The Holganix Blog:
“Be on your game this spring!”
In parts of the Northeast, spring is arriving in full swing, leaving lawn care operators scrambling to start round one of applications. Further up the coast, the region still looks more like a winter wonderland than anything closely related to spring. With the poor weather and new Massachusetts legislation limiting fertilizer application timing, “the Northeast is facing a compressed spring,” says Holganix Representative, Mike Reed. “Round one applications are two weeks to two months behind schedule depending on the region.”
For lawn care operators, that means you are either going to have to work smart or potentially lose a whole round of fertilization on lawns. Another option is to shorten the intervals between rounds to make up the slack. However, for those that are pushing to stay on schedule, it’s important to utilize products not based on round but by the time of the season. In other words, putting down broadleaf weed control (something commonly practiced in the Northeast regions during round two) may need to be applied during round one. Otherwise, Reed cautions, “By the time you get to spraying broadleaf weed control in round two, the weeds will be the size of cabbages and clearly much harder to control.”
Reed represents the Northeast region, specifically New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire (see left for a picture of Reed... well his Doppelganger, Chris Farley and his buddy Rob Lowe (right) from the movie, Tommy Boy). Reed’s a big ball of energy and can talk your socks off if you dare let him. However, Reed wasn’t always a Holganix enthusiast. In fact, 4 years ago he worked at Lesco with the purpose to disprove Holganix as pure snake oil. It all started when Holganix customer (and then Lesco customer) Tom Winkler of Go Organic made the switch to Holganix in 2010. Less than a week later, another of Reed’s customers was asking about Holganix. Reed’s thoughts at the time? “Who are these clowns at Holganix?” Less than a month after speaking with Winkler, Reed promptly found himself a member of the Holganix Team.
Going into the spring season, Reed cautions Holganix users to get pre-emergent down in a timely fashion. “The old wives tale is that crab grass germinates when the Forsythia bloom and it’s crap.” However, the true germination time for crab grass occurs when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees during both day and night for three days in a row. LCOs in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and coastal NY should start to see crab grass in mid-May, while New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and up state New York crab grass starts early June. That means there’s still plenty of time for pre-emergents to be applied.
Another big issue Reed has been seeing in the field is improper calibration by LCOs. “75% of the people I see are improperly calibrating. Sometimes that means they are putting down too much product but often it means LCOs aren’t putting down nearly enough to get good results.” Either way, improperly calibrating can mean big costs for lawn care companies. Those that apply too much product are breaking their budget and cutting down on profit margin. Those that aren’t applying nearly enough product are going to be victims of added service calls to unhappy customers. The average cost per service call is around $50 - $125 per visit depending on the region/market and size of the company. Also, those spreading granular this spring, be weary of cheating edges of the lawn and areas along the road. While you may not want fertilizer spread onto the road thereby spending time on clean up, you’ll risk the threat of cinch bugs and crab grass along those key edges. “At the end of the day, LCOs have to be on their game this spring,” says Mike Reed. Watch the below video on properly calibrating your sprayer for Holganix. Click here for additional information regarding calibration, including helpful worksheets.
Marketing Hints and Tips:
It’s okay to pivot
A captain can’t guide his ship in a straight line. Instead, he must chart his course and tack and jibe so as to best catch the wind. The journey turns into a zig zag pattern, but at the end, the captain still reaches port. With our companies, we often chart a course that looks more like a straight line, going from point A to point B with little in terms of challenges. Often, we find that as we run our companies, our journey looks less and less like a straight line and more like a captain’s zigs and zags. We stumble across turbulent waters and roadblocks and are forced to pivot and change the direction of our companies in order to overcome our challenges. At the end of the day, we still reach port – that goal for your company, but it certainly isn’t smooth sailing to get there.
