The Holganix Blog

Holganix Case Studies: The Blue Rocks go green!

There probably isn’t anything more American than American baseball. For many of us, warm evenings, hot dogs, and a local baseball game is an integral part of summer. For those of us at Holganix, our local team of choice is The Blue Rocks – a minor league team based in Wilmington, Delaware that is only a twenty-minute drive from headquarters.  From the Holganix college intern with memories of attempting (and failing) to catch her first baseball to the sales representative that enjoys taking his two boys to the annual monkey rodeo (a Delaware community event), the Blue Rocks hold many memories for the Holganix family.

Because of all of those memories culminated over the years, we were so excited when Steve Gold, turf manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks decided to try the Holganix program three years ago.

Screen_Shot_2014-11-21_at_10.55.29_AM

“When I use a lot of chemicals on the turf,” says Gold, “I make the turf fat and dumb. That’s one of the reasons why I was so attracted to Holganix. Less synthetics? Sign me up!”

Gold is on the super inoculation Holganix program, utilizing large amounts of Holganix in combination with three pounds of nitrogen annually. Before Holganix, Gold still used a lean nitrogen program but Holganix has allowed him to take the next step. At the end of the day, it was the reduction in fungicides that really got Gold excited. “I hate fungicides,” states Gold passionately. “It’s the dark side of the turf industry.”

Even with Holganix, “We still have some disease issues that pop up now and then,” admits Gold. “The really great part is that we’ve cut back our fungicide applications from 15 per year to 2 to 3 depending on weather conditions. To me, seeing such a huge decrease in fungicide use means results.”

Like many in the industry, Gold has grown up on turf. “My mother worked at the spring training complex in Florida,” says Gold. “At age 15 I got a job cutting grass in the neighborhood. At that time nothing seemed cooler than being able to work the spring training complex.” Gold worked the training complex until he graduated high school. After several other turf field positions, Gold received an offer with the Blue Rocks. Twenty years later, Gold is still happily caring for the Blue Rocks field. “It “grew” on me,” he said of the field.

Just like the field, Holganix grew on Gold too. He first started testing the Holganix program in early 2012. By 2013, after seeing great results, Gold decided to jump on board. Root depth is what I notice the most,” says Gold who reports seeing 6 to 8 inch roots throughout the year. “Just the other day, we replaced the irrigation head. When we removed sections of the turf to replace the irrigation, it is like picking up a bowling ball because of all the roots.” All in all, Gold says he has longer roots than ever before.

The cool thing about Holganix, says Gold is that it really is healthy for the plant. At the end of the day, “The turf plant and the human body are pretty similar,” says Gold. For a human, eating too much carbs or bad fats can be damaging to your health. For turf, synthetics act the same way. “My goal is to nurture a healthy plant not create a fat one.” Holganix allows Gold to utilize drastically less nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides while promoting plant health. 

Tags: organic fertilizer products, reviews, organic sports turf management, holganix, sports turf, organic fertilizer, turf, compost tea, sports turf management, sports turf reviews, Delaware Blue Rocks

Marketing Hints and Tips: Bionutritional Summit Highlights

 

Everyone believes their business is special. It's their creation—their baby. But is it remarkable? Eric Keiles, the keynote speaker from the Bionutritional Summit says YES! — but you have to show your customers WHY.

 

In order to truly dial into your company’s remarkability, business owners should answer these four questions:

  • What is your target market?  Really get to know your customers—and what is important to them. Don’t just assume you know your customers by stereotyping through demographics. Talk to them! Speak with them!                                                           
  • What pains and problems do they have?  Your customers’ pain points can be found through the services they purchase from your company. However, have you thought about this question on a deeper level —to find additional pains and problems—or truly tried to understand them?                                                                                                                            
  • How does your company currently solve those problems?  Often, there is pain located beyond the surface level pain. Think it through. Providing extra solutions for your customer can easily lead you to question number four.                                                    
  • How can you make those solutions “Remarkable?” Being remarkable (and memorable) means going above and beyond your customers’ expectations. This also involves being mindful of what expectations your competitors have set with customers. Where is the bar set? And how can you raise it? 

Once you determine your company’s remarkability, consistently promote it to “pull” customers through your company’s marketing funnel. 

Screen_Shot_2014-11-20_at_2.16.19_PM

Give customers reasons (great content) to keep coming back to your website and social media channels. Don’t just scream “Buy” to them! Create a relationship with your customers. You will stand out—remarkably!

