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 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Is The Magic Number?

       Not sure when it happened, but in recent years, the buying process has changed on larger equipment purchases. While nothing is an absolute, it is interesting how often it becomes about the final number vs. what unit was the preferred choice. For me, the magic number is right around $150K. It is when more people are involved in the process, at the club, and how much you want to justify your preference. I can't count how many times I have heard the statement, " I am just happy to get something!" It is easy to understand why you would feel this way.
Many clubs have held back on capital purchases over the past eight years. It has happened to multiple clubs that they just cannot wait any longer to replace some equipment that is well past it's shelf life. It makes you wonder, when the club buys new stoves for the kitchen or purchase new carpet, is it low bid that wins or who has the best product for the need?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Super Support

       This past week, we had all our main vendor representatives in town for meetings and to travel with our salesmen. The week started off with some talks to review the new products and updates for this coming season for each product line. We are very lucky to have some incredible people to work with. It is amazing how they all have great passion about their products and believe they are selling the best. Getting someone like Chuck Hicks from Redexim or Chris Francis from Turfco out into the field to demo a unit for customers is truly something to watch. The guys know their product inside and out and are excited to be showing you why they think it is better than the competition. You have to wonder if the ability to focus specifically on a smaller product line is an advantage.

Thanks to Mark Pena from Jacobsen, Andy Barone from Ventract, Steve Johnson from Smithco, Chuck Hicks from Redexim & Chris Francis from Turfco for great week!

Chris Francis talking about the advantages of the Turfco 1550 Topdresser

Chuck Hicks in his happy place...Running the Verti-Drain Bullet


Sunday, March 6, 2016

If We Are Not Making Money, We Are Making Change

       To me, one of the legends of the turf business, is Tom Hurst. I feel very lucky to consider Tom one of my mentors and friend. When I got to work with Tom, it was a bunch of years ago, and Philadelphia Turf had picked up Bernhard Grinders. That was where I got the chance to really get to know him. Tom's opinion is something I value. It is an interesting twist that he had spent the majority of his career working at Lawn & Golf.
       Recently, when I spoke with Tom about some changes in personnel and territories that I had made, he had a great line, "If your not making money, your making change." Tom said this was a comment his first boss used to make. It is a great quote.
       Change is never easy, especially when sales are trending in the right direction. It has caused many nights of lost sleep over what is the right thing to do. It absolutely helps to have people whom you consider mentors, who have been through it before and for that I am very grateful!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ain't No Party Like A West Coast Party

       To quote the great philosopher Collio, "Ain't no party like a west coast party 'cause a west coast party don't stop!". The week of the 2016 GIS would be tough to find issue with. San Diego weather was about as close to perfect as it can get and lets not forget all the great locations throughout the Gaslamp section. Reading some of the wrap up statistics on Turfnet this past week, it looks like the vendor/booth space is back to where it was before the 2009 crash.
       The week started out great for Lawn & Golf Supply Company, with being awarded the Domestic Distributor of the Year by Turfco at the Turfco-Smithco training event! We are very lucky to have Chris Francis as our factory rep. He does a great job supporting us! Then Wednesday & Thursday the trade show was well attended from our area.

Take a ways from the show for me:
-San Diego has great weather and an unbelievably large homeless population.
-Many manufacturers have reinvested and there will be plenty of new products coming out this year.
-I have a much better appreciation for those who travel coast to coast more often for work. Being unable to get on West coast time was a killer
-The Electric Avenue area of the show with real turf and the opportunity to run new electric powered products was very cool idea

Matt Shaffer & Robert Smith of Merion Golf Club discuss how they work together during an on the floor GCSAA education session

First Day traffic

Domestic Dealer of the Year Award from Turfco!

Product training at the Turfco-Smithco event

Electric Avenue


Saturday, January 30, 2016

This Is The End!

       Earlier this month, I attended what was somewhere north of my 25th Eastern Pennsylvania Turf Conference. I have watched the show change, over the years, from a time when of all the equipment suppliers had large booths, with almost a full compliment of their products down to this past table top trade show. While the explanation of why some trade shows seem to be thriving (NJ Turf Grass Conference in Atlantic City), to the stories of other shows that are struggling to survive, is a mystery question of life. The Easter Pa Show still has strong attendance and a growing Sports Turf Managers section, but we have seemingly hit a wall on the trade show part of the program. Year after year, the vendors have talked amongst each other that this was not working. While no one wants to do anything that would effect the support of the work of the Pennsylvania Turf Grass Council, the reality of today's business climate of tighter margins and importance of spending your dollars wisely have finally won out. Many factors play into the mood of vendors, like trade show times, during classes, to being in the lower level of the facility, all play into the reality that it is time for a change. In the end, vendors want to have customers and prospects stop by their booth, hopefully to uncover some new opportunities. The thought of having multiple salesmen stand around talking to each other, for hours on end, is not something that works for anyone.
      While preliminary talks have begun to change the format of the trade show and possibly to eliminate it completely, in the end, I know that next year will be different. There is energy, on the vendor side, to grow the dollars being brought in from new avenues to support the PTC. That is why this is a great business to work in. While we compete against each other for business, all the vendors I have spoken to all say the same thing " I am in, just let me know what you need me to do!"



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Just The Facts

       Recently, I had a meeting with a Superintendent, who was looking for some insights on how to approach his ownership, with a long term equipment replacement plan. During our discussion, I brought up a quote from Sabrina Bladon, that I heard her give in a speech, a few years ago, that I think is incredibly pertinent to this type of process. The line was, "You talk agronomics & they talk economics." When in discussion with your ownership or management, it is hard not to speak passionately about your frustration with old equipment. The thought of downtime, turf damage and even listening to your operators complain, it all feeds into talking about it emotionally. Sadly, the reality is those factors might as well be spoken in another language. Going back to Sabrina's excellent observation, you need to talk about bottom dollar impact.
       Jason Haines (@Pendersuper), Superintendent at Pender Harbour GC, this past week, had just the type of information regarding how to sell to your club on new equipment posted on Twitter. He had great insight on how to put together a plan and justify the need for new equipment. It is a thread worth reading.
        The final suggestion I would make is to use your salesman as a resource. He should be able to help you formulate your position from a factual angle.