Turf Magazine - October, 2012

FEATURES

Suppliers' Stories

Some of the most respected names in our industry share their commitment to its sustainable future

Frank Baumstark

AccuLawn Systems: Goodbye Measuring Wheel

If someone showed you how to sell more lawn services while reducing fuel usage, cutting your labor costs and saving yourself lots of time, would you agree that that fits the concept of sustainable growth?

Frank Baumstark hopes you see it that way. He's the founder and owner of Acculawn Systems, Columbia, Mo., and he says he's developed a system that accomplishes all of the above.

He says there's a better way than driving from property to property and walking them with a measuring wheel. That way is his Acculawn Systems, a patented new technology that saves lawn care company owners "time, fuel, manpower and money," says Baumstark.

How, you might reasonably ask?

Simple. Prospects go to your company website, select the AccuLawn Systems icon, type in their address, select the services they want, and they get instant quotes. The more successful you are at driving customers to your website, the more lawn services you will sell using the system, he says.

A former lawn care company owner, he says he spent several years developing the system. He won't say exactly what combination of technology tools it uses to provide accurate property measurements and other details; that's propriety. It's enough to know it works, he says.

AccuLawn System users decide which services they want to offer, how services are described and how they're packaged. System users can adjust their pricing per job or per square foot for each service. The system also collects property addresses from all potential customers, even if they don't sign up for your services.

"The setup is easy and turn-key," says Baumstark. "We provide simple, how-to videos with step-by-step instructions.

"You don't spend time, fuel and manpower manually measuring a property to prepare a bid for potential customers, which means more bids with less waste," he says. Visit www.acculawnsystems.com.


John Perry

BioGreen USA, Inc.: Spreading Across the U.S.A.

BioGreen USA, Inc. manufactures biologically active, nutritionally balanced, micro-nutrient-fortified, soil-amending products. BioGreen USA began as a small lawn spraying service in northern Nevada and quickly transformed into a national brand, offering territories for exclusive brand license though a national licensee program.

"We have chosen the license model rather than franchising for a few reasons," says John Perry, president and founder of BioGreen USA. "We believe that individuals should be able to dictate their own equipment choices, advertising expenses, and overall, how they spend their money. This brings a lot of freedom and lowers the startup costs of our model."

What does it cost to start a BioGreen Spray Service? Not as much as you think, he stresses.

"We do not charge a license fee; our model follows a product commitment schedule rather than being a fee-based system. Because we manufacture our own line of products, we do not need to charge additional fees or take percentages of sales out of the pockets of hard-working businesspeople," says Perry.

He says that BioGreen USA has been experiencing rapid growth since it began licensing its model in late 2008. Because of the combined power of liquid fertility, soil amendments and growth stimulants in one bottle, the results on all grass types are phenomenal. BioGreen products focus on soil fertility to promote growth while at the same time providing supplemental foliar nutrients to keep grass green and provide lightning quick results.

One of the many benefits of using BioGreen Products in a turf program is the decrease in nutrient pollution. Ongoing studies in Florida along golf course canals are showing a dramatic decrease in nitrate levels since the introduction of BioGreen Products in late 2010, says Perry.

BioGreen licenses are available all across the country and our products are available for purchase through the home office or through local BioGreen licensees.


Troy Leezy

Hunter Industries: Sustainability 360

Hunter Industries' commitment to conservation is evident in many ways - its products, its LEED-certified California headquarters and in helping the U.S. Environmental Production Agency (EPA) with the development of the WaterSense product-labeling program. This program is similar to Energy Star ratings for appliances, and will provide easy identification of products that use as little water as possible to properly irrigate landscapes.

This family-owned company offers high-quality, efficient solutions for the irrigation, outdoor lighting and custom molding industries. Its diverse array of products can be seen everywhere from residential landscapes to stadiums, national landmarks, theme parks, city parks, commercial complexes, hotels and municipal buildings around the world.

On the irrigation front, the acquisition of the MP Rotator by Hunter Industries in 2007 provided landscape and grounds professionals with one of the most innovative products in the industry. MP Rotators rotate while emitting multiple distinct streams of water at one-third of the rate of spray heads, allowing the soil to more efficiently absorb the applied water.

