FarmLinks at Pursell Farms has partnered with Agrium Advanced Technologies, BASF Corporation, The Toro Company and other top companies in the industry to launch several new educational pilot programs, including one designed specifically for lawn care operators (LCOs). These solutions-based programs provide an excellent balance of education, collaboration and recreation, with the participants – and their needs – at the forefront.

According to Erle Fairly, president of FarmLinks, “The hands-on training lawn care professionals receive here is designed specifically for those who are striving to be the best in the profession. It is a program that offers LCOs the chance to learn firsthand, gain valuable experience, test out an advanced set of technology tools and discover answers to the questions they face daily on the job – whether behind a desk or on a mower. Our goal for these new pilot programs is that we will not only introduce professionals to new products, ideas and techniques, we will make a positive impact and enable them do their jobs better.”

Grant Young, marketing manager, commercial division, for The Toro Company, states, “FarmLinks has once again developed a program aimed at helping today’s business owners understand what innovative product solutions are available to help maximize their performance and productivity. To make the process come full circle, we at Toro greatly benefit from the opportunity to listen to the needs and requirements of landscape professionals and utilize this input to develop innovative new products that improve the contractor’s bottom line.”

The first LCO program took place August 9-11, with 27 in attendance. Guests participated in leadership presentations; collaborative training sessions with product manufacturers; and equipment demonstrations, including Toro’s zero turn models and new GrandStand mower as well as various products from Exmark, a division of The Toro Company. The interactive, field-based educational session known as the On the Grounds Tour was also an effective tool for the participants to interact with their colleagues and industry professionals, especially for the guests who had not seen, firsthand, the new zoysias, bermudas and other warm-season turfgrassess that are part of FarmLinks’ research and demonstration facility.

“Being from the North,” Terry Klass, owner of First Klass Lawn Care in Ohio, mentions, “I was unsure of how information from a Southern golf course would be a benefit to my operations. But I was very impressed with the broad applicability of the content, and I have already put to use much of the information that I received from the team at FarmLinks.”

The focus group sessions that took place also touched on these pertinent topics and encouraged some thought-provoking industry discussion, including details about the significance of labor and insurance and about how to enhance or improve operations in light of tough economic times.

FarmLinks’ experience manager, Blake Garret, explains, “A majority of LCOs in attendance at our recent session shared similar desires to focus on quality while at the same time driving down operational costs. Consolidation and the buying power of larger operations generate great pressure on small- and mid-size LCO companies. As a result, it’s becoming more and more important for LCO professionals to find practical, effective solutions that they can implement right away so they can sustain their business and hopefully grow their companies.”

Participant, Bayardo Herrera, Agrium Direct Solutions’ sales representative adds, “No matter if you are an LCO professional or distributor to LCO companies, the education received will help you with your business. The whole program – from the food and lodging to the educational sessions – is top notch.”

The next LCO program is currently being planned for early December, along with several sessions in 2011. Space is limited for each, but interested professionals may contact Marsha Ellis at 877.292.3276 (option 2) or e-mail for details on how to get involved.