Thursday, May 24, 2007

Good samaritans

Too often when tales of crime and landscape are put together it is the contractor who comes out smelling like fertilizer. But in this case a Kansas City, MO crew, came out looking like roses. While on their lunch break one of the crew memebers noticed a couple of teenagers running past carrying a purse.
He took off, running after the suspects and the rest of the crew quickly followed. They were able to stop the pair and detain them until police arrived. And this isn't the first time the crew stopped a crime. A few weeks earlier, they helped police stop some armed robbery suspects.
Stopping armed robbers isn't something we recommend, but it's nice to know these guys are on our side.

For the complete story, please
click here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Handy fuel cost guide from G.W. Bush and friends

It's a tough row to hoe, this $3.50-plus per gallon of gasoline. Don't see how people making less than $10 an hour can afford to drive to work, especially if the commute is more than, say, 20 miles or so. Hell, at $10 an hour, I can't see how they can afford to eat. But we're talking energy today.

Don't know exactly how these record-high fuel costs are going to play out for companies that have a lot of fleet vehicles on the road either — but it's a good bet these extra costs are going to be passed on to U.S. consumers. In other words . . . hello, inflation, which is a given anyway in light of the billions we're pouring into that murderous sinkhole we've created in Iraq. Those billions have to come from somewhere, right? But, back to the topic at hand, gasoline and diesel fuel.

Check out the Web site (Click on the headline.)

It gives some good tips on saving money at the pump and provides a complete list of motor vehicles (cars, SUVs, vans and trucks), their estimated mpg per transmission/engine configuration, plus annual estimated fuel costs to operate each of these vehicles.

You can download the information in a PDF. Pretty neat. — Ron Hall

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Misery loves company?

KSWO Channel 7 News broadcast the plight of Kevin Williams, a landscaper in Lawton, OK. His company maintains about 85 lawns. On the broadcast he says that his average monthly bill for fuel for his truck, mowers, etc. was about $1,800. His latest bill was $3,200. He says that if the price of gasoline doesn’t come down he will have to reduce the size of his workforce and the number of lawns he can maintain. He’s caught in a squeeze because he says that about 90% of his clients signed contracts before gasoline started climbing.

Wonder how many owners of route-based service businesses are caught in similar squeezes? My guess is just about all of them.

If you want to see a video of Williams, click on the headline, which will take you to the KSWO Web page with his story. — Ron Hall

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sky's the limit — it's a gas, gas, gas

Today is gas boycott day. Since I filled up last night when the price was a mere $3.19 a gallon . . . no problemo.

Today, the price of gasoline jumped to $3.29 a gallon here in my neighborhood. It's now more expensive than it was immediately post Katrina.

OK, let's play the blame game. Pick what you think is the reason(s) for the sudden spike in gasoline prices. Then, for what it's worth, I'll tell you what I think. Pick your favorite of the following reasons:

- Basic supply & demand factors, (You know the stuff we learned in Econ 101.)
- Oil company fat cats getting all they can get while they can get it. ("Greed is good" - Gordon Gecko)
- Aging and inadequate refinery capacity in the United States. (It's been 31 years since a new refinery came on line here.)
- Strife and political tensions in oil producing nations. (When in our lifetimes wasn't there strife in the Middle East or Latin America or Russia and its satellite nations?)
- Market manipulation. (Speculators, whether it's real estate, oil or whatever, play the last-one-in-loses game. Meanwhile they make a killing.)

The oil companies (and their executives) are fattening up because a.) they can see trouble ahead in the form of dwindling supplies or alternative energy sources but, more likely, b.) they're greedy and testing the upper limit of what consumers will pay before they wise up and start driving more efficient cars or cut back on their driving. But isn't that basic supply and demand economics? Mix in some sharp wheeling and dealing in the New York Mercantile where crude oil and finished gasoline are traded and you have the recipe for sky-high prices. — Ron Hall

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

They're getting younger all the time

A little healthy competition can be good for business. But three Knoxville, TN, brothers that started a maintenance operation may just make their Knoxville area competitors shudder.
The Dotson boys, Jarod, 14, and twins Jacob and Jordan, 13, began three years ago by cutting the grass for a neighbor. Then they added a few lawns and then a few more. Dotson Lawn Service took most of the $6,500 they earned last year to purchase new equipment.
Now, with gross revenues measured in four digits instead of six, seven or even eight, they're not going to appear on anyone's Top Companies list, but that's not the point. Every lawn they're cutting is one less for your company. Yes, they did get a little funding help from their parents, but how is that much different than borrowing from cousins, uncles, sisters and raiding the savings account to get your own business started.
Sure, these kids can't even drive for another couple of years, so their opportunities to expand are pretty limited. But what isn't limited is the number of young, entrepreneurial kids with willingness to push a lawn mower over a neighbor's yard.
And as Jarod said,