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PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 06:39 PM
I thought the Holiday thread could use some pictures and a personal touch. Hell, I could be in a room with you guys in NE and I wouldn't even know it. In the slim chance I spend the money to go to NE again I'd like to know who to look for. It sure would be nice if the holiday lighting industry had an annual trade show. I bet eventually there will be some sort of trade show. This industry is just too big not to have one.

If you see the goofy looking guy in this picture you have found me!

KrayzKajun
01-20-2013, 06:50 PM
You spelled plantscape wrong in the title david.
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PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 06:54 PM
Here is my 45x30 shop. I'm going to pick up some used tear drop racking and put my space to better use. In Texas there is a huge market for used racking. It looks like I'm going to use three 8' or 10' uprights that are 42" deep, two 8' bays with three shelves in each. Complete with metal racking shelves it's under $600. I'll post pictures once it's up.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 07:28 PM
Here are the spools I made for my C7/C9 storage. The ends use 3" drywall screws with a 1x4 in the middle. The spools fit nicely in the $12 Walmart storage containers. I may take my spools a step further next year with a stand for holding the spools.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 07:46 PM
I think the biggest must have item is an enclosed trailer. This is a Pace 16' trailer. The rack is a Rack'em Fit's All from etrailer.com.

Swampy
01-20-2013, 08:50 PM
Might have a issue with it but look into used pallet racking, its cheap at auction a few sections as low as a $1 and can hold over a ton of wieght. That would make loading and organizing easier if you palletized everything you possibly could.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 09:22 PM
I tried to work smarter this year and invested a lot of money in new items and came up with better ways to do some things.

1. The PVC used to increase the distance of my ladder offset is a super cheap mod. This mod allows you to work right over the wreath and gives you room to work without mashing the wreath. For peaks that have a lot of overhang you can work more safely without having to arch your back.

2. Getting organized with tool boxes on wheels was really a must. These were Stanly boxes from Home Depot. About $70 each.

3. The Quick Disconnect version of the ladder standoff is a must have item. I like these because you can go over the gutters and set the ladder on the roof. No sliding back and forth on the smooth gutters. If you get one of those roofs where the shingles stick out past the edge it's a must as well to prevent damaged shingles.

4. This was my first year for adjustable ladder feet. I should have purchased these things long ago.

5. The Milwaukee 18 volt hammer drill is a must in my area where there are lots of homes with stone exteriors. You can drill a holes in just a few seconds. It makes your drill bits last much longer.

6. I had to buy the dreaded 40' ladder this year as well. Nobody in the Austin area stocks a 40'. I had to get Industrial Ladder in Dallas to deliver the ladder.

KrayzKajun
01-20-2013, 09:27 PM
love your shop!

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 09:27 PM
You spelled plantscape wrong in the title david.
Posted via Mobile Device

This is what I get for trying to watch football and post material.

KrayzKajun
01-20-2013, 09:36 PM
This is what I get for trying to watch football and post material.

im glad the Falcons lost.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 09:41 PM
im glad the Falcons lost.

My GD Patriots lost as well. I emailed the moderator and as soon as I went back to my thread my goof up was gone. Thanks Mike!

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 09:53 PM
Here is my quote for racking. I'm still talking to a few other sources.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-20-2013, 10:12 PM
love your shop!

The shop was built by Antone Welding out of Lockhart, TX. I talked to a ton of places and nobody could beat his price. The building is 30' wide and 45' deep, 12' eve height, 20' insulated roll up door, as well as insulated walls and ceiling. The building was about $22K plus $8K in rebar, and concrete work. I may have spent $2.2K in electrical.

The interesting thing is I purchased everything with a credit card. USAA merged two cards into one with a 35K limit and made the rate a fixed 6% rate. Now I'm doing a refi on my house and I'm going to lower the rate to 3% or less.

