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Archive for the ‘on the road’ Category

Giving back

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Next month, OLCA and ONLA will team up again for the 19th annual Grateful Embrace. It’s a local version of PLANET’s Renewal and Remembrance. The two Ohio associations gather on a Saturday to work on Dayton National Veterans Cemetery and the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio.

Last year, about 100 LCOs and contractors volunteered their Saturday to fertilize, mulch and maintain the two properties – 160 acres in all.

Here’s how an OLCA member described the experience:

To stand atop Monument Hill in Dayton and look out in every direction at over 40,000 ivory white markers, each representing a soldier, a spouse, a son or a daughter that gave of themselves the fullest measure of commitment and sacrifice is enough to bring anyone to their knees. To walk through the Memorial Trail at Rittman gives one a true understanding of the loyalty, devotion and honor that so many of the men and women whom since our infancy as a country have displayed and continue to display in guaranteeing a lasting peace and to ensure a secure future for all of us. These things, etched on our hearts and minds my friends are what bring us back year after year. I see so many of the same faces with each passing year and I know that the passion that I feel is shared by more than just myself.

The group has most of the materials donated already, but if you’ve got some spare spreaders, it’s a great event and they’d love to have you.

The event takes place the morning Saturday Nov. 10. To participate, or for more information, contact Mark Grunkemeyer


October 17th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

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Kentucky on my mind

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As the weather starts to cool and the leaves fall, our minds turn to the upcoming GIE+EXPO in Louisville. Our planning is already in full swing for the green industry’s biggest show, and so it was fortunate that we stumbled across this great poster for the Bluegrass State.

(I’d always wondered where horses were invented. Makes sense, I suppose.)

The early-bird registration deadlines for PLANET’s GIC and the co-located Hardscape North America are this week, so if you’re planning a trip to the home of bourbon, baseball bats and burning couches, don’t wait.



September 11th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

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We’re on the road this week. Brian’s in Nashville testing new Ram trucks, and I’m headed out to Chicago to visit Ball Horticulture’s display gardens.

And since country music makes better songs about pick-up trucks than it does about downy mildew, I’ll leave you with the great Tim Hus.


August 9th, 2012 at 11:10 am

A ride in the woods

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Scott Jamison, vice president at Bartlett Tree Experts and cyclist extraordinaire, sent me this note yesterday:

Not sure if you are aware of this green industry fundraising event. I am riding for the first time. 600 miles on a bike in and around the mountains of Portland, OR, for 7 days. I hesitate to send you my blog link after reading your social media issue that arrived yesterday, but here it is anyway. Going to try and keep posting during the ride.

On Sunday, Scott and dozens other tree lovers will set out on a seven-day bicycle tour through the woods and mountains of Oregon as part of the Stihl Tour des Trees. The ride raises money for the TREE Fund, one of the leading tree research and advocacy organizations the green industry has. Since its founding 20 years ago, the ride has pulled in more than $5 million.

You can follow Scott’s blog here. He’s on Twitter, too.

The folks who do this ride are dedicated to the industry and to the sport. They’re spending a week in the saddle, pedaling nearly 100 miles a day. And just to roll up to the start line, they had to pony up at least $3,500 for the fund.

So to Scott and the rest of the riders, I say good luck. I’ll pray for sunshine and a seven-day tailwind.



August 4th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

A week off

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I’m back! I’ve just returned from a week out of the office at the second-happiest place on earth, and so have been pretty much off the grid. (Elmo loves you, but doesn’t provide wi-fi, apparently.)

Anyway, I’m digging out this week, working to get the August issue out the door and preparing (already) for our 2013 coverage. So, if you’ve got a big problem you’re dealing with or want to chime in on what you think we should cover next year, let me know at

Now, back to our regularly scheduled posting.


July 23rd, 2012 at 7:38 pm

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Enthusiasm on the Hill

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I’ve been traveling to industry and supplier events for the past two years as an associate editor here at Lawn & Landscape. It’s great to see the familiar faces, and spend a minute or two chatting with those I’ve met at different functions. But it’s always more encouraging for me to run into a fresh face who is looking to make positive impact on the industry.

At PLANET’s Renewal & Remembrance, I met Zack Kline, CEO and founder of A.I.R. Lawn Care. I didn’t ask Zack his age, but he didn’t look a day older than 20, although I’m guessing he’s about 23. Zack was sitting a few seats down from me at PLANET meeting discussing Legislative Day on the Hill issues. He was dressed professionally, with his company logo on his shirt, something some veteran companies haven’t figured out (branding, people!).

When I asked for his business card, he whipped out his card holder immediately while I fumbled through my pocket hoping not to bend any corners (maybe a card holder for Christmas for me). But I could pick up that it wasn’t all style with Zack. There was substance and enthusiasm behind his ironed wardrobe and fancy pocket accessory. Now, I’m a pretty even-keeled guy, so I always appreciate someone who is genuinely excited about something, especially something that is going to take a lot of hard work.

