The Latest at Focal Pointe

News and stories for friends like you.

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Spring is always the busiest time of year in landscaping. While our crews are actively serving our clients year-round, it’s springtime that is always our biggest push. With activities including spring cleanup, mulching, mowing, planting, and pruning, the hard-working folks at Focal Pointe are busier than ever during the 100 (or so) days that launch our spring season.

To recognize this “100-Day Dash” and its flurry of activity, long hours, and weekends worked, Focal Pointe recently held a celebration in appreciation of our dedicated staff.

All employees from Focal Pointe’s three branches (Main/Caseyville, Washington University, and Springfield, …

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What does all this rain mean for your lawn?

If it’s true that April showers bring May flowers, is it possible for there be too much of a good thing?  Clearly, the families and businesses impacted by flooding believe so, and so does your lawn.

The media is drawing comparisons between this year and the great flood of 1993, but in terms of local precipitation, this year reminds me more of 1995.  The flooding of 1993 had a lot to do with the amount of precipitation our neighbors to our north experienced, but I recall locally heavier …

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This spring, landscapes aren’t the only thing being renewed. After a lot of hard work behind the scenes, Focal Pointe is excited to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website: yourfocalpointe.com. There you’ll find a brand-new look and a user-friendly interface with more information than ever before.

Some of our site’s new features include:

Better navigation with improved functionality and faster loading
A new design that’s fully responsive on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets
Easier to read content for Spanish-speaking viewers
Integrated social media features including our Instagram feed on the site’s Scrapbook page
New video content that tells …

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In 2015, Focal Pointe instituted a summer internship program to provide students with hands-on learning for careers in the landscape services industry. The program includes a wide range of experiences and is customizable to the intern’s areas of interest. Interns spend approximately one week in each of a variety of disciplines, culminating in a mutually agreed upon self-chosen area of interest.

Below, two of Focal Pointe’s past interns, Elizabeth Fraley (2015) and Derek Reiking (2016) provide an inside perspective on what it’s really like to be an intern at Focal Pointe:

What types of projects did you …

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The natural environment sustains the life of all beings universally. – Dalai Lama

Last week Focal Pointe representatives attended the St. Louis Green Business Challenge kick-off seminar, held at the Commerce Bank Center for Science Education in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Green Business Challenge, a program of the Missouri Botanical Garden, supports integration of sustainability measures into the kinds of everyday operational practices common to every business. Since the program launched ten years ago, 216 companies – representing more than 150,000 employees – have joined the Challenge. Focal Pointe joined in 2018 and earned an Award …

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Last week Focal Pointe representatives attended the Account Manager Excellence regional workshop through the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). The two-day event, held in downtown St. Louis, featured landscape industry experts Ken Thomas and Ben Gandy of Envisor Consulting discussing ideas and strategies for effective account management. More than 70 account managers and business owners from across the country attended the workshop, including five account managers from Focal Pointe: Cody Azotea, Elyse Harpstrite, Sharon Morris, TJ Rau, and Craig Spihlman.

Over the course of two days, many excellent topics related to landscaping account management were …

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Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions announces the addition of Adam Colstock of Okawville, Illinois as the firm’s Continuous Improvement Manager. In this position, Adam will be working with crew members and the leadership team to identify, prioritize, and implement best practice opportunities throughout the company’s operations. Adam will help streamline and develop processes and systems to improve efficiency while maintaining Focal Pointe’s ability to achieve the high standards expected by clients.

“As we continue to grow and branch, our entire organization is committed to making sure the service we provide remains consistent, exceptional, and of great value,” …

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Focal Pointe’s industry peer group, The Growth Network, holds an educational summit each year. The group’s seven member firms each send representatives to learn, collaborate, and share ideas. In 2018, the event was held in Washington, DC and featured keynote speaker, Steve McClatchy, who gave a highly informative presentation entitled, Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead By Example, focusing on productivity and time management.

