Thoughts from Green Industry Pros
May 13, 2021
In this episode of the Green Industry Perspectives Podcast, Ty Deemer welcomes Ryan Whisner, editor of Green Industry Pros.
In this episode, Ryan shares his thoughts on trends in the industry. He has cautious optimism for the future, but warns that it will be difficult to predict the future because 2020 and 2021 have been outlier years. Financial planning for 2022 forward will be difficult. However, Ryan sees so much potential for lawn care and landscaping, not just because of the boom in the past year, but also because of the technological advances the industry is embracing.
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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Why businesses need to account for 2020 in their financial planning
- The future of mowing and robotic mowers
- Why landscape companies need to diversify their services
- The top conferences he’s looking forward to
LINKS TO LOVE:
You are listening to the Green Industry Perspectives Podcast, presented by SingleOps. A podcast created for green industry professionals looking for best practices, tactics, and tips in running their tree care or landscape business.
All right, everyone. Welcome back to Green Industry Perspectives. I’m your host, Ty Deemer. Today, we’ve got a great episode for you. Ryan Whisner of Green Industry Pros is joining us, and he’s going to provide a ton of insight into the topics that he talks about with green industry professionals like you every day. Ryan, welcome to the show.
Hi, Ty. Thanks a lot for having me. As we were just discussing before we got started here, this is a little bit different for me, being on this side of the microphone. I’m happy to join you today, though.
Absolutely. We’re glad to have you. Ryan, we start off every episode the same way to provide immediate value for our listeners. And the question is pretty straight forward. Of your experience working at Green Industry Pros and writing stories for the green industry, what are the top two to three common threads or themes that you see in successful businesses in the green industry?
Sure, Ty. That’s a really good question, and I’ll see if I can stretch it out into three things. In thinking about this, I think it really seems to all tie together almost into one thing. To give you some perspective on things, I’ve been editor of Green Industry Pros for a little over two years, so my experience in the green industry is still relatively new.
But in those two years, I’ve certainly been to the various trade events and such. Although, certainly not last year, but nevertheless. Landscapers … What I’ve found is that, while a lot of people enjoy their jobs and enjoy what they do, in the green industry people just seem really passionate about it. Some of them do get that start-up where they’re in high school and they grab a walk-behind mower. They’re mowing their neighbor’s lawn and maybe their grandma’s lawn and whatever. They have a pick-up truck.
And then, they start advancing years later. Now, they have a business where they have a fleet of zero-turn mowers, and it’s just that dedication to being outdoors and making things look good and getting paid for it. They really enjoy it. I think even 2020 itself really led credence to that where, in the early stages, the whole issue for landscapers specifically was, “Okay. Are we essential? Or are we not?”
NALP and other industry associations really stepped up and were pushing to say, “Yes, landscaping is absolutely essential.” It really showed that there is a purpose for them to be out there, and that passion to instill that to the people, to their clients, and everything. It really stands out to me. One of my perfect examples for it is probably the best salesman for the industry, OPEI president, Kris Kiser.
I don’t know if you’ve spoken to him yet on this show at all. His primary industry certainly is on the manufacturing side, but he also really pushes the landscape professionals. There’s just that undying passion that carries throughout the entire green industry for taking care of the land and improving it. It really struck me.
In addition to that, to continue on with three things, I found that the contractors also are really willing to learn new things. For example, when you think of landscaping, that’s a wide range of things. There’s the lawn mowing, there’s the lawn care, which would be like the fertilizing and the weed care and that sort of thing. But then, there’s also irrigation, there’s tree care. For those in the winter areas, there’s snow removal.
There’s a wide range. Some of them are in very narrow bits and pieces of that, some of them are broad-ranged. There might be a guy who is lawn maintenance, so he only does the mowing, the trimming, the edging, that sort of thing. But he’s running into a wall. His business is just stalled now, and isn’t growing as much as he wants to. What does he do? He goes, “Oh. Well, I can get into lawn care.”
