(506) 858-0332

1082 Coverdale Rd
Riverview, NB

Without bees, we don’t eat. The startling fact is that bees are responsible for pollinating 70-80% of the world’s food crops, and we are seeing their numbers decline at an alarming rate.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to help slow the declining pollinator populations.

Plant Native Species

Native perennials and shrubs on your property not only feed the bees but also attract other beneficial insects like butterflies and other pollinators. Some examples of these native species are:

  • Purple Coneflower
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Hosta
  • Bee Balm
  • Cat Mint
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Milk Weed

Our landscaping projects incorporate native species wherever possible. They’re beautiful, helpful to pollinators, and they’re already adapted to our climate so they thrive where some imported species may not.

Defer Your Mowing

Hold off on mowing until the end of May so that bees can benefit from one of the earliest bloomers of the season: the dandelion. Dandelions are an important food source for bees in these early spring months while other plants are still getting ready to bloom and produce pollen.

Pesticides as a Last Resort

Pesticide usage should always be a last resort. Try other methods like manually removing unwanted weeds. Our Natural Approach is always to use chemicals as a last resort to protect species like bees from unintended harm.

Overseed with White Clover

Want a healthier lawn, while at the same time helping the bees? Overseed with white clover. Bees love it, and white clover is a nitrogen fixer which will alter the chemistry of your topsoil – for the better. Your lawn will love you for it!

We all have a role to play to protect this vital species. Whether we choose to leave the pesticides on the shelf and instead pick up a pair of gardening gloves to remove stubborn weeds, or we choose to plant species that help bees thrive, or we take advantage of an excuse to put off mowing for one more week, every little bit helps.

Bees do so much for us, we owe them one.

Request a free 10-point inspection and find out how we can bring our Natural Approach to your landscape.

Everyone today has one main concern: How will this global epidemic affect our business in 2020? You are not alone. Every person, from the highest levels of government to the local grocer, is thinking the exact same thing. The only thing we can do as owners and leaders is have hope and remain as calm and confident as we can. We need to tell ourselves the hard decisions we make today will bring us out the other side stronger.

Will there be work when things are normal again? Yes, there will be work. Will there be as much work? Absolutely not in the immediate four to six months, as history has proven. After any slowdown, like the World Wars or 9/11, it has taken anywhere from six to 36 months for things to get running near normal. Quantify things with numbers, so decision-making becomes more focused. Prepare, Plan, and Expect to Win – with a revenue (not profit) reduction of anywhere from 15-25 percent from your predetermined operatino budget, which should have been forecast in January. These times will be difficult. Adjust budgets, 2020 may not be a year for growth as it sucks cash. Focus on “maintaining” and adding to the bottom line, as we must be more productive with fewer people.

The wins in this situation will be personal hygeine and elevated safety concerns, as well as an opportunity to work with the very best people this year. There will be no room for floaters or spares. Everyone needs clear rules, and clear expectations with clear consequences. Consider this spring of 2020 an opportunity to reboot for focus and speed. Speed wins; measure it.

You will be surprised how we all perform when things outside our control change. Productivity measures will improve; most operations involved in outdoor environments have a 40 to 55 percent productivity rating. That’s an entire discussion for another day, and it’s not weather!

Most leaders, managers and owners put others’ needs head of their own. This is called Servant Leadership. There was a day that others always came first, almost to the demise of employment for many. As leaders and owners, we are expected to separate from the pack, and be ahead of it. Learn from the term Physical Distancing and use it for personal improvement and for others in your team. To maintain composure, consistent behaviour and above-average results, the leader must be an arm’s length away, so decision making is faster and well-thought out. Be there when those you lead fall off the track and need a hand to get back on. Never feel guilty at separating yourself; maybe it’s a day or two a week, or one week a month. Wherever you are on your leadership journey, start being along to thik back to where you were, to where you are now, and where you want to be.

And, for your mental health: WRITE IT DOWN. Remember, if nothing happens without you, all you have is a job. Learning to delegate and offer follow-up and feedback is critical for both short- and long-term success. Follow the 10-80-10 Rule. Spend 10% of the time showing how tasks are done, let performance happen 80% of the time, and spend the final 10% providing feedback, both corrective and positive. It works. You will be better prepared to take on new challenges once COVID-19 is somewhat a memory.

