PGMS Visits Charlotte, NC

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Two Days of Education, Networking & Exclusive Tours Highlight the
2017 PGMS School of Grounds Management Summer Conference!

PGMS and over one hundred attendees enjoyed Southern hospitality in Charlotte, North Carolina, July 24-25 for a two day conference. Hosted by the North Carolina Branch, the 2017 Summer Conference featured multiple speaker sessions, exclusive tours, and the opportunity to network with industry leading professionals and vendors.

Day One began with a tour of Bank of America Stadium, home to the Carolina Panthers. The grounds sit on roughly 50 acres and the perimeter of the stadium features over 220 planters that are changed out twice a year. Tom Vaughan, Head Groundskeeper, began with a tour of the practice fields (two full fields mowed daily and one artificial turf) and concluded the tour with the opportunity to view the newly completed stadium field renovation. A special thank you to Toro and Smith Turf & Irrigation for setting up the tour.

PGMS traveled to the University of North Carolina – Charlotte (UNC-Charlotte), which hosted three dynamic education sessions and a behind the scenes tour of the campus. Michael Kirschman from Mecklenburg Parks & Recreation discussion of the true value of nature preserves, including the economic impacts of nature-based tourism, increased property values, environmental benefits, and the social and health benefits, which include stress relief, a decrease in depression, and provides a growing generation surrounded by technology the ability to exercise and stay healthy.

Attendees had the opportunity to see the latest and greatest in green industry offerings from Avant Tecno USA, Bill Goat Industries, Calsense, Colorblends Wholesale Flowerbulbs, Greenius by LS Training, Ewing Irrigation, Halifax Fertilizer Company, Harrell’s, Kubota, Proven Winners, and Smith Turf & Irrigation.

Attendees delved into the Green Industry Web Portal, as Fred Kapp discussed the expertise this portal provides to managers as a tool to recruit and train staff. Kapp encouraged members to submit short videos, 2-3 minutes long, highlighting what they do to help promote the green industry and the plethora of employment opportunities available within it.

Reducing the amount of top growth a plant puts on in a season can be beneficial from an aesthetic and pruning labor standpoint. Patrick Anderson, of Rainbow Treecare Scientific Advantage highlighted the advantages of plant growth regulators (PGR) and how they help to manage pruning and help to improve the appearance and health of shrubs to increase a plant’s chances of survival in our urbanized ecosystems. Utilizing visual aids and real world examples, Anderson’s session provided an in depth look at the understanding and application of PGR.

Joey Cochran, Grounds Manager, began the tour of campus with a selection of his campus vehicles (including over 100 electric vehicles) and highlighted the recent renovations completed on campus, including Hechenbleikner Lake which is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Cochran discussed the unique challenges faced during the renovation, including moving the large statue of the school’s mascot. Attendees wrapped up the first day of the conference with a BBQ at Smith Turf & Irrigation, one of the conference sponsors.

The morning of the second and final day of the conference began bright and early with a tour of the Bartlett Research facility, home to an arboretum containing 2,000 species of trees and plants, an education center, and a fully equipped laboratory to evaluate plant samples, identify disease-causing organisms, identify insects, and perform complete soil analysis services. Attendees were placed into smaller groups to allow for an enhanced interactive tour and were hosted by four content leaders, Mike Sherwood, who discussed the benefits and importance of tree inventories; Gretchen Pettis, whose background in entomology provided attendees with an opportunity to discuss invasive species and how to combat them; Greg Paige, the arboretum curator, who displayed a variety of espalier pruned trees; and Kelby Fite & Eliza Holmes provided an interactive discussion on preparing root balls for planting.

Our final speaker of the conference, John Swintosky, highlighted the interaction of people with historic landscapes and how Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation has adapted to evolve the multiple uses of parks within the past century while still adhering to the historic design intent of their Olmsted parks and pathways.

The last tour of the conference was at Metrolina Greenhouses, which produces over 1500 varieties of perennials and annuals and in 2016, trialed 2,209 items (1,474 annuals and 490 perennials .) Sitting on 180 acres employs over 1,300 people during their peak season and recycle three (3) million gallons of recycled rainwater a year. Utilizing an ECHO hanging basket system, Metrolina was able to help with the growing and shipping of baskets to home improvement chains and the introduction of greenhouses at big box stores enables them to sell product year round. Thank you to Mark Lykins, grounds manager of Metrolina, for the behind-the-scenes tour!

Attendees were treated to exclusive tours:

University of North Carolina – Charlotte  Bank of America Stadium
Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories Metrolina Greenhouses

As always, PGMS provided top-notch education sessions featuring industry leading professionals that were not to be missed!

“Green Industry Web Portal” by Fred Kapp

See if you made it into the PGMS photo album. Don’t forget to post your pics HERE!

Relive the journey:Click MeInterested in exhibiting at the 2018 Summer Conference? Contact PGMS at

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Platinum Elite Partners: JohnDeereHighRes TORO
Gold Elite 


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