Fall Golf Tournament 10/2/13

Don’t miss this year’s Masters Golf Tournament for your chance to win the green jacket! Proceeds benefit the Chapter and LEAF Scholarship fund. Visit the golf page to download the entry form, or pay and register online with PayPal.

When: Wednesday October 2, 2013
Where: Indian Valley Golf Course, 3035 Novato Blvd in Novato
Tee off starts at 12pm sharp
Cost: $90 Registration Fee- includes golf, cart, and balls.

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Quantum Leaps

No, we’re not talking Scott Bakula here. We are talking about paradigm shifting change.

I will tell you one thing, it’s rare, like as in I just found a crisp $100 bill on the sidewalk rare.

When you get your hands on it, when you are a part of it, hold on to it like a pitbull on New York steak.

Incremental change, we can plan for it, we can achieve it. We can set small or medium sized (realistic of course) goals, we can make to-do lists, we can check off the boxes.

Then you decide once and for all to lose 75 pounds and keep it off forever. Or you quit your day job and go after that dream with no plan B. You give away control of the company to the new partner who has the skills and panache that you don’t have…maybe someone dies, maybe you’re part of a great team.

Don’t take it for granted, do press the pedal to the metal. That inspiration may be fleeting. The seedling of an idea might get squashed under some fat hikers boot.

So the question is, are you ready to make the leap?

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2013 CLCA Awards Application

This year’s awards application is out, our theme this year is Tropical Paradise

The application deadline is April 18th, 2013, or April 26 with $50 late fee
Photo Deadline May 10, 2013

Download this year’s awards application in PDF format

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A Professional Portfolio of Work- You have no excuse

We just purchased a new Nikon digital camera for our office to shoot our projects (and of course as a fun toy).

The quality is amazing, and the wait is over. A professional quality camera (one that would have been the finest available at many thousands of dollars just a few years ago) is available with a couple of lenses for around $800. We picked up a Nikon D3200 DSLR.

Resist the temptation to upgrade to something more expensive. Unless you are going to shoot weddings on the weekends on the side, or paper your office in 24″x36″ photos, you don’t need fancier features or more pixels. The camera will just be outdated in a year or two anyway.

For more of my shots, see my new photo blog- done as a lark to get me to take more and better photos.

Dr. Seuss, your plant is ready

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CSLB to Ramp Up Employee Reporting Enforecement

Starting in 2013 the CSLB will be working with the EDD to help curb abuses on the reporting of employees to avoid payroll taxes or workers compensation premiums. This is good news for companies that have played by the rules along- just remember to properly report new employees to the EDD. From the CSLB press release:

CSLB Authorized to Discipline Contractors
Who Fail to Report New Employees

Contractors Must Report New Employees to EDD within 20 Days

 SACRAMENTO – Contractors should be aware that employee reporting laws have been strengthened by the passage of Assembly Bill 1794. In addition to the current 20-day reporting requirement, the new law, effective January 1, 2013, authorizes the Employment Development Department (EDD) to share new-hire employee information with agencies in the state’s Joint Enforcement Strike Force on the Underground Economy (JESF) (of which the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is a member) and the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF). Efficient information-sharing among state offices will ensure that employers are accurately reporting their employee payroll to their insurance carrier for establishing their workers’ compensation insurance premium.

With the newly shared information among the three agencies, CSLB can take disciplinary action against contractors who fail to accurately report new employee information within 20 days of the established hire date. AB 1794 (which amends Unemployment Insurance Code section 1088.5) specifically enables EDD, SCIF, and CSLB to establish a memorandum of understanding to audit, investigate, and prosecute those who violate tax withholding requirements and commit premium insurance fraud.

Contractors currently are required to carry adequate workers’ compensation insurance for employees or submit to CSLB either an exemption or Certificate of Self Insurance. C-39 Roofing contractors are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance even if they do not have employees. However, a CSLB study revealed that approximately half of licensed contractors either claim an exemption based on having no employees or maintain a minimum policy under which no employees are reported to their insurance carrier.

When a contractor underreports employees to obtain a lower workers’ compensation premium, law-abiding contractors who report their employees correctly are placed at a competitive business disadvantage by having to pay up to five times more in workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

“This landmark legislation benefits consumers, contractors, and employees,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “When employers properly report and insure employees, consumers are protected by workers’ compensation insurance coverage if an accident occurs on their property, businesses pay less in insurance premiums, and employees are eligible for unemployment insurance when they’re property listed on the payroll.”