If you couldn’t make it to the 2014 Bionutritional Summit—don’t worry. We are doing it again in 2015! Mark your calendar to join us on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, the day before GIE + Expo in Louisville, KY. 

Here is a recap of the comments we received after this year’s event!

Screen_Shot_2014-11-20_at_2.18.12_PM

- This article is written by Holganix Communication Specialist, Suzanne Longacre 

Tags: lawn care, marketing hints and tips, lawn care marketing, lawn care company, lawn care industry, inbound marketing lawn care, turf industry

Holganix case studies: Healthier plants; healthier situation?

“If you’ve got a healthier plant; you’ve got a better situation overall,” states Ray Cuzzone, Director of Landscape Services at Mountain Lake Corporation, a private home community nestled in Lake Wales, Florida. To Cuzzone, a healthier plant means better drought, disease and insect resistance. “Your goal as a landscaper is to build up the plant’s health as much as possible.” At the end of the day, Ray believes Holganix is the ticket to building up plant strength naturally. 



Screen_Shot_2014-11-12_at_5.30.53_PM-1

 



photo_4Originally established in 1915, Mountain Lake Corporation includes over 125 homes, a restored Seth Raynor golf course and a historical colony house that serves as the clubhouse and inn. Cuzzone has the pleasure of maintaining beautiful multi-million-dollar properties belonging to the club and members.

However, Cuzzone isn’t new to the turf scene. Like many in the industry, he’s worked his way up the ladder- from a mechanic at a Florida golf course to the superintendent of that same course. Following his tenure as a superintendent, Cuzzone ventured into sales, representing several green industry companies. However, once he had the chance to get back into the turf care business, he leapt at the opportunity.

While Cuzzone had heard of bionutritional products before, he admits he was pressured into giving it a shot by members. “Our community is very passionate about using natural and organic products. I talk a lot about how we are using organics to the members,” says Cuzzone. “They’re pleased with the results.”

The members aren’t the only ones that are pleased with results. Cuzzone has been on the Holganix program for three years and is excited by the state of his turf. “We’ve seen some nice root development, which also led to a reduction in irrigation.” At the same time, the turf has been healthier and denser with considerably less brown patch (a disease that has plagued Mountain Lake for years).

In terms of reducing inputs, “we’ve been able to reduce inputs significantly.” He reports a 20% reduction in nitrogen fertilizer and fungicides. Cuzzone also has been able to eliminate his spring and fall sludge applications, which had the original intention of building the biology within the soil. Because of the reduction in inputs, “Holganix easily pays for itself.”

At the end of the day, Cuzzone and the members are happy with the fantastic results. “I’ve been in the business a long time,” says Cuzzone. “I know when stuff works and when stuff doesn’t. And let me tell you, Holganix sure does work!” 

photo_1[1]-1

Screen_Shot_2014-11-12_at_5.29.22_PM-2 


 

Tags: organic fertilizer products, organic lawn care products, reviews, lawn care, holganix, organic lawn care, organic fertilizer, compost tea, case studies, golf

This one is for our veterans!


Holganix is proud to be part of the VETS  (Veterans Environmental Technology and Solutions Program), which is championed by Rutgers University and the NJ Agriculture Experimental Station.  VETS provides green industry training for Veterans to develop the knowledge and skills to gain employment in the Agriculture and Landscaping sectors. There have even been some program graduates that have caught the entrepreneurial bug and started their own businesses, after graduating from the VETS Program, receiving guidance on building a business plan and applying for SBA funding. 

Jan Zientek, County Extension Department Head and Senior Program Coordinator has been tickled green with the results of the almost four year old VETS Program. “We chose organic land care for many reasons. First and foremost, many of the Veterans have compromised immune systems caused by exposures from their overseas duty, so all-natural products were a perfect fit.“ Much of the funding for VETS has been generated from the Superfund to clean up the Passaic River, which is appropriate, as fish farming is part of the program. There are people who resort to eating contaminated catfish caught from the Passaic River, because they don’t have jobs and it is a free source of food.  Zientek is hopeful that by teaching those in the program about aqua farming, that veterans will learn skills to help gain employment, and maybe even expand catfish farming to provide food for local residents.