Well, that takes some guts to do that. That’s another step up to learn and get the certification to do those sorts of things and get into that. But they’re willing to do that, and step up and grow their businesses. Again, that happens in other lines of business, but it just seems to me that there’s a greater sense of willingness to do that within this area.
Lastly, tying those two together is, within the business area, is just the culture amongst the businesses that I’ve dealt with. Now, Green Industry Pros specifically, we tend to cater to those smaller businesses. Now, most landscaping businesses are smaller, but when I say smaller, I’m talking the 10 or less employees. I’m talking the guy with a truck, maybe a couple of employees, but he’s an owner-operator type. But they’re all dedicated.
They only have that handful of employees, but they’re more than happy when they have that crew leader or that guy that he’s gung-ho. He’s also really dedicated to that business, so when he wants to break off and create his own business that initial owner-operator is right behind him saying, “Go, for it,” and supporting him. Again, that’s mixed in with that passion and willingness to learn, because it’s all kind of the same thing, but they’re all supportive of each other.
There’s a camaraderie throughout the entire industry that I haven’t seen in some other industries where you get a lot more competition. Not that there isn’t. Not that people might not try and undersell somebody, but I’ve talked to guys where it’s like, “Oh, yeah. I have this side of the street, my competitor has the houses on the other side of the street. We have running games where we’ll stripe in different ways on different weeks, just because.” But their prices are similar enough where they don’t crossover much, and they get along really well together. I think that’s really impressive.
Absolutely. That’s definitely something that we’ve seen on this show in our three to four seasons of recording. Really, all three of those topics. Number one, the passion. Right? Truly, a lot of people in this space love what they do, and they love what they do for their customers. And then, all of those points that you just made do intersect. It’s an industry that’s willing to lean on each other, really teach one another, and it’s been fun for us to be involved with it as well.
I can tell for the last two years, you’ve really enjoyed it. Ryan, we also like to always have the guest provide some background. You mentioned that you’ve been at Green Industry Pros two years, but tell us about your journey up to the date, how you ended up at Green Industry Pros. And then, a little bit background about Green Industry Pros as well and what you all do there.
Sure, sure. Like I said, I’ve been at Green Industry Pros for two years. Prior to that, I was in the newspaper side of journalism for actually 20 years. That was the result of some very early on … Back in high school, I was into journalism. I grew up in the Chicago area, so my dream job would have been writing for the Chicago Tribune. As you can see, that didn’t happen.
But ultimately, I ended up landing at small town newspaper in Wisconsin. The Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson. To give you an idea of what I mean by small town, we’re talking only about 12,000 people. To put that in perspective, the county … It’s actually the same city that I now live in and where Green Industry Pros is actually based out of, ironically enough.
But in any case, size-wise Fort Atkinson is 12,000. The country that Fort Atkinson is in is 80,000. The city just a half-hour away is 80,000 by itself. It’s the same size of the entire county that Fort Atkinson is in. So 12,000 doesn’t sound small, but it actually is pretty small in the overall area that we’re in.
What was nice about working at that small paper though, was I got to really experience everything. I was a small town journalist. I covered school boards and city councils and all sorts of things, being that small town journalist. Nevertheless, I worked my way up to regional editor at that small paper, and was known within the news room as that go-getter news guy.
I grew up, even though I’m a little young to fit in … For whatever reason, my mantra has always followed the old Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, from the Watergate era. And their whole idea of having two sources and just that dogged determination within the journalism trade. That was always something I followed.
And I still to this day read the book and watch the movie, All the President’s Men, at least once a year, ironically enough. As far as coming onto Green Industry Pros, the way that came together is the newspaper got bought out by a larger corporation, so I decided to look for some other opportunities. It just so happens that Fort Atkinson is one of the handful of B2B havens within the US.
There was a company here that’s been under a couple different names. The company currently is AC Business Media that owns Green Industry Pros. The editor position became open. It just so happened that over the years, AC Business Media and the prior names it was under … We used to joke in the newspaper office about the giant sucking sound that it had. They would always swoop in.