CSLB encourages all contractors to refresh their knowledge of new employee reporting requirements, and to use EDD’s online information to assure that their employees are accurately reported.


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How’s Your Estimate?

Is it a one pager? A line item and a price? Done on a carbon copy?

If your bidding a job worth any sort of money, please tell me you aren’t doing it on carbon copy (unless that is the name of your new iPhone estimating portal)

Your estimate says a lot about you. I work with a lot of sub-contractors and most of the bids I get are scant on details and poorly thought out.

A simple way to get more work, better estimates. With detailed specs, prices, maybe even a photo or two. You know, show some thought.

Send it in a .pdf (NOT a .doc)  This isn’t complicated. We do ours in Microsoft Word, they were slick (in a good way) and get us a lot of work, at a higher price. So long carbon copy.

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More About When to Fight

Again, the answer is probably not most of the time. A story-We’ve been in business 25 years. In that time, and after 100′s of projects we have been to court exactly zero times. So when should you fight with your customer?

It better be over something big, something worth over $10k, worth your time, your attorneys time, etc. For the small stuff, the stuff where you are right and you are pissed, you just have to eat it.

My favorite example was a project where we were working for people who were certifiably crazy. The wife wanted to handselect each stone for a retaining wall and tell our guys where to place it, stone by stone, for 1,000 stones. The project eventually came to an impasse- we went and saw a lawyer who had helped us with some small issues in the past. His advice- just work it out. No way we thought, these people are crazy, and moreover, we’re in the right.

We better find another attorney I told my dad. So we did and he agreed with us. And letters were sent, and stress was induced… and in the end we worked out, swallowed our pride and moved on. Zero for zero court record maintained, that’s a good winning percentage.

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Is It Worth Fighting Over

The answer is probably not, at least when it comes to your customers.

One of my customers recently was too picky, sent too many emails (try 10 concerning the color of gravel they wanted) and wanted work done for free. Then I received another email, they didn’t like a stone material, even though that is what they selected. It was only 6 stones, a minor inconvenience, but I was pissed, I had enough. I had two choices, I could fight, and potentially drag the project to a standstill and make everything more difficult, or I could cave.

The great beauty of working directly with an owner is what can be a contractors best friend, the Change Order. On small stuff, get them next time. The client wants more work done or add-ons and they are a pain in the ass, the price just went up. (Secret note to owners- you can be a pain in the ass, but remember, the price just went up on all future work)
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Why Your Ideas Will Win

There are only two things you need to do to have your ideas take hold, become effective, and make a difference.

#1 Have Ideas- Most people don’t have ideas. We’ve been conditioned to do what were told, play it safe, and look at our profit and loss statements each month. Take a blank sheet of paper, number it from 1 to 20 and take a problem you are facing. Ask yourself 20 questions. You will be surprised the answers you come up with by thinking. You’ll be surprised by your ability to have ideas. Don’t stop until you get to 20, even if the you are writing down the same questions in different ways.

#2 Act -Clearing the first hurdle of having ideas is no easy step. Not when were stuck in the weeds of our day to day responsibilities and checking our email every 5 minutes. There’s not a lot of time for creativity there.

Congratulations, you have a great idea. You have won exactly nothing.

Ship- look fear in the face and ship. Seth Godin says it a lot better than I can:

Shipping isn’t focused on producing a masterpiece (but all master-pieces get shipped). I’ve produced more than a hundred books (most didn’t sell very well), but if I hadn’t, I’d never have had the chance to write this one. Picasso painted more than a thousand paintings, and you can probably name three of them. As we’ll see, the greatest shortage in our society is an instinct to produce [emphasis mine]. To create solutions and hustle them out the door. To touch the humanity inside and connect to the humans in the marketplace.
Godin, Seth (2010-01-19). Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (p. 102). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

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Put on Your Running Shoes

It’s easy to build up roadblocks in your head to doing a project. You have a proposal that’s overdue for a client. Its going to take a focused block of time to get it done. But now just isn’t the right time. Maybe I will do that tomorrow you tell yourself, when I have more focused time. Tomorrow comes and goes. Suddenly procrastination sets in and the proposal’s time and difficulty grows in your mind. It’s ok you think, that wasn’t a good project anyway.

There’s an easy trick to beat the trap in our thinking. I’m on an exercise kick. I am running or biking 6 days a week. There are days I don’t feel like running. I missed the morning or lunch window, and I get home after dark. Do I really want to strap on a headlamp and go running in the cold dark night?

