Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Power of 10

       This coming Monday, we will be delivering the largest single Ventrac purchase, since Lawn & Golf became a dealer. In a process worthy of this type of investment, the customer did his due diligence by looking at all options. This included looking at competitive units and multiple configurations of the Ventrac unit too. Then there was the consideration of what was the best way to handle the purchase from the financial side, including all financing avenues. In the end, the decision was made to go with a 3400 with a full snow package and multiple attachments.
Following came the getting all the product into our location and for our shop to get to work. Andy Barone, our factory representative of Ventrac, was with us throughout the process and made sure that inventory was ready for us.
From our shipping manager organizing the staging of the equipment for the shop, to our technicians cranking out the setups and finishing a day ahead of schedule, it was a great week for our company.
Congratulations to everyone at Lawn & Golf  and Ventrac who worked to get this process to run so smoothly, especially Jeremy Weand , who is the account manager and Andy Barone for all his support. A big thank you to Bob Dunkerely of Dunkerely Construction for choosing Lawn & Golf & Ventrac!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Snow Business

       This past week Lawn & Golf & Ventrac sponsored an educational event with the PGMS at Coca-Cola Stadium, home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. It was called a "Snow Symposium" The day started with a review of the products available through Ventrac.
Andy Barone, our factory representative, gave the overview of the Ventrac  product line, with an emphasis on the snow removal attachments. We then headed in for lunch and then education.
Following lunch, we had a 3 speaker lineup.
Our first speaker was John Tyrell, of Ricci, Tyrrell, Johnson & Grey, was covering the topic, "Snow Removal Liability Issues & Concerns". I was able to get John to speak at an event a few years ago and knew he would be the perfect fit. The basic things you need to address to protect yourself in today's sue everyone atmosphere was some excellent information. John's experience with what has worked to protect from having to pay a big settlement  is just using common sense and documentation. It was priceless. Our next speaker was Joshua Smilk, Owner of Eastern LLC, a snow removal contractor. Josh was playing hurt! He had fallen the night before and was pretty sure he had broken his ankle. He told me he would be there on crutches and head to the doctor afterwards. He just needed a podium to lean on. He did over a 45 minute talk standing on one leg! Cannot say thank you enough to Josh for not canceling! His talk was about brine. Josh covered some of the basic science behind it and some of the different situations for use. It was really an interesting topic.
Our final speaker of the day was Matt Brown, of Lawn & Golf. Matt's topic was "Winterizing your sprayer". Matt did a great job focusing on what is the key to all sprayers working to the it! Matt also spent a significant amount of time covering one of the most important part of chemical application, safety. Matt covered all the recommended safety precautions that sometimes get skipped to make up time.

A big thank you goes out to our corporate partners at the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and their Director of Field Operations, Ryan Hills, for hosting us! Thanks to Andy Barone, of Ventrac, for coming into to town to support the event.
A special thanks to Bill Brown, of Turf Republic, for joining us and taking some great photos.
Also, I cannot say thank you enough to our speakers!
We were happy to partner with the PGMS and look forward to doing it again in the future.

Andy Barone, of Ventrac, talking about the Ventrac 4500

         John Tyrrell, Managing Member of Ricci, Tyrrell, Johnson & Grey, giving his presentation

Joshua Smilk, Owner of Eastern LLC, talking about the advantages of brine

Matt Brown, of Lawn & Golf, speaking about the winterization of your sprayer

For more photos, please check out the Turf Republic Flickr site:


Monday, July 18, 2016

Hail To The King!

This week, I had the opportunity to head back out to Latrobe CC. Through Jacobsen's relationship with the Arnold Palmer Group, we had the chance to get in a little more than a round of golf. We had the chance to visit the barn, where there is more golf history than you could ever believe. It is truly incredible, that someone had the foresight, to keep all of these pieces of history of Arnold Palmer's life. It is something I will never forget. A special thanks goes out to Mark Pena from Jacobsen for being such a great host!
What made the visit even more special was Doc Giffin. Doc has worked with Arnold Palmer for over 50 years! We only had a short time with him, but just in that brief period, we were able to hear some incredible stories. The part I think that I enjoy the most about Latrobe CC is that they understand the importance of  Arnold Palmer, but on the other hand, it is not a big deal having him at the next table, in the men's grill, having lunch.

Arnold Palmer's golf club collection
Arnold Palmer & Steve Stephens
Arnold Palmer's Film Library

The famous Penzoil Tractor & his Father's reconditioned tractor

Arnold Palmer's Golf Cart

Doc Giffin giving us the history of all the collection

Doc Giffin explaining the story behind the personalized golf cart


Saturday, July 9, 2016

When Did This Start?

