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November 5, 2014

Before it hits your belly

Gachina Landscape Management has joined forces with a local nonprofit to help people understand the origins of the food they eat.

MENLO PARK, Calif. – Gachina Landscape Management has partnered with JobTrain, an area nonprofit, to create an organic demonstration garden. Gachina’s Demonstration Garden in Menlo Park, Calif., will help volunteers answer questions about food and will provide a living classroom for learning the value of organic methods, said Stacie Callaghan, director of business development, Gachina Landscape Management. Participants will learn how food makes it to their table and where the food they eat originates.

Gachina and JobTrain’s volunteers will plant, tend and harvest what both organizations hope will be plentiful menu items. JobTrain has a culinary program as a part of its training center. The fruits and vegetables grown in the demonstration garden will be used in the program.

In addition to using the produce at JobTrain, Gachina will use the garden for client education and interaction, Callaghan said. Clients will learn about sustainable practices and how they can bring gardens into their work and/or home environments. Any extra produce will be offered to Gachina employees in a type of farmers market at a greatly reduced rate – affordable, quality produce to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

As part of the project, Gachina donated labor and materials to sheet-mulch the bed areas and build bermed beds on top of cardboard, Callaghan said. Workers also filled the pathways with arbor mulch, which will conserve water, and eventually break down to feed the soil. Irrigation will be drip and programmed on a smart controller using ET rates, she said.

The company will also plant fruit trees, berry bushes, culinary herbs, some perennial food crops (artichokes, for instance) and an array of vegetables. Volunteers from JobTrain’s construction class will build compost bins and storage sheds, and those from the culinary arts will experience food production first hand.

For a video on Gachina's initiative, click here.

Have you completed a charity project you are proud of or helped out your community in another way? Email Managing Editor Brian Horn at bhorn@gie.net to be considered for coverage in a future issue of Lawn & Landscape.


Caterpillar shows off new equipment

The company unveiled mini-hydraulic excavators and compact wheel loaders during an event at its North Carolina Visitor and Training Center.

By Kate Spirgen

CLAYTON, N.C. – Just days before National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3, Caterpillar launched two new pieces of equipment, and introduced tools, updates and enhancements at its Clayton, N.C., Visitor and Training Center.

Compact wheel loaders. Caterpillar’s new 903C compact wheel loader is powered by a 42-horsepower, Tier 4 interim-compliant engine that will take the vehicle up to 10 mph.

According to Jeff Brown, senior project engineer, Caterpillar sees about 80 percent of machines in this size class using buckets and forks, primarily for agriculture, snow, nurseries and landscapes.

“There’s a lot of external handling work with those tools,” he said. “So we’ve designed the machine to have the rated operating capacity to meet the tasks that those customers need to do.”

To that end, there are optional external counterweights available to increase lift capacity. And landscapers can choose from three tire choices: 12-inch construction type, 15.5-inch flotation type and Flexport, a puncture-proof tire that uses sidewall ports.

The new rear-opening hood gives easy, ground-level access for maintenance and service. The side-by-side engine and hydraulic coolers make them easy to reach for cleaning.

The cab features a pillarless rear glass panel for easy visibility, plus a tilting steering column for operator comfort. Controls for lift, tilt and third valve functions are each on their own lever. A canopy option will be available in the first quarter of 2015.

Mini-hydraulic excavators. The new E2 Series of five mini-hydraulic excavators features a high definition hydraulic system which provides load-sensing and flow-sharing capabilities. The valve design reduces heat for better hydraulic stability and efficiency.

“What we’ve introduced to market is actually a whole new cab and a new hydraulics system,” said Jennifer Hooper, marketing and development engineer.

All but the 308EZ model have a redesigned operator station with new interlocking front window systems, updated operator interface controls and 100 percent pilot controls. They also have a high suspension set and an improved ergonomic layout with easily adjustable arm rests.

“The operator can get in, find something that accommodates them as effectively as possible and go from there,” Hooper said.

Caterpillar has moved away from sliding door to a pin back design in order to offer a wider opening. “We wanted the doors to be able to close within the confines of the cab and also there’s better visibility for the operator,” Hooper said.

The 8-ton model meets Tier 4 emissions standards, and the 4-, 5- and 5 1/2-ton models are Tier 4 interim, going Tier 4 final next year. Plus, the 303.5E2 features Smart Technology, which Caterpillar says improves fuel consumption by 8 percent compared to the E series.

The less than 3-ton model is also Tier 4 compliant, and in order to get the 3.5-ton model complaint, Caterpillar is reducing the engine to less than 25 horsepower. “That is a huge cost saving to an entry level machine like the 3.5-ton machine,” Worley said.

The series includes the 303.5E2, 304E2, 305E2, 305.5E2 and 308E2.