David Gretzmier
01-22-2013, 12:04 AM
cannot beat an insulated shop. I need to spray foam mine with 1" closed cell on the ceiling and walls. but oh, the cost. just 15k. I would look on craigslist for used pallet racks from individuals. you can always cut down taller ones with a sawzall. I would do thicker beams, 3" are what we used and I still reinforced the middles. the wire decking also bent on us, so my beams have the bend in them that let you insert 2x material for shelves. we got oak from a local sawmill for cheaper than pine at lowes.

I think you might be shocked at how fast your shop fills up. I did a thread here on my new shop 2 years back and it has the math on how much cubic foot per customer I use, and that number has been pretty close to linear as the business has grown the past 2 years.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-22-2013, 09:56 AM
cannot beat an insulated shop. I need to spray foam mine with 1" closed cell on the ceiling and walls. but oh, the cost. just 15k. I would look on craigslist for used pallet racks from individuals. you can always cut down taller ones with a sawzall. I would do thicker beams, 3" are what we used and I still reinforced the middles. the wire decking also bent on us, so my beams have the bend in them that let you insert 2x material for shelves. we got oak from a local sawmill for cheaper than pine at lowes.

I think you might be shocked at how fast your shop fills up. I did a thread here on my new shop 2 years back and it has the math on how much cubic foot per customer I use, and that number has been pretty close to linear as the business has grown the past 2 years.

The insulation for my shop at the time of construction may have been $2000. There was another company that did a high tech spray insulation that I think was going to be twice as much. I've had the temps outside get down to around 14 but inside the building it never got below the low 40's.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-22-2013, 10:04 AM
Here is my racking install in progress. The shelving was cheaper quality then I thought it was going to be. Next time I want to find some of the heavier duty Home Depot shelving.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-22-2013, 10:08 AM
I take old pole saw tips and cut therm down for use in installing and removing lights in tree's. I use the Wolf Garten brand pole saws. They used to sell these at LESCO. The Wolf Garten pole saws are the cheapest quality pole saws you can buy by far.

I give the edges a quick file job so there are no sharp edges. Anybody else do this?

Swampy
01-22-2013, 01:38 PM
Now just bolt it down the common uprights, it will stiffin up, and will be safer. I seen it happen at my night job when racking tips over. I can't tell but they should have gave you some locking clips for the common rails that lock them to the uprights so the rails don't pop off. Your going to know see that metal grate is going to bend and flex, they have spanners that lay betwen the back and front rails, again makes it more rigid when you span a distance, obiviously use more spanners the greater the distance.

Not dis'ing your choice, but what you have are called "Common" raking, I love the stuff. The intial cost to get set up is kind of expensive. The great thing about it is that its expandable, you can add on different fixtures such as "M" dividers, Hangers, Madtix (SP?), etc.... and even more racking. It allows you to palletize things for storage, such as christmas lights, any bagged material, snow plows and snow blowers.

DalesLanscaping
03-20-2013, 10:10 AM
Can anyone tell me what they charge for a basic house decoration or have a price sheet they can email me as this is an area we have talked about getting into. I am not sure how many or if it anything we are looking to jump into yet but we figure we live near a college and could get several college students to work for us as it is part time work.

Also can someone also give me an idea of start up costs which I understand is going to vary depending on what we want ot put up
Thanks

PlantscapeSolutions
03-20-2013, 10:40 AM
Can anyone tell me what they charge for a basic house decoration or have a price sheet they can email me as this is an area we have talked about getting into. I am not sure how many or if it anything we are looking to jump into yet but we figure we live near a college and could get several college students to work for us as it is part time work.