With a lower application rate, MP Rotators elicit virtually no runoff or standing water, fight wind with stream technology, and can cover micro problem areas with easy arc and radius adjustments that maintain the application rate and uniformity.

The company also prides itself on its LEED-certified factories and facilities and its extensive material waste reduction efforts. The two-story, 40,000-square-foot Hunter Industries Marketing and Distribution facility features efficient HVAC systems, rooftop photovoltaic panels, dual-pane insulated glazing, natural daylighting and the use of local materials, which earned it LEED Gold certification.

"Every aspect of our business was developed to use as little natural resource as possible, says Troy Leezy, marketing marketing for Hunter Industries. "Moving forward, our promise to our customers and community remains the same: In our every endeavor, Hunter Industries will strive to employ business practices that use natural resources efficiently and provide customers with products matching that goal."

Kohler Engines: Closed-Loop EFI Technology

Today's turfgrass professionals need engines that help preserve the environment in which they work, while also providing reliability, increased productivity and lower overall operating cost. Kohler Engines delivers all of these and more with its closed-loop EFI (electronic fuel injection) technology. This advancement is helping green industry professionals across the country save money while also minimizing their impact on the environment.

Incorporated into the Kohler Command PRO EFI line of commercial engines, the closed-loop EFI technology has been shown to save up to $600 in fuel and is designed to provide reliable starting and unequaled performance at a competitive price.

"Our Kohler Command PRO EFI Engines are a great product," said Mark Johansen, senior product manager for Kohler Engines. "They offer lower operating costs and also manage exhaust emissions. With gas prices continuing to stay high, lawn and landscape pros are evaluating the savings that can be found with our closed-loop EFI technology."

Kohler EFI engines incorporate an oxygen sensor that analyzes the air/fuel mixture in the muffler. If the oxygen level strays from the ideal air/fuel mixture, the sensor triggers adjustments to the amount of fuel injected into the system. Kohler engines then "close the loop" between the air/fuel intake and the exhaust output to provide a constant stream of critical feedback, which helps deliver optimal fuel efficiency and a variety of other benefits, including easier starting, fuel adaptability, improved power and increased life span.

Based on strong industry response to its closed-loop EFI, Kohler Engines is also set to launch an EFI Propane engine. This new option is ideal for those seeking the advantages of the company's closed-loop EFI in tandem with the clean-burning benefits of propane. To learn more about the efficient and environmentally friendly line of Kohler Command PRO EFI engines visit efi.


Tom Jessen

PermaGreen: Making Lawn Care More Sustainable

PermaGreen has been leading the professional lawn care industry along the path of sustainability, fuel efficiency, labor savings and pesticide reduction for 31 years.

"We recognized long ago that the right application equipment and techniques could help protect the environment, increase profits for lawn care companies and sustain the entire industry as well. But to make it happen, the industry, itself, needed to change," says Tom Jessen, president.

From 1973 to 1981, PermaGreen's four-application lawn fertilizer program was delivered by gas-guzzling, 1,200-gallon tank trucks and included the following blanket pesticide applications: preemergent, insecticides and up to four broadleaf herbicides.

In 1981, PermaGreen became a pioneer in making applications using a low-volume (1 gallon per 1,000 square foot) spray. Suddenly, a fuel-efficient mini-pickup truck could do the same daily production as the old, 1,200-gallon tanker, a 12-volt pump replaced a PTO, and PermaGreen became a manufacturer of application equipment.

"Soon we invented and patented the first commercially available twin-hose injection gun system that allowed the spray technician to make one trip over the lawn blanketing the entire area with fertilizer and selectively applying a pesticide only where needed. The savings in chemicals was phenomenal both for the bottom line of the company and the environment," says Jesson.

In 1997, PermaGreen turned the industry upside down again by inventing the stand-on, ride-on spreader/sprayer. This small, maneuverable, easy-to-use machine works well on large acreage, as well as small lawns, and can be used every day on almost every lawn. While riding a PermaGreen, one technician can do the work of two, thereby eliminating extra employees, vehicles and overhead. With the ability to blanket fertilizer and spray as needed, the environmental impact is lower, and the patented features of the PermaGreen Ride-On make it a consistently accurate pesticide applicator.