       One of the interesting aspects of all the turf porn on social media is getting to see more and more behind the curtain at big events. Recently, the US Open at Oakmont, and then quickly after that, the photos coming out of Congressional CC, while they hosted the Quicken Loans PGA event, gave insight in to some that do not have the opportunity to host or work an event of this size.
The hundred plus extremely qualified volunteers, on top of a staff that only most clubs dream of having, caused many people in the turf business to ask, "When did this start?". Add in the incredible amounts of equipment and donations needed to host and it is really hard to believe. The reality is you might not need all those bodies, but in 2013 at Merion and 2016 at Oakmont, if they didn't have all those volunteers, they would not have been able to get the courses back together so quickly after severe storms. The crazy amount of equipment required is also tied to the limited time staffs have to get the course ready in the morning and get the post round work done in the evening.
       Probably the easy answer, for any extreme measure taken to provide a near perfect golf course, is to blame Augusta. I had the picture in my office, from Sports Illustrated, from the early 1990's, with multiple fiveplexes, mowing the fairways at the Masters. Where I remember it really taking off was the 1997 US Open at Congressional. Mr. Latshaw was the Superintendent and they hand walked fairways! Yes, hand walked fairways, that is not a misprint. I knew a bunch of clubs that were rounding up as many Jacobsen PGMs as they could to loan to Congressional for the US Open. Depending on who you talk to, this is a practice that the USGA will not let happen again. At the time, there was definitely some discussion of creating a monster, that would cause issues for other clubs.
       I was on the staff at Merion GC for the 1989 USGA US Amateur Championship. A few Alumni and I were laughing, the other day, about not even having staff shirts to wear for the tournament, just a VIP pin (see below). It was just our normal crew with some additions from the West Course.

      It is pretty cool to see what happens when you give someone, at the top of their profession, an unlimited budget and staff and they are able to provide near perfection.

Badge for the 1989 US Amateur
Photo taken by Andy Billing at Oakmont CC during the 2016 US Open



Sunday, June 12, 2016

It Just Doesn't Matter

   One of my favorite movie scenes is Bill Murray in the movie Meatballs, giving a motivational speech the night before the final day competition against Camp Mohawk.

Why I bring this up, is this past week, while preparing for some meetings, I was analyzing some of the support we do as a company throughout the year. To say it was eye opening, is an understatement.
When you add up all the professional organizations and their events over a year, it can total up to a big number quickly.
So what does this have to do with the Meatballs speech? For me, it has always been an unanswerable question of, " does it matter from a business perspective if you do or do not support the associations of the turf industry?" The tag line of, "we support those who support us", has been repeated over and over for years at meetings. But does someone buy from me rather than a competitor because of my support level? Does it play a part in the purchase process?
Trying to quantify the return on your investment is not an easy number to come up with.
In the end, it just doesn't matter because it is the right thing to do.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No Handbook

       There is one thing that I have learned in my social media experiment and that is there is no handbook. I started this, a few years ago, on a career advancement/change basis. The change came without even one little bit of the social media efforts being a part of the equation. Go figure? Everything you read is telling you must have a social media footprint to matter in the business world.  But depending on what customers you talk to, it is a good thing or a complete waste of time.
Maybe the use of social media will make you first on their mind when a need arises or even better, it makes you look technically advanced, but only to the guys who like using it. There are also pitfalls of too much information. We had a customer touting how great a demo of a mower was at his club on Twitter. The next day a competitive sales rep showed up looking to demo his unit. While I would love to post a video of a demo doing something extra ordinary, I also need to be careful not to give away the location. Sad but true.

      I have some people who will reference something I have posted or tweeted. I have some others who absolutely have a strong opinion of my efforts. What I sometimes struggle with is posting information and the tone being misunderstood. Just like a text, it can always be perceived, not in the way you had hoped. So now make your stuff interesting or funny, but don't offend any one or come off like a jerk. Easy, right?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Partners With The Pigs


       This past spring we were lucky enough to enter into a partnership with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Iron Pigs are the Phillies AAA affiliate. They are one of the top teams in attendance, in the minor leagues, for good reason. When you walk into the stadium, you can instantly see how strong they are at marketing.

       Our first event was this past Wednesday. We were able to place some of our equipment on the warning track, for a customer field day. Ryan Hills, the Director of Grounds, could not have been a more gracious host! After having an extra inning game the night before, he was happy to spend time with the group, talking about his pre-game field preparations. From showing the use of a turbine blower to blow up the tarp to clear the water, to the application of Pro's Choice Rapid Dry, it was all very interesting to the turf managers in attendance.

      Thank you to Ryan Hills and the Iron Pigs for a great day! Even with some tough weather, it still was a special opportunity. I know for my son, who was one of a few kids to join us, he was pretty excited to have a chance to be on the field. After removing all of our equipment from the warning track, he hand raked the entire track. Once we got home, he was asking about where the closest stadium was to our home that he could work.

     My son Pete raking the warning track after the field day and before the game

Ryan Hills, Director of Field Maintenance for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, talks to our group about field maintenance practices
The Turfco Torrent Blower being used to get the water off the trap