Also can someone also give me an idea of start up costs which I understand is going to vary depending on what we want ot put up
Thanks

I would budget at least $1000 for a shoe string budget for quality ladders (8', 12' 24', and 32' are a must), hammer drill, ect. If you want to stock some basic LED C7/C9 bulbs, socket cord, extension cords, slide plugs, lamp cord, ect. it can easily eat up another $2000 plus.

turf hokie
03-20-2013, 12:55 PM
Plantscape's budget is real shoe string at 3000. It really depends on how you want to grow the business and how serious your are about it.
My 1st year we spent close to 10,000 on material and equipment. Then figure overheads on top of that

Keep in mind it adds up fast. A little giant ladder will run you 400 alone.

Good luck.
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PlantscapeSolutions
03-20-2013, 01:53 PM
Plantscape's budget is real shoe string at 3000. It really depends on how you want to grow the business and how serious your are about it.
My 1st year we spent close to 10,000 on material and equipment. Then figure overheads on top of that

Keep in mind it adds up fast. A little giant ladder will run you 400 alone.

Good luck.
Posted via Mobile Device

I was lucky because I already had all the ladders, an enclosed trailer, and a place to store lights. I went nuts this last year and spent 5K on advertising and another 2K racking, tool boxes, and other stuff. I think I mostly just broke even last year. I will not do direct mail three times again. I think I'll skip the early batch this year.

I'm also only going to push c7/c8/greenery this year. The LED Light Links no longer use the "Always Lit Technology" and are way too risky to sell anymore. Every time a bulb goes out on any LED Light Links or yard art stuff you will half the strand will go out as well. An average size home that never caused you much grief in the past could easily generate 20 call backs over a five year span. Do you think that is going to be a happy customer? The call backs are going to run you ragged and eat up your profits.

Last year I unknowingly did one house with the new LED Light Links and another with yard art and they both had failures and I found out the hard way the Always Lit Technology had been very, very, silently killed off.

addictedtolandscaping
03-25-2013, 07:52 AM
My first year I spent over $25k. Started from scratch, including material, advertising, trucks lettered etc.

David Gretzmier
04-21-2013, 10:07 PM
I have listed what I think is the minimum start up list on another thread a couple years back. There is just a ton of stuff. it seems simple until you list it all. the best way to figure out what you need is to do your house now with c-9's on front and sides, a couple wreaths, garland around your entry door and mini lights in all your trees and bushes. and buy whatever you need. clips, cord, bulbs, timer, ladders, etc. and then add up every dollar you spent or would have spent if you had to buy the item you already had. then I would triple that number. that would give you inventory and tools for the first few jobs. you will need some tall ladders, some short ones, and enough inventory to do a few jobs.

PlantscapeSolutions
04-26-2013, 12:15 AM
For anyone who has not been to Houston it is a very spread out city. The night life area is down town where the convention center is located. All the stuff you want to walk to is between the convention center and HWY 45.

From the Holidynamics hotel location to the cool part of Houston is about a 25 mile drive. For anyone who goes and wants to have a good time at night and be able to walk from your hotel to the clubs and bars you need to get a room downtown.

A month after the event in Houston is the Texas Nursery & Landscape Expo in Dallas. It's too bad they couldn't have the Holidynamics event at the same time. Christmas Designers, Christmas Decor, Novelty Lights, and a few others go to the event. Each year more holiday light suppliers are showing up.

I want to check out Vickerman's showroom in Dallas this year.

PlantscapeSolutions
05-01-2013, 05:04 PM
My dealer had been trying to sell this power head for a T261 for several years. They wanted $250 but I got it for $200. I just have to stick the bottom end on from one of my worn out units and I'm ready to go.

PlantscapeSolutions
05-04-2013, 11:02 AM
Oops, I stuck my T261 on the wrong thread. I think this year I'm seriously looking at using Vickerman for all greenery. I just emailed Dara to see how much off list I can get certain items for. Vickerman does five years on the LED warranty (hear that NE). Vickerman has the most extensive line of greenery products on the market.

From the plain plain but super dense Grand Teton line to the Cheyenne Pine that can match the best from NE they have it all with the best warranty in the industry. I just wish they had a warehouse location with their Dallas showroom. Even shipping from MN the shipping probably won't exceed the NE prices.

