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Seth’s Cut: 2020 hindsight

December 18, 2020 -  By
In a treasured photo with his dad, Jones sports a bold fashion choice. (Photo provided by LM Staff)

In a treasured photo with his dad, Jones sports a bold fashion choice. (Photo provided by LM Staff)

There’s a photo my mom really loved of me and my dad that she blew up to supersize and hung in our house. Now, it resides in my house. In the photo, my dad and I are in the mountains in Washington. I’m crouched on a boulder, Dad is sitting next to me and mountains and evergreens as far as the eye can see surround us. I’m probably 16 in the photo.

Every time I look at the picture, I ask myself the same thing: Why on earth was I wearing a neon pink jacket in what would have otherwise been a really great photo?

You know the saying. Hindsight is 20/20.

I wonder what our 2020 hindsight will be?

We wrap up the year this month with our annual Industry Pulse Report, sponsored by our friends at Cub Cadet. We surveyed our readers and asked the usual questions: What was your net profit for 2020? What are your expectations for next year? What percentage of your clients did you retain this year?

And, we also asked the unusual questions 2020 wrote for us: Was your company shut down because of the pandemic? (70 percent said no); Has implementing COVID-19 safety protocols been a significant cost to your company? (Fifty-seven percent said it was insignificant.)

For the Industry Pulse Report, we always rely on our readers to give us insights on the year that was and what they expect of the year to come. You, the reader, are the boots-on-the-ground person seeing the day to day of the industry. In other words, you’re the ones saving me from putting on another neon pink jacket like I did in 1993. And for this issue, you’re the ones who told us, “You know what … despite all the bad news, this has still been a really amazing year, and next year has the potential to surpass it.”

Here’s a smattering of responses we received from our survey, using an online random number generator for fairness. The question was, “What is your economic outlook for 2021 and what is driving this response?”

“I’m cautiously optimistic — hopefully COVID-related challenges will ease by July.”

“My optimism is high. Landscapers were deemed essential in Georgia, and all my customers have been staying home for work. They are all fixing up their landscapes.”

“Very optimistic. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I’m 69 years old and have been through the highs and the lows. Do the best you can and live by the Bible’s principles.”

“Uncertain. We work mainly for developers and builders, and they are still building many homes here in Florida. We are in a housing shortage down here.”

While I have the random number generator at work here, let me take this space to announce the winners of our drawing for those who participated in our survey. They are Kyle Blessing at Blessing Property Maintenance; Chris Speen at Twin Oaks Landscaping; and Steve Curran at U.S. Lawns of Fort Collins … you all get a $100 gift card as a thank you for taking the survey. And to Pat Vitt of Veteran Landscaping, I’m buying lunch for you and your crew as a thank you for your insights.

If anyone would like to see all of the responses to the above question (some are pretty hilarious, and as you can imagine, more than a few are political), I’m just an email away. We’ll use some of the questions and answers that didn’t make this issue, like “Has the lower cost of fuel impacted your business?” and “Is there any equipment that has helped your company become more efficient?” in future issues of the magazine.

What has been a tumultuous year has come to a close. There’s no telling what 2021 will bring, but my 2020 hindsight today tells me that we’ll remember 2020 as the year the world invested in outside. Hopefully 2021 brings even more of those investments. Only time will tell.

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 19 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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