The Grounds Guys Celebrates Record Growth Year, Franchise 500 Ranking

The Grounds Guys landscape management franchise announced record franchise growth year in 2012, expanding from 37 franchise locations at the end of 2011 to 94 one year later. The Grounds Guys offers a comprehensive range of grounds care and landscape management services to residential and commercial clients.

Entrepreneur magazine recognized the franchise’s fast-track success by naming it to its elite Franchise 500 list for the first time in 2013, ranked at number 299. Each year, the magazine recognizes the top 500 global franchise brands by financial strength and stability, growth rate, and size of the system.

Founded under the name Sunshine Brands in Canada in 1987, The Grounds Guys expanded into the U.S. in 2010 as a subsidiary of The Dwyer Group. In little more than two years, The Grounds Guys has grown its U.S. presence to 34 states. Approximately 70 percent of the new franchises in 2012 are “conversions,” rolling business in from an existing landscaping or lawn care business. Throughout 2012, The Grounds Guys received more than 1,300 franchise applications from entrepreneurs across the country.

PERC Approves Ventrac for $1000 Propane Incentive Program

The Propane Education & Research Council has qualified Ventrac’s 4500Z bi-fuel ready tractor for the Propane Mower Incentive Program. This incentive program gives eligible new owners of a 4500Z, equipped with a propane kit, a $1,000 incentive to use this propane-powered compact tractor. In return, program participants are asked to report to PERC on the equipment’s performance and usage for one operating season.

Get details on PERC and the $1,000 incentive program at

BASF Creates Specialty Products Department

BASF is merging its distinct businesses to create the BASF Specialty Products Department (SPD).

The primary businesses known as Pest Control Solutions and Professional Turf & Ornamentals (T&O), and secondary businesses including Professional Vegetation Management and Market Business Development, will now collectively be known as SPD.

Each respective market will continue to be served, but BASF will do so as one business unit led by Jan Buberl, BASF’s director of specialty products. Key changes related to this reorganization include the business manager roles of PCS and T&O being dissolved and consolidation of the PCS and T&O marketing departments.

Dan Carrothers, formerly PCS business manager, and Brian Lish, formerly T&O business manager, assume the newly created roles of SPD marketing manager and strategic account manager, respectively. Both Carrothers and Lish will report to Buberl.

While the move will save money, Buberl says it’s not about cutting costs. “It’s about reallocating resources and pouring more money into research and development to better service customers,” Buberl said. “We have some very exciting technology in the pipeline.”

Buberl said BASF also merged the businesses to stay ahead of the curve. As the T&O and pest control markets move closer together, the merger puts the company in a position to better serve its customers, he added.

In addition to a strategic account sales structure and approach, SPD sales also includes an inside sales force and a traditional field sales approach that is divided into three regions for both key businesses. Three regional sales managers overseeing these territories will have both T&O and PCS field sales representatives reporting to them, and those sales reps will remain dedicated to the respective markets they serve. Both the inside and field sales teams will be led by Jim Derbyshire, national sales manager, who will also report to Buberl.

With this merger, the PCS business, currently located in St. Louis, will move to Research Triangle Park. The new SPD business structure will be in place by March 31.

XONERATE Receives Approval For Sales, Distribution in Florida

Arysta LifeScience North America has announced that XONERATE herbicide now is approved for sales and distribution in the state of Florida. This is the 45th state to receive approval on XONERATE.

Specifically, XONERATE now offers a solution to Florida’s turf & ornamental professionals that are looking to eliminate Poa annua on a variety of outdoor surfaces, including golf courses and sports turf. It is available in an easy-to-use, water-dispersible granule formulation and offers selective removal of Poa annua in warm-season turfgrasses (including Seashore Paspalum and bermudagrass).

XONERATE works as it is absorbed by plant leaves and roots. It inhibits photosynthesis in sensitive plants; with Poa annua, the weed loses its green color and becomes brown.

Richard Restuccia
Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia Elected to IA Board of Directors

ValleyCrest is pleased to announce Richard Restuccia, director of water management, has been elected to the Irrigation Association Board of Directors.

