The Latest at Focal Pointe

News and stories for friends like you.

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Last weekend, several of Santa’s helpers from Focal Pointe we’re out in the community sharing Holiday Cheer with the families of first responders who are experiencing a different, more difficult Christmas season this year.  Groups of volunteers met at homes in communities across southwest Illinois including Troy, Shiloh, and Waterloo. While Christmas music streamed through the morning air, our cheerful volunteers hung lights and decorated festive holiday containers. With the occasional break for hot chocolate and homemade cookies, the spirit of generosity made the day joyful.

The volunteer teams are pictured below.

“There was so much about …

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Focal Pointe is Snow Removal Ready and Prepared to Plow

 

According to weather.com, the average date for the first snowfall in St. Louis isn’t until December 3rd, but we’ve seen snow as early as October 22nd. Focal Pointe’s team and equipment are ready. Last week, Focal Pointe held its annual “Snow Rodeo.” A day when snow removal teams get a refresher on policies and procedures. Our teams rotate through five classroom and hands-on training sessions. They receive specific instruction on the safe and efficient operation of Focal Pointe’s extensive collection of snow removal equipment. Classroom topics …

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We are fortunate to live in the Midwest where we experience four distinct climatic seasons. In a 2005 survey Gallup Poll found that Fall ranks only behind Spring as American’s favorite season. It is perhaps because these more moderate seasons provide relief from the sometimes harsh extremes of summer and winter. Those who love the outdoors also enjoy times of transition in our landscapes. As shorter days and cooler temperatures take their toll on our spring planting, now is the time to rejuvenate our landscape and outdoor spaces with cool-season varieties for fall.

Some ideas of …

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Members of the Focal Pointe team recently attended the Aspire Snow Summit, a virtual snow conference to discuss best practices, learn about new software functionalities, and network with other landcare professionals.

Attendees took part in live presentations, breakout sessions, round-table discussions, vendor interactions, and networking opportunities all via a virtual format. Some of the topics discussed included snow techniques and best practices, work ticket management, estimating, reporting, and new products and equipment.

Conference keynote speakers included Kevin Kehoe, founder of Aspire Software, developers of business software for landscape and snow companies, and Marty Grunder, President & CEO …

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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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Spring is a time for renewal, and our gardens and planting beds are no exception. When used correctly, mulch can benefit your landscape, both in terms of plant health and aesthetics. If you are planning to add mulch to your landscape this spring, here are some tips.

Why mulch?

A layer of mulch can help suppress weeds, retain moisture, and prevent erosion in your planting beds. But when it comes to mulch, less is more. When added year after year, too much mulch can inhibit plant growth by creating an impenetrable layer that doesn’t decompose.

What kinds of …

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Focal Pointe team members attend the i-Landscape conference in Schaumburg, IL

To start off the new year, the entire Focal Pointe Construction Department visited the iLandscape Illinois and Wisconsin Landscape Show in Schaumberg, IL. The goal of this trip was to talk to vendors and see what new equipment was available or on the horizon and to make some new contacts. The trip was successful in a few ways. The team participated in in-depth demonstrations of new equipment that Focal Pointe is planning to purchase and gathered information from several new nurseries to expand …

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Focal Pointe Account Manager Cody Azotea was honored this week with a Sustainability Leadership Award from Washington University in St. Louis at their annual Green Carpet Awards ceremony.

Cody Azotea and Washington University’s Allan Miller

The Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize individuals and projects that exemplify leadership in sustainability. Winners are selected based on the following criteria:

Impact—significant measured or projected results
Visionary—paves the way for a sustainable future; redefines norms; questions the status quo
Alignment—initiative aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations and advances progress towards the goals
Innovation/Creativity—utilized new techniques, perspectives, …

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John and Rick at a conference session

Focal Pointe Controller John O’Connell and Integrator Rick Fadel recently attended the 2020 Aspire Client Conference in Tempe, Arizona. (Aspire provides business management software for landscape, construction, and snow professionals.) The three-day conference included breakout sessions and panel discussions on current industry trends and issues, as well as networking activities for attendees.

