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April 14, 2010

Political Troubles
Your cover story “What keeps you up at night?” is a good question, and I must admit to some sleepless nights of late. My worries don’t involve customers or payroll, credit availability, equipment purchases or maintenance. And I have no concerns about collections or labor – either its cost or availability – and it has nothing to do with job scheduling, workflow, marketing or personnel matters.

Then what keeps me awake at night, you ask? A little more than $107 trillion in unfunded mandates created by a group of politicians (from both the left and the right) who can’t seem to stop spending money none of us have. And there’s no end in sight. They are bankrupting a once great nation, slowly but surely making slaves of us all. Enslaving me is one thing, but enslaving my grandkids just flat ticks me off. Many nights I have to recite to myself, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,” just so I can make it to bed.

 And I won’t even get in to the lies we’ve been fed for years from the climate change crowd. In short, it’s our government keeping me awake. All the other stuff I can easily deal with.

Carl Hames
Managing Partner, Perfect Green
Landscape Maintenance
Frisco, Texas

Price questions
I’m looking at the Lawn & Landscape article Price Pride (October 2009) and am comparing my price for residential chemical lawn care with the figure that you show. I’m wondering what planet you determined your numbers from. If I charged what you say is (an average?) for 1,000 square feet on let’s say a 5,000 square-foot lawn, my price would be $94.50, and I would have no customers. My price for a 5,000 square-foot lawn is $56.45. My materials cost for this size lawn is roughly 17 percent. Using your figure my cost would be less than 10 percent. That’s a 90 percent gross margin. I don’t think so.
The numbers that you show lend very little credibility to what your magazine portrays.

Steve Tinnes
Tinnes Lawn Service
Parker, Colo.


Challenging the sense of WaterSense
Kris Kiser’s article “WaterSense’s One-Size-Fits-All Program Doesn’t Work” (October 2009) was terrific. An alert went out on it last summer and some of us responded to the EPA. Kris makes a great statement that one size does not fit all.

I had my head in the sand until recently. A program sponsored by our local university was presented to the industry first. I saw through it and listened. Like the EPA’s effort, it did not make sense. I asked the professors why they were considering doing it? They said they were trying to respond to the environmentalists. Our group of private practicioners challenged them to respond with science, not “feel-good” environmentalism. They listened and agreed.
Now, we cannot play defensive all our lives. Our company, with the horticulture department at Johnson County Community College, put together a green symposium. Our speaker list includes John Cisar from the University of Florida, Dale Maronek from Oklahoma State University, Jack Fry from Kansas State University, Todd Phillips from the EPA, Bruce Monke from Bayer and a researcher from DuPont. We invited city personnel, water quality personnel, and green industry owners, managers and workers. 
Keep the good articles coming. If you talk to Kris Kiser, pat him on the back for me. 

Larry Ryan
President, Ryan Lawn & Tree
Overland Park, Kan.