Industry roundup: STMA names 2019 winner of ‘Stars and Stripes’ contest

Photo: STMAPhoto: STMA

The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) has named Andrew Miller as the winner of the fourth annual ‘Stars and Stripes’ contest.

A record of 31 entries were submitted via social media. Miller’s design ‘Friday Nights in Small Town USA’ received more than 1,600 votes and won by 100 votes. As his prize Miller will receive complimentary registration to the 2020 STMA Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Miller is the program advisor for the Brentsville Turf Grass Management Program in Nokesville, Virginia. He created his field design at Donald Lambert Field.

“This contest has become a pillar of our organization and we are always impressed, but not surprised, by the creativity and care our members put into their designs,” says Kim Heck, CEO of STMA. “Andrew embodies what our community stands for: teaching and inspiring the next generation.”

Miller has a bachelor’s degree in turf grass management from Virginia Tech and worked on the Virginia Tech grounds crew before working for the New York Mets. He has also worked for the Pittsburg Pirates and the Pittsburg Steelers. After getting his master’s degree in agricultural education from Virginia Tech, Miller has built the Brentsville program from the ground up.

“Working alongside some of the very best in the business has been a tremendous experience over the years,” says Miller, currently in his second year as program director. “Coming back to Virginia where I got my start and having the opportunity to create opportunities for the next generation of sports field managers is humbling to say the least.”

Registration opens for annual Women in the Green Industry Conference

SiteOne Landscape Supply is hosting the 23rd annual Women in the Green Industry Conference (WIGI) held in Tucson, Arizona, Sept. 19-22, 2019. Registration is now open for this four day, women-focused professional development event.

Attendees will be able to learn about improving work-life balance, reaching goals and improving effectiveness in breakout sessions such as “Building a Healthy Sandbox,” “Growing Your Business Through Digital,” “Socializing Social Media” and “Serving the Millennial Customer.”

“We stand behind helping women advance in the landscaping industry,” said Amber Baker, division marketing manager-West for SiteOne Landscape Supply. “This event is more than learning new business growth strategies. Women can network and share best practices, which benefits the growth of the entire landscape industry.”

The keynote speaker is Susan Packard, co-founder of Scripps Network Interactive and former chief operating officer at HGTV. Packard will discuss emotional fitness and how to create supportive work relationships while building a healthy company culture.

Registrants will also have the opportunity to volunteer with a Project EverGreen project at Kennedy Park in the City of Tucson.

SiteOne customers can apply 90,000 Partners Points to cover the registration fee of $1,199 (includes roundtrip airfare, hotel, ground transportation, group meals, classes and keynote sessions).

Conserva Irrigation expands with eight new territories in the first half of 2019

Conserva Irrigation has experienced considerable growth during the first half of 2019, adding eight new franchise and expansion deals. The irrigation company that focuses on water conservation now operates in more than 83 territories across the country.

“Since we started Conserva Irrigation, we’ve never wavered from the values that have been our foundation and we’re excited that our team’s hard work and dedication has translated into success for our brand,” says Russ Jundt, founder of Conserva Irrigation. “I firmly believe that our company provides the best product and service in the industry and it’s our passion for finding a solution to water waste that has allowed us to stand out as a leader. We look forward to building on our success and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Conserva.”

Judnt credits his franchises’ success to creating a propriety process to audit irrigation systems.

“Coupled with a strong franchise development pipeline, the success we’ve experienced in 2019 has positioned us for continued growth for the remainder of the year,” Jundt says. “It’s our vision to build this brand into a nationwide household name and we look forward to taking it to the next level.”

Currently, the company is looking to expand in Southern California, Denver and Texas. Conserva is seeking single- and multi-unit operators with a range of experience levels, as well as those looking for add-on or conversion business opportunities. Potential franchisee candidates should be willing to invest between $43,550 and $80,250. Incentives are also available for veterans, multi-territory agreements and those with existing businesses or are an employee of an existing franchisee.

For more information, check out Conserva’s website here.

Vermeer Corporation commemorates year-one tornado recovery efforts

Vermeer Corporation held a groundbreaking recently for a monument that will commemorate the buildings destroyed by an EF3 tornado last July.

“The tornado was the greatest challenge Vermeer has ever faced,” says Jason Andringa, president and CEO. “I am incredibly proud to say our team has turned it into an opportunity. Not only are we rebuilding what we had, but we’re becoming stronger than ever before.”

The company has three new buildings underway at the Pella, Iowa-headquarters. The first facility is set to open this summer as a new engineering and R&D building known as Shop 48. This named after the founder, Gary Vermeer’s shop, where he started the company in 1948.

The building has more than 100,000 square feet of space and the team will move into this space in August.

Plant 7 will be built where Plants 5 & 6 stood formerly. Nearly 500,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space will expand beyond the original manufacturing footprint that took up just less than 400,000 square feet of this area. It will connect to the original Plant 7 which was damaged by the storm but repaired.

It is scheduled to be completed by fall 2020. A new Eco Center will also replace the previous one, serving as a location to responsibly process and manage waste. It will open in January 2020.

John Deere announces new registered apprenticeship program

The U.S. Department of Labor has approved John Deere’s new registered apprenticeship program. The program is available to agriculture and turf and construction and forestry dealers.

It is designed to aid with the shortage of service technicians, especially in rural areas, by providing dealers with formalized, on-the-job training to help develop highly skilled employees.

“The new registered apprenticeship program complements our existing John Deere TECH program,” says Grant Suhre, director, region 4 customer and product support for John Deere Ag & Turf. “In addition to the on-the-job training experience, an apprentice will receive technical instruction and be assigned a personal mentor as a part of the highly organized training structure. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, he or she will receive a nationally recognized journeyworker certificate.”

The program will serve as an earn-while-you-learn set up. When apprentices participate, they will track and report on their learning and technical training time along with their employer. The program administrator for the dealer then inputs this information into the appropriate state or federal database. To ensure high standards are maintained, dealers are required to follow specific guidelines, developed over years of apprenticeship experience, after they are registered.

“Because of the earn-while-you-learn nature of the program, it will help dealers more easily recruit new employees and further develop a highly skilled workforce,” says Tim Worthington, manager of customer support for the John Deere Construction and Forestry Division. “This can improve a dealer’s productivity and profit potential as employee turnover costs are reduced and employees are retained longer. In addition, John Deere customers benefit from access to more highly skilled dealer personnel who are servicing or supporting their equipment.”

For more information about the apprenticeship program, visit your local John Deere dealer.

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