Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Syngenta to acquire DuPont Professional Products' insecticide biz

Syngenta announced Wednesday it will acquire DuPont Professional Products’ insecticide business for $125 million. The acquisition, still subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012. It includes many of DuPont’s registered trademark brands, including Advion, Arilon, Acelepryn and Altriset.

Syngenta says the acquisition will further strengthen its Lawn and Garden division and broaden its portfolio of brands in professional pest management. The insecticide business really represents the next step in scaling the turf and landscape business,” says Scott Reasons, head, Syngenta Turf and Landscape North America.

“These insecticides that will come to Syngenta at the closing will really help our portfolio,” he continued. “They really give us the opportunity to grow in the lawn and garden space.” Reasons added that Syngenta is excited “about what we can do with these products and active ingredients in the future.”

Tim Kroenke, head, Syngenta Lawn and Garden North America, reiterated that sentiment. “This acquisition will help Syngenta gain leadership in the professional pest management market and increase our presence in turf,” he said in a statement.

The acquisition, if approved, would enable Syngenta to pursue opportunities in the ornamental horticulture and consumer markets.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Price cutting, then and now

As we work on Landscape Management's 50th anniversary issue, coming out next month, I'd like to share with you this editorial from the September 1963 issue of our predecessor, Weeds and Turf. If nothing else, it will restore your belief in the phrase, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
It is certainly a sad reality that a few weed, turf and tree jobs are taken at absurdly low prices. Sometimes these low bids actually result from deliberate price slashing; sometimes the contractor has simply not used a pricing basis which covers all costs and profits.

Whatever the reason for price cutting, the end effect on the industry is unsettling. Prices are soft, profits inconstant, quality of work inconsistent.

"The only thing worse than a man who cuts prices is the man who meets them," one reader wrote us recently. This is a telling comment, and perhaps spells out the real ethical questions. Since price-cutters exist in any business and crop up from time to time regardless of what is done to stop them, whether or not to meet reduced prices is a decision reputable companies are often forced to make. 

Click on the image above to read the whole column, titled "Don't buy business!" While you're at it, check out some of the letters to the editor on the left-hand page. My favorite is the one from Charlie P. Johnson of Miami's Charlie P. Johnson Spray Co. who says, "We derive constant satisfaction from your magazine, and use it over and over in our everyday business."

In fact, I can see that taking shape as LM's new tagline: "Providing the Green Industry with constant satisfaction in everyday business for more than 50 years." What do you think?! --Marisa Palmieri

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rebranding checklist

Here's another teaser from our August issue. The cover story, "Rebranded: Changing your company name might be a hassle, but it could pay off," details what it takes to launch a company name or rename. 

There are bunch of special considerations when undertaking a rebrand. Here's a checklist to walk you through some important steps, courtesy of Just Name It, a guide from the brand name development firm Catchword.

Legal and administrative
• Have your attorney submit an application for trademark registration to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
• File for a name change with the secretary of state and appropriate city/county authorities.
• Check with your tax attorney for any name-change filing issues related to subsidiaries, divisions, sister companies, etc.
• Update bank accounts, checks, and other financial paperwork.
• Update your listing in the Yellow Pages, White Pages and other print and online directories.

Marketing and identity
• Conduct an audit of how your logo appears across all of your communications.
• Engage a graphic designer (or design team) to create/update your logo and other elements of your new visual identity.
• Create/update business cards, letterhead, envelopes and other stationery.
• Create/update brochures, pamphlets and other marketing collateral.
• Engage a web designer to create/update your website.
• Establish a plan for how to phase out the old name, if applicable (e.g., use transitional copy, such as “NewName—formerly known as OldName”).
• Decide when to debut the new name and identity change.

Internal communications
• Solicit ideas from the internal team for the best ways to announce the new name and visual identity. Possible vehicles could be an e-mail from the president, an employee gathering, an outside party or an internal blog where difficult questions can be addressed openly.
• Announce the new name internally (and be sure it’s before you do so externally.)
• Roll out new business cards early (ideally at the announcement) to get employees onboard. Consider giving out some kind of promotional “swag” (hats, T-shirts, water bottles, etc.) with the new name and logo.
• Help employees understand the rationale for the change. Use this as an opportunity to galvanize your organization to “live the brand.”
• Recognize that not everyone may be onboard with the name change. Identify the naysayers and engage them by asking them take an active role in the announcement.

External communications
• Develop a plan to communicate the name change with customers, analysts and other key external influencers.
• Send customers and partners a letter or postcard announcing the name change (e.g., “We’d like to announce our new identity... same great company, new name.”)
• Anticipate and address questions such as whether service contracts will be affected.
• Call key customers to advise them of the name change.
• Send out a press release announcing the new name. Be sure to include the rationale for the name change—and how it supports your company’s vision.
• Create a page/link on your company website with rationale for the name change.

• Register the new domain name with your company’s registrar (e.g., Network Solutions,,, etc.).
• Register close variants and potential misspellings of the new domain name and redirect them automatically to the new site.
• Change your website domain and update your website content, as needed.
• Forward your old domain to your new domain.
• Update e-mail addresses to reflect the new domain name, and make sure all e-mails sent to legacy addresses are automatically forwarded.
• Update e-mail signatures.

 —Marisa Palmieri

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Who's the face of your company?

Here's a teaser from Bruce Wilson's August Best Practices column. In talking about how your employees represent you to the public, he says:
Remember, the team on the loading dock is the face of your company to the vendor; the courtesy of the receptionist is the sound of your company to the caller; the precise, uniformed crew is the image of your company to the customer. It’s not just the team on the trade show floor.
All the flashy marketing tactics in the world can't replace the feeling a person gets about your company when he or she is treated poorly by one of your employees. 

It's something I think about every time I speak to a rude receptionist and, on the flip side, every time I've been to a Chick-fil-A. You can certainly debate the quality and healthfulness of its food or its president's politics, but you cannot deny the consistent, uncharacteristically polite attitudes of its employees and how they've boosted the Chick-fil-A brand. --Marisa Palmieri