Fighting the Recession Financial crisis or not, optimism and ambitions of continued growth remain the hallmarks of many of this year’s Top 150.Success can be measured in any number of ways. In business, it’s often all about the revenue. And these companies – five of the 150 on Lawn & Landscape magazine’s list of the highest revenue-generating firms in the U.S. – have that. But sometimes it’s about more than the numbers.As you’ll learn from the organizations profiled here, success, particularly in a tough economy, is also about the way a company rises to face a challenge. All five of these organizations are poised to stand their ground in the face of uncertain economic conditions. They may not bring in quite as much cash as in past years, but it’s still all systems go. For Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care in Denver, it means implementing a rational response plan to guide decision-making in every area of the company. The management team at Gothic Grounds Management in Valencia, Calif., knows when to enlist outside help – in this case, a group of savvy MBA students. For Heads Up Landscape Contractors in Albuquerque, it’s all about saving money by reducing green waste and water use. Dixie Landscape Co. in Miami relies on an internal lean team to trim spending. And Becker Landscape in Indianapolis has discovered that the secret to its success lies in investing in employees – financially and emotionally. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself how these five companies are redefining the notion of “success,” and steal one of their ideas or let them inspire you to come up with a recession-fighting solution in today’s turbulent times. Become Financially WiseWant productive, focused employees? Take financial worries off of their minds like Becker Landscape Contractors does.Today, more than ever, CEO Larry Becker believes in putting his workforce first. That’s why, beginning this month, the 32-year-old, $14 million, Indianapolis-based Becker Landscape Contractors is providing employees with personal finance training. Called “Financial Peace: Workplace Edition,” it’s a voluntary, 12-week course designed to teach employees about debt reduction and household cash management.“One of the goals is to make our staff more financially wise,” Becker points out.Many of the company’s approximately 130 employees have signed up for the course, which is open to spouses as well. To allow couples to attend, the sessions will be held in managers’ homes after work, with childcare provided by the company. Each session focuses on a topic related to money management principles. “We talk about how to balance a checkbook and other basics, and the majority of our labor force hasn’t had this training,” Becker explains. “Even people who are more money savvy want in on it so they can make strides in their personal financial lives.”The company launched a pilot program in October 2008. Dave Ramsey, the owner and creator of “Financial Peace,” is a well-known debt reduction expert, host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Dave Ramsey Show and author of books including The Total Money Makeover. “He’s smart and easy to listen to,” says Jeffrey Fox, director of human resources for the company. The employees who participated in the pilot program will lead the fall courses for their peers.Employee packets for the program cost $150 to $160 per employee. Participants can pay the company for their packets in installments tailored to fit their financial situation. “We want our employees to pay some of it so they’re committed,” Fox says. The company is footing the bill for facilitator materials and childcare – costs that are well worth it to Becker. “We’re going to get better retention and smarter, savvier employees,” he says. “Anytime they’re in a situation where they’re in a learning mode that raises their self-worth.”Also, “if we can help our employees become at peace with their finances, they’re going to be more focused, productive and efficient when they’re here,” Fox adds.“Financial Peace” is just one component of the program. “We’re an open management company – balance sheet information is shared monthly and weekly,” Becker says. “So employees are aware of where the company is financially as well as where their finances are personally.” Get Cost-Effective Outside HelpWhen Gothic Grounds Management decided it was time to grow, they got serious. And they got help … from UCLA MBA students.Nick DePasquale The UCLA’s Applied Management Research Program offers MBA students an opportunity to complete in-depth strategic studies for participating companies.Valencia, Calif.’s Gothic Grounds Management joined the group because “we wanted a fresh look at the business,” says Nick DePasquale, the company’s vice president and a UCLA alum. “We felt the MBA students were at the cutting edge and would be more in touch with newer systems.” Plus, working with the students was a more cost-effective option than hiring a typical consultant – Gothic Gr
1.) El Niño is not a storm. It’s not a hurricane moving in the Pacific. It’s not even a weather system.2.) El Niño is actually the term for a phenomenon that directly impacts weather around the world due to changes in the position of the jet stream.3.) It’s when the waters off the coast of South America, specifically Peru, warm up to higher than normal temperatures. This year the water is the third warmest recorded year since 1950.4.) As the trade winds along the equator slow, the warm water no longer moves westward but instead just sits in place. This results in the development of an area of warm water along the equator in the east Pacific, signaling that an El Niño pattern has developed.
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A strong El Niño is predicted to help ease drought conditions in some, but not all of California.The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, released Thursday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, shows a strong El Niño improving drought conditions across central and southern California by the end of January.”Strong El Niño conditions are ongoing across the equatorial Pacific, with robust atmospheric coupling,” according to the Climate Prediction Center. “The latest CPC ENSO advisory indicates a 95 percent chance that El Niño conditions will persist through the winter months. Therefore, climate anomalies associated with El Niño events, which become increasingly prominent over the U.S. during the Fall and Winter months, played a significant role in this outlook.””For the Southwest, El Niño associated climate anomalies favor an enhancement of the early wet season,” the CPC says. “Therefore, drought improvement is favored across central and southern California.”The outlook says there is “greater confidence for improvement across the coastal regions and valleys, whereas significant improvement across the Sierras relies on colder temperatures to support substantial snowfall.”
We followed a link to EBMUD water saving success stories. Guess what!! Half of the list are Cleary Bros customers…
Here are a few quotes from EBMUD:
“Crow Canyon Heights contacted the East Bay Municipal
Water District (EBMUD) Water Conservation Division
to request a free irrigation audit in 2006. The audit
was completed and a report submitted to Common
Interest Management. Cleary Brothers Landscape then
submitted an application for rebates from EBMUD.
In 2008, Cleary Brothers submitted proposals to the
Crow Canyon Heights Board of Directors to install new
high efficiency lawn sprinklers equipped with pressure
regulation devices, check valves, and rotating nozzles
to improve sprinkler uniformity and minimize low head
drainage. In addition, self-adjusting irrigation controllers
were installed in some areas.
By 2011, Cleary Brothers submitted an upgrade application
for the last irrigation only meter. Pending rebates
total $6,100 through the end”
Thanks to Bay Area Property Services for inviting us to particpate in this weekend’s Annual Board Educational Seminar & Trade Show. We had fun meeting new people and seeing old friends.
A new study found that an additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to a one-per-cent increase in how healthy nearby residents felt.CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY TIM LAHANIn 1984, a researcher named Roger Ulrich noticed a curious pattern among patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery at a suburban hospital in Pennsylvania. Those who had been given rooms overlooking a small stand of deciduous trees were being discharged almost a day sooner, on average, than those in otherwise identical rooms whose windows faced a wall. The results seemed at once obvious—of course a leafy tableau is more therapeutic than a drab brick wall—and puzzling. Whatever curative property the trees possessed, how were they casting it through a pane of glass?That is the riddle that underlies a new study in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of researchers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, led by the University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman. The study compares two large data sets from the city of Toronto, both gathered on a block-by-block level; the first measures the distribution of green space, as determined from satellite imagery and a comprehensive list of all five hundred and thirty thousand trees planted on public land, and the second measures health, as assessed by a detailed survey of ninety-four thousand respondents. After controlling for income, education, and age, Berman and his colleagues showed that an additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to a one-per-cent increase in how healthy nearby residents felt. “To get an equivalent increase with money, you’d have to give each household in that neighborhood ten thousand dollars—or make people seven years younger,” Berman told me.