Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Papa John’s Pizza Founder to Keynote GIE+EXPO 2016
John Schnatter founded Papa John’s pizza in 1983 when he knocked out a broom closet in the back of his father’s tavern in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He then sold his 1971 Z28 Camaro to purchase $1,600 worth of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas to the tavern’s customers out of the converted closet. His pizzas proved so popular that one year later he was able to move into an adjoining space. The company is the third largest take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain in the world with headquarters in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, near Louisville. “Papa” John Schnatter will be presenting the keynote address at the GIE+EXPO 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. Schnatter’s keynote will have a $15 registration fee, which will benefit the Louisville Zoo.

Gravely Unveils Yamaha-Powered ZTRs to Dealers
The Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, Outdoor Power Equipment showed off its new MXV-EFI Vertical V-twin series engines designed specifically for ZTRs at the Gravely dealer meeting in Amelia, Florida, on Oct. 3. The three new engines ­— the MX775V-EFI, MX800V-EFI and MX825V-EFI — range from 29 gross horsepower to 33 certified gross horsepower. The later two new models will be available early spring 2017 on select models in Gravely’s Pro-Turn 200 and 400 lines.
Read a first-hand account of the reveal from editor-at-large, Ronnie Hall.

Schiller Grounds Care Boosts Management Team
Schiller Grounds Care, Inc., Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of BOB-CAT, Classen, Little Wonder, Mantis, Ryan and Steiner brand gardening, landscaping and turf care equipment recently announced the following additions to its management team:

  • Norman Yanke as Chief Financial Officer responsible for the Finance and IT functions of the company. Yanke brings over 20 years of financial leadership experience to Schiller Grounds Care from companies such KPMG and Honeywell. In his nine years at Honeywell, Yanke held various positions with the most recent being Global Director of Sales Operations/Finance for a division of Honeywell International, where he oversaw their profitable growth in the field of process automation control technologies.
  • New Director of Operations Rob Kurzyna will be responsible for operations, logistics, engineering and purchasing at the corporate location, which is the primary manufacturing site for the Classen, Little Wonder and Mantis brands. Kurzyna brings more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing, process improvement, design engineering, quality, and supply chain management to Schiller. The bulk of his career was split between Bosch Siemens Home Appliances and REHAU, a privately owned multi-industry plastics manufacturer.
  • Tony Whelan as Director of International Business and National Accounts will manage Schiller Grounds Care’s network of dealers and distributors outside the U.S. and Canada as well as manage national account business for all Schiller Grounds Care brands worldwide. Whelan brings nearly 20 years of experience in building and leading domestic and international distribution, sales and operations for such companies as Jacobsen, a Textron Company, and Rain Bird International.

Kenny Gute Acquires Iowa Spring-Green Franchise
Kenny Gute recently assumed ownership of the Spring-Green Lawn Care franchise serving Ames, Boone, Des Moines and the surrounding area, from Gary Fairchild. As Gute makes the transition to franchise owner, his wife will be coming onboard to assist with bookkeeping. “My wife and I have been together for 23 of the 25 years I’ve been at Spring-Green, and we are both familiar with the company. We have always strived to own this business.”

Syngenta Launches GreenTrust 365 Rewards Program
The GreenTrust 365 Lawn and Landscape program from Syngenta kicked off October 1. The annual program offers lawn and landscape professionals the best value of the year through rebates, the Barricade herbicide Brand Bonus, a Pallet Solution, Product Assurances, Multipaks and, new for 2017, GreenTrust Rewards. Through February, participants can earn points to redeem on rewards. Purchases made in October and November earn double points.

UGA Upgrades Tifton Turfgrass Facility
Construction of new turf facilities on the University of Georgia Tifton Campus is being finalized. The project includes the addition of a new greenhouse, reports the Tifton Gazette. UGA’s turf program has provided grass varieties that have been used at the World Cup stadiums, Augusta National Golf Club and many SEC football fields. Brian Schwartz, a turfgrass breeding expert at UGA Tifton, said the new greenhouse will make the program even stronger.

Case Construction Joins Folcomer Equipment and Groff Tractor in Aiding Team Rubicon
Case Construction Equipment, Folcomer Equipment and Groff Tractor provided equipment and product/training support to veteran-led disaster response organization Team Rubicon for use in training 10 new participants in its heavy equipment training program. The training included course work, and then practical operation in laying riprap for erosion control and spreading topsoil to encourage growth of the natural habitat for wildlife at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland.