This is a great opportunity to do some reflection and self-help. Yes, self-help. Been there. Done that. Rode the wave. Almost drowned.

Learn to take a break when you have no control. Elevate the mind, spend time with family and reviewing your personal vision plan. When the mind is rested and clear, performance improves! There is a race to run. Speed wins. Be SAFE. THE MARKETS WILL OPEN. Those that make it through this will be stronger and wiser. Just as David was after he fought Goliath. Get battle ready!

CEO/President Brent Ayles was featured recently in Landscape Trades Magazine discussing how businesses must be ready to battle the unique challenges posed by COVID-19.

Read the full article from Landscape Trades Magazine

The Future of the Environment is Everyone’s Responsibility – Both Locally and Globally.

“Carbon Footprint, Carbon Footprint Neutral, Alternative Energy, Solar Power, AI- Artificial Intelligence, Green Design, Active Living, Community Gardens and Outdoor Living.” – All buzz words we hear daily in the media.

Over the next few months we will be using these tag words for a series of blogs to share lessons learned throughout our History and how this Heritage impacts us today.

Whether it be Alternative Energy, Transportation, Food, or Activities, we are all offered options to what is the norm in today’s time.

As a Native Son of small town New Brunswick (with a moderate population of under 200k) from an early age until today, I have seen and heard and debated many things concerning the environment – Past, Present, and Future state.

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This scene of local kids enjoying a wintertime fire in the woods is becoming rare as our children spend more time inside.

In the Past, growing up along the Petitcodiac River there were many great things to do for youthful entertainment. Driving our pedal and dirt bikes on the mud flats, picking up fresh water fish along the shore that were exposed to tidal water, canoeing, jet skis, duck hunting, skating etc. All of these activities were available because of the unique ecosystem of this Bay of Fundy estuary. All these things not too long ago young kids did in contrast to today’s young population. The only time we were able to be inside for the most part was after dark or Saturday mornings for cartoons. The watershed provided many hours, weeks, months, years of fun and for the most part Safe Active Play. Times have changed when we look at how much time our children spend indoors today.

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Cargo Schooners sailed up the River from the Bay of Fundy via the Atlantic Ocean from around the World as this was the primary form of transporting goods traded on the World Market. These ocean going sailing ships delivered necessities such as molasses, grain as well as other essentials. The lumber industry was of great importance in our region back in the day.

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The Petitcodiac Watershed has been altered – by modernization, development and advancement. These changes have had a negative impact on the natural environment. With a growing population unfortunately we do impact nature whether it be through transportation, infrastructure or development. These changes happen to adapt to a different time.

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Photo of the construction of the new bridge. Copyright CBC.

Presently, the members and visitors of the tri community have the opportunity to see a great bridge project in the works, an excellent trail system connecting all three municipalities, business growth and a booming housing market but No Ships coming up the River or Children playing along it’s banks. Presently the environmental conditions on a World Stage are implications and consequences from the Industrial Revolution in which this period caused the most environmental changes in history. The depletion of the ozone layer; causing temperature fluctuations has affected food production, water and even shelter. The affects of acid rain, changing pH levels in water and soil, has also impacted Wildlife Habitats and Soil conditions for agriculture. This is one of the primary conditions affecting fish, animals, growing conditions, as well as water supply. 

Future environmental challenges are inevitable. Whether it is the Petitcodiac River, Climate Change, Carbon Tax or Natural Resource Development. We must consider not just what was in the Past, we must look at the Present and Future and consider all the options that make Economical, Social, and Environmental sense.

We can agree that Cargo ships will likely not sail back up the river, at least not the way they once did.

We know that kids today play less outside than ever in history.

Research shows us that the Petitcodiac River will likely never go back to its original state (Maybe that’s something in the past that perhaps should have been left alone).

The Future of the Environment, Economy, and Local Communities will be stronger, healthier, and better prepared for future generations if we all would look back to our Heritage; less than 2 generations, and do just some of the things they did; walk, hike, cut wood, burn wood for heat, buy local, respect nature, visit a neighbour or go outside and enjoy it.

