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Keep your spreader-sprayers sparkling

June 15, 2022 -  By
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SiteOne Vice President of Category Management, Brian Rowan, says the most important thing to do after buying a new piece of equipment is to learn exactly how to use it. (Photo: SiteOne Landscape Supply)

SiteOne Vice President of Category Management, Brian Rowan, says the most important thing to do after buying a new piece of equipment is to learn exactly how to use it. (Photo: SiteOne Landscape Supply)

In the turf care field, getting maximum output from equipment like a spreader-sprayer is a necessity. Jim Rogers, owner and operator of Wood Dale, Ill.-based Turf 10 Professional Lawn Care, credits PermaGreen spreader-sprayers as a huge part of what lets him thrive as a solo act.

“I have about 1,800 hours on one machine and about 500 on the other,” he says of his spreader-sprayers. “They’re 2017 and 2018 models. I run the one with the high hours all the time because it works flawlessly, and once a month, I pull out the backup machine to make sure it’s all working properly. With a one-person operation, you can’t afford downtime.”

Rogers serves a mostly residential base of 463 customers, providing services including weed control, fungicide, insecticide, fertilizing and consulting.

“Don’t abuse the machine and maintain it properly if you want the best use out of it,” he says. “It’s like anything that’s mechanical; if you abuse it and don’t clean it, it’s not going to last long.”

One of the first things Rogers does when he arrives home is pull his PermaGreen spreader-sprayer off the truck and wash it.

“I know a lot of guys go out and apply fertilizer for five or six weeks, then they wash it,” he says. “That’s a recipe for disaster for anything that’s spreading fertilizer.”

Brian Rowan, vice president of category management at SiteOne Landscape Supply, says proper training and calibration are other keys to peak spreader-sprayer output.

“We worry a lot about the cost of a bag or the cost of a jug of product, but then we don’t pay any attention to how much product we are actually putting down,” he says. “The most important thing to do if you buy a new piece of equipment is to make sure the branch manager trains you on how to calibrate and how to use it properly. That could potentially be your biggest cost savings.”

Make the equipment something employees want to use

Even when users check all boxes for spreader-sprayers in terms of maintenance and training, businesses must make the equipment as user-friendly as possible, says Chris Brown, CEO of Teed & Brown of Norwalk, Conn.

A user of Turfco equipment, Brown says users shouldn’t overlook the “human element.”

“Someone might be perfectly happy to put a great effort forth across an eight- to 10-hour day,” he says.

“However, if you can give them the ability to get 15 lawns done in a day versus eight or nine, they’re not as exhausted at the end because you gave them a machine that’s easier to use and can do more work.”

Teed & Brown provides fertilizing, pesticide, weed control, seeding and irrigation services to a mostly residential client base.

“If you think about how much production an employee can generate with a machine like this, versus a traditional push-behind spreader, I venture to guess that each machine is the equivalent of hiring another employee,” Brown says. “That’s probably the cheapest salary you’re ever going to pay.”

Turfco President George Kinkead adds that certain attachments can further enhance spreader-sprayer output.

“We have a three-in-one tank you can put on top of the applicator, where it lets you have separate chemicals to spray,” he says. “Or, you can use it for additional capacity. That lets a guy who sprays a lot during the day go from 18 gallons to 33 gallons. We need to think of our employees as assets and that the company will be better if they’re feeling good.”

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