Altoz to Unveil First Tracked Zero-Turn at GIE+EXPO
Mower manufacturer Altoz recently hosted power equipment dealers from across the country gathered at its headquarters in Greenbush, Minnesota, for an exclusive “Dealer Meeting & 2017 New Model Unveiling.” The event provided dealers with a first look and hands-on demo of the new Altoz 2017 models, including a zero-turn mower in a completely new segment. After the facility tour, Karl Bjorkman Sales/Marketing Director, Mark Reese, Chief Engineer and Dennis Brazier introduced the Altoz 2017 product line to the group. Within the 39-model line-up for 2017, several brand new models were unveiled to dealers including the XE HD, XP HD, Limited Edition XR SS and XE SS models as well as Altoz’s TRX, the outdoor power equipment industry’s first zero-turn mower with tracks. New models will be available to view and demo at Altoz’s outdoor demo booth (#6700-D) during the GIE+EXPO 2016 being held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky from October 19-21, 2016.

Bruce Wilson, Envisor Join Forces to Advance Landscape Industry
Bruce Wilson, principal, Bruce Wilson & Company (Wilson-Oyler Group LLC), Scottsdale, Arizona, and Envisor Consulting LLC principals Ken Thomas and Ben Gandy, Atlanta, Georgia, announced a joint venture to advance the careers of green industry professionals nationwide. Wilson & Co. and Envisor Consulting will share resources to design and operate a co-branded program that will offer tiered courses and educational content that cover the keys to landscape business success and will include interactive electronic seminars, on-site workshops and foundations courses. The new venture will have exclusive distribution rights for its proprietary content and curriculum. Taken together, this will create a unique set of training options and growth strategies for landscape contractors and business owners across all service segments.

Midwest Equipment Acquires Westpro Power Systems
Midwest Equipment (MWE) acquired Westpro Power Systems, a manufacturer of Westinghouse portable power products. Through the acquisition, MWE adds portable generators and digital inverter generators to its product offerings that include compact equipment tracks and tires, undercarriage components and portable climate control systems. The Westinghouse Portable Generators will be sold through various distribution channels and through MWE to rental and equipment dealerships. The Westinghouse Portable Power line includes a range of portable gas generators designed for customers and professional contractors, as well as a line of digital inverter generators for commercial, outdoor, at home and anywhere that quick, lightweight temporary electricity is needed.

Wichita Business Journal Honors The Grasshopper Company
The Wichita Business Journal (WBJ) recently honored The Grasshopper Company, Mound Ridge, Kansas, for achievements in export growth and overall excellence from the Wichita Business Journal (WBJ). The WBJ recognized Grasshopper at the “Manufacturing, Wholesale and Distribution Awards” luncheon to honor manufacturers and distributors for their contributions to the local, regional and global economies. One in every 10 Grasshopper mowers is sold internationally. In addition the company is dedicated to lean manufacturing and strong dealer/customer support. Grasshopper earned its second consecutive Dealer’s Choice Award in 2016 from the Equipment Dealers Association.

Rain Bird’s 2016-2017 Irrigation Training Schedule
Rain Bird Training Services will host more than 70 irrigation training events throughout the U.S. from October 2016 through May 2017. These classes are open to irrigation professionals at all experience levels, including contractors, distributors, golf course superintendents, designers and architects. All Rain Bird training classes count toward valuable continuing education units (CEUs) from the Irrigation Association. Rain Bird Academy classes are also available to prepare individuals for the IA’s certification exams (Irrigation Technician, Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor, Certified Irrigation Designer and Certified Irrigation Consultant). Rain Bird Training Services offers three different ways for irrigation professionals to enhance their skill sets, become better water managers and improve their career prospects:

  • Rain Bird Factory Trained Classes provide comprehensive training on Rain Bird products and help attendees become experts on installing, managing and maintaining Rain Bird irrigation systems. By becoming Rain Bird Factory Trained, irrigation professionals can earn a specific designation that proves they’re the best choice for the job.
  • Rain Bird Services will host 33 Factory Trained classes during the 2016-2017 training season, with one class about golf course irrigation and the others focusing on managing landscape irrigation with Maxicom or IQ Series central control systems. Due to the hands-on nature of these classes, space is limited.
  • Rain Bird Academy Classes provides general irrigation skills training on products from various manufacturers – not just Rain Bird. This training track includes Rain Bird’s popular Boot Camp classes, which are endorsed as “IA Select” courses by the Irrigation Association (IA). Rain Bird’s Irrigation Boot Camp provides attendees with the basics of irrigation in just one short week, making it ideal for individuals who are new to the profession. This training season will also feature an important new course in the Boot Camp series – Irrigation Bidding & Estimating.