Bringing some excitement and fulfillment to our gardens and landscapes in the winter can be found with attracting birds to our yards. There are several ways we can do this. Setting up a bird feeder is ultimately the easiest way.

Generally speaking there are several varieties of bird feeders. During a recent podcast and article I read from Harrowsmith magazine, author Wayne MacPhail stated there were a few guidelines to follow. It is recommended to feed birds a good source of protein. Whether it be peanuts (without salt) or sunflower seeds; generally the black oil sunflowers are best. This feed will bring the largest variety of birds and even some song birds. One recommendation is to avoid ground feeds like cracked corn as this attracts primarily ground feeders – like doves and even the squirrels. Which is not a bad thing just understanding some of the song birds will be less attracted to it.

Kitchen windows , along the railing of a deck, or even in a tree within sight of a window are great places to start for your feeder Placement. Feeding birds does not make them 100% dependant on the food you serve as they travel so much from place to place. Landscape trees, shrubs, and perennials such as Serviceberry, Oak, Mountain Ash, Purple Coneflower, Daisy and many others help attract birds as well. The trend has been to cut perennials back in the fall for ease of clean up in the spring. Try leaving perennials with seed heads to attract different varieties of finches. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide great habitats for birds – even if the tree is not in the best of health it still providers a source of a source of shelter and security. 

To avoid birds hitting windows and glass, place stickers and or pictures on your windows to help reduce fly thru attempts. We can try to make our bird feeders squirrel resistant but never squirrel proof – they also enjoy the food.  Understanding bird patterns in our area can be found by checking out birdstudiescanada.com. Wayne MacPhail of Harrowsmith Magazine has a great radio pod cast. You can find the magazine at local book stores.

Every year, we learn new ways to communicate — an email survey, a smartphone app or automated messaging. No matter the delivery, one thing is sure: the more often we receive these the less likely we are to listen.

So many things have taken the effectiveness out of our day. Call me old school, but I carry around my clipboard with a paper calendar and make a to-do list the night before or early morning. I call this my “deep work,” a time of 1.5 to 2 hours a day when I work to keep myself organized. Our company has an internal system with a shared calendar for all team members’ appointments, production schedules, and other things to do. Nonetheless, I still walk daily with paperwork intact.

Technology is great with limits but it takes our attention off the prize — the person right in front of you. Even as I’m writing this on my computer, my patient, loving wife is trying to have a conversation and wants eye contact!

So yes, there are many ways to communicate in this ever-changing world. But nothing beats good paperwork and a personal touch.

Contracts, proposals, letters of intent for service delivery are all best presented on paper and in person. This is when personal selling works the best. People want to buy from people. Otherwise they will order things online — then we become a faceless commodity. If you want to increase your closing ratio, take the time to be present with your client. It builds trust and confidence. We meet our full potential when we communicate face-to-face.

A cautionary tale that ends on a good note … this time

Every year, we review our snow and ice service contracts looking to limit exposure to poor financial or legal outcomes. I live in one of the heaviest snowfall areas in the world, where we receive an annual snowfall of 30-plus feet. In 2014, we decided to grow our White Division. We hired many new people, purchased more salt, invested in new equipment and subcontracted some work. The only things that remained consistent were our overhead, extra demands on paper processing and time control.

We budgeted our costs for an average annual amount of snowfall, but the unthinkable happened. We received record snowfalls that we hadn’t seen since the 1950s. We overconsumed by 35% in all areas of Cost of Goods Sold (Labor, Material, Equipment).

Depending on the size of operation, it can take 5 to 7 years to recover from something like that. Fortunately, we had patient vendors, clients and employees that helped us sustain the storm. The lesson: When in business long enough it is not a question of if you will fail — it’s a matter of when.

Tip: Be sure to set limits on accumulation amounts, number of events, number of applications for ice control, response times to service requests to help mitigate risk.

A risk management tool

Beyond personal organization and the opportunity to get face to face with clients and prospects, the importance of proper documentation cannot be understated as a risk management strategy.

