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Oct 8, 2019
Sharpen Your Axe
Jeff Gibson Ball Seed Landscape Business Manager

Two woodcutters went into the forest to cut trees; both started at the same time. At the end of the day, the younger woodcutter was astounded to see that the older woodcutter had cut down more trees than he had.

"How did you cut so much more wood than I did?” he said. “I'm stronger and faster and skipped lunch!”

The old wood cutter paused then said, "When I stopped for lunch, I sharpened my axe!"

In late-September, 83 landscape contractors came together in Chicago for an "axe sharpening" session, compliments of the AmericanHort Association. Attendees came from the upper Great Lakes and the Midwest, the Carolinas, Texas, Kansas, and Alabama. Click Here for a photo review of the event.

This was the second annual Landscape Operations Tour sponsored by AmericanHort. Our group visited the Lake Bluff site of Mariani Landscape, Lurvey’s Landscape Supply & Garden Center in Des Plaines, and the Acres Group in Mundelein, IL. We closed the day at the Chicago Botanic Garden with tours and talks of the unique landscape operations of a botanic garden.

On Oct. 1, we headed west from the hotel to Midwest Groundcovers in Saint Charles, IL, and Sebert Landscape in Elgin, IL, for a tour of their Gold LEED building and Bison Burger lunch. We finished at the new location of Cornerstone Partners in Elgin.

Everyone was treated to a deep dive into how each of these landscape businesses have grown their collective operating revenues to over $168 million! The Acres Group has mastered their ability to find and retain over 400 regular employees, and over 1,500 snow workers. They work with the local Illinois Landscape Contractors Association and AmericanHort, the leading organization advocating for labor relief for growers and contractors in Washington, D.C.

Finding and retaining employees was clearly the largest topic for all, followed by efficiencies of operations, maintenance of equipment, and new technologies (such as robotic mowers) and time-tracking management software.

The time on the buses may have been the most productive, as attendees shared ideas and issues with their fellow contractors – “sharpening their collective axes" as they ready themselves for the new 2020 season ahead.

AmericanHort is already planning the next Fall Landscape Operations tour in Eastern North Carolina in 2020. Click here to learn more about AmericanHort.

Reader Comments (1)
Thanks for the update Jeff!
Monday, October 14, 2019 | Susan E. Yoder
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