As an irrigation professional for over 30 years, Kurt Thompson didn’t start out looking to work in water management. In fact, he says “virtually nobody intended to be in the irrigation industry.” Unlike landscape professionals who have taken classes in horticulture or other related fields, he says, the majority of irrigation professionals that he’s worked with end up in their field by happenstance.

Thompson went to Washington State University to study business — not irrigation — and now serves as the Technical and Training Director of Irrigation at Massey Services, Inc. headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

Kurt Thompson

Kurt Thompson

1. Get technical with the “Landscape Irrigation Auditor Manual”

Sometimes just getting the job done overrides the purpose of the job.

Thompson says the most impactful book for an irrigation professional is the “Landscape Irrigation Auditor Manual“.

“The biggest gap in knowledge for your typical irrigation pro is that he doesn’t understand why he’s putting pipe and sprinklers in the ground,” Thompson says. “He just knows how to efficiently do that so the system works.”

The book is written and published by the Irrigation Association and includes a class that Thompson has been teaching since the program began in the early ’90s. He says irrigation professionals can learn from the manual as a reference guide without necessarily taking the course.

“This is the single most impactful book until you start to specialize,” claims Thompson.

2. Learn the importance of soil moisture with “Teaming with Microbes”

According to Thompson, irrigation professionals need to not only be skilled at managing water, but also at managing soil moisture.

“I’d been in industry for 28 years, and then I started learning about soils,” Thompson says.

The book “Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web” by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis gives perspective of all the microbiology that is happening in the soil that creates both healthy soil and happy plants, Thompson says.

3. Perfect P&L statements with “Pathway to Profit for Irrigation Contractors”

Need a primer on profit and loss statements?

Specifically written for irrigation contractors, “Pathway to Profit for Irrigation Contractors” by Mike Mason and Brodie Bruner, teaches the reader how to look at items in a P&L statement in terms of financial ratios. These financial ratios will help small business owners have better conversations with their accountants.

Not only does the book explain the financial ratios but also what range the ratios should be in so that the irrigation contractor can know what trends and ratios to watch month to month.

“I regularly share the book and ratios with people,” he says. “It’s not that you have to watch your business every single day, you just want to see which way it’s going financially and adjust accordingly.”

Thompson says contractors can find the book at a Weathermatic distributor.

A great place to look for resources and other reference books are associations, Thompson says.

“For anyone who is looking for technical references, the Irrigation Association bookstore has essential manuals that have everything you would want to know and more,” he says. “On the landscape side, the National Association of Landscape Professionals has a great certification program and reference books that have really solid information.”

“When you find a good book that makes it easier to understand something, that’s when you have to share it,” Thompson says.

Do you have a favorite book that’s helped with your business? Share in the comments below.