"Providing better working conditions and pay scale, ride-on spreader sprayers help a company attract and keep quality employees," adds Jesson. "A lawn technician's job becomes a career, not a dead end, which makes the lawn care industry itself more sustainable." So, when the talk is about sustainability, fuel efficiency, labor savings and lower environmental impact, the talk is about PermaGreen.

Project Evergreen: Industrywide Effort to Preserve Green

Project EverGreen's mission is to preserve and enhance green space in our communities for today and future generations.

First, a look at some facts:

  • A 50-by-50-foot lawn (2,500 square feet) releases enough oxygen for a family of four, while absorbing carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, perosyacetyle nitrate.
  • Well-maintained trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14 percent.
  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent.
  • A healthy person can drink about 3 gallons (48 cups) of water per day.
  • Approximately 85 percent of U.S. residents receive their water from public water facilities. The remaining 15 percent supply their own water from private wells or other sources.

It's little wonder Americans love their lawns, parks, golf courses and green spaces. According to one estimate, there are 40 million acres of turfgrass in the United States with home lawns comprising nearly 75 percent. More than $40 billion dollars is spent annually on lawn maintenance.

Project EverGreen works with turfgrass, tree care and irrigation professionals, as well as manufacturers and other industry supporters to promote and educate consumers about sustainable practices. Project EverGreen is committed to informing the American public about the positive effects of well-maintained green spaces, including lawns and landscapes, sports turf, golf courses and parks.

We want to inspire people to get involved and get passionate about green spaces. Through programs like GreenCare for Troops and SnowCare for Troops we connect volunteer landscapers and snow service providers to aide families who have immediate family members on active duty. To learn how you can join GCFT or SCFT visit: www.projectevergreen.com.

Project EverGreen promotes sustainability on its website (www.projectevergreen.com/sustainability/) and is a clearinghouse for sustainability initiatives. All green industry stakeholders - suppliers, associations, end-users - are encouraged to visit our website and submit their sustainability plans.


Dana Lonn

The Toro Company: Driving Innovation

As The Toro Company nears its 100th anniversary in 2014, its commitment to develop innovations that help turf professionals care for their outdoor environments remains a constant driver in its success. Balancing performance, customer value and sustainability is another important factor, both in its products and operations.

Unique to the industry, Toro's Center for Advanced Turf Technology (CATT) explores new technologies that deliver environmental benefits while not compromising performance and productivity for customers. In partnership with customers and leading researchers, this group has been influential in the development of products that increase productivity, save water, reduce fuel consumption, and improve growing conditions. This group has also laid the foundation for future innovations in robotics, fuel cells, advanced battery technologies and site assessment.

"Customers today seek ways to improve water-use efficiency, labor productivity and reduced environmental impact," says Dana Lonn, managing director for Toro's CATT group. "Working to create innovative solutions to solve these problems has driven our product development efforts for more than 10 years. It is all about precision and control to only use resources when they are necessary and appropriate."

Landscape and grounds professionals are likely aware of the company's efforts in alternative fuels, such as biofuels, propane, advanced battery and hydrogen. Toro, for example, was one of the first in the turf industry to approve B20 biodiesel fuel for most commercial and landscape contractor equipment. Additionally, today, they offer propane-powered professional mowing equipment utilizing a cleaner-burning fuel that can reduce maintenance costs and extend engine life.

Toro has also introduced more fuel-efficient professional mowers that feature electronic fuel injection engines (EFI). The environmental friendly design helps reduce emissions, and mowers equipped with EFI engines have up to 25 percent better fuel economy than equivalent carborated engines.

In the important area of water conservation, Toro has been on the cutting-edge of developing smart irrigation technologies that help customers in diverse turf and agricultural markets use this critical resource more efficiently.

Toro's Precision Series spray nozzles, which can easily retrofit existing sprayhead systems, use a patented oscillating stream technology that reduces flow rates by 35 percent while still covering the same distances and patterns of conventional spray nozzles.

Consider these products, and the company's other innovative offerings, along with its support of environmental, educational and community initiatives focused on improving landscapes and grounds in a sustainable fashion, and you can appreciate why Toro is an industry leader.

Agrium Advanced Technologies: Making N Work More Efficiently

Agrium Advanced Technologies makes sustainability one of the cornerstones of its business model.