I purchased one of Vickerman's high dollar exterior use trees last year from Dara. The shipping wasn't that bad considering it came in two huge boxes via truck freight. I think Vickerman is big enough they get freight discounts and do not milk people for handling charges.

I'm still feeling very deceived in the way the superior LED technology was dropped last year with out saying a word until after the fact. Everyone should have been told in advance that they would need to buy a testing box and that every time one GD bulb goes out and your going to lose half of the strand. I had multiple failures on new stuff last year and the problem is only going to get worse with each passing year and cause some serious customer satisfaction issues.

It seems to me that the folks in NE are are constantly focused on surviving one year at a time and put short term profits ahead of building long term relationships. I probably purchased 90% from other sources last year and it will probably be closer to 100% this year. $1500 down the drain. I wish I were a Johnny Come Lately and had only wasted $99. It might as well be .99 cents.

PlantscapeSolutions
05-09-2013, 11:19 PM
It looks Dara may be able to get me a 25% discount off list for the Vickerman greenery. At that price, level of warranty support, coupled with their high end looking material I think I'm going to try Vickerman this year.

David Gretzmier
05-18-2013, 12:47 AM
I have used Dara for some items, she is nice and will treat you right. I have continued to be thrilled at my decision to shun mostly all LED products. Garland, wreaths, and mini's really don't pull that much juice unless you get into a whole bunch of them. The best mini's do give you 6-9 seasons of service if you only burn them 4-6 hours a night from Thanksgiving to New years.

Since I have never gotten LED's from HYDY, I have always had a great relationship with them. but then, when an incan bulb fails, you can lose 1/2 a set too. it is just far easier to fix.

I appreciate the updates on what is going on in your business.

PlantscapeSolutions
06-10-2013, 03:12 PM
Is anyone else going to the June lighting show in Dallas in June? I also want to go by and check out Vickerman's showroom. I'm seriously looking at using Vickerman this year for greenery.

PlantscapeSolutions
06-23-2013, 07:07 PM
Vickerman had a pretty good display area that you can see year round at the Dallas Market Center. I was hoping GKI/Bethlehem would have a decent display but it pretty much sucked. The GKI display was temporary but all they brought was a tiny bit of stuff and zero greenery.

GKI said they have 6,000 square feet of space at the Atlanta show. The July show would be hard to go to but I may try to go to the one in the Feb time frame.

I like the bows Vickerman has. They have eyelets for securing the bows.

TimNNJ
06-25-2013, 08:59 AM
Hey glad to see the threads are alive!...I am looking forward to this years Christmas lighting season. Looking to stock up on basic materials in August and have everything lined up and on the calendar this year. We have been jamming this year exceeding all of our goals so far and should exceed sales goals by September leaving the rest of the year to really go after it. Hope all is well and try to stay cool.

PlantscapeSolutions
07-07-2013, 10:00 AM
I just got some HD direct mail and it looks like the Houston event has gone from three days for $150 to one day for free. It's tempting to go for just a day for free but I wish it was on a Saturday so I could avoid the Houston traffic. Coming from the Austin area I have to drive all the way around Houston to get to the event which is not an easy morning task. Is anyone else pondering the trip now that it a free day trip?

I already have the TNLA EXPO I'm going to in August in Dallas where I'm on the hook for three nights at the Omni so I don't want to spend any more money for a night in Houston. The EXPO realizes it much easier for contractors to get away on the weekend so the even is always Friday & Saturday now. They dropped Sunday this year. I'm sure the weekend convention space rates are more expensive.

PlantscapeSolutions
07-16-2013, 09:28 AM
Unless I read it wrong it looks like the membership fee has gone from $1500 (lucky me), to $99, to free. Brite Ideas is still advertising $2500 but a few years back they had offered to let me in for free if I gave them the first order of my season. It looks like only Christmas Decor has been unwavering in it's $7,500 or so membership fee. CDI's focus on sticking with the traditional stuff has probably minimized any product issues although I'm sure at some point they too had some LED issues.

