Friday, July 3, 2015


        Walnut Lane Golf Club is the home of the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia. The course is owned by the City, but TFTGP maintains the golf course. This past winter, the Superintendent resigned . Bob Sawicki, had just left the Superintendent position at Gulph Mills GC. When Bob said he was interested in the job, obviously there were thoughts that this might not be any easy transition. But as my Mom always says, "things happen for a reason!" Bob has had an incredible impact, in just a short time on the property, primarily because of his personality.
       Bob's positive influence has helped to create a push to upgrade some of the tools he needs to keep making improvements. Just about when Bob started, Arader Tree had stepped in to help and dropped some trees that the city had deemed dangerous and needed to be taken care of as soon as possible. Now the trees were down, but what was available to clean them up? With a little luck and the generosity of a board member, Frank Shuman, a slightly used chipper was delivered that still had the paint on the feed deck!
Next up was looking at his equipment fleet. The rough unit, fairway mower and sprayer ,all ranging from 15 to 25 years old, are obvious candidates for retirement, but as we all know not cheap.
After talking about some options with Ken Jeinnings ,the Vice President & Sales Manager of my employer, Lawn & Golf Supply Company, we were able to work with Jacobsen and provide Walnut Lane with a brand new Jacobsen LF550 fairway mower! We delivered it this past Thursday.
With the Director of the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, John MacDonald and some board members in attendance, it was a great photo shoot! Especially appreciated was the banner made up to thank Lawn & Golf and Jacobsen.
The momentum that has been created in improving the golf course at Walnut Lane is exciting to see.
The goal of enhancing the playing conditions for the kids in the program is truly inspiring.
Yesterday, for me, was a day I won't forget and one of the better ones in my career!

John MacDonald, Director of the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, Assistant Ben Davies, Superintendent Bob Sawicki, Ken Jeinnings, VP & Sales Manager at Lawn & Golf and me.
Superintendent Bob Sawicki out taking his new unit for a test drive!

Hope you and your family have a safe and Happy 4th of July!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Welcome To Valentine East!

      This past week our company hosted a field day for Turf professionals at Penn State-Berks Campus , on the turf plots, known as Valentine East. Dr. Mike Fidanza was our host. As with everything, it all started with a couple of conversations between myself & Dr. Mike and then a few months of serious planning. Put that all together and you have yourself a field day! The behind the scenes work of organizing was definitely a big part of the challenge. From just organizing with your Service Department for the equipment needed, to who is hauling what,  to having your paperwork in order to bringing in an outside food vendor on to a state run facility , we got it all done. What is great is everyone in our company had the same answer, "Whatever you need me to do!" We also had 7 of our factory representatives, who came into town to man their equipment. From Truck Drivers, Factory Reps, Salesmen, Service Department and the inside support people and Ownership, it took a team effort!
Now we did get a curve ball in the last 48 hours, with some thunderstorms with high winds, to make it tough for guys to leave work just for good measure. In the end , we still had almost 70 customers in attendance with a mix of golf & professional turf managers. Bill Brown, from Turf Republic, was also there to see the event and even helped me out with my first Periscope transmission for the introduction. He also did an interview with me for Turf Republic about the event.
The location could not have been better and the feedback from customers and vendors was all very similar with the concensus opinion being a very good day.
Now maybe that was the Jim's Steaks and cheese fries talking, but I will never admit that.

The Jacobsen station with the new Truckster XD
The Ventrac Station before they started mowing

Chuck Hicks from Redexim demonstrating the Carrier

The Turflux Station with the system on a Smithco Sprayer
The Turfco Station with the CR-10
The Big Dog & Ferris units

Chuck Hicks showing the Redexim Verti-Top for synthetic turf maintenance

Dr. Mike giving the group a brief talk on the Valentine East Facility
And the most important part of the day.....

A big thank you goes out to Dr. Mike Fidanza and the staff at PSU-Berks for all their help!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hail to the Chief!

       Today was the end of an era. Scott Keener officially retired after over 25 years of selling Toro in Central Pa. My history with Scott dates back to my start in 1992. What Scott thought was just showing the new kid the ropes, became a fulltime Psychologist job! He was the one I would call each night to review my calls and advise me how I should handle them differently. While the calls might not have been every night over the last few years, his advice was still very important to me. When I read in business books that a mentor is  key to being successful,  think of how very lucky I have been to have Scott. What was great about it was we could disagree on how to handle a situation and I know I would get the all familiar,  " I am not going to tell you how to run your territory but....." and in the end I would do what I felt best, but he always would give me the straight opinion of how he would do it.
       My change in colors was slightly weird for both of us, especially since we had some similar accounts.In the end, it was Scott that helped me through a very challenging time in my career, by being a sounding board for my frustration.
       As his retirement gift, I wish there was some way to turn back the clock and give him the Toro Master Salesman award that I had won back in 2008. Scott was more deserving and I always believed the time that he gave to the military on deployments and rising to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant prevented his winning, when he was so deserving.
       Scott's support throughout my career is something that made an incredible difference in my path. It is always funny when someone refers to Scott as my Father and someone who doesn't know will ask what they are talking about. It says a lot when the people you work with refer to you as father and son. To a true mentor and friend, "Congratulations on your retirement!"