Holganix Sales Representative Mike Reed is a Certified Pesticide Trainer, and has provided no-cost training for VETS Program Members to help prepare them for the pesticide certification test. This commitment of giving back is dear to the hearts of both Mike and the entire Holganix team, as evidenced by Holganix’s core values of being “Inspired, Positive and Grateful”.

There is a great match between our Veterans and the Green Land Care Industry. Many Vets like being outside, and there are much lower barriers to entry for those who want to start their own business” says Zientek. 


 

Dollarphotoclub-_american_flag

 


So on this Veteran’s Day 2014—how can you help???

New Jersey Residents: Reach out to Jan Zientek 'Jan Zientek (zientek@njaes.rutgers.edu) when you have a job opening, or if you can help the VETS Program in any way (Equipment donation, training services, etc.). Follow Rutgers NJ Ag Experimental Station at www.njaes.rutgers.edu or on Twitter: @RutgersNJAES

Residents of Other States: Reach out to your local Ag Extension Branch and/or Veterans Administration and State Dept. of Labor to see if there is a similar program. Think of Vets when you are looking for employees! 

To all our Veterans, we thank you for your service!  Happy Veterans Day!!

This special blog is by Suzanne Longacre (Holganix Communication Specialist)

 

Tags: lawn care, lawn care business, Rutgers university, turf industry, veterans

Holganix Case Study: Better for the turf and the students


"It all started when The State University of New York at Fredonia started creating programs campus-wide to involve less chemicals and more organic products. That program involves everything from cleaning products to the way we care for our plants and turf," says Head Grounds Supervisor Richard Newton of his search for organic turf products.

fredonia

Holganix caught his eye because it allowed Newton to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizer use on campus grounds and fields. Holganix is a 100% organic, bionutritional turf and plant fertility product that allows fertilizer users like Newton to drastically reduce their synthetic inputs (pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers). It functions like a probiotic, naturally building up the plant to promote growth and better withstand insects and disease. 

So far, Newton reports that the increased "root growth we have seen has not only caused the turf to absorb more nutrients, thereby cutting down on waste and runoff, but also allowed us to cut down on our chemical fertilizer use by 20% this first year alone." Root growth has increased by 2+ inches and some root systems exceed 6 inches in total length.

fredonia_roots

After growing up in a family-oriented retail nursery and landscape business, Newton likes to say that, "the green industry found me." At Fredonia, Newton is the Head Grounds Supervisor, which involves maintaining athletic fields in addition to the general grounds of the campus.

"There have been many benefits to using Holganix," says Newton. Color has been great, even with the reduction in nitrogen fertilizer and turf plant and root density has improved. Furthermore, despite a long history of suffering from leaf spot, that too has been more easily controlled.

The soccer field is sand-based and features 100% blue grass turf. With the start of soccer season, Newton reports that they have had great results with color and wear tolerance. The softball and baseball fields have been maintained with a 50% reduction in inputs.

Newton started the Holganix program with a one-time application of 14 ounces per 1,000 square feet of Holganix in early spring. Following the initial application, Newton and his team have applied two applications of 7 ounces per 1,000 square feet each. "It was nice to be presented with the opportunity to use Holganix by our friends at Lakeside Sod [a New York-based distributor of Holganix products]," says Newton.

"While we are primarily using the product on our athletic fields, we've also used Holganix on high visible and well-trafficked areas around the campus," says Newton. "There has been an easily noticeable improvement in color and density of the grass."

Newton isn't the only one that's excited about the performance of Holganix on the turf. According to Senior Athletics Groundskeeper Brent Kawski, "The coloring and root growth are phenomenal. I look forward to seeing what the turf looks like in the spring and next summer, after having a full year of the product at work on the field."

Ultimately, turf performance isn't the only thing that matters to Newton. "As Head Grounds Supervisor, my role is not to just look at the quality of the grass on the playing field, but also to look at what I am subjecting students to, as far as chemicals, and also to make sure that our turf maintenance dollars are spent in the most efficient way possible. From what I have seen so far of Holganix, I think the product fits all those needs in the best possible way."

Tags: holganix sports turf, organic fertilizer products, organic sports turf management, holganix, sports turf, holganix reviews, organic fertilizer, turf, holganix review

Marketing Hints and Tips: Get out of the rat race!


