Landscape and Irrigation and its sister publications — Arbor Age, Outdoor Power Equipment and SportsTurf — have embarked on an editorial quest to provide you with information about the current economy, the stimulus package, and what it all means to the green industry. In this installment, we spoke with Dave Johnson, director of corporate marketing at Rain Bird.
L&I: Would you say that the passing of the economic stimulus is positive or negative for irrigation industry professionals, and why?
Johnson: It’s too early to tell. We’re talking to contractors, distributors and retailers, but they just don’t know how it will affect them yet. Hopefully the stimulus will spark interest in building again. The lack of new building starts has meant fewer new irrigation systems being installed. Everyone is feeling the pinch. If new homes get built, hopefully we will see an upturn.
L&I: What type of advice, if any, do you have for irrigation industry professionals during these tough economic times?
Johnson: We’re stressing to irrigation contractors to focus on “non-new” housing. We need to relay to owners of existing homes the benefits of automatic irrigation systems. Especially in areas where irrigation is needed, automatic irrigation systems can provide cost savings. But irrigation contractors also need to focus on repair and replace orders and be sure to take any repair work that comes in. An irrigation system with a leak is not something that can be put off until later, so we need to keep the systems in working order.
L&I: How has the recession affected irrigation industry professionals most acutely?
Johnson: There has been a lot of over-expansion. We are living in a world of bubbles. There was the dot-com bubble, then the housing bubble. The bubbles burst and it’s going to be a slow process recovering from that. Business is picking up a bit, but it’s going to be tough — at least for this year. There is no quick solution.
Rain Bird is doing its best to help people with discounts and more affordable irrigation options. It’s a sign of the times, but we’re going to help as many irrigation contractors as possible.
– John Kmitta reporting