Steve’s presentation was so impactful that Focal Pointe founder and president John Munie brought him to St. Louis last week to speak to the employees who were unable to attend …

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The Focal Pointe team spent Friday training up for Old Man Winter!  All production members of our snow team went through the following training sessions:

Shop Talk:  Proper pre-event equipment inspections, proper installation of plows and spreaders, and proper post-event cleaning.

Plowing and Deicing:  Proper plowing techniques, salt spreading techniques, how to safely apply chemicals, proper loading of chemicals, and site documentation.

Hand Crews – Safety and Quality:  Proper clothing, bringing extra clothing, and what food to bring. Training also covered snow shoveling, snow blowing, and effective ice melt applications.

Communication:  Proper inter-company communication before, during, and after a …

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More than 100 landscaping professionals gathered in Washington, DC last month at the Capitol City Summit, the Growth Network’s annual three-day educational event. The Growth Network is an industry peer group made up of seven landscaping companies across the U.S., including Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions. The other firms are: Level Green Landscaping of Maryland, who hosted this year’s summit; Native Land Design in Texas; Duke’s Landscape Management in New Jersey; Conserve LandCare in California; Mike Ward Landscaping in Ohio; and Greenscape, Inc. in North Carolina.

Because the companies are from different geographical areas, they aren’t competitors. …

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Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions was recently awarded an Overall Safety Achievement Award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

The award, part of NALP’s annual Safety Recognition Awards Program, honors those companies with thorough, high-performing safety programs that create and maintain safe work environments in the lawn and landscape industry. It is designed to reward lawn and landscape companies that consistently demonstrate their commitment to safety.

Focal Pointe was evaluated on number of accidents, number of days that employees were away from work, and number of employee injuries and illnesses. In addition, a checklist was used to …

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Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions announces the addition of Sandra Gonzalez of Wright City, Missouri as the firm’s Director of Talent and Team Development. In this position, Sandra will lead all aspects of Focal Pointe’s recruiting, hiring, and new employee onboarding.  She will also work with management to retain qualified employees through competitive compensation, benefit plans, and ongoing training.

“We are very pleased to welcome Sandra Gonzalez to Focal Pointe as our Director of Talent and Team Development”, said firm Founder and President, John Munie. “Sandra has experience in human resources and management in a larger corporate …

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Perception is powerful and tough to change, believes John Munie, owner and founder of Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions, St. Louis, Missouri. Unfortunately, much of the public perceives the services the green industry provides as not being on the same level or having as much value as the services of other trained professionals.

While the industry, in large part, has itself to blame for this, Munie and thousands of other company owners in the industry believe they can dramatically elevate the industry’s reputation. But it has to happen one company at a time.

“Each business owner needs to …

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Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions is celebrating Smart Irrigation Month by helping customers save water, save money, and see better results.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Each July (traditionally the month of peak outdoor water use), this public awareness campaign highlights simple practices and innovative technologies to:

Make maintaining green spaces easy and convenient.
Minimize overwatering while keeping lawns, gardens, and landscapes beautiful and healthy.
Save money on utility bills.
Help protect community water supplies for today and the future.

Property owners and managers often overwater, unintentionally wasting …

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Outdoor hardscapes can be a valuable addition to your home or property. According to Inman.com, an updated landscape/hardscape can increase the value of your home by as much as 15%. These updates often involve making a sizable investment in your property, so it’s important to choose the right landscape contractor.

When choosing a landscape company to do your hardscape work there are a few things to keep in mind. How many years of experience do the installers have? What type of product is best for my property? Is the base under the pavers important? Let’s look …

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This week the St. Louis Business Journal named Focal Pointe among the area’s Fastest Growing Companies from 2015-2017. Thank you to our hard-working team, whose diligent efforts, unwavering commitment to our customers, and high-quality work are the foundation of our growth.

We also want to use this news as an opportunity to show how dynamic the landscape industry is. If you, or someone you know, enjoy spending time outside, has a desire to serve others, and is looking for the satisfaction that comes with being highly productive in a growing industry, consider a career in landscaping. …

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Now that spring has arrived, temperatures are starting to rise. Although this year hasn’t been a typical spring, the time is still right to apply your first round of turf fertilizer with crabgrass pre-emergent.

