Best Tree Service in Hampton Roads
26 McDonald Rd Hampton, VA 23669
Mon-Sat: 7:00AM-7:00PM
17 Jan 2019
This Week’s Hot Threads September 4, 2018

Turfgrass Specialist From UF/IFAS Awarded For Excellence

As a child in Dodge City, KS, Bryan Unruh grew up in 4-H. During his first year in the organization, he attended a lawn mower safety school taught by the county agriculture agent. That summer he mowed three lawns every week. In fact, he calls himself “a product of the Cooperative Extension Service.”

In high school, Unruh envisioned himself as a corporate attorney. But when advisors from Kansas State University showed up in his hometown, he declared himself a horticulture major.

“I couldn’t fathom going to school for seven-plus years and then sitting behind a desk,” says Unruh, now a professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Ironically, he spent 10-plus years earning his three college degrees. Unruh has spent the last 23 years at UF/IFAS, helping people grow beautiful grass in environmentally friendly ways.

With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

cooperative extension

Bryan Unruh at West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, FL. (Photo: UF/IFAS)

Recognition For Outreach In Turfgrass Industry

Now, Unruh is being recognized for his outreach and Extension efforts. In February 2019, he will be honored with the Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence at the International Education Conference of Turfgrass Producers International in Charlotte, NC.

Previous recipients of this award include fellow UF/IFAS Professor Laurie Trenholm (2008), Ali Harivandi of the University of California Cooperative Extension Service (2014), and Grady Miller of North Carolina State University (2016).

The award recognizes Unruh’s commitment, dedication, and positive influence in helping to educate consumers, turfgrass producers, and industry professionals, says Karen Cooper, associate executive director of Turfgrass Producers International. It’s also a way to honor Unruh for making himself available to address turfgrass questions and concerns that promote the use and benefits of turfgrass.

“It’s quite humbling when you are asked if you can be nominated for such an award – it takes it to a whole new level when you are named the recipient,” says Unruh, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, FL.

Unruh, who specializes in turfgrass research and Extension, finds it rewarding to help people resolve a problem, improve their management practices, or help them through difficult and trying times.

“Most in the industry know that I am ‘on call’ 24/7 and will answer my phone whenever it rings,” he says. “My service to the industry isn’t just because I’m employed — it’s because it is my passion to be a resource for those in need.”

“Rarely does my phone ring with people on the other end just calling to wish me a good day,” Unruh says. “Generally, they have a challenge that needs resolved and they know I will come to their aid. Being recognized for that passion is rewarding.”

The Turfgrass Producers of Florida nominated Unruh for the award and used letters from three other organizations to support the nomination: the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Seven Rivers Golf Course Superintendents Association, and the Florida Turfgrass Association. Betsy McGill, executive director of the Turfgrass Producers of Florida, sang Unruh’s praises in her letter supporting him for the award.

Unruh possesses many positive attributes, said Mcgill. Among them, “he has been the ‘go-to guy’ for questions and help from a scientific perspective as we’ve worked with regulators and policymaking on pressing challenges like water use, fertilizer best management practices, and landscaping ordinances.”

Tree Service Hampton Roads Service Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Removal Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Trimming Hampton Roads
Stump Grinding Hampton Roads

15 Jan 2019
Landscape Students Compete In Annual NALP Competition

Landscape Students Compete In Annual NALP Competition

The National Association of Landscape Professionals annual collegiate career event and competition, the National Collegiate Landscape Competition will take place March 20- 23, 2019 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

This year, more than 750 horticulture and landscape students from more than 60 schools will test their skills in 29 real-world, competitive events, and they will interview with landscape, lawn care, tree care, irrigation, and other companies at the Career Fair, which will be held on March 21.

landscape professionals

Photo: National Association of Landscape Professionals

“This event each year is the best opportunity to support and connect with the next generation,” said Sabeena Hickman, CAE, NALP CEO. “The fact that we have participation from top industry companies and suppliers is a testament to the talent of these students and to the competitive workforce environment we find ourselves in.”

