Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Employers Flood the DOL with H-2B Visa Applications
Employers in the U.S. have already filed more visa applications for H-2B foreign guest workers to begin work this spring and summer than are available for the entire fiscal year, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), reports Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). On Jan. 1, the first day seasonal businesses could file for the visas, employers sent the DOL about 4,500 applications covering 81,600 jobs for work that begins between April and October, far exceeding the 33,000 H-2B visas available during that time. The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary, low-skilled nonagricultural jobs, primarily in landscaping, forestry, hospitality and recreation. The cap has been met quickly in previous years, but the number of applications filed on the first day is “absolutely unprecedented,” said Kevin Lashus, a partner in the Austin, Texas office of law firm Fisher Broyles. “The demand will far, far exceed the cap,” he tells SHRM.

Massey Foundation Donates $3 Million to Performing Arts Center
Harvey and Carol Massey recently donated $3 million toward the construction of the second phase of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida. The gift is the couple’s third donation to the arts center and brings their total contribution to $5 million since 2009. To commemorate the gift, the arts center’s staircase will be named the “Harvey and Carol Massey Family Grand Staircase.” The $3 million gift is the single largest gift ever donated by the Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation and helps close a financial gap in what the arts center must raise to complete construction of its Phase 2. Based in Orlando, Florida, Massey Services is the nation’s fifth largest pest prevention company and the largest privately held family-owned company in the industry with about 2,000 employees.

Greenworks Commercial Partners with Carswell Distributing
Greenworks Commercial and Carswell Distributing Company announced an exclusive partnership whereby Carswell and Carswell OEI will provide distribution, logistics, service and sales support for both the Greenworks Commercial 82-Volt line of tools and the newly launched Greenworks Elite 40-Volt line of tools, among independent dealers in 13 states (including Texas and Oklahoma) in the U.S. Southeast.

Study Predicts More Battery Power, Chinese Products
Three of the main takeaways of the Freedonia Group Global Power Lawn & Garden Equipment Study, made available for sale this past December, are:

  1. Demand for outdoor lawn and garden equipment, thanks to the large number of golf courses and sports parks, and also strong demand for lawn care, remains concentrated in North America and Western Europe.
  2. China will account for an increased share of global output lawn and garden products, especially in the low-end product segments where their cost efficiency provides a significant advantage. However, established producers in North America and Western Europe will remain the leaders in supply of riding mowers and other high-end products.
  3. Improving battery technology leading to increased power and longer run times will increase demand for battery-powered equipment. Rising demand for robotic mowers, which typically rely on battery power, will also boost sales.

NHLA Train the Trainer Program Set for Feb. 4-7
The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA) will be offering its Train the Trainer program entirely in Spanish for the first time in February 2018. The program will take place February 4-7 in Waldorf, Maryland, and will be taught by NHLA President Pam Berrios. Participation in the program is limited due to the individualized attention provided. The $1,400 registration fee ($1,200 for NHLA members) includes training materials and supplies, lodging, meals and round-trip ground transportation from and to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Landscape Workshop Acquires Henkel Denmark in Kentucky
Landscape Workshop, based in Birmingham, Alabama, added its ninth branch location in the U.S. Southeast with its recent acquisition of Henkel Denmark in Lexington, Kentucky. Founders Bill Henkel and Gordon Denmark will both stay on with their central Kentucky company that will be rebranded as Landscape Workshop. Denmark will be general manager of Lexington Maintenance and Henkel general manager of Lexington Construction.

SiteOne Launches Pro-Trade
SiteOne Landscape Supply has announced the launch and exclusive distribution of Pro-Trade Lighting products, a line of professional-grade LED lamps and lighting solutions for landscape contractors. The line features durable brass fixtures with a lifetime warranty and aluminum fixtures backed by a five-year warranty. Fixtures are available with or without lamps installed and aluminum fixtures are available in two color options – bronze and black.