Spring is the best time to apply a pre-emergent to your lawn for the control of the dreaded crabgrass that can show up in your lawn in mid-summer. The pre-emergent with fertilizer does two things: first, the fertilizer helps feed your lawn as it comes out of a winter sleep. This fertilizer treatment thickens the grass, allowing it to shade the soil …

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Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions announces Eric Hansel, Technical Services Manager, and Brad Ettling, Lead Irrigation Technician, recently passed the examination to receive the Master Lawn Irrigation Installer License through the St. Louis County, Missouri Board of Plumbing Examiners.

The exam covers principles of irrigation design and theory, St. Louis County plumbing codes, and business, law, and project management topics. The Master Lawn Irrigation Installer License allows the holder to test, certify, and repair lawn irrigation backflow prevention devices in St. Louis County.

“This is another example of how the Focal Pointe team continues to grow professionally and …

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“Victoria has been a valued employee for over 4 years,” said firm founder and president, John Munie. “She is an asset to our company. I look forward to seeing the positive impact that Victoria will have in her new position.”

Vogt brings more than nine years of experience in landscaping, with a specialty in horticulture. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, with a Master of Science degree and a Horticulture Science specialization. Victoria was recently named the Outstanding Young Alumni for 2017 at the 66th Annual College of Agricultural Sciences All Ag Banquet at Southern …

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Although deer are beautiful creatures, most of us would prefer they dine somewhere other than our gardens. Many St. Louis neighborhoods are seeing increases in deer populations, much to the dismay of home gardeners and property owners. There’s nothing worse than watching your early plants emerge in the springtime only to be eaten to the ground. Some of deer’s favorite garden snacks include hostas, tulips, pansies, and rose buds.

While it’s true that if food is scarce enough, deer will eat almost anything, there are a number of plant varieties that they don’t care for. By …

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Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions employs the best and brightest landscape professionals in the nation. Our latest search for young talent brought us to the Tar Heel State, where we attended the 2018 National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) at Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina. The competition, known as the “Olympics of the landscaping industry,” is landscaping’s largest recruiting event.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) describes the competition as an annual three-day powerhouse event that brings together the best landscape and horticulture students, top industry companies, and dozens of the biggest industry manufacturers and suppliers. …

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In 2015, Focal Pointe instituted a summer internship program to provide students with hands-on learning for careers in the landscape services industry. The program includes a wide range of experiences and is customizable to the intern’s areas of interest. Interns spend approximately one week in each of a variety of disciplines, culminating in a mutually agreed upon self-chosen area of interest.

Below, two of Focal Pointe’s past interns, Elizabeth Fraley (2015) and Derek Reiking (2016) provide an inside perspective on what it’s really like to be an intern at Focal Pointe:

What types of projects did you …

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Innovation. Efficiency. Sustainability.

In today’s landscaping industry, this should be the vocabulary of an irrigation technician.

Watering your landscape is simple, right? For many, an irrigation system is out of sight and out of mind. The green turf and vibrant shrubs are watered overnight. One wakes up to a house with beautiful landscaping and finds more of the same when they go to work. It may seem like magic, but that’s irrigation. It’s a rapidly growing field with innovative technology that is greatly increasing the efficiency and sustainability of irrigation systems.

Focal Pointe strives to be leaders …

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When a bush, shrub, or tree becomes unwieldy and overgrown, it’s not always necessary to remove the entire plant and replace it. Rejuvenation pruning is a cost-effective way to renew an overgrown landscape without the cost of plant replacement.

The objective of rejuvenation pruning is to remove the older growth, leaving behind a younger and more vigorous plant. When this is done properly at the right time of year, the tree or shrub will often experience new, healthier, and more manageable growth that same season.

