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Critical Care
09-26-2005, 05:49 PM
How do you feel about having landscape maintenance state regulated? How about requiring people who perform landscape maintenance to be licensed through an exam process? And how about requiring landscape maintenance businesses to be bonded and insured?

The following is a link to House Bill 2391 introduced by the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association that would have put landscape maintenance under state control of the Landscape Contractors Board. This would have been interesting if it had passed, but it failed. Imagine how many John Doe maintenance outfits would have been affected, requiring them to employ a licensed landscape maintenance contractor as well as having a licensed landscape maintenance business license.

Landscape Maintenance HB 2391 (http://www.leg.state.or.us/05reg/measpdf/hb2300.dir/hb2391.intro.pdf)

GreenUtah
09-26-2005, 06:07 PM
Can't imagine why that failed <smirk>. Seriously, someone so far overstepped anything even remotely realistic with that bill, even in Oregon where this sort of thing has the greatest chance of passing(I'm still not used to not being able to pump gas there). It would have been interesting for sure, but it would have been much more realistic if they approached it by limiting the scope. For instance, say it was just regarding those that worked on publicly funded projects or along waterways, something not quite so broad. Much more likely to clear away objections by limiting scope. Then you establish a precedent to build on and slowly work toward that goal. Instead, they shot their whole wad upfront and made a grab for the power to control the market. That's the sort of thing that would make everyone pucker...baby steps.

Critical Care
10-05-2005, 02:04 PM
Well, this came as a surprise, and since it would have had huge repercussions on thousands of people it doesn't surprise me that it didn't pass. It would have created a lot of headaches for people. But why regulate landscape maintenance in the first place? I honestly don’t know if it would be good, or bad.

This bill may have been just an effort to assimilate the maintenance industry into the same framework that we, the contractors, must adhere to. There are current laws that regulate the extent of what a landscape maintenance person or company can do, however, many maintenance operators overstep these boundaries. This problem isn’t uncommon, though I wouldn’t call it all-out pandemonium. Would regulating maintenance harness this problem?

What’s an interesting analogy to this is how the Federal Communications Commission handled one problem years ago. The Citizens Band (CB) was originally set up for specific short range business use, such as from base to mobile communications. People used callsigns and everything was in order… for a while. But along came the 10-4 good buddy trucker era, ionospheric skip conditions, and then total chaos. The only thing that the FCC could do was to step back and let the swarm take over.

GreenUtah, you have an interesting thought there about the baby steps approach. FWIW, the Marine Board of Oregon began phasing in that all people operating motorized boats over 10hp – be required to pass a written safety test. They’re phasing this in by age groups. Hmm… “All landscape maintenance operators under 20 years of age must be licensed by 2007, 30 by 2008…”

dvmcmrhp52
10-05-2005, 06:28 PM
And who's going to keep an eye on the "landscape contractors board" ????

Isn't government in our shorts enough?

sildoc
10-05-2005, 08:48 PM
Critical,
Talking with one of the old men that work for the LCB as Point Comand Checking, said that it would most likely come back around reformed to a point. He specifically stated that regulations in fert and pesticide would be a major area that will be reformed. He couldn't tell me time frame as of yet but said it would be in the next 5-10 years. He also stated that in such will keep out illeagals to which are taking over here in the southern portion of Oregon.
It would not surprise me if the gov of Oregon would pass this to pull in more revenue from small businesses. Can you imagine at a 50 dollar fee x well over 5000 LCO's would pull in a small fortune with a minimal amount of work.

This specific bill was what pushed me to working on my LCB instead of waiting for a while.

Critical Care
10-05-2005, 11:48 PM
And who's going to keep an eye on the "landscape contractors board" ????

Isn't government in our shorts enough?

Well, yes and no. Having jumped through all of the hoops to get my contractors license, I don't mind having some enforcement to keep things legal. Oh yeah, there's limits, things are always changing, and I don't always agree with what is etched in stone.

And Sildoc, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the use of all pesticides, even non restricted types, becomes totally reserved for licensed applicators. Other states are more restrictive, but I'd guess that this would fall under the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, rather than the LCB. Oh yeah, if that bill would have passed it could have generated quite a bit of revenue, but at the same time new expenditures would offset some of that.

