Sitting atop a sprawling 504-acre campus, the Chrysler World Headquarters and Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan, houses all facets of automotive production, from design, vehicle development and engineering to corporate leadership, for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
With 5.4 million square feet of office space amid 150 acres of lawn, over 200,000 square feet of landscape beds, and even wetland areas and nature trails, maintaining and improving the grounds at this automotive giant’s headquarters could be a daunting task, even for the most seasoned green-industry professional.
But for BrightView, whose Pontiac, Michigan, branch is responsible for the maintenance, it’s a challenge they’ve embraced.
This year, BrightView was given the Grand Award for Turf Maintenance by the National Association of Landscape Professionals for its work at the FCA US headquarters.
“You can only win a Grand Award for maintenance every 10 years,” said Jon King, BrightView account manager for the FCA US site. “After winning the Grand Award for Commercial Maintenance at the FCA US facility in 2015, we wanted to continue to showcase our work at this property. This year we entered for turf maintenance and won again.”
“We work closely with FCA US management,” King said. “They have very high expectations, as well as a desire for very competitive pricing, and that’s essentially what keeps us here.”
To meet those high expectations, BrightView dedicates a trained crew of 20 people to the campus – working almost year-round – to maintain the grounds.
“Our team is responsible for all the regular weekly maintenance,” King said. “We have people looking at the site every day.”
In addition to the site maintenance team, BrightView has a detail team that reviews the site daily.
The detail team is not only responsible for weeding, pruning and fine tuning the property, but they also work hand-in-hand with the BrightView plant health care specialist to monitor and treat any signs of disease and pest issues.
Beyond maintenance, the team works to design and install new additions to the property, such as new perennial beds that incorporate river cobbles. Another project involved extending the river cobble borders between interior roadways and turf to protect the grass from salt damage during winter snow removal efforts.
“We have several native Michigan gardens that attract wildlife, butterflies, bees and bats,” King said. “We’re always being asked for new ideas and to expand the landscape beds, so this year, we’ve put in bee pollinators. Over the last several years, we have added bat houses, too.”
Asked why he thinks BrightView was honored with this year’s Grand Award for Turf Maintenance, King believes it’s because of all the planning, attention to detail and hard work that goes into cultivating and maintaining a first-rate turf.
“There are so many things that need to be dealt with daily,” he said. “There could be too much water or too little water, pest issues, fungus or many other issues. With a campus this size, you have to constantly monitor it and adjust your approach. We always address those issues, and it’s pretty much immediate when we do treatments.”
But BrightView’s biggest challenge, he said, is the same inescapable challenge that other companies face: the unpredictability of Mother Nature.
“You can schedule your days and plan accordingly, but then it rains or the temperatures rise or decrease more than expected,” King explained. “You always have to adjust to make things work.”
King said he’s immensely proud of how the BrightView crew works together to keep everything moving forward.
“Whether it’s the team member that is whipping, blowing, mowing, doing hardscape work, or diagnosing plant and turf issues, it would be impossible without all of our people involved,” he concluded. “I’d love to take the credit, but it’s theirs. I’m just here to help.”