In his Editor’s Insight this month, Chuck Bowen of Lawn and Landscape warned companies to steer clear of the rat race – or the race to offer the lowest price possible in order to capture market share. A lot of the time, we are so manically focused on attaining new customers, that we offer impossible-to-fulfill promises and forget to look back at the numbers and whether or not those promises are sustainable.

The academics like to call the rat race the Cost Leadership Strategy after Michael Porters’ Harvard Business Review article, What is Strategy?. It’s the strategy few can afford; where companies offer the lowest price possible to beat the competition. Think of Walmart and their “Always low prices... always!” slogan. No one can beat Walmart on price, but can you run a sustainable business on Walmart pricing?


Dollarphotoclub_57685303


However, this isn’t the only strategy available. Differentiating your company allows you to command a higher price than national lawn care companies. Position your brand in a way that allows you to attract customers while avoiding the price trap. Going green or promoting the fact that your company is results-driven are two ways of differentiating your company. Another example is Southern Botanical, a Dallas, Texas-based company featured in this year’s L&L 100 list. Southern Botanical is laser focused on offering the best customer service in the region. In order to fulfill that goal, they send their employees to train at 5-star hotels like the Four Seasons and the Ritz Carlton.

So, as you start planning your next marketing piece, be wary of hard-to-fulfill offers. While it’s important to capture the reader’s attention, creating a sustainable business model is the real trump card.


 

Tags: lawn care, marketing, marketing hints and tips, lawn care marketing, lawn care company

Which is more important? Roots or green foliage.

 

Which part of the turf are your constituents going to grade you on: the thriving, green foliage above the soil or the length and density of roots below the surface? At the end of the day, your constituents want the greenest turf possible. Very few pay attention to what occurs below the surface. However, roots are important not only for the good of your turf but also for the environment. Learn to use your soil and roots as an asset and make it one of your major considerations when designing your programs. 

plants_in_cups-3

Want to learn more about roots? Check out our new ebook: Turf Grass Roots: Technical Report. 

In this report, we’ll explore different roles roots play and their symbiotic relationship with the plant and soil: 

1. Root hairs - a neglected but important aspect of the root
2. Roots - the food delivery system
3. Sustainability - the part roots play in sustainability in the environment

 

 

Tags: turfgrass, holganix, bionutrition, roots, turf roots, turf, compost tea

Holganix Case Studies: Mother Nature grows these plants; not me!


 

“Mother Nature needs to grow these plants; not me,” says Jeff Betters, superintendent of Walden Oaks Country Club in Cortland, New York. Betters has been using Holganix for two years at Walden, primarily on greens and tees. Essentially, the living microorganisms in Holganix allow Betters to work with Mother Nature, putting the soil ecosystem in balance. Ultimately, this means Betters is able to drastically reduce his synthetic inputs.


Screen_Shot_2014-10-20_at_6.13.17_PM


For Betters, his passion for the golf course industry blossomed at age eight. “It all started with a weed whacker and a couple golf lessons… that’s when the golf bug hit me,” says Betters. His original plan was to become a golf pro but he “couldn’t quite keep up” so he pivoted his plan and took to caring for the course instead of playing on it.

After spending several years at golf courses around the nation, Betters found his way back to his hometown, caring for the local golf course. Walden Oaks is an 18-hole semiprivate course comprised of 80% sand base and 20% clay-gravel soils. The course sees 40,000 rounds of golf and 100 tournaments on average each year. “It’s a golf factory!” says Betters.

Members of the course were people Betters grew up with. “They were teachers of mine... coaches and friends. I like that they are playing on turf that’s treated with an organic product.” While traditionally not a huge advocate for organic products, he has quickly grown to appreciate what Holganix can do for his course.

Holganix is a 100% organic, bionutritional product that allows inputs to work more effectively. It also makes nutrients already present in the soil and air available for plant use. Ultimately, this means a reduction in inputs.

“At the end of the day,” says Betters, “I’m a lean and mean facility… nitrogen fertilizer and fuel are huge costs for me.” With Holganix, Betters reports that he’s nearly eliminated his nitrogen use. “It’s because Holganix has allowed the plants to better access nitrogen already present in the soil after years of applications. In the future, adding nitrogen back in our program may be necessary.”

With Holganix, Betters has also been getting more effective use out of fungicides and a decrease in black layer. His pesticide rates have also been reduced. “I’m excited to see how far we can take the Holganix program at Walden Oaks,” says Betters.