We’d have a reporter come in fresh out of college, and they’d be with us for about two years. And then, they’d be gone to something bigger and better. Often that bigger and better was off to AC Business Media. When I came over, it ended up, “Oh, I know you. And I know you. And I know you. And I know you.”
There were at least three or four people still that I used to work with at the paper that now were at AC Business Media. And so, ACBM as it’s referred to for short, has owned several publications including Green Industry Pros. Most of them are on the construction side. Green Industry Pros is their landscape end. And so, we focus on the landscape contractors. Particularly, like I said, the smaller sized businesses.
We do have a tendency to focus on the equipment portion of things and that side. I do have a podcast as well, The Grassroots Podcast, which is why I mentioned not being used to being on the other side of the mic here. As for myself, the landscaping side of things certainly is new. I’m self-admitted not much of an outdoors man. I enjoy taking care of my lawn, but I’m just not a huge outdoors person myself.
But in these two years that I’ve experienced the green industry, I’ve come home more than a few times from a couple of press junkets or trade shows telling my wife, “I need to get one of these or those.” Some piece of equipment that would improve my ability to take care of my own lawn.
Absolutely. Well, thank you for providing that background. It’s cool to hear your journey. Really, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of built-up experience to know which stories to follow and which people to talk to in the green industry. That’s exciting.
Certainly, over the last year to two years, there’s been plenty of storylines in the green industry with COVID and then everything else. What has been one of your favorite storylines to cover as editor of Green Industry Pros over the last year or so?
It’s interesting, because I really … Being the former newsman that I was from the newspaper, as much as I tried to step away from being that guy as editor of Green Industry Pros, because it’s a different shift of style of writing … But within this last year, I was able to re-embrace that in covering the whole impact of COVID and how that impacted the industry. Because that had that built of a news-tilt to it.
It was nice to be able to reach out to some of the contractors, and just engage with them a little bit more and find out, “Okay. How is this impacting you?” There is, certainly, the financial impact of … There was that month where some of them just didn’t get a chance to work. There were some states where landscapers weren’t found essential. The battle that went on in Michigan was unreal.
It was lucky that the governor ultimately opened it up, because some of these yards literally weren’t getting cut. They didn’t even let them go mow the lawns. They just had to shut down their businesses completely. It was unreal. And so, for me, that was really surprising to be able to cover, because you don’t think about those types of things happening in this type of industry.
Versus my first year … Unquestionably, the most fun I had was being able to just even attend, let alone the overall storyline, but just getting to GIE for the first time. I imagine you’ve been, and that experience in and of itself is somewhat overwhelming to anyone new to the green industry.
No doubt. I love working at SingleOps and getting to take people to GIE for the first time, whether if it’s their first year at the company … Because that truly is, if you wanted a crash course on the industry, and really talking about those three threads you talked about earlier. The passion, the learning mindset, and then the culture around it. Go to GIE for three days and you’ll learn a lot.
Absolutely. That show was just … I had been to a couple of press events and I had been to one trade show, the SIMA Trade Show. And then, I walked into GIE, and I think even … I was walking right behind my publisher and I just stopped as I walked into the room, because I’m like, “I don’t even know where to start.” I was so overwhelmed.
And I was so bummed last year that GIE didn’t happen, because just before everything locked down, I had attended CONEXPO, which is even larger. But it’s more construction based and all of that sort of thing. I was really looking forward to getting back to GIE and getting to, “my people,” is the best way I can put it. Back to the landscapers. I’m looking forward to this October, to experiencing it again.
Absolutely. That’s a good segway into our next topic. You do talk to a lot of green industry professionals on a regular basis. And it does seem like we’re sort of on … We’re creeping towards the new normal, so to speak. Things are opening back up. Business is getting to be kind of like it was before. Although, pandemic aside, the green industry as a whole did pretty well during all of it.
