John Dorris is an individual who takes pride in what he does. His truck is immaculate, as are his two Walker Mowers, trailer and attendant equipment. This Georgia native is enthusiastic about his work, enjoys talking about his customers, and even though he’s on the high side of 50, doesn’t have an inkling of when he plans to retire. To the contrary, he wants to operate his lawn maintenance business as long as he is healthy and continues to enjoy his work.
Our readers have given us many encouraging comments that let us know Walker Talk is being read and the publication is working. Suggestions for improvement are also offered. One critique that has been mentioned several times concerns promoting safe operating practices; some of our customer profile stories show workers or operators not wearing “proper” protective clothing and devices. The idea is that Walker Talk should set the example of safe practice and require our story subjects to wear the appropriate gear for the photos, even if they don’t wear it in actual practice.
By day, Staff Sergeant Bobby Beard readies equipment for the Alabama Army National Guard. By early evening, he changes uniforms and jumps on his Walker Mower to maintain his customers’ yards. Beard, a 20-year veteran with the Alabama National Guard, has been doing this double-duty since 2000 when his unit in Montgomery went to a four-day week.
The owner of Mac’s Landscaping in Stoneham, Massachusetts, has been in business more than 30 years, yet he is still a student of the industry. Gerry McCarthy observes trends, stays in touch with new technology, and networks with friends and associates both inside and outside the green industry. His reward is a $1 million-plus, full-service landscape management company that employs 15 people during the busy season and nine all year long.
The morning routine is nearly the same every day. Demetri Balint rises early to begin the day overseeing a commercial cut flower business. His wife Viesia Konar follows shortly thereafter to open the door to her flower shop. Sometime during their busy day, the couple will meet and discuss the operation of their public gardens, a 10-acre collection and display of unique plants and flowers.
Twenty-five years ago, when Walker Mowers were first introduced to the marketplace, small computers and user-friendly applications software were just in their infancy. Only the most astute businesspeople were finding ways to incorporate this new technology into their operations. A quarter of a century later, small, powerful computers and ingenious software have impacted nearly every square inch of the business landscape. Slide rules are obsolete and ledger paper is nearly passé. Land-based phones are being replaced by small cell phones that talk, take digital photos and double as computers. They can even be used to keep their owners from getting lost.