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Sights and soundbites from SiteOne University Cleveland

February 19, 2020 -  By

SiteOne Landscape Supply’s SiteOne University program is growing — the 2020 slate is the biggest so far, with 34 events in the east and 14 events in the west.

Photo: LM Staff

Photo: LM Staff

At SiteOne University Cleveland, held on Feb. 12, in Westlake, Ohio, 200 Ohio landscape professionals attended the daylong event and joined a variety of presentations from Hunter Industries, Corteva Agriscience, Kichler Lighting, Belgard, Arborjet, Koch Industries, Nufarm, Rain Bird, Ohio Stone, FX Luminaire, Zurn, Summerset, Alliance, NDS and of course, SiteOne.

Lawn care, design/build and irrigation were all covered, including topics such enhancing hardscape installations with landscape lighting, safety and pesticide management, upselling high-efficiency irrigation and market trends in outdoor appliances.

While the sessions featured some specific information about products, there were plenty of helpful hints for contractors looking for sales tips or lawn care operators overwhelmed by weeds.

Tommy Johnson, Ohio Valley Great Lakes sales manager for Hunter and FX Luminaire, reviewed best practices for installing pathway lighting and proper placement of lighting in water features and in pavers. He also explained that the approach to selling these key features shouldn’t be an afterthought.

“The passion you put into selling your landscape should be the same as selling your lighting,” he advised.

Jamie Heydinger, key accounts manager for Nufarm, presented pre- and postemergent weed control solutions to a packed room of lawn care operators and technicians. At the end of the presentation, a handful of professionals had the opportunity to crowdsource products and techniques for combatting the toughest weeds in their markets.

It’s not just the education that draws attendees to this event. Mike Mastrodonato, co-owner of Lasko & Ohio Irrigation-Landscape in Mentor, Ohio, finds value in the networking as well. “I love meeting competitors; I love picking their brains,” he said. “I believe in events like this and manufacturer trips and learning experiences where we’re getting our continuing education units.”

2020 visions: perspectives from landscape company owners at SiteOne University

While at the event, Landscape Management asked a few attendees about some of their business challenges and the goals they’re working toward for 2020.

Mastrodonato’s company, Lasko & Ohio Irrigation-Landscape, is an irrigation and landscape installation and service company that pulled in just over $2 million in 2019.

Like many fellow users of the H-2B visa program, Mastrodonato is anxious about the status of the program and how it will affect his labor force – his biggest struggle. On the positive side, he’s looking to grow his smart irrigation program for 2020 and make that a thriving profit center.

The Yard Works Landscaping in Avon Lake, Ohio, is $2.5 million company with 43 employees, primarily focused on landscape installation and maintenance. For Chad Haney, president and sales rep, recruiting and training an employee force that is varied in age from 20 to 58, is a challenge.

As far as goals, Haney said, “We’re the type of company that likes to stay steady … we try to keep our customer service No. 1 and No. 2, keep the quality that goes along with our customer service. Those are our goals.

“We’re not a company that tries to grow by leaps and bounds every year — we try to retain the business that we have and keep that successful. And if we grow by a little bit every year, we grow by a little bit every year,” he explained.

Jeff Rak is the president of Land Creations Landscaping in Columbia Station, Ohio, a landscape construction company with $1.1 million in revenue.

Training is also a challenge for Land Creations, and Rak relies on training offered by companies such as SiteOne and Unilock for his installation crews.

“As a business owner, I’m always open to new ideas,” he said. “We come to shows, and we get great product ideas, but it’s also nice to see what’s going on in the business and what’s going on in the industry. Learning how to run the business, manage the business better, treat your employees better.”

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Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the former senior editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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