In our industry, there’s nothing smooth about our journey. This year in particular has sent many lawn care owners scrambling as they try not to take on water. We are continually tacking, changing direction in our business in order to overcome the challenges Mother Nature throws our way. Those of us in snow plowing are either winning big or suffering from the fixed costs associated with snowplow contracts. Lawn care operators are weeks behind schedule starting round one of fertilization. While, lawn care marketers and salesmen, despite their best efforts to begin marketing and selling in the winter, weren’t seeing the leads and sales they’re accustomed to in March; after all, homeowners just can’t think of spring when the winter never seemed to end.
So, remember, as you come across turbulence in your business, it’s okay to tack.
The Holganix Blog:
There are lots of things to consider when contemplating Holganix and the equipment you choose to use. A lot of these decisions can also help you increase your productivity at the shop. Watch the recorded webinar above for additional information.
Here’s what you need to know!
- Liquid vs. Granular -- When considering between granular and liquid fertilizers, liquid fertilizers are on average x times more efficient to apply than granular. Not only does it mean less wasted fertilizer is scattered onto pavement and unwanted areas, but pulling a hose can actually be easier and more time effective than pushing a spreader or utilizing a mechanized spreader when treating under 10,000 square feet of turf. The cost of liquid fertilizers can also be more attractive. Whether or not you’re considering the cost of liquid Holganix or just ordinary liquid fertilizers, liquid tends to be cheaper than their granular counterparts.
- Old vs. New Equipment -- When outfitting your equipment for Holganix, you have to consider the benefits of either retrofitting your old equipment or purchasing new equipment. Both LT Rich and Gregson Clark equipment can be easily retrofitted for Holganix and both companies are happy to work with the Holganix community to make the conversion an easy process. If you are considering purchasing non-mechanized spray systems, Holganix COO Dave Thompson loves the Eco-505 Injection System that features a dual trigger hose, allowing you to spray Holganix from one nozzle on your hose and then at the press of a button spray pesticides from a second nozzle on that same hose. It saves time and allows you to more easily practice Integrated Pest Management.
- The Holganix RAD -- As a Holganix user, you are automatically guaranteed refrigeration options best suited for the size of your organization. RADs, which stands for Refrigeration Automatic Dispensing systems, allow you to automatically deposit Holganix safely into tanks located in your truck. Not only is this safer for your technicians who are often at risk of slipping on wet ladders when filling tanks, but it also allows you to cut down on your fill time. On average, it takes 1-5 minutes to fill a 250-gallon tank through the use of your RAD.
- Calibration -- Calibrating your sprayers correctly is extremely important for Holganix users. By not correctly calibrating your spray systems, you run the risk of incorrectly applying Holganix to your lawns. The three biggest variables to consider when calibrating your spray system are walking speed, spray width and pump speed. All three variables can affect the use of Holganix. Click here to learn more about calibration.
Marketing Hints and Tips:
The next time an angry customer gives you a ring, please listen. We become so mesmerized with how great our own company is that sometimes we forget to listen to those that think otherwise. We blame their bad experience to their high expectations or just pure dumb luck. Sometimes this is the case, but often it’s not. By listening to our dissatisfied customers, we can stop a small problem before it becomes a big one and take advantage of a powerful marketing opportunity: word of mouth.
According to a Business Insider article, “When customers complain, they are giving your company an opportunity to improve your business.” At the end of the day, customers are acting in their own self-interest and they have no problem giving you the cold, hard truth. A complaint is a powerful tool that allows you to “turn the negatives represented by complaints into positives.”
In a 1971 study by John Goodman, Goodman discovered that complaints could be “turned into a powerful marketing force to drive sales, repeat business and greater profits.” According to Goodman, 4% of people that have a bad experience with a service/product will complain. The other 96% of people stop their service and tell 9-10 people about their experience within a week. The 4% that complained will tell “6-7 others within a week that the company solved their problem.” That’s a great marketing opportunity for lawn care companies. The power and influence of word of mouth in the green industry has only increased with the introduction of social media and the Internet.
