People on the Move: Promotions and new hires at Scythe Robotics, Ruppert Landscape and Hunter Industries

The latest green industry hirings and promotions from Scythe Robotics, Ruppert Landscape, Hunter Industries and more.

Gene Smith retires from Hunter, Denise Mullikin replaces him

Gene Smith (Photo: Hunter Industries)
Gene Smith (Photo: Hunter Industries)

Gene Smith, president of Hunter Industries’ residential, commercial and golf irrigation and lighting (RCGL) division retired, effective March 31.

Smith joined Hunter Industries in January 2000, as a senior mechanical engineer, designing the company’s ProSpray line. In 2002, he transitioned into marketing in role of product manager for the spray and nozzle categories. He spent eight years in leadership positions on Hunter’s irrigation equipment project management and new product development teams. In 2010, he was promoted to director of marketing, overseeing Hunter’s marketing and logistics initiatives. Smith became Hunter’s first RCGL president in 2017 following a corporate restructuring.

Denise Mullikin (Photo: Hunter Industries)
Denise Mullikin (Photo: Hunter Industries)

Denise Mullikin, a 25-year Hunter veteran will serve as the next president of the RCGL division. Mullikin previously served as vice president, global sales. In that role, she led domestic and international sales teams in multiple countries around the world, along with Hunter’s Global sales operations, global sales support and domestic customer service teams.

Mullikin held key sales positions in large account and territory management in the U.S. and Latin America. As a proud ambassador of the Hunter culture, she believes in creating exceptional customer experiences, achieving positive business outcomes through strategic collaboration and partnerships, and delivering on Hunter’s commitment to quality, innovation and sustainability.


Michael Mayberry joins Scythe Robotics

Michael Mayberry joins Scythe Robotics as customer success lead. The company also added Emil Motycka as a senior product manager.

Michael Mayberry
Michael Mayberry (Photo: Scythe Robotics)

“Michael and Emil bring extensive, meaningful industry experience to their roles that will be critical as M.52 is embedded in more and more landscape contractors’ operations,” said Jack Morrison, Scythe co-founder and CEO. “Their impressive expertise in landscaping technology adds a rare depth to our team that further propels us toward our mission of transforming how we care for our green spaces.”

Mayberry brings wide-ranging green industry experience to his role directing Scythe’s existing customer relationships to drive satisfaction and ensure successful robot deployment. Blending a passion for the outdoors with a deep interest in technology, Scythe said he brings skills in digital systems development, field operations management and strategic planning. Mayberry is a regular conference speaker and panelist who shares how technology can create new ways for the green industry to conduct business.

Emil Motycka (Photo: Scythe Robotics)
Emil Motycka (Photo: Scythe Robotics)

Mayberry recently served as the chief technology officer with Level Green Landscape in Upper Marlboro, Md., where he directed the company’s strategic efforts and found ways for technology to support business goals while enhancing the company’s products and services.

“I’m excited to continue educating the landscape industry about the benefits of technology and robotics,” said Mayberry. “I know the potential M.52 holds to increase efficiency, stabilize labor problems and grow revenues. I am eager to help our partners realize those benefits by making the most of the robots they deploy on their properties and training their teams to work in unison with the technology of the future.”

With more than two decades of experience in the green industry, Scythe said Motycka is a seasoned product management leader with a proven record of developing innovative products that exceed customer expectations and drive business growth. He served in roles at Rachio, Sunday and TruGreen, where he served as director of digital technologies.

Mecalac hires after sales manager and controller

Mecalac North America hired Amer Ascic as after sales manager and Diana Lacaire as a controller. Mecalac said Ascic and Lacaire will help streamline processes both internally and externally.

“As a company, our goal has always been to inspire a whole new way of working for our customers. That is reflected in the design of our equipment and our approach to service and support,” said Peter Bigwood, general manager of Mecalac North America. “Effectively carrying out that vision begins with the Mecalac team. Diana and Amer fit right into this culture. Their experience and enthusiasm for Mecalac, our customers and partners ensure that vision is carried out in every facet of our business.”

Ascic spent more than 20 years working at Caterpillar dealers across the U.S. and Europe in a wide range of positions. He also worked as a service manager for a Mecalac dealer in the northeast United States.

Ascic’s primary responsibility is providing after-sales support to Mecalac dealers, such as assessing their needs for training, support and other resources to ensure customers receive well-rounded service before, during and after a sale. Ascic will be responsible for a smooth onboarding process of new Mecalac North American dealers on the technical side of the business.