Longhorn Landscape Lighting is the local Decor place in Austin. They don't even have a website. I don't understand how you can ante up $7,500 to buy a franchise and not spend anything on a website in modern times.

PlantscapeSolutions
07-16-2013, 10:37 AM
Uline has a 35% off deal on heavy duty boxes if your looking to stock up and save. For guys doing a lot of volume that could be some decent savings.

hotrod1965
07-23-2013, 10:12 PM
Unless I read it wrong it looks like the membership fee has gone from $1500 (lucky me), to $99, to free. Brite Ideas is still advertising $2500 but a few years back they had offered to let me in for free if I gave them the first order of my season. It looks like only Christmas Decor has been unwavering in it's $7,500 or so membership fee. CDI's focus on sticking with the traditional stuff has probably minimized any product issues although I'm sure at some point they too had some LED issues.

Longhorn Landscape Lighting is the local Decor place in Austin. They don't even have a website. I don't understand how you can ante up $7,500 to buy a franchise and not spend anything on a website in modern times.


A website is so important! I just did a video about this!

http://youtu.be/KNOwfwSFCmU

You can get a ton of leads just from your website, which is practically free.

PlantscapeSolutions
07-26-2013, 10:20 PM
Saw this guy going down the road on 620 in Lakeway, TX today.

David Gretzmier
09-11-2013, 01:01 AM
Dara has always treated me pretty well. I have looked at the Cheyenne pine from vickerman before, and I think it has it's place in the market.

maybe you can update me on what is the current foliage to foliage comparison, as my last trip to the dallas markets were a couple years back-And not to throw rocks here, but maybe I need to check out the vickerman larger wreaths again, because the frames I saw a few years back at the dallas markets were less heavy duty than HDY. mostly 1/8" steel rod rather than 1/4"

I may have this wrong, but I also remember their 6,7,8 or 10 foot wreaths being of smaller pieces rather than two halves. sizewise, I remember the 84 inch Cheyenne being roughly the same diameter as the old 7 foot and now newly labeled 8 foot wreath from hdy. comparing the two, the 7 foot hdy wreath is, in my memory, way better looking and less see through, or more fuller foliage, and it had a much heavier frame to boot, along with being two halves instead of 4 pieces. I think the really big wreaths were more like 6 or 8 pieces.

pricewise, I think the vickerman 84" cheyenne wreath was still about 35% more than the hdy wreath even after a multi thousand dollar order threshold was reached and a discount structure took place.

now, the Teton wreath was a different story. it was more their "commercial line" -it was fuller and had a decent frame, but the foliage was fairly single color, and pricewise was about double hydy. I still liked the mixed noble foliage better. but looking at recent photos and specs, I am not sure that is the same wreath I saw. seems to be less tips-foliage and the frame more in line with the Cheyenne. looking at the internet websites, it seems the box for the vickerman teton wreath is listed at 30 pounds on several places. there is just no way that can be right. the hdy wreath is closer to 65-70 pounds.

If you have some current Cheyenne and Teton stuff, can you compare it to current hdy stuff?

PlantscapeSolutions
09-11-2013, 11:02 AM
Here are my three 36" Vickerman wreaths. I got the Cheyenne Pine (CP) on the left, the Camden Fir (CF) in the middle, and the Grand Teton(GT) on the right.

The CP and CF came with M6 LED's that were not sealed which surprised me. The GT can with the 5mm conical lights.

The Grand Teton is supposed to be the premium wreath but I like it the least. The wire used in the foliage is very hard and has almost no memory making it almost a futile effort to prep your wreath and get the foliage looking just right. The wreath has a disheveled look and there's not much I can do to fix it. It was supposed to be the most dense premium wreath but it's actually the most sparse. The lights in the wreath seemed like they were added state side to an unlit wreath. The lights wiring made prepping an already difficult wreath even worse. I would not recommend this wreath.