In a previous company, Holganix CEO, Barrett Ersek, turned complaints into an opportunity to upsell. When customers called complaining about crabgrass, he could educate and sell them aeration and seeding. Or, as technicians went to fix the problem, they could use the opportunity to sell an additional service such as tree and shrub or a pest program depending on the needs of the client.
So next time, please listen to the complaints. You might just win because of it.
Holganix Case Studies
"Our members rave about the greens"
Anthony Robertson, golf and grounds superintendent at Bloomington Country Club in Bloomington, Indiana, dedicated his career to maintaining beautiful golf courses. He’s been in the industry since 1998, starting as an assistant superintendent before becoming a golf superintendent four years ago.
As a golf course superintendent, Robertson has used several different organic products on his course. In general, these organic products have been fertilizers, which he’s applied to the greens. Overall, his experience with Holganix over the past year has been exciting. In particular, Robertson attributes Holganix to the improved rooting on his putting surfaces and in the quick aerification recovery seen at Bloomington this year.
“We saw great [aerification] recovery within 10 days while using the minimal amount of nitrogen,” reports Robertson. Robertson cut out all granular nitrogen applications during the recovery time and simply sprayed 1/10 lb of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet with Holganix. At the end of the day, “Our members were raving about how quickly the greens have healed after such an aggressive core aerification.”
Watch the testimonial above, to learn about Robertson’s full story with Holganix at Bloomington Country Club.
The Holganix Blog:
Designing Your Fertility Program
Each year Mother Nature throws us a curve ball; designing a fertility program allows us to be better prepared for weather conflicts that might tamper with an otherwise successful 2014. When designing a program, you have three choices to pick from: liquid, granular and Hybrid programs. Each program has its benefits and drawbacks.
- Liquid programs -- With a liquid program, lawn care companies can expect to pay less on average for liquid materials as opposed to their granular counterparts. This is true whether you’re discussing Holganix products or most other fertilizers. However, the real drawback to the liquid program is that cold weather spraying can be problematic mainly due to sprayers, which can easily freeze during the chilly early spring period. Equipment expenses when purchasing new equipment can also be higher than granular.
- Granular -- While granular fertilizers won’t be held back due to a chilly spring, granular products tend to cost more. On the other hand, Holganix granular will allow you to deliver high amounts of carbon, which helps feed the soil biology and support the overall soil ecosystem. Unfortunately, those utilizing Holganix granular as opposed to Holganix liquid will not be able to decrease their use of herbicides. Equipment expenses for granular products also tend to be less expensive when purchasing than liquid.
- Hybrid -- Hybrid programs can be a healthy mix of both granular and liquid products. Because lawn care operators can use granular products in cold weather, and liquid throughout the remainder of the year, hybrid programs allow for flexibility.
To learn more about designing a program including variables such as grass types, pre-emergents, regulations and reductions of synthetics through the use of Holganix, be sure to watch the above recorded webinar.
Holganix Case Studies:
I’m ready for the sun to shine down on me!
“I’m ready for a brighter day. I’m ready for the sun to shine down on me. I’m ready for a brand new plan,” sings Holganix representative Dennis Dary in his Wisconsin twang before the Holganix team. And aren’t we all ready for that spring sun to shine?
It doesn’t matter where you’re located, Old Man Winter seems to be on everyone’s mind going into the spring season. “In all my years taking care of turf, I don’t remember any [winter] as harsh as this one,” admits Dary.
Dary’s territory covers Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, representing one of the worst-hit areas in the States in terms of snow and cold temperatures this year. Some of the winter stresses turf professionals may see this spring are: low temperature kill, ice coverage, frost heaving and winter desiccation.
Although Dary expects to see some winter injury this spring, he feels optimistic that the mountains of snow Mother Nature delivered will help keep injury at bay in the Midwest region. “Snow cover can act as an isolation for your turf. Hopefully, the abundance of snow cover has kept winter injury to a minimum,” reports Dary. According to Holganix inventor and scientist Stephen T. Lange, Holganix may help protect against winter injury (for more information on Holganix and winter injury, click here).