How do you view … What’s the pulse on the industry right now? Are people optimistic going into this busy season? Is it crazier than usual? What all are you hearing as you’re talking to people about this year’s busy season?
That’s an interesting question. Because the reality of it is, like you said, last year, despite everything it ended up actually being one of the best years ever. Which is really tough for any small business, because then you can’t use it as a gauge. You can’t even factor it into an average, because it actually exceeded whatever your normal average is. Then, you’re going into ’21 going, “Okay. How do I budget for this now?”
Because I can’t expect necessarily the same. Because what happened is a lot of these people, they got the stimulus checks, and what did they spend them on? They spent them on outdoor projects. Home improvements were off the charts last year. On the manufacturing side, the purchase of outdoor power equipment was off the charts. The Home Depots and the Lowe’s couldn’t keep stuff in. Because what happened?
Everybody was at home, so they were buying their own stuff. But they were still calling the landscapers and the contractors to put in their patios, and put in the bushes around the patios, and all those sorts of outdoor things. Because they wanted outdoor space so they could still have potentially friends or at least family over, but outside and safely. There was still a lot of money changing hands, which is great.
Now, the interesting thing is that doesn’t appear that it’s going to stop here into 2021. Not because we just got another round of the stimulus checks not too long ago. But in general, because we were all home for so long, people have found a renewed interest in their yards, in their properties and keeping it looking nice. Having that space outdoors that’s beautiful to look at and beautiful to be around and be in and be fruitful.
How many people within the last year and even already into 2021 … Not only were they working from home, but some even set up their office, once it got to be nicer out, where their office is outside. They’re still building those types of spaces. I don’t think … I’ve talked to a few contractors. Kris Kiser and I have talked about it. That the whole idea of … Kiser uses the term, “backyarding.” He likes to call it backyarding, and he’s determined to say it’s here to stay. It’s back.
It had gone away. That idea of keeping your yard looking nice and that curb appeal had slid away for a little while. People weren’t caring as much about their yards. That’s back. Once that’s back, it’s going to stick around for a while, which is good for the landscaping community. Because that’s what they’re all about, is creating that for people. Who do the homeowners reach out to when, “Oh, I need a plant, but it’s in a shaded area. What should I be getting?”
Or they get the wrong plant the first time, because they do it on their own. And then, who do they call? They call the landscaper and go, “All right. I screwed this up. This plant didn’t work. Can you help me out? Figure out what I need to get to be the right thing there?”
Or their yard ends up getting to be too much for them to take care of, so they call somebody in to help trim back the bushes and stuff. It’s really working out. From the people I’ve talked to, it’s going to be another pretty solid year. And I think that’s going to hold on for a few years here.
Yeah. We’ve heard similar things. It seems like apart from the initial worry that COVID brought, very fruitful 2020. It’s continued into 2021. We do notice a shift as we go into the Spring, that obviously businesses get more busy. Grass is growing, there’s leaves on the tree. There’s more work to be done.
Did you hear of any carry over? Was the off-season so to speak busier this past year more than normal? Or has the Spring season jolted people in a way, because they actually did have some down time?
To a certain extent, there was a jolt going into this Spring season for some. It really depends on the area where you’re at. If you have that time through the winter where you are doing snow removal, or say you’re down in Florida where there really isn’t as much of a downtime, you’re always going …
To a certain extent, there was somewhat of a jolt. Because that last Spring, there was that stall of a start. And then, it just went from zero to 60 after that slowdown for landscapers at least. It kind of quote, unquote opened up where they could do their work and continue. Even then, there was a slow burn where it took a little while for the design build side of things. There was a drop-off initially. And then, that’s the area that just exploded, where the calls just didn’t stop.
That’s why some of the work this year is still going so hot, because in many cases the contractors were getting so many calls last year. They lined up as many jobs as they could, and then had to start pushing them into this year already. Jobs they booked last year are actually happening this year, but they had booked them maybe in August of last year and just couldn’t get it in last Fall, because they had so many already lined up.