The Camden Fir has really good density and the foliage has great memory. This wreath is very quick and easy to prep. I really like this wreath and would recommend it. I just wish it had the sealed light set.

The Cheyenne Fir also has great density and should work great as a premium wreath. The foliage is very easy to work with and has great memory. I just wish it had the sealed light set. I recommend this wreath as well.

Both of the wreaths I like could probably be prepped a little better for the pictures I took. You will like either of them. I will probably use the Camden as my base wreath and the Cheyenne as my premium wreath. Vickerman probably has the best light set warranty in the industry so I'm not letting the unsealed lights be a deal breaker.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-11-2013, 11:20 AM
You can probably tell the CP is the left picture, middle is CF, and final is GT.

My recommendations for the matching garland mirror the statements I made about the wreaths. To me The Grand Teton almost looks the the end came out a little sparse (last picture). The GT feels like they used heavy gauge coat hanger wire inside the tips. It's impossible to work with. The wire in the tips feels like rigid steel wire instead of a more pliable copper feeling wire.

If you try the Vickerman stuff give Dara a call because she will get you a better price. You would probably have to be doing some high volume to get the same price directly from Vickerman. Dara gave me a great discount off list that will likely cover at least half the shipping. If you Google ccbydara you will find her.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-14-2013, 02:10 AM
Did you other HD members get a Brite Ideas catalog and price list in your mailbox this week? I didn't know if they were targeting all HD members or people who had contacted them in the past but never pulled the trigger. All I really looked at was the greenery and prices. I see they also do the whopping one year warranty.

I was given the industry standard warranty speech in the past but it really looks like the one year deal is a NE thing only. Vickerman, Christmas Designers, and some others give triple the warranty. I have a problem with stocking up on stuff with basically a six week warranty.

The Brite Ideas greenery probably takes a definite second to HD but it looks like they have undercut them on some of the prices some to try to make up for it.

I've been trying to steal one of my maintenance customers away from Decor for about five years and finally got her. I haven't even done her house yet and she has referred me to a friend who is also using Decor. Should be an easy sell. It's nice when your efforts pay off after trying for years and not giving up.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-19-2013, 09:28 AM
Dara contacted Vickerman and they had me box up the stuff and just leave it outside my door for UPS to pick up. That's what I call service. Christmas Designers emailed me labels last year when I had a problem as well.

I've asked other companies I deal why their process has to be such a pain in the azz. I think it comes down to customer service adds expense and to some it's just not worth the expense. I do not have time to take stuff and pay to ship back for issues beyond my control. Then I have to babysit the company for months to make sure I get my shipping credited back.

I'm sticking with the LED C7/C9, garland, wreath sales if possible from now on. It's easy to maintain and an easy sell to my upscale clients. I just can't deal with the multiple issues I've had with wire frame stuff.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-24-2013, 12:28 AM
I'm getting ready to contact a few leads from last year. A few of the homes range from 10,000 - 22,000 square feet. I'm really hoping to land at least one or two jobs that could be crazy big. The final job I landed last year was over 600' of C9's and was a nice job to land as the season ended.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-15-2013, 02:42 PM
If anyone needs a Magic Box light tester Dara has them for only $100. I have to buy the GD thing because the 2012 and later LED Light Links lose one bulb the whole link or wire frame material will lose the entire stand now. I had multiple first year stands go out last year because of one bulb failure and it was a real PIA. Moving forward I no longer will sell anything on wire frames unless it has reliable sealed bulbs.