The trick, as many people know when they roll out of bed at 5 or 6am to go for their runs is to put on your gear, lace up your running shoes. There’s never been a time, once the gear is on and I start, that I turn back. Once I get that momentum going I can keep it going.

Back to our overdue proposal. What are your triggers that will get you started? They are different for everyone. Maybe you need to sit down at your computer and open your estimating platform, maybe you need to open that client file and re-review your notes.

Whatever it is, break that project down into the first step, the next action, your momentum will take care of the rest.


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Last Landscape Industry Certified Test for 2012 at Buckeye Ranch

The California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) is pleased to announce its upcoming Landscape Industry Certified Technician written and hands-on test dates for the rest of 2012 in the Petaluma area on Friday and Saturday, October 5-6 at Buckeye Ranch, 2425 Old Adobe Road, Petaluma, CA. This test will be the last opportunity for landscape contractors to complete the hands-on and written test to become certified in 2012 in California. The deadline to register for the October test is August 31, 2012.

Landscape Industry Certified is an international designation of excellence for those who have taken their experience to the next level by studying, testing and passing requirements to become certified. Individuals who have become Landscape Industry Certified have proven they have the skills and experience needed to meet minimum job requirements and set themselves apart in the landscape industry. Landscape Industry Certified shows a commitment to best practices by both the landscape contractor and the company that hires him/her.

Certification applicants must pass both written exams and hands-on tests in order to become certified. For the hands-on test, the applicant rotates through timed hands-on problems, which are supervised by one or more judges. To pass the hands-on test, applicants are required to install or maintain sample landscape projects, which must meet required quality and safety standards. Also, after becoming certified, contractors are required to maintain certification by completing 24 continuing education units every two years.

There are a number of benefits for both the individual to become certified and for an employer to hire certified individuals. Certification creates career advancement opportunities, increases industry professionalism, and confirms an individual’s professional skills. It also benefits the employer by allowing companies to meet city and municipal mandates. Certification is a requirement for some employers and for some public works projects in California. According to Dave Iribarne, Water Conservation Coordinator for the City of Petaluma and Landscape Industry Certified Technician, “Certification is a confirmation that a contractor has the skills to do the job. Hiring a company with certified contractors on our job, means our jobsite is going to be safer and our contractor will have the knowledge and skills to do a quality job. Certification is also a sign the company cares about its employees and the quality of the work it provides. For many of our industry RFPs and bids, Landscape Industry Certified is a requirement.”

The Landscape Industry Certified Technician program is conducted through PLANET and the hands-on exams are administered by state/regional/provincial association licensees and are offered once or twice a year. PLANET, the Professional Landcare Network, is an international association serving lawn care professionals, exterior maintenance contractors, installation/design/build professionals, and interiorscapers.

The California Landscape Contractors Association is helping to provide training and advancement opportunities for today’s green industry workforce including ongoing CEU workshops and webinars, CLCA’s Water Management Certification program and multiple training sessions at CLCA’s Landscape Industry Show. This year’s show takes place February 13-14, 2013 at the Convention Center in Los Angeles.

Landscape Industry Certification tests are given in both northern and southern California and additional certification training opportunities are given regularly throughout the state. For more information about a test, training or a site tour, please contact Stephanie King at 916-830-2780 or [email protected] For more information about certification or essential skills training opportunities please go to http://www.clca.us/certification

Barbara Landrith
Outreach Specialist|
California Landscape Contractors Association
[email protected]
1491 River Park Dr#100
Sacramento, Ca 95815
(916) 830-2780


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Summer Scamble Golf Tournment Thursday 8/9

This year’s Summer Scramble golf tournament is coming up August 9th, and will be at Foxtail Golf Club’s North Course in Rohnert Park. The North Course features carts with GPS, and should be a good challenge after last year’s tournament on the South Course.

As always there will be great raffle prizes and a lot of fun in the low pressure scramble format. This is a great event for golfers of all skill levels.

Download the Entry Form here or register and pay online with PayPal

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Awards Dinner Friday June 22 at the Flamingo Hotel

Don’t miss this year’s awards dinner. Formal Awards Banquet invitation & response cards will be in the mail very soon.

Date: Friday June 22nd – 6:00 PM
Place: The Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa – 2777 4th Street
Menu: The 3 dinner selections to choose from are:
~ Prime Rib
~ Chicken Florentine
~ Vegetarian Wellington
Cost: $60 per person (includes appetizers, salad, dinner, desert and a bottle of red & white wine on every table).
If you are a 2012 North Coast Partner, then you qualify for 2 free dinners that night.