And I think that’s just going to continue at least into 2022, just based on the pace that they are currently at. But again, I think the challenge they’re all going to have is, from a financial perspective and budgeting wise, looking back on 2020 and 2021 … It’s like, all right. 2020 was a spectacular year. 2021 is a really great year. How do you average that in and really figure out where is my budget supposed to be?
Yeah. How do you forecast when the previous two years had all of these out-there factors contributing to them?
You bring up a great point about backlog too, and what it’s looked like for these companies to work through their backlog. We heard very similar things. We actually talked about it in our Green Industry Economic Report. Backlog for these companies increased by like near 50 and in some cases 100 percent. Where their old backlog used to have a project backed up two months, then it was four months.
And then, it just kept snowballing, because so many people were coming to them and saying, “Hey. Vacation got canceled. I’ve got an extra X amount of dollars to go pour into this area.” What you were talking about earlier, which, hey, great problem to have.
I myself even have a perfect example of that. I was having some concrete work done, which isn’t necessarily in that green area, but can be. Ultimately, it just got late into the Fall, and he was so busy he couldn’t get to it. We’re finally on his schedule now for this Spring for him to come out and finish the job. It’s the way it was working.
It’s so true. Transitioning our conversation to another topic about, what you and Green Industry Pros cover often, is equipment. You mentioned that earlier, that you write a lot of stories about or keep good tabs on what the new and best equipment is that’s being produced. I think it would be cool for you to just share.
What are some of the recent innovations or releases of equipment that you feel like you’re either the most impressed by, or you’ve seen your audience get excited about when you all have written stories about them?
Sure. Well, I think what would stand out from that area particularly for me has got to be the robotic mowers. I know those certainly have been around for many years. There’s no question, Husqvarna is the leader there by far. But the interesting thing is, really they’ve been in that consumer area where you see people getting them themselves. They may have somebody come in to install the wire in, but really they just take care of it themselves.
But in more recent years, what you see happening is now some of the contractors are getting involved. They have the robotic mowers where they go in and they install it. And then, they have it set up where they’re getting the pings from the machine, so they have to go out and fix it or anything like that for the client. But then, what happens is it’s left out there to take care of the mowing aspects.
They maybe have to send out one less crew member, because now they’re sending out crews to do the trimming and the edging and stuff. But they’re not taking care of the mowing anymore. They clean up the leaves and stuff, but the mowing is constantly taken care of by that robot.
What’s interesting about that though is … Based on a couple of people that I’ve talked to in just literally this year yet … I would say in the next three to five years, possibly even shorter, you’re going to see this robotic mowing thing really expand into an area where you start seeing these robotic mowers on the commercial side of things where you see them on the commercial properties.
Right now, mostly you’re seeing them on residential. Even for the landscapers, you primarily see them where a landscaper might just have a fleet of robotic mowers instead of a fleet of zero-turn mowers. They’ve got a bunch of the robots out there, which is great. There’s even some companies that are in the process of franchising that very concept.
And it seems to be working, because the landscape companies and the crews … You would think initially when you’re thinking, “Oh. You’re going to eliminate somebody that needs to be there to mow the lawn?” Well, yeah. But what happens there is you’re not eliminating that person. You’re eliminating that portion of the job, but you still need the body, because you still need the labor to do other things. That person ends up … Maybe that person is on the trimming crew.
Or maybe that person allows you, because they’re not doing that job, you can hire that person and a couple others and you add tree care. Or you add lawn care. Because you no longer have to worry about the mowing, because that’s taken care of. And then, on that commercial side. Again, what’s interesting is there’s a couple of opportunities.
There’s a version where at least a couple of companies have larger, robotic mowers that you would be trailering and dropping off at a site. But you can do one of two things. You can get it to the site, you set it off to go, and it’s set up by GPS. It takes care of the property. Again, meanwhile, the rest of your crew is doing the trimming, the blowing, and that sort of thing. Or you can set it at that property, get it going, and you move on to the second property to go take care of the trimming.