Other news at the event includes:

  • The company released the new Cat 297D and 297D XHP multi-terrain loaders, which feature a dual suspension undercarriage, completely new modular cab, redesigned vertical lift loader linkage with Cat Intelligent Leveling, larger engines and enhanced performance compared with C Series models. New electronic controls and the new Advanced Display enhance operator efficiency and an available rearview camera enhances operator awareness.
    The new machines are designed to excel in applications where high power, high traction and limited ground disturbance are needed. Compared with the C Series models, the 297D has increases in horsepower of 4 percent, torque rise of 13 percent, and lift force of 19 percent. The 297D XHP features increases in horsepower of 17 percent, peak torque of 27 percent; lift force of 19 percent; and rated operating capacity of 10 percent.
  • Three new Cat C-Series brooms – the BP115C and BP118C pickup models, and the BA118C angle model – are newly designed to incorporate features that enhance performance and serviceability.
    For use with Cat skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders, multi-terrain loaders and compact wheel loaders, the new brooms convert the carrier unit into a cleaning machine for removing dirt, rock, assorted debris and snow from large exterior and interior surfaces.
  • Cat K Series small wheel loaders – 924K, 930K and 938K – feature the Caterpillar Hystat system, an electronically controlled hydrostatic transmission that delivers step-less power through four speed ranges and automatically adjusts tractive power at the wheels to match underfoot conditions.
    Control of the Hystat system has been further refined for these models by adding the Hystat Operator Modes feature, which allows operators to adjust Hystat performance to suit operating conditions or individual preferences.


RISE embraces chemical debate

The organization urged members at its annual meeting to stay active in the issues that will affect the industry.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Acknowledging they’re in a battle for the “hearts, minds and votes” of Americans, more than 200 representatives of the specialty chemicals industry met in Tucson, Ariz., on the threshold of the mid-term elections at the RISE Annual Meeting to bring sound science to the public debate about a wide array of pesticide-related issues.

Outgoing RISE Governing Board Chairman Steve Gullickson said the association continues to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing regulatory landscape, but “we must continue to stay engaged and active in the issues” to protect the industry’s interests.

Toward that end, RISE President Aaron Hobbs urged attendees not only to get involved at the grassroots level, but to actively engage and recruit the next generation of industry leaders, a key priority of the association heading into its silver anniversary year in 2015.

Developing tomorrow’s leaders “is generating a lot of excitement and passion” at RISE, he said. “I look forward to the future of this industry and this association. I know it’s bright.”

Priority issues. Because RISE has limited financial resources and advocacy demands are great, RISE representatives collectively identify key “priority issues” at its annual meeting.

Last year’s priority issues included pollinator health, product bans and restrictions, the Clean Water Act, regulation by letter and various state and local anti-pesticide actions in California, Florida, New York, New England and the Pacific Northwest, “ground zero” of the pollinator issue in the United States.

RISE has aggressively defended the industry on all of these fronts, devoting more than $1 million in advocacy efforts in 2014, according to Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs, RISE. “We are proactive about issue advocacy, building communities and using social media to tell our story,” she said. “We are reaching hearts and minds on issues with positive messaging and opportunities for people to become engaged with us.”

Gullickson said these advocacy efforts have paid off handsomely for the specialty chemicals industry this past year thanks to the efforts of the RISE staff and the grassroots involvement of its members, particularly on the pollinator issue, which continues to generate headlines in the consumer press.

“President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum in June directing government entities to develop a federal strategy to promote pollinator health,” Gullickson said. “We have been engaged with the White House since the beginning of its process looking at pollinator health, participating in two meetings with White House staff this spring and providing them with resources and information on ways our industry is promoting pollinator health through its practices.

“The Presidential Memorandum includes many of the areas we suggested the White House direct its focus, including more research to better understand pollinator losses, developing a public education plan and seeking ways to increase and improve pollinator habitats,” he added. “And we continue to be engaged and seek opportunities to work with the White House on its pollinator health initiatives.”

RISE also advocated on behalf of the industry on a number of other important issues, including the Clean Water Act. “One place we found success and are leading our industry is in our work on the EPA’s and the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule expanding the definition of ‘waters of the U.S.’ under the Clean Water Act,” Gullickson said.

“In May, we submitted a letter requesting a 90-day extension to the public comment period. Our voice was heard and EPA announced a 91-day extension to Oct. 20. This extension shows the power of grassroots advocacy and what a difference you can make when you get engaged with us and the work we do.”

Visit bit.ly/llrise, for a full recap of the meeting.


When to send the bill

Q: What invoice methods have worked best for you? Say I mow a property every week, do I leave them an invoice for each cut, or send them the bill after all the cuts have been done. I send the bill on the 15th of the month, which has all their cuts provided in it. The invoice is not due until the last day of the month once all of the cuts have been completed.

Some customers would rather I send it on the 30th of the month giving them net 15 days to pay.

A: The best invoice methods would be to bill once a month for everything that occurred in the past 30 days. This way, you have a month-end close, reconciling all income and costs incurred. This would be the case for services sold on an actual basis, mind you. I always preferred an annual contract or agreement – 28 cuts, for example, times the price per cut gets you the annual amount. Is leaf removal likely? Total these cost and divide by seven to eight months on even billing and you’re all set. Even billing means take your total price and divide evenly by the number of months you wish to bill over.

Bill the first of each month with a net 30 due date. If you exceed the annual cuts, you can bill the difference at season’s end. I don’t recommend invoicing per service on something that occurs three-five times a month, or sending a mid-month invoice. I would invoice once a month and ask for payment on receipt or net 10 days.

Your cash flow concern is real. A 30-day cycle is what you’re doing now and what I’m suggesting as well. You might see if you can get a line of credit from your bank, usually 90 days average annual revenue is a very conservative average for a credit line. This is not to be used for capital expenditures.

Mike Rorie, PLANET Trailblazer
CEO, Go iLawn

ASK THE EXPERTS is presented in partnership with PLANET’s Trailblazers On Call program. Trailblazers are industry leaders who volunteer their time and expertise to give back to the industry.


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