The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) hosted its Elevate conference September 10-13 in Dallas. On the Elevate Expo floor, 171 exhibitors presented software, efficient equipment and other innovative products.
“This expo experience has really been great,” said Maureen McCormack, go-to-market manager for commercial mowing for John Deere. “What we’ve enjoyed about it is the smaller, more intimate opportunity to work with our customers without a much larger show going on around us. We feel like a lot of the decision-makers are here. We really enjoy the opportunity to be directly interfacing with the decision-makers of a lot of our largest landscape contractor companies.”
John Deere debuted their QuikTrak stand-on mower models at the expo, which received a redesign from the ground up to provide more productivity and easier access for maintenance.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee Tool featured its power Packout chargers as an answer to the power management questions many landscaper professionals have when it comes to the battery transition.
“They’ve been very excited about it,” says Anna Retzer, assistant brand manager for Milwaukee Tool. “At the end of the day, if we’re going to be making this transition from gas to battery, aside from multiple benefits of it, people need to be able to do a full day’s work on a battery charge. Milwaukee’s providing the solution for that.”
Syngenta launched a new insecticide, herbicide and fungicide at Elevate, educating attendees on their new products.
PBI-Gordon introduced Arkon, a liquid herbicide that controls sedges and kyllingas.
“It contains a new active ingredient pyrimisulfan in an easy-to-use liquid formulation,” said Eric Reasor, Southeast research scientist with PBI-Gordon. “Another unique thing about Arkon is it’s safe on all turfgrass species. If you’re managing St. Augustine down in Florida to centipede in the Carolinas to even bentgrass in the northeast, or out West, this product is safe on all turf grasses, and it’s easy to use and mixes well with other products.”
Automation and robotic mowers were also abundant on the show floor as manufacturers continue to help companies solve their labor challenges.
Kress was a first-time exhibitor this year. “We’re highlighting the technology in our products,” said Alex Martin, marketing event coordinator with Kress. “The biggest thing with our program is that you can save $2,000 per year by purchasing a set of our tools. We have a battery that charges in eight minutes. We have robot mowers that use the RTK technology, which is even more precise to GPS.”
The expo floor also featured 18 Campfire Sessions facilitated by NALP’s Latino Landscape Network, Women in Landscape Network, Young Professionals Network, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, Workforce Council, and Safety and Risk Management Committee.
These spaces allowed for intimate conversations about relevant industry topics such as stress management, engaging the next generation of employees and utilizing internship programs.
During the stress management Campfire Session, Joe Lewis, COO of Yard Solutions, based in Groveport, Ohio, highlighted that it isn’t your job to diagnose your employees, but it is your job to know and care about them.
“As a leader, your number one priority should be to develop and care for your subordinates,” said Lewis.
He said the key is to strengthen your team by training, setting clear expectations and taking the time to ask questions.
“It’s naive to think you can eliminate stress for your and your people, but you can mitigate and manage it for your team,” Lewis said. “Do everything you can to let your people know that you care for them.”
At the internship program Campfire Session, Brigitte Orrick, director of recruiting and employee development for Davey Tree Expert Company, based in Kent, Ohio, shared about their internship program and the investment required for one of these programs to be successful. She notes that while an internship program calls for a significant investment of money and time, these students can go on to advocate for your company.
“We don’t let them truly go,” said Orrick. “They become a recruiter for us on campus.”
Alex Ryan, market vice president with LandCare, notes that interns are not just an expense.
“To us, they’re an employee,” said Ryan. “They’re a part of the company and the more you them that way, the higher your conversion rate will be.”