“We will find out how the turf handled the long cold winter very soon. Spring can’t be too far behind!” Or maybe it’s farther than we think. Mother Nature just dumped another 2 inches of snow on the region and the 10-day outlook appears dismal. “There aren’t any days above 40 degrees projected and night-time temperatures are still in the teens and twenties,” says Dary. “The whole region is over a month behind and this spring everyone will be playing catch up to get their golf courses and lawn care operations under control.”
Dary is a psychology major turned turf enthusiast who just so happens to be the lead singer of a Christian rock band dubbed Restored. But at the end of the day, Dary just likes being outside and has a huge passion for serving the green industry. Dary has been in the green industry since 1991. He worked as an assistant superintendent and then superintendent for several years in southern Wisconsin before going into the golf sales world. “Being a young assistant superintendent was great; you’re working on the course and then you get to play a little golf on the side. The funny thing is that the more I worked on turf the less time I had to play!”
Dary joined the Holganix Team in mid October of 2013 and manages the Midwest market. Dary believes that Holganix can be a great tool to help alleviate stress on plants (turf, trees, etc). Since Dary has started at Holganix, the number of golf courses in the area using Holganix has increased from 10 to over 100 courses. “A lot of the increased popularity is from word of mouth,” says Dary. “Superintendents utilizing Holganix are seeing great results and they’re telling everyone about their experiences.”
Dary reports that courses using Holganix are seeing root growth 2 to 3 times the industry average for the Midwest region. Thatch reduction has also been a huge bonus for superintendents. For example, a Geneva National Palmer Course utilizing Holganix on their tees saw a .5-.75 inch reduction in thatch after making four applications in one season.
This spring, Dary is excited to introduce Holganix’s new product for seed development – a granular product called 7-9-5. Holganix 7-9-5 has a catalytic effect, making nutrients work 2 to 3 times more effectively than usual. The balanced nutrition in combination with Holganix’s ability to speed seed germination, makes 7-9-5 a great choice in areas that need help after this winter. Keep in mind that applying an Holganix product after the cold winter will strengthen existing plants and aid in the establishment of new ones. Starting off the growing season with applications of Holganix is critical to improving soil health, leading to sustainable turf throughout the season.
At the moment, Dary admits that Holganix users in the Midwest are primarily in the golf market. “We have a ratio of about 80:20 golf to lawn care in the Midwest. However, this spring I look forward to helping our distributor, ProGro, develop the lawn care market further in the region.”
Holganix Case Studies
"Everything ties back to the roots"
“For the root growth alone,” states Cory Troyer, superintendent of the renowned Indiana golf course, Otter Creek. “Holganix is worth every penny.” Why is this superintendent so adamant about his experience with Holganix? It turns out that for Troyer, it’s all about the roots. “When you have a healthy root system, you have healthy turf. Everything ties back to the roots.” Troyer, who typically sees his bentgrass reach 1.5 inches in length and his poa reach .5 inch, has reported seeing 4-inch roots consistently all year. Because of the healthy roots, Troyer believes that Holganix has helped him achieve better stress management.
Otter Creek Golf Course has been named one of the top 5 public golf courses in the state of Indiana every year since it was built in 1964. “Otter Creek has a great reputation and a fantastic layout,” says Troyer. Troyer has been with Otter Creek since graduating college. He was named Otter Creek’s superintendent in 2003 and has been enjoying himself every since. “Keeping Otter Creek beautiful is an ongoing and welcoming challenge. It never gets boring.”
Holganix wasn’t the first organic product Troyer has tried at Otter Creek. In fact, Troyer claims that he’s tried biological products similar to Holganix. “I’m always willing to try something new,” states Troyer. His philosophy of constant innovation has led Troyer to reap the benefits of Holganix, ultimately increasing the quality of his course. “Holganix has been a great addition to my turf management program!” says Troyer.
For more information regarding Otter Creek Golf Course’s experiences with Holganix, check out the below video testimonial featuring Superintendent Corey Troyer.
