Four secrets to making a team feel invaluable

Departments - L&L Insider

January 8, 2019

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Before he was setting records for most shots blocked in an NBA season, Mark Eaton swore he’d never play basketball. At over 7 feet tall, it was the question he loathed most, and the one he always got asked.

He tried his hand at the sport in high school and spent most of his time on the bench. His body wasn’t designed for speed and the drills his teammates were running didn’t work well for someone as tall as Eaton. It wasn’t until a persistent coach approached him at his job as a mechanic that he really started to consider what he could bring to a team.

At the 2018 Irrigation Show keynote address, Eaton shared his four commitments with attendees, and the importance of making team members (whether on the court or in an office) feel invaluable.

1. Know your job. Eaton struggled to keep up with the quick runners on the court. He said it wasn’t until he got some advice from Wilt Chamberlain that he realized he wasn’t doing his job. Chamberlain told Eaton his job was to stand in the paint and guard the basket. “You need to narrow your focus and intensify it,” Eaton said. “Find your most valuable trait and learn how you can leverage it.”

2. Do what you’re asked to do. If you’re not completely sure what you’re supposed to be doing, don’t just hope you’re doing the right thing. “Take it from doing your best to being your best,” he said. Relating his lessons to business, he said doing what your customers ask you to do will already exceed their expectations, and sometimes you might find yourself achieving something you once thought was unrealistic. When Eaton’s first coach recruited him for the junior college basketball team, he was told to work out six hours a day, five days a week, and that’s what Eaton did, though he never thought he’d learn the skills he needed.

3. Make people look good. Provide others with the recognition they deserve. “When they look good, your entire team looks good,” he said. When he was on the court playing with the Utah Jazz, Eaton helped the team achieve a win by blocking 19 shots in one game. The attention was on the teammate who scored the most points, but without Eaton’s blocks, the team wouldn’t have won. In business, the internal competition that goes on can prevent colleagues from cheering each other on or giving each other a leg up, but Eaton stressed that when your coworkers look good, you look good too.

4. Protect others. “If you want to be invaluable, be the person others can count on,” Eaton said. He recalled when he would stand at the end of the court waiting to guard the offense. “This is my house,” he would say to himself, “and no one can get in.”

His team knew he had their back, which allowed them to make riskier plays. In business, you may have to give up some opportunities to protect your team, but you can take pride in knowing you’ve helped others succeed.

Caterpillar shows off new excavators and UTVs

The company revealed its new equipment at GIE+EXPO in October but demoed the products at their headquarters in November. By Jimmy Miller

PEORIA, Ill. – Caterpillar demoed its newest products – including mini excavators, UTVs, backhoe loaders and compact wheel loaders – in November during its year-end press event.

Though the equipment was first revealed at GIE+EXPO in October, the company invited media to its headquarters in Peoria to get an up-close look at the new products. Among other products, project managers also revealed Caterpillar’s new Cat App, the Cat GRADE with 3D and the C13B engine.

New Caterpillar excavators all feature conventional and joystick controls.

For the event, Caterpillar flew in customers who helped conceptualize the new models and who have tested these products for several months. Greg Worley, a senior product engineer, said his team received input from hundreds of clients as they designed, particularly with their new line of Next Generation mini-excavators.

“An engineer can design anything in the world, but it might not be of any value to the customer,” Worley said. “It’s not just a group of customers that have been here to test products. It’s every customer who’s come to a dealer and complained, ‘Why can’t my machine do this?’”

Caterpillar’s lineup of Next Generation hydraulic excavators includes the 1-2 ton 301.5, 301.7 CR, 301.8 and 302 CR, as well as the 7-10 ton 307.5, 308 CR, 308 CR VAB, 309 CR VAB and 310. All of the models can change from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to joystick control at the touch of a button. They all feature a tilt-up canopy or cab for easier servicing and maintenance.

Comfort was also one of Caterpillar’s focuses, as the cab is pressurized and sealed to reduce dust intrusion, and it includes heating and air conditioning. The front window slides upward and stores overhead, and larger glass areas on the side, top and rear of the cab increase visibility. The operating consoles feature adjustable wrist rests, and a suspension seat is available. The excavators also all have expandable undercarriages across the range.

Caterpillar also revealed its new Cat App, the Cat GRADE with 3D, and the C13B engine at its annual press event.

UTVs and more.

Caterpillar launched a two-seat UTV model last year, marking the first time the company dabbled in utility vehicles. Now it has the gas-powered Cat CUV82 and diesel-powered CUV102D models. They both have five seats and the same bed size as last year’s UTVs. Both vehicles tout a 1,000-pound total rear cargo capacity, 2,000-pound towing capacity and a long swing-arm suspension. Cat UTVs can be adapted with more than 50 accessories.

