5 Questions: Mike Morin

January 22, 2023 -  By
(Photo: LM Staff)

(Photo: LM Staff)

Mike Morin

President, Morin Turf, Sioux City, Iowa

1.  What can you tell me about Morin Turf?  

We were started in 1946 by my father. He started off small and went to the golf course guys to learn how to grow grass. And from there, he sprouted into this infant lawn care business and grew it. His caveat’s always been quality over quantity. He passed away 12 years ago. He was a Great Depression kid. When I got out of college, he didn’t want me to be in the lawn business, but I persevered. I said, ‘I think you got a great business; I’d like to come into it.’ And I slowly changed his mindset about a few things. Mechanization being one of them. We grew a little bit once we mechanized, but after that, we tried to keep our focus on the quality side of it.

2.  Have you really been at this for 50 years, starting out as a kid? 

From day one, all I remember is grass. I don’t think there are a lot of guys that are still in business today who remember the downturn in ’73, but I do. There are a lot of chemicals that I remember that are no longer available. I’ve always liked it. I like when I drive past a place, and I go, ‘wow, look at that (grass). That looks great, and I do that, we do that.’ All we do is grass, we don’t do landscaping, but we install a lot of grass by seeding it. It’s always fun to drive by a place that I did 40 years ago, and I’m still taking care of it. I still have two customers from 1959.

3.  What is your favorite tool to get the job done? 

There are two of them that I rely on. One is my spreader-sprayer. I’ve got two different brands, Z-Spray and Steel Green. I’ve got eight ride-on units for four guys. When we fertilize, I have dedicated machines for fertilizing; when we spray, I have dedicated spraying units, and they don’t have spreaders on them. The other piece would be my aerator. I recently made the switch to Stinger. It’s a fantastic piece of machinery.

4.  What’s your expectation for 2023, in terms of the industry and the health of your business? 

We’ve been through a lot of downturns, and most of them have never affected my business. I feel somewhat insulated because I work for a demographic that is fairly upper-tier. But some of the old guard is gone, and now we’re working with younger people. Part of me worries (about what would happen) if that demographic feels that lawn care isn’t essential, if they feel it’s a luxury. If we run into a real spate of nasty economic weather, how are we going to keep going? Let me put it this way: I’m worried about holding on to what I’ve got.

5.  Do you have a day at work that was most memorable? 

Wow, there are so many. I can remember the last day my dad came to work. He was 89 years old. He still came to work every day! You know, it’s kind of weird … it was 12 years ago today. I remember we were working on a football field, and he came to see if we were doing it right. He just showed up and took a tour. (In gruff voice) ‘I think you guys are doing OK … I think I’m gonna go hit some golf balls.’ That day sticks in my mind. The other one is when my son, Sean, decided to come work with us. Unlike the way my dad felt about me coming to work for him, I’m glad my son came to work for us. I’m looking forward to the third generation.

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Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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