You come back and you pick up the mower and off you go. You’ve knocked off two properties. Another one is one where Green-Z is working on a program where it’s a regular zero-turn mower … They currently have a partnership with Wright Manufacturing, actually, which basically makes it autonomous. It’s a similar thing, but it’s your more standard mower that they’re talking about versus something that doesn’t necessarily look like your basic mower.
Most of the robotic mowers don’t look like your regular mowers. Some of the landscapers aren’t sure of what kind of cut it gets. Well, Green-Z is working on it where it’s like, “No. Here’s a program that we attach this box to your mower and it is autonomous now.” It does basically the same thing, but it’s your mower that you’re used to using.
I get the feeling that’s really going to be expanding in the next few years. And that’s really been impressive to me, because you don’t think about those things, but it’s … As I’m sure you’re aware, labor is a major issue within the landscaping industry. These mowers can possibly have a substantial impact on that.
Yeah. I was just going to say, we’ve actually had CBQ, the CEO of Green-Z on our show. He’s also in Atlanta, so we’re almost neighbors. We talk with their team regularly. And it really is cool to see what they’re all doing out there. It’s so interesting. Really, they have such a great value to landscaper. Because not only does it help you with labor issues, but the labor you do have on your staff, you’re letting them work on parts of a project that are more interesting and enjoyable than striping a big commercial property.
That’s probably one of the most boring parts of someone’s day, is striping a giant field. Well, what if you could have the robot stripe the field, while you edge it and do the more higher skill work? It is really cool to see what they’re doing there.
The whole concept I think is going to open some doors. The more you are able to add that stuff, like I said, that person can do the edging or the trimming or whatever or even get shifted into another part of the business. Design build. Mowing, generally speaking, isn’t the area where landscapers are making money. You’re making more money on the lawn care side of things, where you’re doing the fertilizing and that sort of thing.
Or even more so on the design build side. Maybe that person shifts into design build and gets more into the design aspects to open up that part of your business and bring in some more revenue. There’s a lot of opportunities there. It’s just really interesting. The other area, and it’s in a similar vein in terms of equipment, is really the whole shift … This is both in small outdoor equipment to even, slowly but surely, we’re working into the larger pieces of equipment, is the electrification of the industry and of equipment in general.
And so, I found that interesting very early on in coming onto Green Industry Pros. In that, what consumer isn’t used to have some sort of battery-powered outdoor equipment? As consumers, we would refer to them as weed whackers, but landscapers obviously know them more as string trimmers. But so, a weed whacker or a blower. We have battery-powered versions of those.
What I wasn’t aware of when I first joined Green Industry Pros, was that … Oh, yeah. Those battery-powered ones that you wouldn’t think of are powerful enough and equivalent to a gas-powered unit that the professional contractors are actually using them. And on a regular basis, to the point where they’re setting aside some of their gas-powered things and going strictly with the battery-powered units, which to me is just, again, pretty impressive. Because it gives companies that opportunity to say, “Well, yeah. We’re environmentally friendly.”
We’re a landscaping company, and we’re environmentally friendly, because we’re using electric equipment even. One of the things … I believe it was actually at CONEXPO last year in Vegas, one of the pieces of equipment it was a CASE N Loader that they fired up. It’s an electric unit. They turned it on and there was this big crowd of people around it. We’re all looking at it going, “Well, are you going to turn it on?” The guy shuts it off and he’s like, “It’s been on this whole time.” And he had been talking for like 15 minutes. None of us even realized I was on.
Because it was that quiet. That’s what interesting to me, is slowly but surely, we’re working up to the point where we’re getting these larger pieces of equipment that they’re talking about that are going to be electric, and work for a long enough time and have that battery capacity where it can still operate for a full day. That’s the impressive thing.
