Turf Magazine - June, 2014


Contractors' Corner: Service Above All Else

By Rick Cuddihe

We are a service industry. Landscape contractors provide a variety of grounds improvement and maintenance services for residential, commercial, governmental and industrial clients. Many contractors also donate a substantial amount of labor and materials to community service projects. It's truly amazing the amount of community service our industry participates in.

Contactors donate their services because it is good to give back to the communities that provide us the opportunity to do profitable and environmentally responsible work.

And we're not always talking small projects either, although those are just as appreciated in our communities. There are some large-scale service projects that really exemplify that point and deserve special recognition.

Each year the Professional Land Care Network (PLANET) organizes a major ground improvement project at Arlington National Cemetery. It is called Renewal & Remembrance. This year it's scheduled for Monday, July 28.

About 450 contractors, their family members and their employees will aerate, spread lime and gypsum, repair irrigation and do tree work at the most hallowed resting place for our fallen servicemen and women.

Bruce Allentuck, founder and president of Allentuck Landscape Contractors and the chairman of Renewal & Remembrance, says, "One of the things I am most proud of as a member of the green industry is our industry's great tradition of giving back. The shining example of this generosity has to be the Professional Land Care Network's Renewal and Remembrance at Arlington Cemetery in which 450 of our peers, companies large and small, come to Washington, D.C., each year to care for one of the country's most-important landmarks.

"Every year I feel humbled and honored to not only play a part in thanking our fallen Veterans by caring for their resting place, but also to witness and work alongside some of the most giving people I have ever met. It is truly a sight to behold," says Allentuck.

14 years for service

Tony Sposato, president of Sposato Landscape, Milton, Delaware, began helping with grounds improvement at Arlington National Cemetery in 2000. This year will mark the 14th year that Sposato Landscape will participate in Renewal and Remembrance.

"Arlington has become a special tradition to Sposato Landscape that we look forward to each year. It's a great event and we are always more than happy to participate each year," he says.

For the past 13 years employees from Sposato Landscape Milton, Delaware, have helped beautify Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo courtesy Nobile Photo.

Renewal and Remembrance is the industry's most visible and well-known community service project, but there are many, many others - some modest, some very large, but all appreciated.

Every April, contractors all across the country donate a day of service to work on special needs landscape sites in their communities. Most of the sites the contractors work on could not afford to have the work done without the generous support donated by these professionals. The PLANET Day of Service has grown over the years and this year hundreds of contractors participated. Meagan Cuddihe of Lafayette Property Maintenance, says, "It is truly rewarding to help improve the properties of nonprofit organizations, we look forward to donating our services each year."

Giving back

In October each year, the day before the start of the Green Industry Conference and EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky, a large group of contractors, again under the PLANET umbrella, participate in charitable landscape improvement projects at a local nonprofit locations.

"I know the right thing to do is give back, give back to the community and its people," says Alex Fransen of Steele Blades Lawn & Landscape, Louisville. "Steele Blades and I work very hard for our customers. This is why we love PLANET Gives Back."

Adds Fransen, who is the chairman of PLANET Gives Back, "Each year no matter how much stress and overwhelming work load we have, we get to work close with our fellow colleagues and the community. For me there is no better feeling than giving."

This year PLANET Gives Back will be working at Youth Build USA, a nonprofit agency that works with young people helping them with personal growth, career development and academic advancement.

It always feels good knowing you've helped improve the properties of nonprofit organizations in your community. There's another reward that donating your services provides and that's the recognition and business development potential that comes from donating to these wonderful organizations. If you haven't been involved in a community service project, give it a try and see for yourself.

Rick Cuddihe is president of Lafayette Consulting Co., a PLANET Trailblazer, and he works with landscape contractors to improve their businesses. Contact him at rick@lafayetteconsulting.com.