The Science Behind Holganix:
Meet Holganix with Steady Grow
After five years, Holganix has announced the enhancement of Holganix Lawn, now Holganix Lawn with Steady Grow. Holganix has been known for its unique ability to drastically support root growth and create sustainable turf. With the new Steady Grow formulation, Holganix will further focus the plant to foster root growth while promoting a steady growth pattern to the plant, without surge growth. Holganix with Steady Grow will improve the Carbon:Nitrogen ratio in the soil. This process allows nitrogen to be available to the plant gradually over an extended time, allowing the plant to grow at a natural pace as opposed to forced surged growth. For full service lawn care providers, this means reducing clipping yields, ultimately leading to money saved and an increase in sustainability.
Clipping reduction with Holganix was illustrated in a study performed at the University of Illinois. The study compared turf treated with 1 pound of nitrogen with and without Holganix. The researchers discovered that there was a 9.7% reduction in clippings in the turf treated with Holganix despite utilizing equal rates of nitrogen. Other studies have shown that Holganix allows nitrogen fertilizer to work more effectively at less than normal rates. The combination of decreased nitrogen use teamed with the Carbon:Nitrogen ratio results in a powerful reduction in surge growth and subsequently in clipping yields.
Ed Fleming, owner of a full-service lawn care company, Lawns Unlimited in Lewes, Delaware, confirms that surge growth is at the root of many expenses for his company. Surge growth expenses include not only the dumping and transportation fees but also the increase in time and labor expenses as well as the wear and tear on equipment. “We were astounded to have a 50% reduction in clippings with the use of Holganix,” states Fleming. “No more baling hay!”
Holganix Case Studies:
"Dam* that's a lot of roots!"
We were at the Golf Course Industry Show in Orlando, Florida. Our trade show booth was small but packed with superintendents and golf course management enthusiasts who were either using Holganix or were interested in giving it a shot. It was absolute chaos in the best possible way. With more and more golf courses utilizing Holganix and getting great results, our Holganix golf community was taking flight and it was exciting.
Gary Crowell, a visiting superintendent at our booth, strolled up to Nicole Wise (our head of marketing) and grabbed for a manila folder out of his backpack. “Nicole, I have a story for you!” he said as he flipped back the manila folder to reveal several glossy prints of stunning turf roots. And he was right; Crowell did have a story for Holganix.
While New Year’s Eve is never a quiet occasion, it was especially chaotic for Crowell, superintendent of Myerlee Country Club in Fort Myers, Florida. “That night, a couple of kids decided to take their car for a joy ride… on my golf course,” began Crowell. Crowell peeled off the damaged turf and he discovered something unusual: white succulent roots (see image 2). “Dam*, there were a lot of roots!” exclaimed Crowell. “Typically, our turf doesn’t have good root establishment and the roots are far and few between.” Furthermore, it was January, when root growth isn’t at its best and after a summer that brought in tons of rain. The best part is that much of the damaged turf healed in properly and didn’t need to be re-sprigged.
Crowell believes in simple agronomics. He had experimented with bionutritional products over the past 20 years and was familiar with the science behind Holganix. However, previous products required that you mix several separate components (primarily food sources or nonliving biology), whereas Holganix is an all-in-one solution that contains living biology.
Holganix is a 100% organic, bionutritional turf and plant fertility product that allows fertilizer users to drastically reduce their chemical inputs. Holganix is a probiotic solution to turf care revolved around nurturing the soil ecosystem, ultimately allowing Mother Nature back to plant care. Crowell believes in getting back to the basics of biology and the soil. “After all, Mother Nature is here for a reason, why not let the plant do what it does best?”
Crowell started utilizing Holganix Blue Sky and Holganix liquid golf product in tandem with a slow-release nitrogen source and a few other “odds and ends.” He applied Blue Sky every 3 weeks and Holganix Golf every month over a period of six months.
At the end of the day, says Crowell, “I represent a low-budget golf course. If my course can get these kinds of results, so can yours.”