You get these consumer-based blowers or string trimmers, and it’s like you can knock out 15 minutes and you got to change the battery out. Well, yeah. But some of these now … The ones that the professionals use, you’re getting 45 minutes to an hour at full blast, which nobody is using it for an hour at full blast. The beauty of the electric ones is it’s not operating unless you’re pulling the trigger.
Versus the gas ones, you stop pulling the trigger, it’s still sitting there idling. You’re still burning the gas until you get back to the next spot where you’re going to run it. That’s another one, is just the electric pieces of equipment have really impressed me.
That’s so interesting too. Especially, how big of an impact that’s going to make on states that have really upped the emission laws in how everything produces. Because that’s one, not so much in the landscape space, but I’m sure it pertains as well. But I’ve heard in the tree care space, a lot of tree care companies out in California have been put in a bind, because they’ll have bought a truck that doesn’t qualify for the emission standards.
Then, they end up having a one-year-old truck that they have to sell to somebody in Kansas that can actually use a truck with that. But I’m sure at some point, that’s going to trickle into quitting it and everything else.
Well, it’s funny, because in California and other states, it’s not even just the emission side of things. It’s the noise standards too that come up in some municipalities. Where that comes into play is, like I was mentioning with the blowers. Certainly, for landscapers, what are the ones you use? Strap-on. You strap on those backpack blowers and they’re noisy. You better be wearing ear protection when you’re running those things, because they’re noisy. The whole neighborhood can hear you.
I’m not saying that a battery-powered one isn’t still loud, but it doesn’t have the same capacity or decibels that a backpack blower does. But again, they’re getting to a point where there are some of those battery-powered ones that are pretty close to those backpack blowers. If you’re out doing a commercial property, you’re going to want to strap on one of those backpacks. But if you’re doing residential, where they have noise restrictions, get one of those bigger battery ones.
It’s going to do the job, and it’s going to be a little quieter. There’s some of those units where … There’s a handful of zero-turn mowers now that are battery powered. You’re able to pull out there where you’re already out mowing a lawn at 7:00 AM. Why? Because people can barely … You can hear it, but it’s not like you’re firing up a zero-turn.
I’ve got a guy that runs a zero-turn when he’s mowing his lawn just down the street. And my wife, it drives her nuts, because she knows every time. “Oh, yeah. That guy’s out on his zero-turn.” “Yep. You’re right. He is.” Versus, a couple of houses down, somebody’s got a walk behind battery-powered unit. We’ll look over and watch that he’s mowing. It’s like, “Is he mowing his lawn?” “Yeah.” “Well, why can’t we hear it?”
I’ve sat on one at a show, actually. A zero-turn … I think it was a Simplicity, if I recall correctly. Because it was a Briggs & Stratton event. It was a Simplicity mower and I sat down on it. The guy had me turn the key on. I’m like, “Okay, it’s on.” And the only thing that was really making the noise was once we turned the blades on. But just having the machine itself on, you could barely even feel it and I was sitting on the thing.
Wow. That’s interesting. It’s exciting too. Right? We’ve seen how electric has really found it’s way in so many different parts of consumerism. I think it’s going to be fun to see how it starts to really take in on the green industry. Really across the board, equipment and vehicles. No one talks about that yet, but one day there will probably be an electric landscaping truck and it’ll be part of it. That’s interesting.
Well, and that’s-
I want to … Go ahead.
… It’s funny you say that, because that’s where things are going. The Chevy’s and the Fords are in the process of doing electric pick-ups and stuff. That’s where they’re headed. But the truth of the matter is where we’re headed, there’s going to be a lot of that. But gas isn’t going to go away. That’s just the reality. You can’t eliminate it, but if you can find that sweet spot in between, it’s pretty workable.
For sure. Right before we wrap up, I do want to ask about your podcast. You mentioned it earlier. You do host a podcast. I’d love for you to be able to give yourself an opportunity to share what your podcast is like, and if you have any favorite episodes or guests that you’ve talked to since doing the podcast.