One of the most inspiring talks was from keynote speaker Lt. Colonel Rob Teschner, also known as “Cujo.” Teschner, a former Air Force fighter pilot, spoke about improving human performance through teamwork.

“Real teamwork leads to transformation,” …

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The St. Louis Green Business Challenge, a program of the Missouri Botanical Garden, has just completed its tenth year of work with companies across the bi-state region to advance sustainability as a business solution. At an awards celebration held Friday, December 6 in Lakeside Café at the Saint Louis Zoo, 61 businesses, non-profits and local government entities were recognized for their work this year to integrate sustainable policies and practices into their operations.

Twelve companies received Awards of Achievement for participation at the Challenge Apprentice Level, including Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions, Inc. At the Apprentice level, …

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Focal Pointe team members recently traveled to southern California to attend the 2019 Next Level University — an annual training and networking conference with peers from five other leading landscape companies from across the country. Representatives from each company exchanged ideas and brainstormed ways to improve company methods and operations.

One of the main themes of this year’s event was company culture. Keynote speaker, Dr. Gustavo (Gustavo Grodnitsky, PhD), kicked off the event with an engaging discussion on the positive impact a good culture can have on a company and its employees. Dr. Gustavo suggested ways …

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According to the Farmer’s Almanac, our region can expect below-normal temperatures this winter with above-normal snowfall. No matter how much snow and ice Old Man Winter sends our way, Focal Pointe crews are prepared.

We recently held our annual Snow Rodeo, where all production members of our snow team participated in the following training sessions and demonstrations:

Shop Talk: This training covered how to conduct pre-event equipment inspections, proper installation of plows and spreaders, and best practices for post-event equipment cleaning.

Snow Preparation & Hand Crews: Employees reviewed appropriate snow event clothing, as well as bringing extra clothing and …

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For the second year in a row, Focal Pointe has been named one of the 50 fastest-growing private companies in the St. Louis metro area. To create the list, the Business Journal gathered revenue data from local private companies for the past three years (2016 – 2018) and then ranked the 50 companies with the highest growth percentage over that period. Focal Pointe was ranked #36 with 70.8% growth over the last three years!

This honor goes to our hard-working team of professionals whose shared passion to reflect the ideals of those we serve, makes all …

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After nearly a decade of decline and reduced availability, it seems that the beloved Impatiens plant is finally making a comeback.

Impatiens walleriana, commonly called Impatiens, has historically been one of the most popular annual bedding plants in the country. A longtime favorite of gardeners, Impatiens are easy to grow and provide beautifully-colored blooms in shady conditions. The name Impatiens comes from the Latin word for impatient, undoubtedly chosen for the violent way in which the original perennial plant’s seeds discharge from its ripe pods.

Eight to ten years ago, Impatiens became susceptible to downy mildew – …

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Summer is coming to an end and folks are busy soaking up the last barbeques and sunny afternoons before fall settles in. Snow probably isn’t on your mind right now, but here at Focal Pointe, that is not the case. It may still be summer, but we are in full preparation mode for snow season.

We start heavily planning and preparing for the snow season in August. By starting early, we ensure we are fully prepared to serve our clients whenever that first snowfall occurs. We want our clients to know they can always depend on …

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For the second year in a row, Focal Pointe sponsored a seminar at Busch Stadium featuring Steve McClatchy as the keynote speaker.

Steve McClatchy is a national speaker and author of the New York Times Bestseller, Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress & Lead by Example. He has worked with some of the most prominent organizations in the world including Google, Under Armour, Disney, John Deere, Microsoft, and others. Steve is passionate about continual improvement and believes that when we stop growing, learning, gaining experience, and achieving goals we stop living.

Steve’s presentation entitled, Leading Relationships: Communicate …

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Did you know that over the next ten years, a half a million teens with autism will enter into adulthood? 93% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. Easterseals Midwest is trying to change that. Easterseals offers a variety of training and placement services that help people prepare for the workforce — for many, meaningful work is often the key to overcoming challenges and engaging with the community.

 

One of Easterseals’ initiatives is its LINK program, a visual and hands-on curriculum designed to teach social skills for the workplace. Two LINK program graduates, Andersen Williams and …

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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 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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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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“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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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. …