The National Collegiate Landscape Competition relies on support from sponsors including STIHL, Inc. (Platinum); JOHN DEERE (Gold); Caterpillar, Gravely, Husqvarna (Silver) and Anchor, Aspire, Bartlett Tree Service Hampton Roads Experts, Belgard, Bobcat, BrightView, CASE Construction, Corona, Ewing, Hunter, Kawasaki, Permaloc, Proven Winners, SiteOne Landscape Supply, Timberline Landscaping, the Toro Company, and Yellowstone Landscape (Bronze).

Tree Service Hampton Roads Service Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Removal Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Trimming Hampton Roads
Stump Grinding Hampton Roads

10 Jan 2019
This Week’s Hot Threads September 4, 2018

OPEI Product Representation Includes Golf Cars, Light Transport Vehicles

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has announced that the International Light Transportation Vehicle Association (ILTVA) has transferred representation of its member products and respective ANSI standards to OPEI, effective January 1, 2019. This expands OPEI’s product representation to now include golf cars and light transport vehicles.

golf cars

Kris Kiser

“OPEI is a natural fit for these products as we actively represent a wide range of utility vehicles currently in the marketplace,” says Kris Kiser, President of OPEI. “As the association of record in this space, we’re a leader in the development of safety standards for UTVs, and have significant experience as it relates to these vehicles with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other regulators.”

OPEI currently represents manufacturers of utility vehicles for a wide range of end-user applications. ILTVA developed and maintained ANSI standards relating to the design and performance of golf cars and personal transport vehicles. That organization will wind down its operations, and those standards will now be part of OPEI’s ongoing standards development work.

“As uses and applications of these products have expanded, it made sense for us to partner with OPEI. The association has a demonstrable history in utility vehicle safety and performance standards and representing these products before regulatory authorities, as well as a deep background in market statistics collection, and positions us well as we look toward the industry’s future,” says Mark Wagner, member, OPEI Board of Directors, and President and CEO of Club Car, LLC, Ingersoll-Rand Industrial Technologies. “We’re excited to work with OPEI on the representation of our products on a going-forward basis.”

Tree Service Hampton Roads Service Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Removal Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Trimming Hampton Roads
Stump Grinding Hampton Roads

09 Jan 2019
This Week’s Hot Threads September 4, 2018

Solid Brass Collection By Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting

landscape lighting

Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting introduces Solid Brass Collection

The new Solid Brass landscape lighting collection from Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting is designed to provide the aesthetic appeal of brass with durability that spun brass fixtures cannot match. The collection consists of six models — four Up & Accent lights and two path lights — all of which feature thick-wall, die-cut brass construction finished with a proprietary Olde Brass process.

“Many outdoor lighting manufacturers offer fixtures made with spun brass,” said Cruz Pérez, vice president of sales and marketing for Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting. “However, spun brass simply cannot compete with solid brass when it comes to overall appearance and durability. It’s easy to tell the difference between the two types of brass by simply holding the fixtures in your hands. Our new Solid Brass Collection is heavier and stronger, built to rigorous specifications for lasting customer satisfaction.”

The 2216, 5006 and 5014i Up & Accent models feature tempered, shock-and-heat-resistant soda-lime glass lenses as well as tool-free, rotatable shrouds for easy fixture entry and aiming by hand. The 5105 Up & Accent has a bordered, high-impact, tempered lens with a high-performance anodized aluminum reflector.

All four Up & Accent models have solid-brass, adjustable knuckles with half-inch NPS and silicone o-ring gaskets for a reliable seal. The 2216 and 5006 include Vista’s high-performance LED 4.5W or 5.5W MR-16 lamp in 25°, 36° and 60° spreads. The 5014i model features integrated, advanced chip-on-board (COB) LED technology available in 1.5W, 2.5W and 3.5W with outputs up to 400 delivered lumens available in 25°, 36° and 60° spreads. The 5105 also features the same COB LED technology, but in 2W, 3W and 4W options, all with outputs up to 400 delivered lumens.

The collection’s 2265 and 2267 path lights have heavy-gauge brass stems with half-inch NPS and textured polycarbonate optic lenses specifically designed for even light distribution. Both models also include Vista’s new high-performance T3 COB LED lamp running at 2.5W with a powerful 193-lumen output. A lamp life of 30,000 hours reduces maintenance annual re-lamping and lamp replacement costs.

