Turf’s Lawn Striping Contest Winner: Orlando Chávez!

Hard work, creativity, and 532 votes gain recognition for this Detroit resident.

By Christine Menapace
From the February 2024 Issue


Turf is thrilled to announce that Orlando Chávez is the winner of the Turf Lawn Striping Contest! This past November, Turf asked you, our readers, to submit your most impressive lawn striping photos. And boy, were we impressed! It was no easy task, but we winnowed down the entries to a Top 10 Finalists which were then posted on the Turf facebook page for voting via “Likes.”

With a total 1,438 “likes” among the 10 finalists, Chávez garnered 532 to become the winner!

Tanner Schoenhard of Weller Brother’s Landscaping and Turf placed a strong second with 274 votes. A photo of Schoenhard’s work, it should be noted, was actually used to promote the contest! Turf received the photo with an article by Weller Brother’s Landscaping that ran in the October issue entitled, “Navigating Growth.” Schoenhard’s contest entry was also impressive with truly phenomenal lines. Catch more of his work on Instagram @lawnwizard2081.

All Top Ten Finalists deserve recognition for their incredible work, including: Matt Hitchcock, Chris Reisenberg, Jeff Haag, Kyle Gerhardt, Brad Nelson, Landon Scmidt, Brad Williams, and David Ganio.

Attempting to get in touch with Orlando Chávez in January is no easy task—even if it’s to discuss his winning lawn striping. As Operations Manager with Executive Property Maintenance in Plymouth, MI, he oversees a crew of 25 and has been working long shifts snow plowing to combat the infamous “lake effect” weather of Michigan. Born in Mexico, he makes jokes about not liking the cold. Plus, plowing doesn’t allow you to create the same eye-catching stripes that mowing does—or at least not to positive reaction.

Lawn Striping Contest Winner, Orlando Chavez
Orlando Chávez, Operations Manager, Executive Property Maintenance

Chávez began working in landscaping in 2007 and has been in his current position for the past six years, receiving a promotion just six months after joining Executive. During all those years at Executive, Chávez has been maintaining the large estate pictured in his striping entry, making weekly visits during growing season. The client specifically requested Chávez after seeing the quality of his work.

As to the lawn striping, it was Chávez’s idea. “I don’t really do designs like that, but last year I thought, ‘I want to change it up, let me try it.” His first design naturally caught attention. The client loved it and so did Chávez’s boss, despite the extra time it took.

Some co-workers, though, were less than thrilled, saying: “That takes too much time,” and “It makes no money,” or “You’re not helping us as much.” Yet Chávez stresses the importance of this particular client, a concept clearly supported by his boss. “We don’t do this for everyone,” he says. “We’ve had this client forever. The property owner also has a company where we do the commercial maintenance.”

Lawn Striping Contest Winner, Orlando Chavez
The winning entry.

Chávez approached the striping design smartly—considering the visual perspective of the homeowner. “I always say the first impression is the landscaping,” he comments. “When you pull up, you’re going from the street to the driveway, so I cut straight along there. Then I start cutting at a 45 ̊ angle. I did diamonds at first. I watched a video on TikTok and he would turn a lot, but I changed it a bit so every four stripes, I would turn. The first time took me forever. But the second time was a lot easier.” Overall, the process took about two and a half hours on the large property.

As fate would have it, just as Chávez started creating striping designs, the office manager at Executive let everyone know about the Turf contest. Chávez decided to take a chance, they got out the drone for a photo, and 532 votes later, he became the winner.

It turns out a contest on social media was the perfect place to highlight Chávez’s talents. And for an important reason: it provided a way for the Mexican community in Detroit to return the love and support Chávez has shown them for the past several years. Every Monday, Chávez had produced a podcast for the community discussing topics like reasons they left Mexico, struggles they’ve faced, and other issues. The podcast also held events
and linked people with important resources and professionals such as lawyers, real estate agents, and even psychologists. Unfortunately, it ceased production due to COVID. “A lot of people really liked it,” comments Ch
ávez. “We tried to help the community.”

Lawn Striping Contest Winner, Orlando Chavez
Some of the contest-winning stripes Chávez created on his client’s lawn.

Lawn Striping Contest Winner, Orlando Chavez
More of Chávez’s striping work.

Chávez himself is no stranger to the struggles faced by his community. He came to the U.S. in 2007, spoke no English, and relied on an uncle working in landscaping, who taught Chávez everything he knew. The oldest of four siblings, Chávez funded school in Mexico for his younger brother and two sisters. A hard worker, he was promoted to oversee a Summer crew of English-speakers before he even knew the language. Aware of their negative attitude toward him, he did his best to communicate with paper and pencil drawings. Today he wonders how they accomplished anything.

Lawn Striping Contest Winner, Orlando Chavez
Chávez strikes a fun pose on his mower.

Though Chávez tried to attend English classes, he found he missed too many due to his work hours. “The way I learned English was I started listening to the radio. The show started at 6 a.m. on my way to work and I listened all day, every day, every day, every day on my headphones. I also asked coworkers a lot of ‘How do you say this?’ I even switched my phone to English.”

Given his own language hurdle and the amount of Spanish- speakers in landscaping, does he have recommendations for the Industry? He mentions the difficulty he faced passing written tests for state certifications and other organizations due to the language barrier. He has talked to the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) about the issue and says they are in the process of translating certain items. If the Industry could “change some things to Spanish, it would be easier for everyone,” he comments. (Lesson learned: find the Spanish version of this article here.)

“I have a big community here in Detroit. When I told them about the lawn striping contest, they said they had my back.”

Beside the rigors of Michigan snow season, Chávez is currently very busy three days a week volunteering his time after work with the CasArt Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to empowering lives through the education and practice of Mexican culture, folklore, dance, and art. A longtime advocate for his community, they are clearly an advocate for him, casting enough votes to not only win him the striping award—but to also bring a bigger story to life. A story of hard work, determination, pride, heart, and talent. “I have a big community here in Detroit,” Chávez said right at the start of the interview. “When I told them about the lawn striping contest, they said they had my back.”

Interested in showing off your stripes? Think you have what it takes to be our next winner? Be sure to snap photos of your best work this season and stay tuned for our next contest!

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at cmenapace@groupc.com.


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