UTV marketing manager Norma Aldinger said Caterpillar always knew it wanted to start with the two-seat UTVs and get those right before expanding to a five-seat model. She said there’s an increased demand for larger UTVs that correlates with an increase in landscaping jobs.

“I’ve run into a lot of landscapers who say they want versatility. They have UTVs for work and for play,” Aldinger said. “(They) are carrying rocks and more of that material from jobsite to jobsite. People want to get more out of their vehicles.”

Caterpillar also exhibited its new line of backhoe loaders and compact wheel loaders. The 440 backhoe loader boasts a 25 percent lifting improvement over the previous 430F2, plus revamped single tilt loader arms that provide parallel lift and versatility in a multitude of applications. The 450 BHL offers 15 percent higher lifting capacity than the 450F and introduces an all-new cab for increased operator comfort. Meanwhile, the 903D and 918M compact wheel loaders boast a higher pay load per pass, improved ground speed and more attachment capabilities than previous models in Caterpillar’s CWL family.

Send us your nominations for Employee of the Year

Know somebody who deserves some recognition? Let us know!

Lawn & Landscape magazine is once again looking for the best employees in the industry and we need your help. If you have an employee who has gone above and beyond in their position and should be acknowledged, now is your chance to have them publicly recognized in our publication.

Send us two to three paragraphs explaining why your employee should be chosen. Your entry should include concrete examples/stories of how this person has improved your company either culturally or financially, and how they have set a good example for other employees. Please include the employee’s title and number of years at the company.

We will choose a few winners from the entries we receive and interview them for stories in a future issue of Lawn & Landscape.

You can nominate any employee who works for your company – crew members, office workers, foremen, etc.

Email submissions to Editor Brian Horn at Please use Employee of the Year as the subject of the email. For more information and to see past winners, visit

Deadline is March 1, 2019.

Contractors have a new truck option

International Trucks’ International CV series is the company’s re-entry into the Class 4/5 market. By Brian Horn

CHICAGO – The industry has one more choice when it comes to truck options.

International Trucks, a unit of Navistar, re-entered the medium truck market with the launch of the International CV Series.

The company launched the truck at an event in Chicago on Nov. 7. It will be available this month and was developed in partnership with General Motors.

According to David Majors, Navistar vice president of product development, landscapers were involved in the development of the trucks and there are a number of components that contractors will find beneficial.

“It’s a lot of the little things,” Majors said, citing the aluminum cab access steps as one example where the truck can benefit landscapers, especially those who plow snow. Contractors can also attach plows and spreaders to the truck.

“We see it as a growing market,” Majors said of the landscaping industry.

Beyond those little things, Majors said the truck is designed with many components that fit landscapers who are focused on growing their businesses.

The CV Series has a gear-driven transfer case, a low-alloy steel frame rail and a painted chassis for enhanced longevity and corrosion resistance.

The CV Series includes a commercial-style forward-tilting hood, which provides easy access to the engine and to routine maintenance points. Under that hood is the International 6.6-liter, 350-horsepower engine with 700 lb.-ft. of torque. Equipped with that engine and two Allison transmission options, the CV is capable of handling up to a maximum GCWR of 37,500 pounds.

Upfitting options.

Straight frame rails with no rivets on the top flange provide a clean area from cab to axle, making it easy to mount bodies for commercial-grade applications. Like other International trucks, the CV Series is outfitted with HuckBolt chassis fasteners that provide clamping force without re-torqueing and won’t come loose in extreme environments, the company says.

Accommodating the configuration options required by different bodies, the CV Series offers a dual battery box mounted under the cab. The CV Series also includes multiple fuel tank options, optional exhaust outlets to suit the vocation and body and multiple wheelbase options that can suit almost any application.

Custom options.

The network’s dealership salespersons specialize in commercial transportation sales and spec’ing, allowing a customer to pick the configuration and specs that are right for any vocational application. In addition, International’s Application Engineering Team offers access to vocational engineering experts who can help customers design a custom configuration geared to their application.

The International dealer network’s 700+ service locations feature more than 7,600 ASE-certified commercial diesel-trained technicians in the U.S. and more than 1,900 in Canada.

“Our network is committed to providing the expertise needed to keep your business moving,” said Michael Cancelliere, Navistar’s president, truck and parts.

“No matter the location, if a customer needs service, help is likely to be nearby.”

On top of its commercial-grade configurability, the CV Series was also designed with comfort, safety and drivability in mind.

