Welcome Our GreatNew Advisors

On a more encouraging note, we’re tickled to death to welcome the following six industry professionals as advisors to Turf magazine. These are individuals that we’ve long admired for their knowledge and generous contributions to the industry. We’re counting on them to help guide us to provide you with the most accurate and helpful information that you’ll find anywhere.

  • Steve Rak II, vice president of Southwest Landscape Management, partner in Rak Consulting LLC, Columbia Station, Ohio, and former president of the Ohio Landscape Association.
  • Richard “Dick” Bare, founder and owner of Arbor-Nomics, Norcross, Ga., Bare is one of the most creative marketers in lawn care and a frequent speaker at industry events.
  • Dr. David Sean Gardner, associate professor, Horticulture & Crop Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Gardner is the winner of the Professional Excellence Award and the Founder’s Award by the Ohio Sports Turf Managers Association.
  • Rick Cuddihe, 30-year industry veteran and landscape company owner, PLANET Trailblazer, frequent seminar speaker and president of Lafayette Consulting, Prospect, Ky.
  • Dane Buell is a 20-plus-year veteran of the green industry, safety and training director, SavATree, Bedford Hills, N.Y., and chairman of ANSI A300.
  • Bruce Allentuck, founder and president of Allentuck Landscaping Company, a 25-year-old, award-winning landscape company based in Clarksburg, Md.

We begin 2012, an election year, the most critical we’ve faced in a half-century say some political and economic experts. Hyperbole? Maybe, but by how much? This coming November we elect new leaders. Or, re-elect many of the same ones that have gotten us into the economic pickle that we’re in.

To that point, can we say that of those we’ve accepted as leaders and what we’ve accepted from them in terms of leadership have worked on behalf of small business interests, including, of course, green industry interests?

Do you think it’s time that we, individually and as an industry, get more involved in the political process? Should we become better educated about the candidates and issues and aggressively support those promoting small business, the largest job creator in the nation?

Perhaps you feel as I do that Washington, D.C., reeks of incompetence, cronyism and arrogance. This, and the bitter bipartisanship these past several decades, has stymied purposeful policymaking and created a toxic brew to the health and growth of all small business.

It seems to me that too many of us have been conditioned to accept that government can cure the economic and societal ills that, perversely, its misguided and often politically expedient policies spawn in the first place.

Admittedly, I’m no political scientist, but I can see what’s going on, and a recent 45-minute drive on Detroit’s Mack Avenue squashed any illusions I’ve had about the direction this country is going, at least presently.

Driving south to Ohio from Clarkston, Mich., I exited I-75 into Detroit’s east side to visit the neighborhood where I spent my childhood. My family lived just off of Mack Avenue, which then sported a thriving Kresge five & dime, an ornate movie house and a busy grocery store. Our family did much of its shopping there, or on special occasions downtown at the huge J.L. Hudson department store. We picnicked on Belle Isle or at nearby Chandler Park.

My Detroit neighborhood in the 1950s pulsated with energy, with sounds of metal clanking on metal in the auto factory sprawling behind a row of houses facing our comfortable two-story home, the low rumble of electric streetcars trundling up and down Gratiot. It was a community where every man carried a black metal lunch bucket, or so I remember it.

Gone. Decades gone. I wasn’t surprised, just hopeful. Nothing left. I slowly drove my Dodge Stratus through the ruin of what had been the favorite places of my childhood, but mostly what I saw were boarded up buildings, weedy lots and urban decay.

Then I thought about my own little city in northern Ohio, my home since 1970, once so vibrant and energetic, but now completely devoid of industry with 13 of its 38 downtown storefronts vacant and either for sale, lease or rent. Is this what’s in store for the rest of America? Detroitization? Another city or neighborhood allowed to decay due to inept, unresponsive leadership? Communities largely dependent upon government handouts for their survival? I’m estimating, and on reliable information, that about 25 percent of the families in my small city receive some form of federal or state financial assistance.

We can’t continue going down this same path much longer if we don’t want many more of our communities to suffer similar fates. We must surely now realize that government, and Washington, D.C., in particular, can’t fix economic or societal problems by generating more federal programs. The results are almost always the opposite of what’s promised or desired.

Get involved in the political process. We need change this coming election. Unless we work for it we won’t get it.

Ron Hall
[email protected]