Sure, sure. We have The Grassroots Podcast on greenindustrypros.com and we do bring in a whole host of various guests. There’s some manufacturers. You mentioned CBQ, and I’ve had him on a couple of times. He actually would be one of my favorite guests to have on, just because … Again, he exhibits that passion for the program they’re working on, on that robotic side.
Although he personally has no experience in landscaping, he’s really dedicated to trying to fix that labor issue. That’s always been interesting to me. I try and cover a whole host of different topics on The Grassroots, and just leave it open. It’s really grown in the past year with the pandemic. That honestly helped out with people showing interest in it.
A recent episode, a recent few episodes I should say, I was able to have a panel discussion on chainsaw safety with representatives from ECHO, STEELE, and Husqvarna. Normally, that’s something you might get just more in a webinar format, but it worked out where I was able to have them on as guests on the podcast. And it worked out really well. Another one is a person I mentioned earlier that I always enjoy talking to, just because he’s so passionate about everything he gets involved in, Kris Kiser again from OPEI.
He is always one to offer a comment on what’s going on within the industry. And within his purview, he’s always happy to talk to me. It was always interesting last year to touch base with him, and see how things were going. Even just recently, in talking to him about that backyarding concept. He talked a lot about things he was doing with his own yard.
He’s one that mentioned having an office in his backyard and such. It’s always pretty interesting. But The Grassroots Podcast comes out every other Thursday. In fact, just today we dropped the latest episode on that chainsaw safety panel.
Awesome. Before we wrap up, I love asking this question towards the end of the episode, just because we do naturally on a podcast spend a lot of time reflecting. Maybe talking about things that have recently happened or just looking backwards.
But looking forward, going on the rest of 2021 as trade shows come back and all that good stuff. What comes next for you and Green Industry Pros? What are you most excited about with what you all are doing?
That’s a great question. Actually, what we’re heading towards right now is we’re in the process of developing some new video series that we’re working on. In terms of trade shows … Honestly, for me personally, I’m just looking ahead to GIE and experiencing that again. Getting the chance to get back with all the landscapers, and the manufacturers, and get more knee-deep back into the landscaping realm.
Because it’s been hard not being able to see people in-person. It’s one thing to see them on Zoom calls, but it’s a whole other thing to actually engage in-person, and get to see some of the equipment again, up close and personal. Again, I don’t have a lot of that equipment on-hand for myself, so I’m looking forward to that.
And then, also certainly the podcast will always continue. We’re just going to be soon unveiling plans to have a regular contractor profile on our site, and that we’ll put out on our social media feeds as well. If there’s contractors out there that are interested in being profiled, let us know via our social media channels and we can send you out the form to get you featured.
Awesome. Well, Ryan, we’ve covered a ton of topics today. I’ve loved getting to hear your insights into the industry. If one of the people listening to this show said, “Yeah. The Green Industry Pros sounds awesome.” Maybe they weren’t familiar with it beforehand. What are a few ways that they could interact with you or Green Industry Pros?
Sure. Well, they can definitely go to greenindustrypros.com and if they want to reach out to me personally, they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then, certainly just look for us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re growing each of those channels and in the near future, we’ll be having a contest for people to submit photographs of their stripes.
As you mentioned, the striping certainly is a thing for the landscapers. We’re hoping people get behind that. Another thing we recently came off of, Green Industry Pros hosted the 2021 Mower Madness Tournament that sort of mirrored the NCAA Tournament. That was an interesting thing this past year.
Awesome. Loved our conversation, Ryan. I’m excited to see all the great things that you and your team are doing over the next couple of months at Green Industry Pros. We appreciate you coming on. Thanks for providing some great insights.
Absolutely. I enjoyed being on. I appreciate you inviting me to be here today.
Absolutely. Thanks, Ryan. Talk soon. Thanks for listening to this episode of Green Industry Perspectives, presented by SingleOps. If you got some value out of this episode, drop us a five star review on your favorite streaming platform, and don’t forget to become a Pro Member of the podcast at singleops.com/podcast.
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