“With Vista’s new Solid Brass Collection, contractors can give their customers the beautiful high-end look they want with the outstanding reliability and durability they need — all at a reasonable price,” Pérez said. “And, because these fixtures are built to last, contractors can enjoy positive word-of-mouth that further enhances their reputations as lighting professionals.”

Tree Service Hampton Roads Service Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Removal Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Trimming Hampton Roads
Stump Grinding Hampton Roads

03 Jan 2019
This Week’s Hot Threads September 4, 2018

Salt Accounting 101

By Douglas Freer, CSP 

ice control

Loader skill: Determining the weight of the material being loaded is required to accurately account for a company’s salt inventory. A primer on how to estimate truck loads is online at

Management consultant Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it.” This is relevant to managing your assets, and in particular, ice control chemicals. In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, finding efficiencies and room for improvement can provide an advantage in your business space.

Next to labor, your ice control chemicals may represent the largest variable expense. How do you manage your inventory to ensure you get the best return? Are you using too much product, or could you use less and get the same results? How much shrinkage (theft) or spoilage (waste) do you have? Do you know? If you don’t have a system for managing your inventory and product, you can’t determine “normal” usage and benchmark to determine if you’re ahead or behind expectations.

What is salt accounting?

Salt accounting is the process of measuring and tracking ice control chemicals purchased and used during a season. The salt accounting system produces data that informs your decision-making related to operations, sales and expenses.

More simply, salt accounting is a check register for your ice control chemicals. You make deposits (credits) when you take a delivery of material and withdrawals (debits) when you use material to service your sites.

At a minimum, your salt accounting system should tell you how much material you purchased and when you used it. This system can be improved if you record where the salt is used by having drivers collect data for each site serviced.

One size doesn’t fit all

Your salt accounting system does not need to be complicated; in fact, keeping it as simple as possible for your specific needs is important for making salt accounting sustainable. Fancy applications on devices are not necessary to manage an effective system. The scope or sophistication of your salt accounting system will depend on your needs, which in large part is driven by the size of your business. It’s important to collect the same basic data whether you use 10 or 10,000 tons a season. The more ice control chemical you use the more incentive to find savings, since a 10% savings of a larger whole number will mean more dollars for the bottom line.

Developing a process

A very basic salt accounting system measures the amount of ice control chemical used per event, which allows for storm-event job costing. You could track this by truck driver and determine approximately how much product, on average, the driver uses and estimate application rates for a given route during an event.

However, with a little more tracking you can record salt usage at each site. Tracking the information to each specific site is not complicated and can be accomplished with a paper-based system, which can be converted to an electronic system if the use of technology is justified and cost effective.

Setting up an effective salt accounting system means answering these questions:

  • Who handles the data? The material loaded into each truck is recorded by the loader operator as well as the driver, who records site-specific information. Office administrators input the data into the database or storage system for future retrieval.
  • What materials were used? Was it bulk or bagged, straight granular salt or treated material? Did it include pre-wetting with a liquid system?
  • Where were the materials sourced (shop bin, satellite bin, retail location, etc.)?
  • Where and how much material was used?
  • Why was the application made? What site and weather conditions required the application?
  • What was the method of application? What truck and/or system was used to apply and what were the settings?

ice control

Master inventory sheet

A master inventory register is kept for each bin or storage location and for each product. This relatively simple register, or transaction journal, records the deposits and withdrawals from the inventory, giving you a quick reference on how much total material has been purchased, used and remains in inventory.

Keep a separate inventory register for each product that you use and for each location where product is stored. Physically checking inventory periodically will help uncover discrepancies, which can be investigated and rectified in a timely manner.

Storm event inventory sheet

A simple form filled out by the loader operator or by each driver provides a master log of the material applied for a particular storm event. The form records the material loaded and then returned (if any) at the end of the event, providing a total number of material units used by location.

Truck log

The driver log records the estimated amount of materials used during the event by recording how much was loaded into the truck and then how much was applied at each site. The driver is responsible for knowing how much material was applied and to ensure his calculations balance. If three tons of material were loaded and the truck came back empty, where and when were 6,000 pounds applied?