Zack’s running a very small company now, but he’s hoping to get financing this summer, hire a crew and then, who knows. But my guess is he’s going somewhere. And that’s a good thing for the industry – an industry that needs more hungry business owners like Zack. – Brian


July 10th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

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Brian is in D.C. for the next couple of days covering PLANET’s Legislative Day and Renewal and Remembrance.

If you’re not one of the hundreds of volunteers in our nation’s capital to live it, you can get up-to-the-minute updates here and here.

When we talk about D.C., it’s difficult to get away from a lot of the hyper-political discussions, especially with the election coming up this fall.

But this should keep it all in perspective.


July 9th, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Customer appreciation

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Phew, two weeks later and I’m almost caught up from a two-day stay in Spain. The Manitou Group (they own the brands Gehl and Mustang) flew customers, dealers and select media (of course L&L was there) to Spain to give an update on what was going on with the company. You can read more about it here.

But the trip got me thinking. I’m sure the company spent a lot of money on this event. Sure, it’s a way to promote some of the things they’re doing, but it also showed the customers they appreciate their business. While most contractors can’t afford to fly customers on a vacation getaway, there are little things you can do. Gift cards, discounts and even a free mow or application are great ways to show customer appreciation. And if you can afford flying customers to a exotic location, go for it (and invite the media…actually just invite us.)

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June 13th, 2012 at 10:15 am

On the road: 3 cool things

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BASF executives updated reporters last week on the company's R&D efforts.

One of the best parts of my jobs is that I get to travel around and hang out with people who are a lot smarter than I am.

To that end, I spent a few days last week in Chicago with the team at BASF for its biannual Agriculture Media Summit. Every two years, the company brings together a bunch of reporters who cover on potatoes, corn, soybeans and the like, and puts them in a room with its top researchers and executives to showcase the latest projects and other cool stuff they’re working on.

This year, the theme was sustainability, and how farmers all around the world are going to need to feed about nine billion mouths by 2050 using pretty much the same amount of land they have now (and likely a lot less water).

While it has little to do with growing grass or trees, the research does shine a light onto some pretty cool stuff that the company is up to. Here’s a quick round-up of the top three highlights.

AgBalance sustainability measurement too
BASF has developed a tool to help bring some tangible numbers to the question of how sustainable a business or operation is.

It’s AgBalance system, which was developed 15 years ago in the automotive coatings business, examines a couple hundred data points (like soil quality, nutrient balance, biodiversity, rates of worker pay, commodity prices, etc.) to measure sustainability.

The same model has been applied in more than 400 other industries including, in late 2011, agriculture, where it calculated a 40 percent increase in the sustainability of Iowa corn production during a 10 year period.

Jan Buberl, head of the company’s specialty products department, says the T&O market can expect a similar tool in about two years.

Canola oil case study
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. BASF sees an opportunity in helping canola farmers produce these heart-healthy oils, which can then be used to fortify other foods.

The only problem is that canola oil doesn’t contain those chemicals. So the BASF R&D team was able to identify and move genes that do produce these oils into canola seed. In the fall of last year, BASF partnered with Cargill to bring these genetically modified seeds to market by 2020.

Investment in new business
Much of what chemical companies bring to market is, well, chemistry. Through the discovery of new active ingredients, formulations and other technologies, they try to stay ahead of new diseases, pests and other environmental factors.

But that takes money and people. Worldwide, 10,000 BASF employees work in R&D, and the company spends 23 of its annual research budget on new businesses and new segments it’s not already active in.

Last year, BASF posted global revenue of €73.5 billion. By 2020, the company plans to bring in €115 billion, and says a quarter of that will come from products and services that are less than 10 years old.


June 11th, 2012 at 11:59 am

On the road again

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Fresh on the heels of Brian’s trip to Spain, I’m out on the road for about half of June. I’m visiting with folks across the country over the next few weeks.

  • BASF media summit, Chicago – This week, the chemical manufacturer has brought together about 100 editors in the turf, ornamental and agricultural industries. I’m sitting down with their top technical and market experts to get a handle on what they have coming down the pike for LCOs.
  • Exclusive interview with Stihl president Fred Whyte, Virginia Beach – The hand-held manufacturer is taking a stand for independent businesses and the American economy.
  • A roundtable discussion with the ALCC and owners, Denver – I’ve asked eight top owners and the directors for the Colorado association to sit down to discuss water management, environmental impacts and the status of the market in the west.
  • OPEI annual meeting, Colorado Springs – Every summer, the leaders from major equipment companies get together to discuss the state of their industry. I’ll be their reporting on their outlook, predictions and what new regulations mean for the sticker price of your iron.

Stay tuned to our blog and our news site for continuing coverage of these events. If  I’m coming to your town, let me know and we can grab a cup of coffee. Or, if you have any questions for these groups, send them to me at


June 5th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

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