Legal counsel. Employ a lawyer to review your contract wording. Be aware of hold harmless agreements in which they state the owner of the property assumes no risk for the site conditions while under a contractors’ service agreement. Weigh the risk/reward. We would all own more buildings if we had no risk associated with the upkeep and maintenance of a facility.

Paperwork. Keep accurate records by event. Track all communications, call logs, emails, time reports, weather reports, and training and development sessions for employees. Establish 3 to 4 levels of sign off for the work delivered from your operators to your working supervisors to your quality control to management. File a hard copy by the date and a digital copy. Document everything. Add pictures to file content as well as weather-related articles. You may need those reports in the courtroom to prove your due diligence. When it’s together in one place it makes for a very easy find when called upon.

Plan ahead, be ahead and expect a win!

Read the original article from Snow Business Magazine

Most companies in our sector start from a passion fuelled by amazing energy and drive. After about 25 years, owners see a new challenge: How to keep their companies going after they retire. Since 70 per cent of company purchases are made by employees, developing great people is the deciding factor on the future success and longevity of your business.

It’s the owner’s role to engage, lead and coach in all areas of business performance. Developing people becomes the owner’s main focus as companies evolve. Some use proven business management practices, while most learn lessons over time, understanding this becomes the focus for future growth. Every business needs a long-term plan for personnel growth. In my personal journey this came from mentors, peer groups and much trial and error. Industry-led education gives us a benchmark and starting point for sure; real life situations prove whether or not they work. To focus forward on a path our vision must be clear, and remember, the path is never straight, as we learn most in the valleys and turns. The following points have proven to work for many toward developing people that build your company’s value as time moves forward.

It’s the owner’s role to engage, lead and coach in all areas of business performance. Developing people becomes the owner’s main focus as companies evolve. Some use proven business management practices, while most learn lessons over time, understanding this becomes the focus for future growth. Every business needs a long-term plan for personnel growth. In my personal journey this came from mentors, peer groups and much trial and error. Industry-led education gives us a benchmark and starting point for sure; real life situations prove whether or not they work. To focus forward on a path our vision must be clear, and remember, the path is never straight, as we learn most in the valleys and turns. The following points have proven to work for many toward developing people that build your company’s value as time moves forward.

It’s the owner’s role to engage, lead and coach in all areas of business performance. Developing people becomes the owner’s main focus as companies evolve. Some use proven business management practices, while most learn lessons over time, understanding this becomes the focus for future growth. Every business needs a long-term plan for personnel growth. In my personal journey this came from mentors, peer groups and much trial and error. Industry-led education gives us a benchmark and starting point for sure; real life situations prove whether or not they work. To focus forward on a path our vision must be clear, and remember, the path is never straight, as we learn most in the valleys and turns. The following points have proven to work for many toward developing people that build your company’s value as time moves forward.

A strong management team that is well qualified in sales, operations and accounting is key to longevity, whether your company has three people or 63. Map the team out on paper, into a past/present/future organization chart to help guide growth and decision making. Assign Key Performance Indicators to keep decision-making focused on numbers, NOT feelings.

Communication tends to be an area where companies break down. Keeping open communication lines becomes very challenging as a company grows past about six employees. Ensure communication is as clear and direct to the source as possible. Whether it’s a visual scoreboard, a client share system, or regular reporting checklists, just do it! A communication process map is a great idea to help everyone understand processes and proper channels.

Education and development
Making our places of employment educational institutions is critical. At a Congress event over 10 years ago I heard a speaker say, “The largest school should be our daily workplace.” That has stuck with me for years. Now we are realizing that sharing, learning, teaching and coming together as a group is the best return on our largest investment — OUR PEOPLE. The military’s main purpose is to set clear rules and expectations through disciplined activities, and to obtain a desired outcome. I am not suggesting in any sense that green business activities are equivalent to the efforts of men and women in our Canadian Forces. It’s just that if we expect people to perform at a certain level, we had best teach them how to act and react. Former NCAA basketball coach John Wooden, one of the most-winning coaches in history, made things clear. The first thing he did with new team members was to sit them down and explain how to put on their socks and tie their shoes. Because he wanted their best and knew how to prevent injuries. We must show and tell others often how we expect them to perform. Standards really help outline clear expectations, as well as build consistency and rhythm. This is another form of communication. How do we start making our work place an educational institution? Just start! Line up chairs. Set up a white board. Schedule the meeting. Meet and communicate. Invest time in your people. I believe we have a development issue within our industry, far more than a retention problem.

