Seth’s Cut: Show me a hero

March 12, 2021 -  By
The GrassRoots Turf family came together to support their own. (Photo: GrassRoots Turf)

The GrassRoots Turf family came together to support their own. (Photo: GrassRoots Turf)

Recently, I was the guest on the Green Industry Perspectives podcast, hosted by our friends at SingleOps. There’s no telling how the podcast went — I’m more acclimated to being the one asking the questions. But, I did have fun speaking about our magazine, my expectations for 2021 and some of our big annual projects like the LM150 and our LM Industry Pulse.

One of the questions host Ty Deemer asked me was what kind of stories resonate most with our readers.

I have my philosophies on that, and I do look at our website metrics to see which stories get the most clicks, but the most basic answer I could give at that moment was “hero stories.”

We tell hero stories in the magazine all the time. A hero story doesn’t have to be about life and death. Anyone who overcomes adversity and helps another, to me, that’s a hero. Just check out our cover story, “7 ways to grow your hardscape business” by Editor Christina Herrick. There are plenty of heroes in that story. Everyone she spoke to was willing to help others and share their wisdom with us and our readers.

Sure, there are different levels of hero stories, but they’re all stories worthy of being told.

One such story comes out of Acworth, Ga., on the north side of Atlanta. GrassRoots Turf, founded in 2002 by Josh Wise, saw some tragedy befall their team last year around the holidays. First, a technician was in a bad car accident. Then, another employee was injured in a fall. Lastly, there is a married couple who both work for the company. Their son was in a terrible accident and severely burned.

Wise said he was beside himself by this point and began to pray for help for his employees. His heart was uplifted just a few weeks later.

“The whole company, everybody came together for a dinner — we couldn’t do our normal party because of COVID,” Wise recalls. “We were getting hit hard. We talked about how can we as a company come together and help these families in their time of need? (At the dinner), it was uplifting and touching to me to see every single employee put cash in a pot or donate some of their PTO time so these employees didn’t have to go without pay.”

Wise says he tries hard to take care of his employees. His philosophy is, if the company is taking care of the employee, the employee is taking care of the customer. In this case, the employees were taking care of each other.

“It made me feel awesome — that’s the family atmosphere that I want between all our employees,” Wise told me. “It’s not just a job where everyone punches in and out on a clock, and then everyone goes home. We all care about each other. It gave me that warm fuzzy feeling.”

Here’s another one that happened last month during Winter Storm Uri. Many areas were hit, but the blackouts in Texas were especially dangerous. Aaron Carter, vice president of customer service for Emerald Lawns, was without power for almost a full week. His family of six camped out in the living room, using the fireplace to stay warm.

When one of Carter’s neighbors ran out of firewood, he shared some of his own supply, even though he was also low. He put out the call to a few friends.

“It was like firewood came down like manna from Heaven,” he recalls. “We had friends crawling out of the woodwork dropping off firewood.”

So much firewood came in that he told his friends to pile it on the corner of the driveway so other families in need could grab some. By his estimate, his friends supplied enough firewood to keep six families warm while the power was out.

Whether it’s sharing business insights or firewood, I consider these hero stories. It’s our pleasure to tell them.

This article is tagged with and posted in Editor's Note, From the Magazine, March 2021
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 23 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

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