Monday, October 31, 2011

Whee for the Wii

Joe Auteri, owner of Joseph Auteri Hardscape Consulting
took home a new iPad 2 courtesy of LM by posting the
low score in a 3-way, five-hole shoot out.
   As much as I'd like to think it was folks stopping by to pick up a copy of the October issue, I suspect the increased traffic at Landscape Management's booth had more to do with our Wii Golf challenge and the chance to win an iPad 2.

   Contestants earned their scores by playing three holes of Wii Golf on the beginner setting. Scores ranged from 2 under (three contestants earned that score sending them to a playoff) to 9 over (much closer to how I play in real life).

   The three finalists played a five-hole contest on the expert setting. The winner was Joe Auteri, owner of Joseph Auteri Hardscape Consulting located in Rohnert Park, CA. Joe took home the iPad 2, which was "the highlight of the trip," he said.

Of course, maybe after he reads the October issue, he'll change his mind and declare that the highlight of his trip, right? No, I didn't think so. But it is a darn good issue if we do say so ourselves. If you like, you can check out the digital version of the issue here.

A few thoughts from the show

The calm before the storm. A shot down
an empty aisle shortly before the show opens.
   GIE+EXPO is wrapped up for another year. The final numbers on attendance have yet to be released, but my suspicion is they'll be up some from last year. I generally spend a lot of time walking the floor,  and while it's entirely unscientific, I think there were more folks wandering through the aisles (at least I seemed to get stopped a lot more and had to make a few more detours around crowds admiring the latest piece of machinery.)

STIHL's lumberjack competition always
brings out a crowd —even if it was a bit chilly.
   Speaking of machinery, there were quite a few updates and introductions of new equipment. You'll learn more about all that in upcoming issues of Landscape Management and in our various newsletters. Most shows seem to develop a focus (for lack of a better word). And while I must admit it was a bit more of a challenge to discern this year's overriding sentiment, I think there were a couple of recurring themes:
  • First the economy. There was a lot of talk about the recession and how to best deal with it. 
  • Second, social media. It's finding new ways to make its way into our lives and businesses. 
  • Third, technology. Machines are becoming ever more sophisticated. They're improving our efficiency and productivity, driving our businesses to greater profitability.
   I think my favorite reason for going to the show, however, is to see some of the folks we spend all year talking to on the phone, and of course, to meet a few new ones. This is an extraordinary industry in which we all work. And that is solely because of the people who comprise it. I'm already looking to head back to Louisville in 2012 (Oct. 24-26 in case you want to put it on you calendar). See you there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another opening, another show

GIE+EXPO begins next week.

There's always a mix of excitement and dread before the big Green Industry show. Excitement because it's an opportunity to see some old friends and touch base with new ones (and perhaps raise a glass or two in their honor).

It's an opportunity to see the latest products that make our lives easier and help us do our jobs better. There are myriad educational opportunities (many of LM's columnists are presenting at the educational portion of the show). You can download the full list of conference's events including the educational programs in PDF format here here.

In addition, there's always some time to eat a few good meals and maybe, just maybe, visit one of Louisville's interesting attractions (Louisville Slugger Museum, Muhammad Ali Museum, Fourth Street Live, etc.)

The dread comes because it usually means long nights, early days and lots and lots of walking. My advice to new attendees is where comfortable shoes. But even with that, it's a good tired, because you come away feeling like you've done and learned a great deal.

This is a big show with more than 17,000 participants expected arriving from more than 20 countries. They and the more than 750 exhibits will fill the 425,700 sq. ft. exhibit hall and the 19-acre outdoor demo area. In other words it's big. GIE+EXPO always seems to be growing, last year incorporating the Hardscape North America show. There are press conferences and demonstrations of all sorts throughout the show.

Feel free to stop by Landscape Management's booth #3018 if you get a free moment. Let us know what you think of the magazine, suggest a story idea or just to say hello. Of course, you might have to leave a card. There's a pretty good chance we'll be out on the show floor wearing out that pair of comfortable shoes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How would you handle this?

Got an interesting question from a reader earlier today, and we thought you might be able to provide some feedback. First a little background.

The company has been using Sprint/Nextel for about 10 years. Most of the units are direct connect and a small number of them have phone service. The company also uses the Nextel GPS in the units to track technicians. The question is primarily one of cost. Should the company continue with the Sprint/Nextel approach or use another method.

1. Since all of the employees have their own phones, should the company pay for the Sprint/Nextel service?
2. What are your thoughts on using the GPS (Commettracker) on the phones versus installing GPS on the vehicles themselves?

A couple of issues come to mind: Is there a problem if you're using employees' personal phones for work related purposes. Are you going to pay for all or part of their service. Are you now liable to replace the phone if something happens to it.

Is there an ethical issue of tracking employees through a personal cell phone. They're not on the clock 24 hours a day.

We'd like your feedback. How are do you handle these issues. Your insight is much appreciated. Feel free to leave a comment here or send an email to

Thursday, October 06, 2011

An icon passes

Burton Sperber, FASLA, founder and chairman of the board of directors of The ValleyCrest Landscape Cos., passed away a few days ago, just a few days before another business icon, Apple's Steve Jobs.

While more people around the world will remember Jobs for his technology innovations, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who had as wide an influence on the Green Industry as Burt Sperber.

I only had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Sperber a few times over the years, but his affable nature was clear. He was friendly and generous with his compliments. And after talking with others in the industry — those whose lives he influenced — it's not too much a stretch to say the world of landscaping would be vastly different had he not been a part of it.

Look for more on the life of Burton Sperber in the October issue of Landscape Management.