There is no charge for awesomeness.

Weekly round-up

without comments

I’ve got a wide-ranging list of links for you this week, including advice on how to prepare for Obamacare, insight on the booming (again) housing market and, for you botany nerds, a list of terrible names for wild pansies. Enjoy!

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 12th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Don’t mess with Texas

without comments

This morning on NPR I heard a story on the construction industry in Texas.

Wade Goodwyn was rolling along in his raspy monotone about how the home building industry is booming again in Texas, but wasn’t necessarily a boon for the laborers. He had quotes from a homebuilder who said he couldn’t find American workers, who said he worried about the future of the construction industry thanks to the lack of interest from American students.

Who said he would get priced out of the market if he did everything by the book.

And sitting there in my car, waiting to head into the office, I thought, “Gee, that’s the same thing I hear from landscapers all the time.”

And then comes Trent. This guy, who wouldn’t give his first name to NPR for fear of the government coming down on him, hires guys he knows to be illegal, classifies then as subcontractors and then pays them all cash – about 70 bucks a day.

What happens then just isn’t his concern.

Trent says he doesn’t know if any of his guys are paying taxes. “That’s their business,” he says. “If I were to speculate, I would probably say they are not paying their Social Security [taxes]. I would also say that they’re probably not filing their income tax returns on a regular basis.”

He goes on to say that even with his bargain basement labor rates, he still gets underbid. Now, I don’t doubt that, especially in the DFW market, but his justification leaves a bit to be desired:

“If there wasn’t such a readily available supply of laborers that are looking for work in my exact line of business, then I would say I am doing wrong and that I should play by the rules,” Trent says. “I don’t feel as though I’m doing anything wrong.”

Translation: But, Mom! Everyone else is doing it!

To willfully circumvent the spirit of the law is just as bad as violating the letter, and this landscaper is putting a lot of people at risk. To blame your competition or the market for your own decision to flout the law is shameful. That’s no way to run a business, and no way to improve an industry.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 12th, 2013 at 1:20 am

Posted in news

Tagged with ,

From the west side to the West Coast

without comments

Over the weekend, my colleagues from Greenhouse Management and Garden Center magazines left our modest offices here on the near west side of the city for San Francisco and points south. They’re out west covering the California Spring Trials, an annual preview of the latest and greatest varieties that we’ll see on the market next spring.

For sun-starved Clevelanders, it’s a jolt of much needed sunshine and bright colors. To get your own fix, and get a jump on what’s coming down the pike, check out the team’s video coverage here and read their first eport from the road here.

To get more great photos like the one above, follow them on Facebook here and here.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 8th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Laugh a minute

without comments

We’re soliciting funny and weird stories that our readers have from their time out in the field – things like odd customer requests, strange happenings and anything else you’d tell your buddies over a beer with a grin on your face.

Send your best material to me at cbowen@gie.net and you could be published. Or at least have your story retold by the editors. And that’s almost as good as gold.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 4th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Posted in self-promotion

Tagged with

Living on the edge

without comments

Your tax dollars are at work in this collection of awesome data visualizations from the U.S. Census Bureau.

I chose this one because it illustrates the growing trend of Americans moving more and more to the edges of the country. According to research from NOAA:

… 39 percent of the U.S. population is concentrated in counties directly on the shoreline–less than 10 percent of the total U.S. land area excluding Alaska, and that 52 percent of the total population lives in counties that drain to coastal watersheds, less than 20 percent of U.S. land area, excluding Alaska. A coastal watershed is an area in which water, sediments, and dissolved material drain to a common coastal outlet, like a bay or the ocean)

This continued migration means more opportunity – and competition – for landscape contractors in already established markets like California, Florida and the Northeast. It also means more strain on already stressed water systems.

Click through to get more context on shifts in population density, geography and all sorts of other cool information.

 

 

 

 

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 3rd, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Posted in research

Tagged with

Alt RSS tools

without comments

Here’s a solid round-up of alternatives to Google Reader that you can use after the all-knowing tech company ends the service in July.

I switched to feedly, which integrates really well with Chrome and has a slick iPhone app that makes browsing through your feed and sharing content much easier.

 

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 2nd, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Posted in technology

Tagged with ,

Monday Morning Start-up April Fool’s Day Editon

without comments

In honor of the rainy (and snowy) weather here in Ohio, and April Fool’s Day, we bring you a lost Led Zeppelin classic.

Written by bhorn@gie.net

April 1st, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

Giant. Helicopter. Chainsaw.

without comments

A massive chainsaw suspended from a helicopter to trim trees?

You say overkill. I say New Jersey.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 28th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

A world of water worry

without comments

Today’s daily does of depressing water news comes from Businessweek, which gives us an overview of the world’s access (or lack of access) to water.

BW, by way of the International Water Management Institute, reports that:

Over one-fifth of the world’s population goes thirsty due to economic water scarcity, in which pollution, inadequate infrastructure and poverty conspire to keep them dry – even as their basins overflow.

Lucky for you, we’ve got Martha Golea on the case. She’s one of our columnists and has written extensively about ways contractors can give the gift of water.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 26th, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Posted in water

Tagged with ,

Monday Morning Start-Up, Snow Edition

without comments

It’s spring here in Cleveland, so of course that means a snow storm. Well, there’s nothing we can do about it, except drink more coffee and listen to this Holiday classic.

Written by bhorn@gie.net

March 25th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,