Friday, October 26, 2012

GIE+Expo iPad winner!

Congratulations to Ben McCutcheon, production manager for Team Green Lawn in Xenia, Ohio, for winning an iPad at our booth at the GIE+Expo.

It was a great show!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bizarre economic indicators

Are you a market-watching junkie, allowing your blood pressure to rise and fall with the Dow? If so, you may want to tune in to Business Insider's list of "36 weird economic indicators you've never heard of." Trust me, they're much more interesting to track than the Dow.

I wrote a column, not nearly as comprehensive but along the same lines, in my previous life as editor of Paperboard Packaging. (Yes, there's a trade magazine for everything.)

How about this one: the speed contractors return calls. "The concept: Always busy with other clients, getting a contractor to return a call can be a big hassle during a home renovation project. So, the quicker a contractor returns your calls, the worse the economy is doing."

Is that true for you?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Setting a good example

When we read about Thomas Cahill, we couldn't help but be impressed. The guy's a junior at New Jersey's Hillsborough High School, yet he already owns his own landscaping business—Cahill Landscaping.

Now he's been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Young Entrepreneur Award, presented every year by the Somerset County Business Partnership in his region. The award acknowledges achievement and encourages the development of business skills.

According to the local paper, the Hillsborough Beacon, Cahill first got into tractors at the age of 4 and attracted his first lawn care clientele at age 13. The paper went on to say that the 17-year-old Cahill, in his fourth year of business, will donate between 10 and 15 percent of his 2012 earnings to charity.

He'll be awarded the Anthony F. Picheca Sr. Entrepreneur Award of $1,000 on Dec. 13. Hats off, Thomas!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jobs nobody wants

Several members of the Ohio Landscape Association and its Executive Director Sandy Munley shared the industry's worker woes on the local news in Northeast Ohio yesterday. Let's hope it brings the companies some good candidates.

"Many times our landscapers run ads and don't get anybody to answer them at all," Munley says. "And other times, when people do answer, they can't pass drug testing or they don't have a valid drivers license."

Sound familiar? What are you doing to cope with a worker shortage in your area?

The site, a joint effort between PLANET, ANLA and ASHS, offers some good resources to help dispel the myths about working in the Green Industry. Companies can use them as talking points when speaking with prospective employees or exhibiting at job fairs. --Marisa Palmieri

Monday, October 08, 2012

'Tis the season

Green Industry businesses that offer holiday lighting services (which is 16 percent of the industry, according to our forthcoming 2012 Industry Pulse report) are revving up for a busy time of year. 

'Tis the season for closing contracts, ordering supplies and prepping for installations. After Halloween, it's go time, right?

To get you into the holiday spirit, we share this entertaining infographic, courtesy of Neave Group of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., which you might like to share with your prospects. 

Doesn't it remind you of the classic "12 Pains of Christmas" song? --Marisa Palmieri