$50 fee? Gosh, I wish that was all that I had to worry about.

sildoc
10-06-2005, 10:20 PM
Well, yes and no. Having jumped through all of the hoops to get my contractors license, I don't mind having some enforcement to keep things legal. Oh yeah, there's limits, things are always changing, and I don't always agree with what is etched in stone.

And Sildoc, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the use of all pesticides, even non restricted types, becomes totally reserved for licensed applicators. Other states are more restrictive, but I'd guess that this would fall under the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, rather than the LCB. Oh yeah, if that bill would have passed it could have generated quite a bit of revenue, but at the same time new expenditures would offset some of that.

$50 fee? Gosh, I wish that was all that I had to worry about.

Critical,
Don't get me wrong. I just threw a number up at which they would start. I know after paying LCB board for Contractors license and then for landscape business license it gets pretty expensive. Not to mention the bond and other misc expences.
To one point I think the test would be rather easy. The one good thing about it would be that my rates on the maintenance side could go way up. Reason is that it would get rid of all the illeagals running if there were any enforcement at all. Keep Joe Blow from starting up a small business out of whim.

Critical Care
10-06-2005, 10:47 PM
Would your rates go up for maintenance? I'd imagine that it would be next to impossible for the LCB to police the whole maintenance industry. Competition would still be fierce, and having a license doesn't automatically mean that you can charge more. For example, last week I was handing out flyers for blowing out irrigation systems, $45 for four zones with $5 per each additional zone, but some company in town was offering four zones for $25 within subdivisions. Beats my price. So, what can you do other than to lower your price?

sildoc
10-06-2005, 11:25 PM
Would your rates go up for maintenance? I'd imagine that it would be next to impossible for the LCB to police the whole maintenance industry. Competition would still be fierce, and having a license doesn't automatically mean that you can charge more. For example, last week I was handing out flyers for blowing out irrigation systems, $45 for four zones with $5 per each additional zone, but some company in town was offering four zones for $25 within subdivisions. Beats my price. So, what can you do other than to lower your price?
Where we are a intencely growing community such as yourself there in bend it would weed out half of the small companies. Most of the small guys here(I put myself there) are not willing to go the extra mile to take the next step in thier business. (thus is why I am looking more towards the Landscape side instead of the maintenance side) This would take roughly half of what is out there and also limit the new guys starting up. Thus the guy charging a cheap price will fill up fast allowing us that know what we are worth and what the market will bear to charge a higher price. It will also allow those larger companies to up their price and make it more competitive for me to make a living on a decent wage.
One guy here has almost 3 blocks locked up roughly 180 houses, I have 2 in the area and charge 2x what he is getting. He gets 60 a month for full service roughly 200 sq ft houses. I get 115 a month for the same services. His guys are lacking. He cant micro manage them because he has to work also becase he is not making as much. I have told him a hundred times that he needs to raise his rates but he is timid and will not do so as to loose a few customers. I said raise 25 percent and will increas his income, his income 70-90 thousand a year. Just one day. He wont. That is why I say that it will allow a definte increase in cost to the customer.
Now Like you say just like regulating the Landscapers for being leagal it will be hard but it will also get out that some guys get fines and that will curb others from not being legal.
We are far from saturated with all the californians coming in but it would be nice not to have to drive all over hell to get a decent clientel.

Critical Care
10-08-2005, 01:01 PM
Well, lets put it this way. I don't think that a licensing program would weed out half of the maintenance companies. Some would take that little extra step and comply with the new regulations, a whole lot would continue to operate just as before, and then some would merge with other maintenance operators and to form larger licensed maintenance companies. Bottom line is that one way or another most would still be out there doing work.

I mentioned this one company that is charging $25 for blowing out irrigation systems, but I didn't mention that the company is fairly large and has been around for a while. Its not one of these hole-in-the-wall outfits. Larger companies don't always raise their prices, but as in this case may undercut others. And you know the sad thing about this is that the typical J. Doe client is primarily focused upon price rather than quality. License or no license, this cutthroat game goes on. By the way, just now a fellow called up and asked about blowing out his irrigation system. I dropped down to $40 for four zones but I could tell that, again, price was the bottom line. "Do you offer senior discounts?" I told him that I was a senior, and probably should have mentioned that he surely has more money in the bank than me. “I’ll think about it,” was his reply.