Building relationships that matter helps focus efforts forward — bankers, accountants, legal counsel, mentors, vendors, clients, customers (yes, there is a difference between the two), future managers, peer groups, other business groups, etc. all help expand our reach and potential. Exposure to these groups enhances the long-term growth and continuation of our operations.

Energy is as valuable as is time, but much more important. As leaders, knowing where to spend your energy is critical. Spend it on the area of largest return, your people.

Read the original article from Landscape Ontario

Many business owners ask when they should start planning for succession. The answer is NOW. Any well-defined business plan will have succession as part of its long-term planning. It’s essential to start this. Key word is Start. 

It will never be perfect. It will always be changing. It will always take adding and subtracting. But the best thing to do is just Start: Now. 

Some of the best advice ever given was that, “paperwork makes good relationships.”

Whether it’s a client, business partner, employee, or future family member, paperwork takes away ambiguity, confirms promises, and holds people accountable to agreed-on terms. Succession may be the largest transaction many people handle in their lifetime, and it should be treated as such. It’s taken many a lifetime to reach this point. 

First: Draft your succession plan 
Ensure your plan is written out, printed and filed where it can be easily found. Make sure it is easy to understand. Write out paths for potential employee ownership, family member succession, and/or a private purchase. Make a list of expectations for BOTH SIDES, and have them printed, signed, and kept on file.

Second: Seek wise counsel
You will need legal and accounting counsel. Plan for it, and draft out your plan. Discuss with other shareholders and stakeholders, which may include clients and suppliers. You want the transition to be as seamless as possible, ensuring good relations for the next generation of owners.

Ask for help! Your accounting professional will help advise the most effective way to transfer shares, sell the company, and all the other options. Good legal counsel will advise on the proper transactions and written documents to protect both original owner and purchaser.

Third: Test the market
Seldom, if ever, is something worth what you think it is. So ask 70 per cent more, subtract 33 per cent, add 47 per cent and you are about where you should be. There are ways in which businesses are evaluated for purchase — it happens every day. Buying a competing, lateral-growth company that complements your existing business is the fastest way to gain market share. Just be a realist — ask others and test, because this should never be your only plan for retirement or succession. The values of good will, assets in equipment and inventory, buildings and property, and long-term contracts have all become more volatile in recent years. Consider your large-scale global economy, then Western economy right down to the country level, and then your local economy. They are all 100 per cent connected. How?

Major steel equipment used in landscaping is manufactured in mass quantities outside our continent, affecting long-term value of assets. The entire world economy rises and falls on the price of oil. Understand how that affects our economies — nationwide and provincially. Most consumer buying behaviours are heavily influenced by local government. Learn to realize and be aware. 

Many things should be considered when evaluating a company and determining value. The number one asset is always long-term retained earnings, showing good solid management and a steady track record through the highs and lows of fiscal years. This affects everything right down to your succession plan, market value, financing, etc. I have always been told the one that dies with the most equipment doesn’t win — the one with equipment working is the one that wins. Don’t get caught up in thinking equipment is a huge asset in business worth evaluation. I am not saying it doesn’t have value, but just stating most new start-ups can get financing as easy or easier than a 25- to 40-year-old company. It’s just the market. Cash still wins and always will. The best operating companies grow cash. The book “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish — Chapter 9 on CASH — is a must-read!

Fourth: Work the plan 
We have all seen the difficulties associated with lack of planning. It could be a family business that was not properly structured, a story from a friend, or a business book written about a large company’s history. That’s how the world makes stories — on other peoples’ misfortunes. 

Take the time. Most only do this once in their lifetime. Draft it. Counsel it. Test it. Work it! It’s never too early to start.