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Article : 2009 June LCN - Random Ditch: Artificial Grass Industry Provides Unique Opportunities

Artificial Grass Industry Provides Unique Opportunities

Compiled by Larry Shield with contributions from Dale Karmie, ForeverLawn Inc.; Joe DeBaisio, ProGreen International Inc.; Sarah Fletcher, Surface Play Inc.




A potentially huge market for synthetic turf is the golf course industry. Here are some putting greens in Dallas, installed by Synthetic Turf International.

Sure-loc
Sure-loc
Sure-loc
Teak Warehouse PGMS
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Teak Warehouse PGMS
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Let’s face it, right now times are a little tougher and competition continues to grow. As a landscape professional, how do you continue to separate your business from the competition? As a successful landscape contractor, you certainly want to keep doing what has already set you apart—unique designs, quality work and superior service. But to really excel, you may want to consider doing something that can increase your profit while setting you further apart: artificial grass.






Artificial turf has been around for decades, but not as a true landscaping option. The newest generation of artificial grass has come so far as to fool even the most discriminating customers. (Photo courtesy of ForeverLawn)


Benefits

What does artificial grass provide for you? Well, first and foremost, something new. Yes, artificial turf has been around for decades, but not as a true landscaping option. The newest generation of artificial grass has come so far as to fool even the most discriminating customers. There are countless stories of maintenance crews watering, or worse, weed whacking and mowing artificial grass installations because the turf looks so real.

Another financial benefit is that, unlike many other surfacing solutions, synthetic turf is highly resistant to vandalism and abuse. Due to the engineering of the surface, some types of synthetic turf exhibit extremely high durability and servicing is rarely needed. Surfaces with woven needle-punched fibers create a solid synthetic grass surface that is virtually impervious to defacement.

In addition to durability, synthetic turf is an easy sell to child care workers and park and recreation directors as they are attracted to low-maintenance solutions. A simple brush or leaf blower will clear the surface of unwanted debris. “My clients are extremely satisfied with synthetic turf installations,” said Rioux.

Financial Opportunity

Next, you have the opportunity to offer your customers grass without limits. What does that mean? It means that many applications where grass is desired but not practical, such as around swimming pools, high traffic areas, dog runs, rooftops, between pavers, etc. are back in play.

While there is inherent value in each of the above benefits of artificial grass, they could be construed as somewhat intangible when it comes to your bottom line. So as a landscape contractor, how does this help you financially?






The best way to stay busy is to market to dog owners and doggie day care owners. Dogs continually destroy natural grass. Synthetic grass will always look and feel like a freshly mowed lawn. Doggie day care owners in particular are under pressure from their clientele to provide alternative surfaces that won’t injure their dogs like pea gravel and cement. (Photo courtesy of Synthetic Turf International)


Cost Analysis

As with anything, prices can vary from state to state and region to region. In addition to regional differences, there is quite a range in quality of product. Generically, however, artificial grass for landscaping will typically sell (installed) for between $8 and $12 per square foot. Of that installed price, roughly 40 percent of that is the price the landscaper will pay for the product. That means that 60 percent of the sales price can be applied to the sale and installation of the product. With a base prep similar to that of pavers, this allows for a pretty nice profit margin and a great new angle to capture more business.

Learning Curve

Synthetic grass is installed in a manner similar to laying carpet, but the seaming process is more forgiving. Many customers simply buy the necessary materials and install it themselves.

There are many vendors of grass in the marketplace today. Take the time to educate yourself and work with a reputable brand that offers quality products and a company that stands behind their claims and products. A small investment of time can reap the rewards of more customers, more solutions, and of course a stronger bottom line.

Adding Synthetic Turf

Adding synthetic turf to a landscape contractor’s list of products and services opens a whole new revenue stream. For example, there are many wealthy clients who dream of having their own putting green.

Additionally, in the last five years the amount of money dog owners spend on their dogs has exponentially increased. Synthetic grass is an excellent option for homeowners who want to avoid the hassle of a dog tracking mud into the house because of a muddy yard. Also, there are many municipalities and corporations looking to reduce their monthly overhead and synthetic grass is an alternative that will allow them to eliminate mowing and watering expenses.






To lower costs in a down economy, high-quality synthetic turf is a great choice. Good synthetic turf affords the design flexibility and affordability to makeover any existing play area with surfacing that lasts. (Photo courtesy of Surfaces Play Inc.)


Expanding Your Repertoire

Once a landscape contractor decides to become a dealer or distributor, they can come to headquarters for a training session. This involves roundtable discussions, hands-on installation training and product education. Once the session is over the new member of the team is sent home with a marketing package. Manufacturers can supply sales, technical and marketing support to a network of dealers and distributors.

Environmental Concerns

There are numerous environmental advantages to synthetic grass. Synthetic grass requires no mowing or watering, helping to conserve water and sparing the atmosphere from harmful lawnmower emissions. It needs no fertilizers or pesticides which keeps our watersheds clean and safe. Surprisingly, synthetic grass helps to reduce gasoline consumption through the elimination of mowers and the subsequent gasoline that is spilled when refueling mowers; again helping to keep the environment clean. A bio-cel backing is 100 percent recyclable.

Financial Opportunity

Unfavorable economic conditions often create a need for economical solutions, sometimes to the detriment of quality or even safety. Synthetic turf is a low-cost option with many benefits. Compared with rubber surfacing, the installation of synthetic turf is simple and straightforward. There are no start-up costs or special tools required. Whereas rubber involves a cumbersome process of mixing and pouring, synthetic turf is completely hassle-free—the surfacing can be simply unrolled and installed.

Surfacing rolls can be sent directly to clients with no need for a big warehouse. In addition, the commission on synthetic turf is often significantly higher than rubber. Miguel Rioux, a certified landscape contractor with SurfacePlay and head of Elemenoplay, Inc. said, “Synthetic grass carpeting is fairly simple and easy to install. Installation requires minimal tools, and the costs are much lower than with other types of surfacing.”

Easily Fixed

One of the greatest benefits of synthetic turf is the potential for easy reparations. Synthetic turf offers a hassle-free, cost-effective way of covering damaged rubber surfaces. The potential for local repair also decreases costs, and synthetic turf can be used to cover virtually any surface.

Landscape Contractors adding synthetic turf will expand their business and increase market share and better utilize manpower and equipment. Choose a synthetic turf company, well established, supported by a reputable manufacturer; that offers a professional staff savvy on industry standards.


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