Sildoc, I sure wouldn't mind having a three block maintenance route servicing 180 homes, but for $60 a month??? That price is roughly what my basic lawn care rates are for postage stamp size lawns in trailer parks. For $60 bucks a month, what service does this guy offer?

tinman
10-08-2005, 08:17 PM
How do you feel about having landscape maintenance state regulated? How about requiring people who perform landscape maintenance to be licensed through an exam process? And how about requiring landscape maintenance businesses to be bonded and insured?

The following is a link to House Bill 2391 introduced by the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association that would have put landscape maintenance under state control of the Landscape Contractors Board. This would have been interesting if it had passed, but it failed. Imagine how many John Doe maintenance outfits would have been affected, requiring them to employ a licensed landscape maintenance contractor as well as having a licensed landscape maintenance business license.

Landscape Maintenance HB 2391 (http://www.leg.state.or.us/05reg/measpdf/hb2300.dir/hb2391.intro.pdf)

More gov't equals more problems. Think about all the things they regulate now..car tags, property taxes, etc. Everything they touch turns to sh*t. The free market does better without big brother looking over our shoulder.

sildoc
10-09-2005, 01:39 AM
Sildoc, I sure wouldn't mind having a three block maintenance route servicing 180 homes, but for $60 a month??? That price is roughly what my basic lawn care rates are for postage stamp size lawns in trailer parks. For $60 bucks a month, what service does this guy offer?

I agree 180 homes in a 3 block or so radius, hell ya but for maybe 75 or 80 a month. Most are postage stamp. 1000 -2000 sq ft. But here is the kicker. He does it all. Fert, Shrubs, weed, mow and just about anything they need. all for the 60 a month. this is year round so a total of 720 a year. He has 5 crews that do this area in 2 days. I talk to him every other week or so and all he does is complain about not making any money. keeps complaining that he is paying it out in labor. His average salery is only 50 g a year. with 5 crews??? I'm almost doing that solo.
Like I keep telling him raise them 15 a month. Loose a few and earn a whole lot more.
Most people can do the work. Only some can work the business.

Critical Care
10-11-2005, 01:01 PM
Sildoc, so if the landscape maintenance becomes regulated and this guy with five crews has to become licensed, what do you think he would do? Would he operate illegally, get his license, or what? I can't imagine him getting out of business with so much going on for him.

By the way, I was talking to a member of the OLCA who said that they are trying to incorporate this into the maintenance area because so many people out there are doing the work without any knowledge at all.

sildoc
10-11-2005, 05:15 PM
Sildoc, so if the landscape maintenance becomes regulated and this guy with five crews has to become licensed, what do you think he would do? Would he operate illegally, get his license, or what? I can't imagine him getting out of business with so much going on for him.

By the way, I was talking to a member of the OLCA who said that they are trying to incorporate this into the maintenance area because so many people out there are doing the work without any knowledge at all.

I think he would get legal. However He might just throw in the towel. His attitude changes week to week. Employee frustrations, business problems and just not making the money he thinks he should be pulling in.
We will see. I personally would like to see the business not so apealing to the retirees that need something to do. That is my bigest pet peeve. Oh well.
Knowledge in my opinion is what sets myself and the legit companies apart from the others. It is what allows me to charge x more than someone else. The price shopers can have the guy with no knowledge.

thecolorgreen
10-12-2005, 03:46 AM
My old neighbor worked for OLCA and he said that they were trying to weed out the operators with no knowledge to raise the standard in the industry. He said that the goal was to require all employees to obtain a 'Certified Landscape Tech' certificate.
When I first started my business he was always coming over like Harriet Olson and getting nosey.

I think the only ones it will effect are the legitimate business's - it will drive up our cost to operate. The guys who don't have insurance, business license, etc, will continue to NOT have those things.

tinman
10-12-2005, 05:42 PM
My old neighbor worked for OLCA and he said that they were trying to weed out the operators with no knowledge to raise the standard in the industry. He said that the goal was to require all employees to obtain a 'Certified Landscape Tech' certificate.
When I first started my business he was always coming over like Harriet Olson and getting nosey.

I think the only ones it will effect are the legitimate business's - it will drive up our cost to operate. The guys who don't have insurance, business license, etc, will continue to NOT have those things.
ding, ding, ding..... right u are my man. Example war on drugs - people still use drugs & a high % at that. Just because something is regulated does not mean it will get better.