As an added benefit, Betters is excited to announce that the native animals are coming back to the course. “I’ve got more bald eagles on this site than ever before,” states Betters. “When golfers see all the nature and animals… I mean this is priceless! I’m creating moments for people.”


 

Tags: golf reviews, golf, golf case studies

The greatest show on earth... or at least for the lawn care industry!

 

The greatest show on earth!

In a few weeks, our entire industry will pack up its bags and jet set to Louisville, Kentucky for GIE+EXPO - or what those of us in the green industry call “the greatest show on earth!” Entering the show is like entering a circus arena. With 750 exhibitors clamoring to get your attention, thousands of turf enthusiasts swarming, and a Merriam-Webster-sized list of parties, concerts and educational events, it’s difficult to know how to navigate the chaos. Here are four simple tricks of the trade to help smooth your GIE+EXPO journey!


Capture


1. Network, network, network!

Perhaps the most crucial element of GIE+EXPO is the opportunity to network with individuals in the industry. Often, it’s difficult for lawn care companies to learn from fellow turf heads. That’s because those located closest to you are your biggest competitors. Because GIE+EXPO is a national event, you have the opportunity to learn from another lawn care company in a completely different market than yours. “Despite all the awesome educational opportunities,” says Holganix CEO Barrett Ersek, “when I was running my lawn care company, the greatest learning opportunity was from networking with others in the industry.”

2. Come with a goal in mind

With any project, it’s important to attend GIE+EXPO with a goal in mind – whether it’s learning about new aeration tools or pesticides. Without a clear goal, it’s difficult not to get distracted by the glitz and glam of the show.

3. Free education

If you’re not growing, you’re dying! Take this opportunity to capitalize on the free educational events where you can pick up new tricks of the trade and credits to boot. This year, two sessions will be in Spanish from the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance. Be sure to check out GIE+EXPO’s free education events here.

4. Action items

By day two, it’s easy to find yourself getting swamped with excess knowledge and good ideas. Before leaving GIE+EXPO, look through your notes and select the three most impactful learnings from the entire event. Then go and put those top priorities into practice at your own company!


Keep in mind...

As always, be sure to come and visit the Holganix booth (Booth #10178) and our Bionutritional Summit on October 22, 2014 (the day before GIE+EXPO). We can’t wait to see you at GIE+EXPO!


 

Tags: lawn care, holganix, turf, landscape, GIE&EXPO, Lawn care trade show, Louisville, GIE

What does sustainability really mean?

We hear a lot about sustainability in our industry today. But what does sustainability actually mean? According to Dictionary.com, “sustainability is defined as the quality of not being harmful to the environment, depleting natural resources and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.” Well, that definition is all well and good on paper, but what does sustainability really mean? 

Watermellon_kid-1

 

On a September 5 webinar entitled Sustainability and preparing for another winter, Professor Cale A. Bigelow of Purdue University stated that in reality, sustainability includes three major inter-related components otherwise known as the 3 Es:

Environmental protection
Economic prosperity and continuity
Equity or the social well-being

For those in golf or any turf-related field, the government or pressure from the general masses is influencing the way we care for plants and turf.  Fertilizer, pesticide and water regulations are looming in many regions around the country. Even if they aren’t putting pressure on your course or landscape today that doesn’t mean regulations and public pressure won’t come in to play tomorrow.

Consider how you can make your course or landscapes greener. For turf professionals, that could mean introducing native plants in landscapes that consume less water and sometimes require less fertilizers and pesticides; it could also mean introducing organics to turf fertility programs to cut back on synthetic reliance; or utilizing green machinery.

For some of our turf brethren overseas, alternative and/or sustainable practices are the only option. For example, in 1997, the Danish government declared a ban on pesticide use on all public lands. This ban included the country’s 180 golf courses. The Danish Golf Union retaliated but by 2005, the government and union reached an agreement to reduce pesticide use by 75% within 3 years.

While we might not be facing as much pressure as Denmark, public attitudes towards sustainability and government regulations are in vogue. Check out Professor Cale A. Bigelow’s presentation on sustainability and preparing for another winter for the full story. 



Want to hear professor Cale Bigelow speak? Attend his presentation at the 2014 Bionutritional Summit, the day before GIE+EXPO. Click the button below to sign up now!

Tags: organic fertilizer products, lawn care, the science behind holganix, sports turf, organic fertilizer, golf, sustainability, golf sustainability, lawn care sustainability