Automated measurement systems

Automated measurement systems are available to let the driver know how much material has been applied. Based on spinner rotation, hydraulic flow or some other means of measurement, the equipment is calibrated from known test measurements to provide close estimates on the units applied.

In the absence of an automated measurement system, the driver will have to visually estimate their load after each application in order to record the amount of material used. With guidance, practice and time spent balancing the truck log, the driver will gain experience and become more proficient at estimating product use.

Technology can be useful in collecting and processing data. Be leery of using technology if you don’t have a salt accounting system yet or if it isn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the business. Technology by itself is not a solution. First you need to know what kind of reports or information you want to get out of your system.

Calibration and application rates

Who decides how much material should be used in a given storm event or in a certain scenario? Does the driver make the call or do area managers or supervisors offer guidance? In the same storm scenario, one driver may feel that 500 pounds on a site is appropriate while another driver subscribes to the theory that more is better and decides to apply 1,000 pounds.

Establishing application guidelines for each site gives your drivers a basic guideline for how much material should be used under “normal” conditions. For example, if the average application is 500 pounds per acre, a 3-acre property will generally need 1,500 pounds of product. This does not mean that your driver should always apply this amount, since conditions may warrant more or less. But a guideline will help them make that decision. You can take the application guidelines a step further by providing a site list with property size, and then adding incremental calculations for each site, ranging from a light to heavy application. For example, you may indicate in a light icing scenario that your target is 250 to 300 pounds per acre. The driver can consult the reference chart for each site they’re servicing and determine the target quantity required and apply with that estimate in mind, recording actual units applied.

Ultimately when it comes to calibration, not only are you ensuring your equipment is calibrated and working correctly, but you are dialing in your drivers so they can make an effective application. Applying ice control chemical from a moving truck at varying speeds in traffic and around obstacles is imprecise, but measuring and checking against expectations will help make the driver more efficient and effective.

Return loop

Once your system is in place, the first step is to reliably and accurately record and collect the data each storm event. After the storm event you need to review the paperwork or data collected for accuracy, and enter it into your recordkeeping system if this is not an automated process. This system can be paper based or managed in Excel or another database, making it easier to tabulate and manipulate data to share with others.

With this type of data, you can begin to make more informed decisions and provide feedback to those who need the information, leading you to a more efficient and effective operation. •



Measuring and managing your ice control chemicals has multiple benefits. If you effectively track the flow of material through your business by event, driver and property serviced, you will have important data that can provide insights into developing and improving best practices. Feedback from your system will help to increase or improve:

Production efficiency. Feedback to drivers about proper application rates and methods reduces waste and guesswork and improves their effectiveness, resulting in more efficient service.

Storm management. Reduced consumption increases salt truck load range, which improves routing, reduces drive time for reloading and increases service consistency. Improved material management and awareness will reduce mistakes and the possibility of running out of material at critical times.

Cost control. Reduce costs by using what is necessary, avoiding waste and reducing overall material consumption, which reduces inventory and related carrying costs.

Inventory management. Determine how much product is necessary to service your client base for the season so you can accurately order in the preseason and manage in-season inventory levels.

Client expectations. With increased attention to detail, you are more likely to meet or exceed client expectations due to consistent and improved performance by avoiding under- or over-application.

Legal defense. Tracking material use at the client level provides useful information to dispute slip-fall claims.

Confidence. Crew members will have increased confidence in their work because they understand what they are doing and the accounting process will become second nature.

Best practices. You’ll be able to compare variables and measure outcomes as you experiment and test products and equipment, leading to operational tweaks in search of the sweet spot, resulting in the definition of your company’s best practices. If you don’t measure, you won’t be certain that one change or variable is better than another.

Doug Freer, CSP, owns Blue Moose Snow Co. in Cleveland. Contact him at

This article was featured in the Snow & Ice Management Association’s SB In Focus issue focused on transitioning from a residential to commercial snow company. Read the whole issue, sponsored by Buyers Products, here.

Tree Service Hampton Roads Service Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Removal Hampton Roads
Tree Service Hampton Roads Trimming Hampton Roads
Stump Grinding Hampton Roads