Happy Father's Day!


Monday, June 15, 2015


       On Monday morning, Andy Billing and Mark Luffy of Turflux will make the trip over to the good side of the state of Pennsylvania (HAHA!). They will be bringing the second Turflux upgrade unit to White Manor CC. White Manor was the first club in the Philadelphia area to convert their Toro sprayer to the Turflux GPS spray system and with a little creativity, we were able to get their 300 gallon sprayer converted only a few months later!
        It is interesting when I have been sitting talking with customers, most have the same question, "Where do you think GPS spraying is heading?". My answer is,"It is coming!". I keep repeating the analogy of a Raven controller that years ago was a big deal and now is common place. I know that some of the guys are looking at it as too much technology, but not many of us go anywhere without the GPS on in our car!
       Now there is Smithco's version of a GPS sprayer, Turf Geeks and Toro and John Deere have something on the way. While the transition to a new way to do things in our business is usually like turning an ocean liner, I truly believe that this is where all sprayers are headed. Why? Well, the more environmental restrictions and enforcement become more of a challenge, you are going to need to show more ways that you are being environmentally conscientious and being sub-inch exact with precise applications, I would think is the right answer!

White Manor CC's Sprayer getting the Turflux conversion


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Funny Ha Ha

       I have been very lucky to experience some things in the last few months,that not many get to do,which is to get factory training from multiple competitors. When I first started back last fall with Lawn & Golf, I was sent down to Jacobsen's factory in Charlotte. That was an enlightening experience, with having been to the Toro factory multiple times. Now this past week, I had the opportunity to go to factory training, out in Ohio, for Ventrac. To say, not what I expected, might be an understatement.
       Ventrac has it roots with the old Steiner company. As a matter of fact, I believe that 9 Steiner family members are currently working at Ventrac. In 1988, the Steiner turf division was sold to Ransomes in England, while the Ag division was sold to a group of employees. In 1996, that company was renamed to Venture Products. This is one of those stories, in our business, that is incredibly interesting to me. Not a part of the big 3, but  Ventrac has had double digit sales growth over the last six years and they built a new factory, that  is 3 years old, and they have already outgrown it!
       It is funny to me how a few years ago, when one of the other salesmen and I where both voicing our concerns about the recent increase of Ventrac sales in our area, we were not taken too seriously. After seeing the Ventrac factory and full product line of over 30 attachments and multiple tractors in a demonstration training event, it is funny alright....

Brian Carr of Ventrac on a 30 degree slope!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Timing Is Everything

       I saw a couple of great tweets this past week from Eric J. von Hofen of Riviera CC:

I really wish every salesperson used or social media to follow me and see I'm in the middle of two large projects. I can't see you!

Then later....
Now time to thank all the sales people that do follow, help out and promote what we are doing. Others should follow your lead.
This is a great example of the conundrum that salesmen run into that is the tricky question of when to visit. While you have a job to do by making sure that people know the products that your company has to provide, you also need to respect the hectic schedule that a turf manager has going on each day, especially during the growing season or doing a large project. Obviously, there is not an easy answer. Depending on what part of the world you are in, the amount of visitors you get will vary. I know here in the Philly area, between equipment, chemicals & other products, my guess would be there are somewhere in the high twenties number of Reps. Everyone is competing for a piece of a smaller pie and the sales process has become much longer in most instances. I know for me,there is more texting and emails, but you hope you are doing your job correctly when you are told one of your competitors calls everyday asking if the decision has been made. Obviously,good communication in the relationship is one of the hardest parts to keep flowing with how busy things can get. I think it is a pretty inventive idea, using social media to get the word out that right now is not the best time to stop in for a visit.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Reversal of Fortunes

       When you said this morning to take out the new triplex out to mow greens, does the "new triplex" have over 3000 hours? Lots of clubs have fallen behind in their equipment replacement plans and now have been trying to get the process restarted. While the clubhouse gets new rugs and the golf cart fleet lease keeps on rolling, you are using equipment that was meant to be replaced years ago.
       Recently, I had the chance to work with a golf course that was at this tipping point. Their main rough unit was purchased used and had over 10,000 hours! Yes, that is not a typo, over 10,000 hours.
The club has been doing well with play and would buy a piece when something would get to complete failure. The need for investment was obvious, but how do you get the board to understand where you are in your fleet needs?
       We put together, what I would call for lack of a better term, a reverse proposal. I took pictures of all the equipment that needed to be replaced. Then, we collected the hours and years for each and put it in to a formal proposal, almost like you would for an equipment quote or bid. The part that I think helped to sell it to the board was the formula on each page showing the hours on each unit and how that would translate to car miles. I used 75 miles=1 hour on piece of turf equipment. I have heard all sorts of different conversions, but that is the one I use. Then add in multiple operators, being run at full throttle and what translates to off road use to help drive home the point,and hopefully,they see a clearer picture. Obviously, not an exact science, but it helps to speak a language that the board or owner will understand.