Friday, October 05, 2012

A son's plea for safe driving

We received this note from Louis Crisitello Jr., the son of landscape company owner Louis Crisitello, who died on the job last month when he was walking alongside his truck and was hit by a motorist. 
Louis Crisitello was killed on the job last month by a motorist.
We're sorry for your family's and the industry's loss, Louis, and we agree the statistics are important to share.
On the morning of Sept. 17, an uninsured motorist in Middletown, N.J., killed my father, Louis Crisitello, in a hit-and-run accident. As the proud owner of Lou’s Lawn Maintenance for more than 30 years, my father was greatly loved and appreciated by all of his customers and the community. He was respected among the brotherhood of landscapers and considered himself a friend to everyone in the business. While on the job, my father was walking alongside his box truck to get his orange road cone to put on the driver's side of his vehicle as a safety precaution. Before he was able to reach the back of his truck a young woman struck him violently with her vehicle and continued to drive, fleeing the scene.
According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published in September 2012, approximately 16 percent of fatal transportation incidents in 2011 involved pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. Of the 312 fatal work injuries involving pedestrians struck by vehicles, 61 occurred in work zones. As a result of the accident, my father’s body was so badly damaged that we were warned not to see him and forced to have a closed casket funeral. The aforementioned statistics symbolize individuals, like my father, who died unnecessary and undignified deaths.
My father was a selfless man who wanted nothing more than to provide for those around him.  He was caring, supportive, and warm-hearted.  He took great pride in his family and his career.  When it came to work, my father was a bull.  I always believed that it was impossible to knock my father down.  Though he took some hard hits over the course of his career, I can’t think of a situation where he didn’t just stand up, brush himself off, and return to work.  There is no one, at any age, able to work as long and as hard as my dad worked.  Now, at 62 years old, as he neared retirement, my father has become another sad statistic.
In 2011, according to the BLS, fatalities in the landscape services industry increased to 167 from 133 in 2010, rising 16 percent. Fatal work injuries in the building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupational group were up 14 percent to 265 fatalities in 2011--the highest level since 2006. The biggest increases within this occupational group were among landscapers.
With more than 30 years in the landscaping business, my father was always careful to exercise the proper safety precautions while on the job and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. I’ll never know all of the specifics regarding my father’s death, but I’m confident that it was the result of someone else’s carelessness. In this era of short attention spans and a seemingly endless number of electronic devices, distracted driving is becoming a more prevalent danger every day. In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.  
My father truly appreciated the little things in life. He had a child-like innocence that was infectious; it only reinforces the fact that he died much too young.  My dad taught me to live with gratitude, and I am thankful for every day that I got to spend with him.  However, I cannot accept the manner in which he was taken from my family.  I wonder what the driver was thinking as she drove away with a broken windshield; did she even look back in her rear-view mirror? There is no answer that can excuse the lack of common human decency exhibited by the individual that morning.
The loss of my father has left a void in my life that I can’t imagine ever being filled. I urge everyone in the landscaping and lawn maintenance business to be extra careful when working nearby roadways and stay alert for distracted drivers. In short, protect yourselves and look out for one another. Together we can make safe driving a new priority and invigorate the public. We have the ability to strengthen local laws and enforcement efforts. Together we can prevent another senseless death from occurring, and in turn, make our roads safer for everyone. --Louis Crisitello Jr.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Association membership elevator pitch

I recently received an email from Javier Lesaca of Bakersfield, Calif.-based Lesaca Landscape Co. He's the director of membership for the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA), and he wanted to share his response to the question, "What value have you received from your association membership?" Belonging to an association is something he says he always considered a "no brainer," but it's clear others don't always agree.

At Landscape Management, we're proponents of industry associations; you know, it's the whole "rising tides" thing. For more potential benefits of associations, we'll share with you what Javier had to say:

"I first joined CLCA for the insurance program. Then I realized this association had more to offer than affordable insurance. I saw they had many programs that were developed to help their members to become better business owners. These are programs that will help you shorten your learning curve and help you become a successful contractor with fewer trials and errors ... Along with these programs, CLCA members have the use of California Association of Employers HR hotline for any of their human resource questions and an attorney on retainer that can answer your questions to see if you’re on the right or wrong side of the law. If you were to use any of these programs and services you would definitely see a return on your investment with your membership.

"Networking is defined as a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups with a common interest. This is the definition, but as a CLCA member you can add 'friendship' to the definition. In my early landscape career, I would use my local contractor contacts and vendors as my support system, but because we were working in the same area I wasn’t always sure if I was receiving an honest answer. After becoming a CLCA member I began to network with other members at different events like the Landscape Industry Show, leadership conference, legislative conference, summer family extravaganza, annual convention and my local chapter events ... What I found is that many people I have met are willing to share their knowledge and wisdom with me.
"CLCA’s influence in the state legislature is well known. Whenever there is a decision or potential new law that will affect our members, CLCA is there to ask the right questions. We all hear how California is not the most business-friendly state. As business owners, we need all the help we can get. CLCA is there ready to fight for our common interests, whether it's for our C-27 license, workers' comp, water, employment issues and any other potential law that will affect us, CLCA is there fighting for us. This is one benefit that every C-27 contractor or anyone else in the green industry profits from.

"Just paying for a CLCA membership will not make you a successful landscape contractor. But, if you take advantage of all the programs, services and new friendships you will make, your career in the landscape industry will be more profitable and enjoyable."

Well said, Javier! --Marisa Palmieri