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Business Boosters: How spreader-sprayers save contractors time

December 3, 2021 -  By
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Tech operating spreader-sprayer (Photo: Left Side Lawn Care)

Versatility Caleb Gettle, owner of Left Side Lawn Care, says he has two Steel Green SG36s, one for liquid and one for granular applications. (Photo: Left Side Lawn Care)

Jamie Hageman, manager of GreenLawn Lawn Care in Ossian, Iowa, bought his first Turfco T5000 stand-on spreader-sprayer in January. In April — two weeks into the season — he bought another for the primarily residential turf care business.

“We’re just covering that much more ground with it,” he says. “We’re in more of a rural area, and our lawn sizes vary from 3,000 square feet to 800,000 square feet. One machine can do it all.”

Lawn care operators (LCOs) say the ability to cover more ground while eliminating the wear and tear on their bodies is part of the allure of purchasing a ride-on spreader-sprayer.

Time management

For Jason Creel, owner of Alabama Lawn Pros in Trussville, Ala., his Z-Spray LTS and Ground Logic Pathfinder stand-on spreader-sprayers are perfect for granular applications for his residential fertilization, weed control and mowing business. He says the efficiency makes up for ever-increasing input costs.

“As the cost of doing business and the cost of supplies continue to increase, one way you make up for cost is by efficiency,” he says. “One way you make up for lack of labor is to make you or your employees more efficient.”

Caleb Gettle, owner of  Left Side Lawn Care in Evansdale, Iowa, uses two Steel Green zero-turn spreader-sprayers for specific applications of liquid with the SG36 and the SG46 to cover more ground. He has an additional SG36 strictly for herbicide and granular fertilizer applications.

“For one person, three machines are quite a bit, but I feel like during the growing season, each season has a machine,” he says. “A granular has its place; a liquid has its place. That’s allowed me to be versatile in my operation.”

Thanks to his spreader-sprayers, his business has grown by 30 to 35 percent every year for the past three years. He’s the sole operator for his 40 percent commercial, 60 percent residential turf care and fertilization business.

“I’ve probably tripled my clientele in the past three years,” he says. “It’s allowed me to expand my service route and be able to take on more properties with less time. Even on the smaller units, the 8-foot boom coverage increases production rates and decreases time spent on properties, and the accuracy of these units is unparalleled.”

Better experience

Creel says pushing a spreader up a hill all day will undoubtedly tank his productivity, and this is where a ride-on spreader-sprayer has an advantage. While he still sprays some yards with a truck-mounted tank sprayer, ride-on spreader-sprayers speed up granular applications.

“It allows you to be faster and keep your productivity up as you get tired,” he says. “I’m pretty much the same speed on the first yard as the last yard because all I’ve got to do is press the throttle.”

Hageman agrees, noting a ride-on spreader-sprayer “saves the wear and tear on your body because the landscape industry is not an easy industry.”

He says it’s also important to understand how valuable your time is as an operator. Hageman says he used to have to work until late evening to cover all his accounts in a day.

“Now, you can get the same amount done by 4:00 in the afternoon, your productivity so much higher and your profitability is higher because you’re more efficient,” he says.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University and has been in B2B publishing for seven years. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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