hiring employees with special needs. “There are people out there who can do far more than you give them credit for,” he says. Chester even suggests recruiting retirees who often take jobs to keep them busy. “Are you aware that there are many retirees that are 60 years old or even older that can work the 20-year-old under the table,” he says.
Putting it to scale.
“I’m all about giving solid, actionable ideas,” he says. And it’s not just about looking to large companies and corporations for advice.
“You don’t have to be Google. But if you’re a small landscaping company in Bismarck, North Dakota, you just have to make sure you’re the best small landscaping in Bismarck, North Dakota,” Chester says. “Everybody that's smacking their pillow at night going ‘dammit, so-and-so called in sick again and I don't have enough to complete that crew’… they're going to understand what it takes to connect with the people that they need so desperately in their business.”