As a board member, he will serve in a variety of capacities including government/public affairs, education programs, member outreach and special task teams. He’ll act as a liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services.

Restuccia is an active member of the IA where he currently serves on the Government and Regulatory Affairs committee and participates in legislative conferences on Capitol Hill. He has presented frequently at the international Irrigation Show on the role of the landscape contractor to conserve water, as well as other national associations, including National Facilities Management & Technology and Building Owners and Managers Association International.

Former TPI Executive Director Doug Fender Dies

T. Kirk Hunter, executive director of Turf Producers International, informed the industry this past December that Doug Fender, executive director of TPI for more than 20 years had died. Fender retired as executive director in 1984 to found and run Ultimate Travel Adventures, Inc., with his wife Sharon in 1984.

Fender, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and was an Eagle Scout as a youth, delighted in leading escorted group tours, often in conjunction with TPI, after starting his travel firm.

He and his wife said that clients referred to their company as the “concierge of international group travel.” Together they visited almost 60 countries and 45 U.S. states.

New Vista Pro Website Helps Professionals Find Their Best Outdoor Lighting Solutions

Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting announces the launch of a redesigned website featuring simple navigation for both architectural and landscape audiences.

Perhaps the most visible change appears right on its homepage. Now, visitors to can immediately choose to enter either the “architectural” or “landscape” portions of the website. Both feature detailed product information, IES files, technical guides, seminar opportunities, downloads and contact information for Vista Pro representatives. Site visitors can also track orders, learn about employment opportunities and read the company’s latest news.

PLANET Honors Two Companies for Sustainability Efforts

The Professional Landcare Network has awarded two companies with its annual Sustainable Company Award.

Each year, PLANET presents the Sustainable Company Award to businesses that strive to protect and conserve resources, reduce waste, and prevent pollution, and that promote an ethic of sustainability within their workplace. This year’s recipients are Precision Landscape Management of Dallas, Texas, and Sebert Landscaping, Inc. of Bartlett, Ill.

Precision Landscape Management practices recycling of plastic pots and wooden pallets, promotes water-saving irrigation practices to clients, focuses on organic plant care, encourages clients to use native and non-invasive plant species, and composts all organic waste, including leaves, lawn clippings, brush, etc. In the office, the company provides recycling containers, and encourages double-sided copying, the use of recycled paper, and “think before you print” paper conservation. The office has energy efficient windows, zone heating, and motion sensor lights.

Sebert Landscaping’s corporate headquarters, completed in 2010, is on track to be LEED Gold certified. The facility includes a green roof, along with a new solar-paneled 15,000-square-foot garage. Employees are provided with bike racks and preferred parking is available for carpool and low-emission vehicles. Recycling is available throughout the headquarters. Landscape clients receive counseling on water saving irrigation systems and water saving methods, use of native plants, and converting annual beds to perennials. Sebert composts leaves, grass clippings, etc., and recycles motor oils, fuels and lubricants. It is also converting to propane mowers.

Horizon Partners with The New American Landscape Channel

Horizon Distributors has partnered with The New American Landscape Channel to produce a series of BizPro educational modules, an online resource housed on that provides tools, tips and training videos to help landscape professionals grow their businesses and increase profits.

Horizon turned to The New American Landscape Channel to augment the variety of content available through the BizPro tutorials.

With Horizon’s new series of BizPro Lessons, even more valuable content is offered to green industry pros to learn about topics ranging from landscaping and irrigation to ways to increase income and revenue streams by diversifying within their service offerings. Topics available include:

  • How to build more profit from water feature installations
  • How to install pondless water features
  • Installing the EZ Flow French Drain alternative from NDS
  • How to get green, healthy turf all season long with one fertilizer application

The on-demand availability allows busy green industry pros a way to learn at their own pace, at a time most convenient to their schedules. The series is also a part of Horizon’s Business Builder Program, which also includes Landscape Maintenance Guide, the Amigo Referral Program and Horizon’s Marketing ToolKit.