The best time to perform rejuvenation pruning is in early spring before …

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“The earth laughs in flowers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The St. Louis area has just recovered from the longest stretch of sub-freezing temperatures in more than 30 years, so most people are not yet thinking about the annual flowers they want to plant this spring. But in the landscaping world, we’re already actively planning for the planting season to make sure our clients have beautiful flowers this spring and summer.

Planning for annual flowers actually begins more than 12 months in advance. Seeds for annual flowers are harvested from live plants, and these stock plants must be …

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Though it’s winter now, here at Focal Pointe we’re thinking about spring and are already designing new landscapes. There are several factors I always consider when working with a client to plan their landscape. Selecting plant material is one of the most important factors. It’s my job to select plants that are attractive to my client, complement their home, and are well-suited for their new environment. Below are a few tips on selecting plant material for your landscape:

Maintenance

The first thing to think about is how much maintenance you are willing to do. All plant material …

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Why fertilize?

The health and appearance of trees and shrubs can greatly benefit from fertilizing, which supplies nutrients that may not be readily available from normal soil conditions. Tree fertilizer applications may reduce (but cannot eliminate) environmental stresses such as low water availability, soil conditions, and competition with turf and other plant material.

When?

Trees and shrubs have their greatest need for fertilizer and nutrients in the spring, so the best time to fertilize is anytime after leaf drop but before they leaf out in the spring. The nutrients are stored in the roots and become immediately available …

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What steps does a property manager need to take to be prepared for the next grounds maintenance season? Here are 6 things you can do at year’s end to help your property look its best next year:

Budget for Next Year. Create a grounds maintenance budget for the year, along with a dollar amount planned for enhancement (additional landscape) work for the season.
Perform a Physical Review of the Property. Recall any landscape maintenance issues that may have occurred during the past season. What worked? What didn’t? Were there any distinct pain points that you or your …

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While the rest of the landscape goes dormant during the winter months, your planting containers can still be full of color and life. Filling them with winter interest plantings is a great way to keep your property looking beautiful.

Using a combination of cut evergreens, winter berries, pine cones, gilded branches, holiday ornaments, and other winter items, containers that usually display annuals can be vibrant and attractive. Beautiful winter arrangements are not just for the holidays – the right materials can accent your landscaping from late fall through late winter.

A mix of materials makes for a …

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We’ve reached that time of year where we are no longer mowing on a regular basis. The end of the season can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Things such as number of mows left, weather, and number of available employees all affect end of season planning.

The mowing schedule is delicately balanced throughout the season. As operation managers, it’s our job to find the balance between mowing consistently on irrigated sites and skipping sites that are not irrigated, to avoid cutting when the heat is at its worst, which could possibly damage the turf. …

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“Nothing burns like the cold.” – George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones

With the cold temperatures of winter quickly approaching, it’s time to winterize your irrigation system. Winterizing removes any remaining water from the system to minimize the risk of freeze damage to pipes, valves, and fittings.

Focal Pointe begins winterizing irrigation systems in mid-October, completing all shutdowns by mid-November. In our area (Illinois and Missouri), that is the optimal timing to complete the work prior to the arrival of freezing temperatures.

Focal Pointe uses the blowout method to winterize systems for both commercial and residential properties. …

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Property managers and owners have many choices when it comes to finding a landscape maintenance provider. How do you find the best fit for you and your property? Here are four of the top things to look for:

1 – Quality Work With Attention to Detail

Landscape maintenance consists of many services:  mowing, pruning, fertilization, mulching, and bed maintenance, to name a few.  The best landcare companies pay close attention to the details of a property. In addition to providing crisp bed edging, clean beds, and vibrant annual flowers, they notice and care for the small details, …

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Though it’s still warm outside and the kids have just gone back to school, it’s time to start thinking about snow and ice! Late summer/early fall is the ideal time for commercial property managers to procure snow management services for the upcoming winter season. Here are some top things to consider as you look for a provider:

1 – Experienced & Available

Availability is paramount. Snow and ice can be unpredictable – you need a company that offers early and late hours as well as 24/7 emergency response.

It’s also important to know that your property will be …