Hotel Rates: The Flamingo has given us a special discounted rate for any of you who would like to spend the night.
The rates are: $159 for Deluxe King or Double – $169 for Superior King or Double – $189 for Executive King – $259 for a Suite
To make a reservation, call (800) 848-8300 and identify yourself as part of CLCA to get these rates.

Call or Email Connie to RSVP: [email protected] 707-829-5487

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What Happened to Juan

Lawn and Landscape had an interesting article this month for their cover story. It profiled Vila and Son Landscape in Florida, one of the industry’s largest companies with 1,000 employees, and how the severe economic downturn in the state crippled the business. Some very good take-aways about the need to monitor receivables, Vila lost an estimated $10 million through bankruptcy non payments, and how the vicissitudes of the economy can bring down even the largest and strongest companies.

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Dinner Meeting Tuesday 5/22

Just a reminder to RSVP to our Dinner Meeting Tuesday May 22nd:

Topic: Property Manager’s Panel Discussion – “What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You” Place: Muscio’s (formerly Cacti) 1200 Grant Ave in Novato Menu Choices: Pesto Fettuccine with Chicken – Penne Marinara with Sausage – Vegetarian Lasagna Time/Cost: 6:00 PM and $30 with RSVP ($35 @ the door)

Area’s to be addressed by the Panel: – What are the factors involved with deciding to make a change in contractors? – What should a landscape contractor be doing to make the PM’s job easier? – How important is Water Management? – What are the highest priority areas on the property? – What current trends or changes are you seeing in your market?

Hope to see you there!!! You can RSVP by phone/fax (707) 829-5487 or to this e-mail.

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Upcoming Bay Friendly Garden Tour

Hurry and register by April 20th for full tour access!

Please join us for the Ninth Annual Bay-Friendly Garden Tour. Featuring 69 gardens across 4 counties, this is our biggest tour yet – showcasing beautiful inspirational gardens that feature real-life, practical solutions to take home and make your own.

Each tour day features local Bay-Friendly experts, from home gardeners to landscape professionals, available to share their experiences and best Bay-Friendly tips. Informative talks on hot topics and special Bay-Friendly plant sales will be held at select locations.

You can participate in just one day, or up to all three. But you must register by April 20th for full tour access!

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San Rafael Gopher Workshop

Gina Purin from the County of Marin passed along this gopher workshop this weekend:

We have a few spots left on a workshop (see attached) dealing with gopher problems. If you’re interested – particularly if you have clients in the Santa Venetia area of San Rafael – you might want to come and let them know in case they would like to attend as well. THANKS!

P.S. It’s not necessary to have clients in Santa Venetia – but they get a $5.00 rebate on a gopher trap if they (or you) have a Santa Venetia address.

pdf iconFINAL Front side of Gopher Flier.pdf

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Jim Huston seminar

Estimating in a down economy workshop with Jim Huston …hosted by the East Bay Chapter..

pdf iconDOC010512-01052012123050.pdf

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Bay Friendly Overview

The North Coast Chapter Dinner Meeting is 2 weeks from today, see details below. Hope to see you all there!!! RSVP to this e-mail or by phone (707) 829-5487. Connie Red rose http://gfx2.hotmail.com/mail/w4/pr04/ltr/emo/ids_emoticon_rose.gif

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

San Rafael Joes

931 4th Street in San Rafael

6:00 PM – $35 with RSVP ($40 at door)

Bay Friendly

Landscaping & Gardening

Speaker: Anne Cook – Executive Director

Anne will be giving us an overview of the Bay Friendly system of programs that are geared for the Landscape Design, Construction and Maintenance Professionals.

Menu Selections: Roast Sirloin of Beef, Chicken Piccata & Cannelloni ala Romana (vegetarian)

pdf icon1-12 flier.pdf

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Santa Rosa Junior College landscape class

Juanita Salisbury is teaching at the Santa Rosa Junior College this Spring. Her class may be of interest to you.

The class is HORT 94, AutoCAD for Landscape Applications, part of the Landscape Design certificate they offer. The class starts January 20, every Friday from 12-5. The three sections include topics on drafting site plans, planting plans and irrigation plans.

If you have some background in AutoCAD and you want to brush up on your skills, this would be a great class for you.

There are still some seats left. Juanita Salisbury’s contact information is at the bottom of this note if you have any questions.

Juanita Salisbury, Ph.D. Juanita Salisbury Landscape Architecture www.jsalisburyla.com Rohnert Park, CA cell: 650-269-2051

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