Ascic earned his bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering and a master’s of science in industrial engineering from the University of Sarajevo.

Lacaire brings more than 30 years of accounting experience to her new role as controller. She earned a bachelor’s of applied science degree in accountancy from Bentley University and holds a certificate in accounting and computer science from Salter College.

Ruppert Landscape promotes two and appoints south branch manager

Ruppert Landscaperanked No. 11 on the 2022 LM150 list promoted Fred Key to the position of chief operating officer in the company’s landscape management division. This position has been newly created to help support the division’s current scale and future growth.

Fred Key (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)
Fred Key (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

“Fred’s tenacious leadership style has helped drive the division’s success over the years and will undoubtedly continue to do so from this new position of expanded influence,” said Tom Barry, president of the company’s landscape management division.

Key has more than 30 years of industry experience and has been with Ruppert for 21 years serving in a variety of positions including crewman, foreman, area manager, controller, landscape construction production manager, division administrator, branch manager, region manager and region vice president. Key holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Salisbury State University and is a Certified Landscape Professional. In 2009, he received one of the company’s top honors, the Clyde Vadner Merit Award, which is presented to the individual who has demonstrated consistent hard work and dedication leading to exceptional contributions to the organization. In 2019, Fred graduated from Harvard Business School’s owner/president management (OPM) program.

Ruppert said in his new role, Fred will continue to oversee Northern Virginia, North Carolina and Atlanta regions and will now also oversee the Central Virginia region, working closely with the regional managers to influence operations. In addition, he will now work with the company’s business development team to help support division-wide sales efforts.

Dave Sharray (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)
Dave Sharray (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Ruppert also promoted Dave Sharry to the position of regional manager in the company’s landscape management division. He will oversee landscape management operations in the company’s Central Virginia region, which includes the Fredericksburg and Richmond North, South and East locations.

Rob Groves (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)
Rob Groves (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Sharry has been with the company for more than 11 years, has over 30 years of landscape industry experience and is a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve veteran. In his first year at Ruppert, he was recognized with the company’s Branch Impact Award for his outstanding dedication and contributions to the organization. In 2018, Ruppert split the Richmond branch split into north and south locations and Sherry served as the south branch manager.

Ruppert appointed Rob Groves as branch manager in Richmond South. Groves has been with

the company for more than 15 years and holds a degree in ornamental horticulture from the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He began his career at Ruppert as an enhancement field manager in the Gainesville branch, worked his way up to area manager, associate branch manager and became branch manager in Richmond North in 2018.

Proven Winners announces newest Certified Landscape Professional

Mark Baldwin is the newest Proven Winners Certified Landscape Professional. Proven Winners said its Certified Landscape Professionals meet a specific set of criteria set by the brand and demonstrate their ability to use Proven Winners plants, fertilizers, soils and the company’s WaterWise system.

Baldwin started in the green industry in 1978, and graduated from St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with a diploma in landscape technology in 1981. He started what became Baldwin Landscape group in 1987, which expanded to a full-service company. He sold the business in 2014. He joined Oakland County Facilities Management as chief of landscape services in 2016.

Baldwin is an ISA Certified Arborist and is TRAQ certified and Michigan Oak Wilt Qualified. He is also a PGMS Certified Grounds Manager and ASCA-C Certified and has passed the 30-hour OSHA course.

Chad Sutton joins LandCare

Chad Sutton
Chad Sutton

Irrigation expert Chad Sutton joins LandCare — No. 12 on the 2022 LM150 list — as its Sacramento Branch Manager. Sutton previously served as a water resource manager for Gachina Landscape Management.

“My new role as Sacramento Branch Manager will allow me to pursue two of my favorite things; helping people grow into leadership and caring for clients,” Sutton said in a post on LinkedIn. “I’ll also bring my years of focus on water management and irrigation management to the greater Sacramento, Calif., market and all of Northern California, with the goal of someday sharing my specialized talents and experience with all of the LandCare team.”

Envu adds Tra Huddleston as head of marketing

Industry veteran Tra Huddleston joins Envu as its head of marketing. Huddleston previously served as Envu’s product manager for turf and ornamentals, Bayer’s product manager for turf and ornamentals and worked for Nufarm for more than 15 years as a product manager and as customer service manager for North America. He graduated from Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

Got news? Let us know!

Have news about your company’s recent hirings or promotions? Send it to Associate Editor Rob DiFranco at rdifranco@northcoastmedia.net, and we’ll feature it in an upcoming People on the Move.

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