Critical Care
10-13-2005, 01:47 PM
Of course, Tinman, the opposite side of the coin would be total anarchy. So where do you draw the line? Should people installing irrigation systems have licenses? Or how about people who install backflow devices, or someone who is putting in a $150,000 landscape job?

And, Sildoc, we have a problem here. Knowledge in my opinion is what sets myself and the legit companies apart from the others. It is what allows me to charge x more than someone else. The price shopers can have the guy with no knowledge.

The problem is that your competition has 180 clients in an area where you only have two. You could have all your licenses, all the knowledge, all the degrees, and go door to door to every one of the 180 homes and explain to them why you’re better, but once you mention that your service rate is double that of what Joe Blow’s mowing service is, you’ll more than like go home empty handed. Double, or even just ten percent more, people tend to look at the bottom line, which is the dollar amount.

It’s too bad that the majority of people just want best rates, especially with landscape maintenance. Why? Because landscape maintenance they believe is a no-brainer… even little Timmy next door knows how to mow a lawn, and earns ten bucks for doing it.

So how do you tell Mrs. Weaver that you’re worth more to her than Timmy, the little neighbor boy, or Joe Blow’s mowing service?

GreenUtah
10-13-2005, 02:41 PM
ok, so one the price only shopping for everyone, how do you ever have a single job if that is truly the only decision point? Why isn't the rate the "Timmy 10"? Chemlawn did 1.5 billion in lawn care related services, with the majority of that a weak chemical program that's priced near the top on average, in each market they are in. I guess they were in a pricing war as well? What about other segmentsin the green industry? Ever drive out of your way for plant material that's just better and pay more for it? Maintenance companies fall into the "we can't charge what we're worth" trap all too often. If you want more, sell your customer on why you're worth more. Create a weighable value that they can compare. You roll up and your pitch is we can mow and blow, it's 15 bucks a week and we can do it sometime in the middle of the week, then you deserve to be in the bottom tier.
As far as the drug reference, has it stopped usage? Of course not, but it sure drives the prices up, making cartels richer than ever. An extremely poor example, but you get the point.
Enforcement of licensing is easier than you think, the problem usually is poor planning by bureaucracies and gutless fines implemented by politicians as bills get watered down and gain attachments as the wind through the legislative process. But let's say that there was $1000 dollar fine attached to working without a license on a commercial property and both the owner and the company could be fined. Licensing required displaying your lic. # in 4" high letters on the side of your truck or trailer, like a boat may have, and picture proof would be all that it took to begin an investigation. How many licensed contractors would you see never leaving home without their digital camera? lol a combo of market forces and govt. regs. Again, there's no possible way to implement a program like that on a wide scale without puckering everyone, but by starting with the examples or other niche spots in the market, it could go there over time as successes were gained.

omnilp
10-13-2005, 03:26 PM
Regulate landscape maint.? I don't know about that but they should look at regulating chemicals and fertilizers. And enforce it. There are too many out there without any lic. or insur. and I know of too many home owners with the attitude if 1 oz. is good then 3 oz. will work great, 1 lb of N. no more like 8 lb. of N. I have heard of some states regulating the amount of nitrogen (N) that can be applied in a year.

Critical Care
10-14-2005, 12:17 AM
GreenUtah, that wouldn't be a bad idea to fine commercial owners as well as the person or business doing the work, but why not extend that on to residential too? I suppose that if this were the case, people would "get the message" before too long and would begin to check credentials.

Omnilp, pesticide/chemical application is not regulated by the landscape board in this state but rather the Department of Agriculture. The Dept. of Agriculture administers the licensing process, but personally I'd like to see this as another "elective" to the landscape contractors license.

GreenUtah
10-14-2005, 12:24 PM
Critical,
It would take some pretty powerful reasons to include residential in any kind of regulations before a long and well established history had been established elsewhere. Frankly, I can't think of a single one that could counter the hordes of blue haired old ladies, birchers and consumer groups that would come out of the woodwork to crotch kick their legislatures for even considering something that may raise prices at the homeowner level. Especially with energy and taxes skyrocketing. Commercial and even more so, governmental jobs, however, are easy targets and are used to additional burdens of regulation and have the means to deal with them. Worked in small steps, this is not an outlandish idea and is in the long term, beneficial to everyone. From evening the field for contractors that can meet guidelines to improved services and more responsible care for the property owner.

sildoc
10-14-2005, 12:44 PM
Omnilp, pesticide/chemical application is not regulated by the landscape board in this state but rather the Department of Agriculture. The Dept. of Agriculture administers the licensing process, but personally I'd like to see this as another "elective" to the landscape contractors license.