The truck has multiple infotainment options, including an 8-inch color touch screen with navigation and, for the first time in an International truck, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Optional air ride suspension with an engine-mounted compressor is available, which can be used to adjust height and provide a smooth ride for cargo protection and crew comfort.

“The CV Series has been compared to a field office with perks,” Cancelliere said. “Our philosophy is that driver comfort is critical to get the job done smoothly and efficiently, and the CV Series brings that philosophy to life.”

BrightView acquires Russo Lawn & Landscape

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. – During the reveal of its fourth quarter and fiscal year results via webcast in December, BrightView announced it acquired Russo Lawn & Landscape.

Russo, located in Hartford, Connecticut, services 26 cities in the state and six more in Massachusetts. The commercial landscaping company has been in business since 1990. The purchase marks BrightView’s fifth acquisition this year, all of which account for an estimated $117.6 million in aggregate annualized revenue.

BrightView CEO Andrew Masterman said during the presentation that his company prefers to bring along acquisitions slowly, over the course of 12-24 months, to preserve customer relationships and to keep the companies’ crews. Fred Jacobs, BrightView’s vice president of communications and public affairs, said the company declined further comment on the Russo acquisition.

Masterman and BrightView CFO John Feenan primarily spent the presentation discussing the company’s revenue. It achieved a fiscal year revenue of $2.35 billion, an increase of 5.7 percent from 2017. This spike in total revenue was largely supported by growth in BrightView’s maintenance services and development services revenues.

The company also reported a net loss of $15.1 million, or $.18 per share, in 2018, compared to its $37.4 million net loss reported in 2017.

LDI opens new division, makes acquisition

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Landscape Development Inc. (LDI) has opened a new Sacramento division, expanding the company's service territory well into northern California.

Dudley Mallinson has been appointed division president, tasked with broadening LDI’s service territory and client base. The new division will offer the same services provided throughout the California and Nevada company network, including construction, maintenance, landscape architecture, earth services, pre-construction and design-build services.

Mallinson holds a graduate degree in landscape architecture from Sheffield University in England. He moved to California in 2000 to work at LDI as a project manager and contributed to the growth of the company.

The new offices are located at 2255 Cemo Circle in Gold River, California, 95670.

In addition, LDI Enhanced Landscape Management maintenance division has completed the asset purchase of Las Vegas-based NewTex Landscape.

The purchase expands the operations of LDI, which has annual revenues in excess of $110 million in its California operations, into new territory.

NewTex owner Michael Martinez will join the ELM executive team as regional manager. The staff of approximately 120 employees of NLI is being retained, including field personnel and management.

Ewing adds fourth-generation family member

PHOENIX – Jack York, son of Ewing President and Chief Executive Officer Douglas W. York, has joined the green industry wholesale distributor to open a new Ewing location in the New York tri-state area and serve as its branch manager.

In 2018, Ewing expanded into markets like the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. With Jack York’s experience in the area and with Ewing, he’ll support the company’s long-term expansion efforts while building upon the success and future of the company. With his experience as an investment banking analyst, York will also support Ewing as a national business development analyst.

York has grown up part of the company, working in the mailroom and at Phoenix branches as a service professional and truck driver. During college, he interned in the purchasing department as a buyer and in the finance and accounting departments.

After graduating from The University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, with a concentration in finance, York moved to Australia as a professional import player and coach for American football for teams in Melbourne and Sydney. After moving back to the states, York joined PJ Solomon, an investment banking advisory firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in New York City. At PJ Solomon, he worked on various M&A transactions, specifically in the retail, technology, media and telecommunications and restaurant industries.

NALP hosting industry workforce summit

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Association of Landscape Professionals has announced that it will host its first-ever national Workforce Summit, bringing business leaders together to strategize ways to deal with the industry’s workforce shortage.

The two-day summit held in Alexandria, Virginia, on Feb. 12-13, will identify solutions for the industry to compete in the tight national labor market. Guest speakers and peer-led discussions will round out the agenda for the think-tank event.

“The Workforce Summit is unlike any meeting we have ever held,” said NALP CEO Sabeena Hickman. “We must come together as an industry to tackle the workforce crisis. No one company can solve this problem, no matter how large they are or how creative their recruiting practices are.

“The industry needs to explore new business models; we need to examine how we can compete against industries already united in trying to attract the same workers we need and, in short, we need to identify actionable items to impact the industry’s future.”

The event also includes time for networking. Attendees are encouraged to bring their families and their key staff for a few days of team building and skills development.

Invited speakers for the event include Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and presidential advisor, as well as current Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

For more information or to register, visit or call the NALP office at 800-395-2522.