Toro Adds Financial Service Partners, Kicks Off Smooth Operator Tour

The Toro Co. has reached agreements with three additional financial service firms to support equipment and irrigation system sales through the company’s distribution channel. The new partners are VGM Financial Services, a division of TCF Equipment Finance, Inc.; U.S. Bancorp Business Finance Group, Inc.; and National City Commercial Capital Co., LLC, part of PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. With the assistance of local Toro distributors, the financing partners will provide customers with competitive rates and multiple sources through which they can acquire funding and develop a customized financing structure.

Toro has launched its Smooth Operator Tour, a nationwide event offering landscape contractors an opportunity to see and try the new GrandStand stand-on mower and the Z Master G3 series. Every stop on the tour, which continues through May, will be held at a locally owned Toro commercial dealership. For more information, call 800-348-2424, e-mail LCEproducts@toro.com or visit www.toro.com/smooth.

H-2B Legislation Introduced

Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., along with 18 other senators, introduced “Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2009” (S. 388) to extend the H-2B returning worker exemption for three years. Co-sponsors of the bill are Sens. John Barrasso, Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, Mike Enzi, Patrick Leahy, Jack Reed, Bob Bennett, Benjamin Cardin, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, Carl Levin, Olympia Snowe, Christopher Bond, Tom Carper, Mike Crapo, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Sheldon Whitehouse. Legislators can be reached through the congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121, and through the Professional Landcare Network’s Web site, www.landcarenetwork.org.

From left, Ian Camp, Frank Eckert and Paul Stephens.

C.S. Trading Presents Sales Award

C.S. Trading LLC, based in Liberty, S.C., announced that Eckert Golf Sales, Winter Park, Fla., is the recipient of the C.S. Trading/Sisis North America award for the best overall sales in 2008. C.S. Trading is the sole U.S. distributor for Sisis turf equipment.

Hansens Launch HBK Landscapes

Bernie and Kristen Hansen, owners of HBHansen Construction, Lynden, Wash., have launched a new landscape installation company, HBK Landscapes. The new company will provide residential and commercial clients with a wide range of landscape services, including planting, patios and pavers, irrigation, retaining wall systems, grass seed and sod work, garden structure construction, erosion control, water features and more. It will serve clients in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Growth Products has launched a new Web site.

Growth Products Announces New Web Site

Growth Products, Ltd. launched its new Web site at www.growthproducts.com. It features a new look, easy navigation, information on the company’s products, Rate Application Calculator, searchable product catalog and more.

Briggs Launches Online Virtual Tour

Briggs Tree Co., Inc., a wholesale nursery located in Southern California, has launched an online virtual tour showcasing the nursery’s 200-plus acres of growing grounds and sales yards. The three-minute tour includes various comprehensive shots of Briggs’ plant material. The newly rebuilt, user-friendly Web site (www.briggstree.com) also includes updated pricing, availability references, planting resources and answers to frequently asked questions.

Stetz Joins American SportWorks

Mike Stetz has joined American SportWorks in the newly created position of director of commercial sales. Previously, he worked for E-Z-GO as corporate and government accounts manager.

Natural Forces Becomes Exclusive Marketing Agent for Rejex-it

Natural Forces, LLC announced that it will begin exclusive global marketing for all products in the company’s Rejex-it bird management line. The company is streamlining the marketing and ordering process so that all products from both Natural Forces and Rejex-it can be ordered by calling 866-53-BIRDS, at www.naturalforcesllc.com or through its office in Davidson, N.C.

News from John Deere

John Deere launched “The Prove It Tour,” which will take it to visit job sites, trade show lots and dealerships throughout the country to test the skills of real skid steer operators in the second season of its Web site campaign, www.skidsteersmackdown.com. Deere will put contractors behind the wheels of its skid steers to demonstrate the machines’ features.

John Deere Power Systems exhibited its Tier III/Stage III A engines and Interim Tier IV/Stage III B technologies at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas, Nev. It displayed the exhaust filter it will use to meet the Interim Tier IV/Stage III B mobile off-highway emissions regulations for engines 174 hp and above, as well as engines from its PowerTech Plus family. The emissions regulations, which begin in 2011, require a 90 percent reduction in diesel particulates and a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide.

Oleykowski Joins UPI as Account Manager

Michael Oleykowski has joined United Phosphorus, Inc. as northern account manager, responsible for UPI’s turf/ornamental/PCO markets in the Midwest, Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Most recently, he was a sales and marketing manager for a green industry distributor, and he serves as the vice president of the New Jersey Green Industry Council.

Echo Announces Fleet Advantage

Echo Outdoor Power Equipment announced the Fleet Advantage program, which offers product discounts and Power Perks to members. It is open to any commercial landscaper, tree care service provider or municipality. For details, visit www.echo-usa.com/fleet.

Rain Bird Partners with APGA

Rain Bird and the American Public Gardens Association announced a partnership to celebrate the role of America’s public gardens in educating the public on the importance of environmental preservation through the formation of the first National Public Gardens Day on May 8. It will be supported by a local, regional and national awareness and education campaign that includes broadcast public service announcements, media partnerships, local and national spokespersons and media tours, all focused on communicating the importance of building sustainable environments through improved plant management and water conservation.

Bass Fishing Icon Visits Exmark Employees

Bass fishing icon Hank Parker visited Exmark’s manufacturing plant in Beatrice, Neb., to take a tour and help introduce Exmark’s 2009 Outdoor Tour and marketing campaign. Exmark will participate in more than 35 outdoor sports trade shows, introducing its mowers to hunting, fishing and boating fans. The tour includes a gear giveaway sweepstakes with more than $24,000 in outdoor products and an Exmark Arcade. To learn more, visit http://www.exmarkoutdoors.com.