Harvest Group Announces Monthly Webinars For 2018
Industry surveys indicate the landscape industry had a decent year in 2017, with many regions of the country experiencing double-digit growth. The Harvest Group has announced its 2018 webinar series schedule. Hosted by The Harvest Group – Bill Arman; Ed Laflamme, CLP; Steve Cesare, Ph.D.; Fred Haskett, LICM: Alison Hoffman and Cindy Code – the webinars feature proven, easy-to-apply management and growth strategies learned from years managing and growing landscape businesses. All webinars run from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EST.

  • January 29: How to Pay Your People: Compensation programs that motivate and foster loyalty. Presenters: Steve Cesare and Fred Haskett
  • February 19: Owners’ Survival Guide: A checklist of “elephant in the room subjects” that need to be addressed to help owners balance their personal and business lives. Presenters: Fred Haskett and Ed Laflamme
  • March 19: The Secret to Successful Selling: Proven sales techniques to close more sales, and make more money. Presenters: Ed Laflamme and Kelly Haskett
  • April 23: Job Sequencing for Greater Profits: Simple processes to become more efficient and profitable. Presenters: Fred Haskett and Bill Arman
  • June 18: Quality Counts! Learn how the Harvest Q.C. Program produces higher quality, greater profits and loyal clients. Presenters: Bill Arman and Ed Laflamme
  • July 23: Top 7 Best Practices: What all Companies Should Know. Identify practices that lead to greater profits and a more valuable company. Presenters: Fred Haskett and Bill Arman
  • August 20: The Ultimate Account Manager. Learn what account managers need to do to keep your clients happy and make more money! Presenters: Fred Haskett, Ed Laflamme and Bill Arman
  • September 17: Preparing Your Company for Sale. Learn what it takes to make your company more valuable and more saleable. Presenters: Alison Hoffman and Ed Laflamme
  • October 29: Building Loyalty Programs for Team Members. Ideas and programs to motivate and retain key employees. Presenters: Ed Laflamme and Bill Arman

EquipmentWatch Announces Finalists for 2018 Highest Retained Value Awards
EquipmentWatch has announced the finalists for the third-annual Highest Retained Value Awards. The awards recognize manufacturers in 30 equipment categories — spanning the construction, agricultural and lift/access manufacturing sectors — for products that show the highest retained value over the last five years.  New categories for 2018 include corn headers in the agricultural sector and tandem compactors in the construction sector. Winners will be announced in conjunction with World of Concrete 2018, held in Las Vegas January 23-26, 2018.

People In The News:

The Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association (VNLA) recently welcomed Shellie Archer of Richmond, Virginia, as the association’s new executive director. Archer began her career at Philip Morris USA and its parent company, Altria Group. Following those experiences, she ran her own consulting firm. Archer’s appointment is part of a strategic leadership succession plan put in place following previous Executive Director Jeff Miller’s retirement announcement following 30 years of service to the Association. Miller will remain with VNLA in an advisory role through June 2018 to assist with the shift in leadership and ensure a seamless transition. To further represent and support our members, the VNLA’s office is now centrally located in Richmond, Virginia.

Profile Products, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, appointed Jim Tanner as president and chief executive officer. Tanner took over for outgoing CEO John A. Schoch Jr., who is transitioning to executive chairman and will remain active in manufacturing operations. Tanner has more than 20 years experience with the company, holding executive sales and marketing positions. Most recently he served as president and chief operating officer.

Ruppert Landscape, Laytonsville, Maryland, promoted Rob Groves to the position of branch manager in our northern Richmond landscape management branch. Groves has over 15 years of green industry experience and holds a degree in ornamental horticulture from Pennsylvania College of Technology. He has been with the company for more than 10 years.

Ron Coleman, owner of Greenscapes in Ohio won a trip for two to the Washington, D.C., MLB All Star game next July, announced the website EchoMeansBusiness.com. EMB is a web portal, for professionals by professionals, sponsored by ECHO Inc. ECHOMeansBusiness.com is a resource for all grounds professionals to build the community and network to grow individual greenscape businesses. EMB was launched in April of 2017 with the help of the User Advisory Group (UAG).

Environmental Science, a business unit of Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced that Jose Milan has been appointed Turf & Ornamentals Global Market Manager. In this role, Milan will have a global focus on delivering exceptional Bayer brand experience for customers in the golf course management, lawn & landscape and production ornamentals markets around the world.