Equipment Theft Escalates

The Georgia Urban Ag Council, a professional organization representing the Georgia landscape industry, is working to find solutions to the issue of equipment theft at worksites, offices, and storage facilities. This week, an incident in Lilburn ended with gun shots fired at landscape employees who discovered perpetrators stealing equipment from the company box truck.  The Georgia Urban Ag Council has established a Twitter account titled “GA Landscape Thefts” and is compiling information, articles, and reports from owners and residents experiencing equipment theft. Armed with this data, the UAC hopes to assist law enforcement agencies, equipment manufacturers, and suppliers in determining a course of action to reduce losses.

Here are some general equipment theft prevention strategies to consider:

  1. Train employees on company procedures to deter equipment theft.  In addition, discuss what to do in the event of a theft or robbery.
  2. Take Inventory: Establish a routine of equipment inventory. Keep documentation and photo records of serial numbers, makes, and models of equipment.
  3. Parking strategy: Be strategic about where you park your vehicle on each jobsite or lunch destination. Park in well lighted locations visible to the work crew and avoid leaving equipment unattended in back lots or hidden areas that are conducive to theft. Position trailers so they aren’t easily accessed or swapped to another vehicle.
  4. Deterrents: Lock vehicles, trailers, trailer tongues, and secure equipment when unattended. Don’t leave keys in trucks or commercial mowers.
  5. Tracking Devices:  Install tracking devices on large equipment.
  6. Be Alert: Pay attention to suspicious activity.
  7. Insurance: Review your policy and ask your insurance provider about theft prevention.

Related Articles & News:
http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/248268869-story

Heads-Up Green Industry!

Without a doubt, surviving the past decade has been a challenging stretch of road for the Green Industry.  In retrospect, the burst of the housing bubble, the drought, $4 per gallon gasoline, and the recession were just a few of the the factors that shut down over half of Georgia’s ornamental growers and scattered the labor force in all directions looking for work.  However, with great challenges comes great opportunity and the winds appear to be changing.  The demand for ornamentals and turf is rising, and the green industry is ramping up this spring. The professional organizations have regrouped and are poised and ready to launch the industry into a new era with some exceptional events in partnership with the University of Georgia.

Read more

Zika Virus and Outdoor Workers: Include Insect Repellent on your list of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Inherently, agricultural and outdoor workers experience a greater risk of mosquito bites that can vector illnesses such as chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, and Zika virus disease.  The CDC and EPA recommend using EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol to protect workers against these infections. Fact sheets and posters have been released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlining the Zika virus to promote education and communication regarding practices to reduce worker exposure.

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Landscape Alert: Companies Report an Uptick in Equipment Theft

Equipment theft

The Urban Ag Council, a professional organization representing the Georgia landscape industry, reports that members are experiencing an uptick in equipment theft at worksites, offices, and storage facilities. To address the issue, the UAC is summoning a “call to action” from all landscape companies and compiling data from those who have experienced recent or past theft (2014-2016). Armed with this data, the UAC hopes to meet with law enforcement agencies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers to determine a course of action to reduce these losses.

The organization is collecting information via a confidential “equipment theft worksheet” available from the Urban Ag Council. To access the worksheet, visit https://urbanagcouncil.com/call-to-action-equipment-theft-crisis-help-needed/

Here are some general equipment theft prevention strategies to consider:

1. Train employees on company procedures to deter equipment theft.  In addition, discuss what to do in the event of a theft or robbery.
2. Take Inventory: Establish a routine of equipment inventory. Keep documentation and photo records of serial numbers, makes, and models of equipment.
3. Parking strategy: Be strategic about where you park your vehicle on each jobsite or lunch destination. Park in well lighted locations visible to the work crew and avoid leaving equipment unattended in back lots or hidden areas that are conducive to theft. Position trailers so they aren’t easily accessed or swapped to another vehicle.
4. Deterrents: Lock vehicles, trailers, trailer tongues, and secure equipment when unattended. Don’t leave keys in trucks or commercial mowers.
5. Tracking Devices:  Install tracking devices on large equipment.
6. Be Alert: Pay attention to suspicious activity.
7. Insurance: Review your policy and ask your insurance provider about theft prevention.

 

What will sod supply and price be like in 2015?

