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Companies in the News: Updates from Bobcat, Exmark, WinLAWN and more

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Bobcat's headquarters in West Faro, N.D. (Photo: Bobcat)
Bobcat's headquarters in West Faro, N.D. (Photo: Bobcat)

Bobcat named to Fast Company’s 2024 Most Innovative Companies list

Bobcat Co. was recognized as one of Fast Company’s 2024 Most Innovative Companies. Bobcat was honored in the manufacturing awards category.

“With innovation being at the core of our legacy, Bobcat is driving the industry forward reaching new heights,” said Joel Honeyman, Doosan Bobcat vice president of global innovation. “We believe that embracing technology and innovation is vital to long-term success, and we are thrilled to be recognized on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list.”

Recent updates to its facilities have included a $9.3 million automated press system in its Gwinner, N.D., manufacturing facility; technology in its Statesville, N.C., facility that streamlines component inspection; and a new robotic forming press in its Johnson Creek, Wisc., location that minimizes operators’ manual labor while improving precision.

This year’s Most Innovative Companies program showcases 58 industry categories—with manufacturing, health, climate, energy and AI among its popular categories. 

“Our list of the Most Innovative Companies is both a comprehensive look at the innovation economy and a snapshot of the business trends that defined the year,” said Brendan Vaughan, Fast Company’s editor-in-chief. “We saw extraordinary innovation across the board in 2023, but we also saw a handful of clear patterns: the growing footprint and impact of AI, the triumphant return of live events, and great leaps forward in climate tech. We face daunting challenges on many fronts, but the solutions we celebrate in MIC give me plenty of hope about the future.”

Exmark intros new Signature Stories Videos

Eric Varner of Varner’s Lawn Service in Midway, Ky. (Photo: Exmark)
Eric Varner of Varner’s Lawn Service in Midway, Ky. (Photo: Exmark)

Exmark launched a new episode of its Signature Stories video series, featuring landscape maintenance professionals using Exmark mowers and Z Turf Equipment lawn care equipment.

Signature Stories episodes offer a look inside the day-to-day operations of some of the top lawn care professionals across the country. The new video features Eric Varner of Varner’s Lawn Service in Midway, Ky.

“We go down to the level of soil testing to figure out what kind of things will really improve the turf,” Varner said. “It’s really fun to show our customers that it’s not just throwing out fertilizer and praying; there’s a lot of science behind it.”

The shift to sports turf required a significant investment in equipment, but Varner made the most of it by choosing machines with the versatility to perform more than one job. That’s why today, he chooses Exmark mowers and Z Turf Equipment lawn care machines for his business.

“We try to have equipment to tackle any kind of job we see from day to day,” he said. “One day we may be spraying at one-half gallon per thousand, or 22 gallons per acre, and the next we might be up to 90 gallons per acre, spraying with the same unit.“

Exmark director of marketing, Jamie Briggs, said the Signature Stories video series highlights the skill, persistence and knowledge base lawn care professionals must have to run a profitable, successful business.

“All of us at Exmark and Z Turf Equipment are honored to work with many of the best landscape professionals across the country, so we see how hard they work,” Briggs said. “That’s why we’re committed to building the commercial mowers and lawn care equipment they need to do their jobs faster, with more efficiency. Whether it’s the next evolution of an established product, or an all-new innovation, Exmark is focused on giving our customers a competitive advantage today, tomorrow, and well into the future.”

WinLAWN secures funding

(Photo: WinLAWN)
(Photo: WinLAWN)

WinLAWN, a lawn care service in the North Metro Atlanta area, secured $500,000 in funding. The funding was led by founding investors, including the company CEO and co-founder, along with two additional private investors who had approached the company about investing.

The funding strengthens WinLAWN’s financial foundation and opens opportunities for growth around Metro Atlanta and into other Southeast markets.

“I am thankful to our investors and customers who support our mission to become a leading brand in the lawn fertilization and weed control space. Our investors have deep experience running successful startups, home service businesses and technology related companies,“ said Bill Bramble, co-founder and CEO. “Their insights, advice, and hand-on contributions are already paying off for the company. The investments they made reflect confidence in our scalable recurring revenue business model, great customer ratings, and potential to become a very large company.”

This funding will help eliminate company debt and fuel sales and marketing initiatives. The company said it is also evaluating acquisition opportunities in several markets.

Ruppert opens construction branch in Charlotte

Ruppert Landscape expanded its landscape construction operations to include a permanent location in Charlotte, N.C. This branch joins 10 existing construction locations serving the State College, Pa., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., Manassas, Va., Raleigh, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Atlanta, Ga., Jacksonville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Houston, Texas, markets.

Ruppert has provided full-scope landscape construction services in Charlotte from the Raleigh branch since 2009. Ruppert established a Charlotte satellite operation in 2020 to take on large-scale projects in this market, according to the company. At the time, the full-time staff consisted of 16 employees and four years later, the team has established a permanent presence and has grown to a team of 36.

Ruppert’s Charlotte construction branch provides commercial landscape construction services, including estimating and pre-construction services; installation of landscape, hardscape and special decorative structures; irrigation and water management; and turnkey project management. Ruppert is currently working on several projects in the region, including the Eli Lilly manufacturing facility, Radius Dilworth and Modera LoSo, with upcoming projects including The Pearl, Hanover South End and Ascent South End.

Empower Brands honors top franchisees

Empower Brands, a multi-brand franchisor of premium commercial and residential services, revealed the winners of the company’s Franchisee of the Year awards during its 2024 annual meeting held in Las Vegas.

“This year’s convention theme was ‘upping the ante,’ which was perfectly suited to our Las Vegas setting and the year of achievements from our franchisees, teams and dedicated partners,” said Scott Zide, CEO of Empower Brands. “The enthusiasm and ‘all-in’ mentality was unparalleled as we convened, blending the expertise of both new and seasoned brands and franchisees to exchange insights, discuss brand evolution and most importantly, to honor the phenomenal achievements of our people. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to our award recipients. Their successes this year are a reflection of the power of an empowered mindset, and I’m eager to see their continued growth.”

Empower Brands’ Franchisee of the Year awards highlight the accomplishments of owners who not only excel in sales but have a passion for the business and their customers.

This year’s award winners include:

2023 Archadeck Outdoor Living Franchisee of the Year:
Steve and Jane Habib – Seattle Eastside, Wash.

2023 Conserva Irrigation Franchisee of the Year:
Vanesa Ellis – Northeast Florida

2023 FRSTeam Franchisee of the Year:
Jeff and Shelly Waters – Tulsa, Okla.

2023 JanPro Franchisee of the Year:
Robert Burns – Western Carolinas

2023 Koala Insulation Franchisee of the Year:
Jeramie and Nicole Snelling – West Florida

2023 Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Franchisee of the Year:
Rick and Margie Popio – Richmond and Charlottesville, Va.

2023 Superior Fence and Rail Franchisee of the Year:
Gary and Andrea Locke – Southwest Florida

“This year, our franchisees have not only exceeded expectations but also redefined excellence in our industry,” said Tom Welter, president of Empower Brands. “Their dedication and innovation are the driving forces behind our network’s growth and success. As we celebrate their achievements, we remain committed to supporting their journey toward new heights of success. I’m thrilled to see how we’ll continue to elevate our collective performance in the coming year.”

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