That philosophy has resulted in the release of a family of high-efficiency fertilizers for the green industry by AAT. One of these products, Spread it & Forget it, should be of special interest to busy, multitasking landscape, lawn care and institutional grounds pros.

Spread it & Forget it, driven by DURATION CR controlled-release fertilizer, is formulated to effectively feed turfgrass for six months or more. The micro-thin polymer coating on the DURATION responds to soil moisture and warming soil temperatures to allow the dissoved nutrients to pass to the plants' roots at a controlled, predictable rate, minimizing potential losses to the environment, atmosphere or ground water. Because of this, the product uses up to 40 percent less total nitrogen per year.

Spread it & Forget it eliminates growth flushes normally associated with ordinary fertilizers. By eliminating growth flushes you also reduce mowing time and disposal of clippings.

Starting this coming January, Agrium Advanced Technologies will be offering its Spread it & Forget it fertilizer as a combo product containing either the preemergent herbicide Barricade or the preemergent Dimension, take your choice says Ben Cicora, turf & ornamental marketing manager of AAT.

Combining Spread it & Forget it with the popular preemergements is one way that AAT provides contractors and grounds pros the opportunity to spend less time fertilizing turfgrass, time they can spend giving their customers other environment-enhancing property management services.

"Growth is important, but not at any cost to the environment or society. We're helping growers grow healthy plants environmentally and socially responsible ways. And as our company grows, we integrate our commitment to responsibility into our new businesses and communities," says the company on its website. To that end it, it promotes its 4R Nutrient Stewardship Framework - applying the right source of nutrients at the right rate, right place and right time.

Walker Manufacturing: Sustainability Through Design, Discipline

A key to successful product design is being able to adapt for improvements in technology. At Walker, a strong discipline is used to not only maintain the essence of the product, but also introduce improvements that focus on sustainability and environmental friendliness. Walker continues to develop products that landscape professionals can use to mow and perform many other property management services in a reliable manner that save fuel, reduce labor and produce quality results.

For example, Walker offers four tractor models, ranging from 23 hp to 31 hp, featuring Kohler engine electronic fuel injection (EFI) technology. EFI, in addition to being more reliable and offering easier startups in all conditions, improves fuel efficiency by approximately 25 percent over competitors' similarly sized carbureted units. With the cost of gasoline approaching, and in some regions exceeding, $4 a gallon, this represents a substantial savings for end users.

Walker's tractor lineup also includes two diesel-powered production models, again offering end users substantial fuel savings along with increased torque and longevity.

Walker's out-front units, in addition to providing a consistent quality cut, can be used with a full line of labor saving implements, including snowblowers, dozer blade, rotary broom, debris blower and loader bucket. Attachments such as a blade edger, boom sprayer and detacher, provide the tractor users with even greater utility.

Green industry contractors realize that to compete in today's economy they must consistently deliver quality service, and this can only be done by adopting and using dependable, well-designed, versatile equipment that allows them to get jobs done efficiently.

Approximately 30 percent of Walker Mowers are sold outside the U.S., so this means that Walker has to be conscious of environmental requirements in a variety of markets, and as it pertains to sustainability, this has led to Walker being one of the most globally conscious manufacturers in power equipment.

L.T. Rich Products: Products for Sustainable Service

L.T. Rich Products, Inc. is a manufacturer of commercial lawn care equipment that takes its responsibilities to the environment to heart. One of those responsibilities is to build quality products that help customers perform their services in as efficient and cost-effective manner as possible.

"We manufacture products that bring both functionality and durability together as one," says Shane Bell of L.T. Rich, headquartered in Lebanon, Ind.

The second responsibility L.T. Rich has when manufacturing commercial lawn care equipment is producing equipment that enhances the environment of landscapes and commercial grounds. The company provides resources and calibration information that contractors can use to apply products properly and responsibly.

L.T. Rich also takes sustainability into the manufacturing facility. Not only does the facility recycle cardboard material, aluminum cans and plastic materials, but also used engine oil and hydraulic fluids to heat the building during the fall and winter months, adds Bell.

Reducing the labor and effort required by end users to apply products and to aerify the landscapes under their care saves manpower, time and fuel, and gives contractors more time to provide related services to sustain both their clients' properties and to grow their businesses.

To learn more about L.T. Rich Products, visit www.z-spray.com.