This would be nice in one aspect. However with insurance the way it is I would be subbing all aspects of pesticides/fert out.
Oregon is rather lenient in its aspect of Pesticide control. Allowing you to use Fertilizer and general use pest with out a license. Now they can still fine you if you are not applying at the Manufactures recommended rates but they still allow for use.
In example. Glyphosate. Regardless whether it is Round up or generic is general use pest. Restricted use pest is so hard to come by in our area it regulates itself.
I am not sure where you purchase your pests but for a area of near 750000 people the only real place to purchase is Big R. I am sure Big R in Redmond carries the same but are there wholesale or other sellers in your area? Our grange doesn't carry anything other than Ortho and Glyphosate, Maybe a fungicide for trees and roses here and there if you are lucky.

Critical Care
10-14-2005, 02:25 PM
I purchase my chemicals from a place in Bend that sells horticultural and ag chemicals as well as seed and tack supplies. They have a very good selection, and as far as I know, everything is non-restricted. Big R would probably also carry a supply, but is further away and more than likely wouldn’t offer discounts for contractors.

And Sildoc, I think that the biggest drawback to not having a Commercial Pesticide Applicators license is that we, by law, cannot advertise a service of applying chemicals or fertilizers. I was thinking about this just the other day when I wrote up an ad for the newspaper about winterizing irrigation systems. What would have been nice was to add something about winterizing lawns as well, but that would have been a mistake.

You know, more than likely I wouldn’t have any problem passing the pesticide exam, but how often would I really use that license? Perhaps if I had a tank and spray setup on a truck… But then that would just be one more license to be renewed annually, plus all of the continuing educational requirements on top of that, and who knows how much more I’d have to pay on top of my current insurance.

Well GreenUtah, I hear you about going after the blue haired ladies, but they would learn as well. One warning would be simple enough for anyone. If little ol’ ladies can pass a drivers exam and get behind the wheel of a car they surely should be able to ask their landscape maintenance company for their license number. Limiting it to commercial accounts would make a statement, but would probably have little effect upon the whole. Non licensed operators would give up their commercial accounts and focus only on residential, making it even tougher for those of us with licenses to compete in residential areas.

GreenUtah
10-14-2005, 03:28 PM
agreed. There would certainly be detrimental effect somewhere,as there always is when an action is taken. My point was simply one of fighting a single battle at a time rather than letting all your obstacles stand in the way together. Residential affects the most people and therefore would draw the most obstructions with not much in the way of ammunition. If you'd like to work toward that, there are steps that would have to fall into place first and you'd STILL face massive resistance, but at least you'd have some sort of precedence to point to.

sildoc
10-14-2005, 05:32 PM
And Sildoc, I think that the biggest drawback to not having a Commercial Pesticide Applicators license is that we, by law, cannot advertise a service of applying chemicals or fertilizers. I was thinking about this just the other day when I wrote up an ad for the newspaper about winterizing irrigation systems. What would have been nice was to add something about winterizing lawns as well, but that would have been a mistake.

You know, more than likely I wouldn’t have any problem passing the pesticide exam, but how often would I really use that license? Perhaps if I had a tank and spray setup on a truck… But then that would just be one more license to be renewed annually, plus all of the continuing educational requirements on top of that, and who knows how much more I’d have to pay on top of my current insurance.

As I agree it is one more bill to pay the state. Insurance would be roughly 60% more than what I am paying now per my insurance company. I have went through the thought process and had a business plan drawn up for the fert company but with the costs It would take me a couple of years to just break even. Then you run into to many irons in the coals. Never doing one as it should be done.
I have not need to advertise for fert and such. Just in word of mouth I do quite well and by people seeing. I though would like to advertise with my aeration for lime and fert. But I just do that when I give a quote.
All in all I am against more state regulation. However being in business there are times you wish the state would do something to make some of the guys educate themselves. I can't begin to count the many shrubs and perennials that I have seen destroyed because the over spraying of chemicals or over fertilization from turf ferts.