2015 Sod Producers’ annual survey examines inventory and price

Clint Waltz, UGA Turf Specialist

GCIA 1In November 2014, the Georgia Urban Ag Council conducted their 21st consecutive survey of sod producers. The purpose of the survey was to determine inventory levels and projected price changes for spring 2015. The following is a survey overview. You can find the complete survey online here.

Survey overview:

  • Supply of warm-season turfgrasses is low, regardless of turfgrass or grower type.
  • The delivered price for all grasses is expected to increase.
  • Grass prices are at historic levels.
  • 2015 continues an eight year trend of increasing average prices for certified grass.
  • Freight rates per mile shipped to Atlanta, or within 100 miles of the farm, will increase.
  • Growers that report adding a fuel surcharge nearly doubled from 2014.
  • No grower expects to remove acres from turfgrass production.
  • More turfgrass acreage will come into production in 2015.

Recommendations:

  • Get price quotes regularly.
  • If possible “book” or lock prices to ensure availability and price.

For more information:

Find the complete survey here.

Georgia Turf website

Increasing landscape sales in the fall & winter


Does your landscape business slow down in the fall?  Look for services to sell to your customers and ways to more profitably use your time!
This could help you to maintain profitability in a slower time of the year, to build your client base and to prepare for next spring.

Fall and winter can be good times to . . .

  • Offer to conduct a sprinkler performance test.  Put a grid of cups across the lawn and run the system through one cycle. Is the amount of water in each cup about the same? If not, water distribution may be uneven which can lead to landscape issues. Look for leaks, controller problems, blocked or broken heads, misadjusted heads etc. Find the problems causing uneven distribution and fix them. Offering a sprinkler diagnostic service to your clients can help them to conserve water, improve landscape health and save money.
  • Re-set sprinkler systems so they run less often. Typically once a week should be plenty in the fall. Apply three-quarter to one inch of water every time you irrigate. Wait until the soil dries to water again. Once the winter rains begin, we can usually turn the systems off for the winter unless there are new plants in the landscape. In the colder areas of Georgia, you may need to drain the sprinkler system so it will not be damaged during a freeze this winter.
  • Offer a special on irrigation installation in the off-season.  
  • Plant or move woody trees, shrubs, and many perennials.  Late fall and winter is generally the best time to plant woody plants and many perennials. Planting in the cooler, wetter weather gives the roots time to get well established before they have to deal with our harsh, dry summer weather!
  • Soil sample to look for low pH or fertility problems.  This is especially important with St. Augustine, Bermuda and zoysia lawns but can be helpful in many situations. Your local UGA Extension Office can help with soil analysis.
  • Keep the leaves cleaned up from turf.  This will prevent matting during rains which can smother the grass. And it will prevent you having to explain to the homeowner why the lawn died in that area during the winter!
  • Offer a ‘clean up’ special for new clients needing help with fall leaves and clean-up. Use this as an opportunity to give them a free estimate for maintenance or weed control for the coming year. Perhaps you could offer them a discount for paying ahead for a full year of weed control.
  • Offer a special on installing hardscapes, outdoor living spaces or lighting or other services that you offer. See if you can move some of the ‘spring rush’ business to a slower time of the year.
  • Check trees and identify hazards that need to be dealt with. Trees are easier to evaluate for hazards when they have no leaves. Let a certified arborist handle tree issues since tree work is hazardous. Working on trees without the proper training and equipment can open your company to large safety and liability problems. Sub-contract tree work if you do not have fully trained, equipped and insured tree professionals on staff.
  • Conduct needed maintenance on your equipment. You may be surprised how much better a sharp mower blade cuts a lawn. Sharp blades produce a cleaner cut and a healthier lawn! Winterize equipment that you will not be using this winter.
  • Conduct inspections of established clients to evaluate the quality of your work, to get client feedback and to look for other services they may need. An online survey is a good evaluation tool as well, but get experienced help designing and interpreting a survey. And if you ask for client feedback, be prepared to make some changes!
  • Check mulched beds and add mulch if needed. Mulches to prevent weeds and conserve moisture should be 2 to 4 inches thick. Coarse textured mulches (pine bark and wood chips) are better used deeper (3 to 4 inches deep) while fine-textured mulches (pine straw and mini-bark nuggets) are better applied 2 to 3 inches deep. Do not pile mulch around the base of trees or shrubs since this can permanently damage the plant.

These are valuable services you can offer your clients and may be a way of helping you retain business and workers during a slower time of the year.

If you have ideas for increasing fall sales that you would like to share let us know!