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Archive for the ‘economy’ tag

Tough calls and uphill battles

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Jim McCutcheon has a simple — but very important – message for landscape contractors on his blog:

We have spent so much time focusing on the “poor economy,” “Obamacare,” “Sequestration,” “Watergate” (Rubio), etc., that we are losing sight of a critical axiom of building a business – you still make the call as to how you are going to lead your company.

Yes, you may need to make some tough calls as to how you are going to successfully overcome the obstacles in front of you.  Sometimes, it means you must make difficult decisions.

Every company needs to have a leader that is willing to be unpopular at times.  That willingness means you have the courage to make tough calls that will lead to better times for all members of the team.  If your focus is on being liked all the time, you can’t succeed.

Seth Godin makes a similar point, but uses a bicycle analogy: The uphill parts of a ride are much more strenuous than the downhills, but it’s only when you’re going up that you have control over how fast you go. Once you crest the hill, physics takes over and you’re essentially ballast.

Now, I look forward to the uphill parts, because that’s where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.

Read Jim’s full post here. Stop thinking about everything that you can’t control and start working on the things you can.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 12th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Weekly round-up

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For your reading pleasure this weekend I’ve got a few articles about snow, how Google works and some fantastic images of botanic gardens from around the world. Enjoy!

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 8th, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Positive leading indicators

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Good news today from the big boxes. Home Depot reported fourth-quarter sales up 32% thanks to a revival in the nation’s housing market:

Home Depot, like its peers, has been benefiting from recent improvements in the housing market. The broad revival has made the retailer a popular choice with investors, pushing the stock up 36% in the past 12 months.

“We ended the year with a strong performance as our business benefited from a continued recovery in the housing market coupled with sales related to repairs in the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Chief Executive Frank Blake said on Tuesday.

The boys in blue are up, too:

Lowe’s chief executive, Robert A. Niblock, said the company was seeing a pickup in spending even in areas of the country hit hardest by the housing slump, like Florida, Arizona and California.

“Rising home values have given homeowners additional confidence in spending on their homes,” Mr. Niblock said in an interview.

I’m not an economist, but these numbers are consistent with what I’ve been hearing from landscape contractors around the country: Business is picking up again, if slowly, and consumers are starting to spend again.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

February 27th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

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More truck for your buck

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Earlier this year, we sent Carolyn LaWell, one of our contributing editors, up to Detroit for a few days to get the latest on new technology and options available for work trucks in the landscaping industry. She filed this report for our November edition, and sent along a separate note about how contractors can best work with upfitters to get the most bang for their truck budget.

To completely understand the time and costs involved, consult with an upfitter before buying a cab chassis. The upfitter probably won’t spec the chassis or recommend what manufacturer to buy from, but they can offer advice.

“Since our sales staff works with many customers that have bought different brands of trucks, they may have an idea of what’s working better for some companies than others and what kind of features they have,” says Aaron Breitkreutz, a design drafter for Truck Bodies Equipment International (TBEI), the parent company for brands Crysteel, Ox Bodies, Rugby, DuraClass and J-Craft.

It’s important to go in with an idea of what the truck will be used for and what upgrades are necessary. It’s also important to keep an open mind and ask questions. “The upfitter may have a lot of different options that a normal customer doesn’t know about, but that would work great for them,” he says. “Ask a lot of questions.”

Another consideration is how much time the body might take to design, if necessary, and install. Breitkreutz says it could take at least four weeks for a custom design build and install job. “If they order their equipment from us around the same time they order their truck, it’s probably at our place for a week, a week and a half at the most,” he says.

No matter what, companies looking to purchase cabs with chassis will more than likely need to work with an upfitter.

“Almost all the time, a customer is going to buy a truck and have someone up-fit it for them,” Breitkreutz says. Dealers don’t want to purchase bodies and limit the number of customers that may be interested in the option sitting on the lot. “That’s just the way the economy is now. You don’t see stock trucks just going to a dealership already with a body on it.”

You can see Carolyn’s full report – with a breakdown of new offerings from all major truck companies – in our November issue, and read how suppliers are reading current economic tea leaves.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

November 27th, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Posted in equipment,on the road

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November 5th, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Posted in on the road

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Weekly round-up

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Here’s our digest of cool stuff that will make you smarter. Enjoy your reading, and we’ll see you Monday.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

September 21st, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Recovery strongest in the heartland

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Good news for landscapers in the squarer states: Middle America boasts some of the strongest regional economies in the country. That’s according to number crunching released earlier this month by the Business Journals.

The media company analyzes short- and long-term data like private-sector employment, the unemployment rate and real estate values to compare the relative economic health of major metropolitan areas.

This month is the first time the company has publicly released these data. Here’s what they had to say about the top five strongest cities:

1. Oklahoma City: Workers’ earnings have grown faster in Oklahoma City than in any other market during the past year (11.9 percent), and the unemployment rate (4.8 percent) is lower than anywhere but Omaha.
2. Austin: The Texas capital is setting the pace for private-sector job growth, boosting local employment by 7.1 percent since 2007.
3. Omaha: The jobless rate in Omaha, as noted above, is the best among all 102 metros, 4.7 percent. Compare that to the national rate of 8.3 percent.
4. Pittsburgh: The value of a typical home in the Pittsburgh area has risen 5.5 percent in half a decade. Only Houston (5.8 percent) has done better.
5. Denver: Colorado’s biggest metro ranks among the top 10 markets for earnings per worker, one-year private-sector growth and one-year housing-price appreciation.

You can read the full report here, and download region-specific data for more than 100 cities.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

September 12th, 2012 at 11:30 am

Posted in research

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Weekly round-up

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Here’s your weekend reading list. Enjoy!

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August 10th, 2012 at 11:50 am

Weekly round-up

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Here’s a list of the best stuff we found online this week. Enjoy!

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January 20th, 2012 at 1:11 pm