Weekend cut easymoney
10-15-2013, 03:54 PM
Any of your xmas light or wreaths run on battery. Need a led solution or something for hoa without power on monuments

PlantscapeSolutions
10-15-2013, 04:14 PM
Any of your xmas light or wreaths run on battery. Need a led solution or something for hoa without power on monuments

Two of my suppliers do both wreaths and garland that are LED battery operated. You usually will get a full season out of a set of batteries.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-15-2013, 04:18 PM
Here is a shot of one of my Holidynamics battery powered wreaths. It needs a little prep work done to it in this shot.

David Gretzmier
10-15-2013, 11:57 PM
I have had pretty good luck with the HDY battery wreaths, but they are kinda funky on the timers. they are 6 hours on, 18 hours off, and you have to be there at 6pm to flip the switch the first time. and they last about 40 days or so. but kinda dim. you have to have a dark front porch or windows for them to look good. I use the batteries from harbor fright because they are the cheapest alkalines I could find. I think a much better and elegant solution would be a big cheap lithium rechargeable battery pack. for 25 bucks on ebay, you can get 8 18650 lithium cells, a charger, and this has basically the same energy available in amp hours as 8 1.5 D alkaline batteries. except you can just charge it once or twice per season. and it would last for 20 years at only one or two discharges per year. or go crazy and spend 35 bucks and get a 12 cell pack that lasts 60 days on one charge. but that's just me.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-24-2013, 02:44 PM
Have any of you guys seen the Wire Grabber clamps for rigging up things with 1/8th or 5/64th cable. Here is a link http://www.aifittings.com/products/spec-sheets/FLG3.pdf. I bought a bag of 50 I'm going to try.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-30-2013, 01:56 PM
Have any of you guys seen the Wire Grabber clamps for rigging up things with 1/8th or 5/64th cable. Here is a link http://www.aifittings.com/products/spec-sheets/FLG3.pdf. I bought a bag of 50 I'm going to try.

Here are the clamps that showed up. On heavier items like my 60" wreaths I may double up on then even thought they are good for 75-100 pounds depending on where which specs you look at. They seem like a great time saver. I wish they would sell them in a duplex set with two cast together into a single unit. Or larger sizes where each side of the guillotine had a set screw to add more clamping power.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-30-2013, 02:12 PM
This Vickerman bow is pretty nice. It has a stiff wire mesh like hardware cloth inside to keep it from contorting. It has grommets for mounting as well. I have no compared it to my CDI bow but the tails look noticeably longer. If the list prices from Vickerman look high talk to Dara. PM me if you don't know who Dara is.

The list price from Vickerman is probably going to end up being closer to your delivered price. Vickerman has been around longer then dirt and it's nice to deal with a company that stands behind their product and doesn't change their sales model or name on a regular basis. Vickerman/Dara & CDI are my main suppliers this year. Having CDI only a little over 200 miles away makes for quick and cheap shipping. CDI doesn't markup their shipping either. Dealing with Tricia at CDI is always quick and easy.

CleanCut1
10-31-2013, 01:38 PM
Good looking bow. Let us know after the season how it holds up to fading.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-31-2013, 02:43 PM
Good looking bow. Let us know after the season how it holds up to fading.

I'll let you know but I'm sure it will be near perfect. Have you ever seen the Vickerman booth at the Dallas Market Center? They have a year round display you can go look at. The Vickerman catalog is insane. They must have over a 1000 items.

I think it would be great if there was a top 25 list that showed the biggest names in holiday lighting supplies. I find it funny that every company I seem to talk to acts like they are close to being the top dog. Vickerman has never implied this but many others in CO and NE have.

CleanCut1
11-01-2013, 04:42 PM
No, I've never been there. I'm pretty far from Dallas. I'm going to check out Vickerman in the off season. Too busy right now. Maybe I'll make a run up to Dallas.

The bows I bought from CDI last year held up very well. The ones I got from HD the year before faded to pink within a few weeks.

PlantscapeSolutions
11-01-2013, 05:02 PM
No, I've never been there. I'm pretty far from Dallas. I'm going to check out Vickerman in the off season. Too busy right now. Maybe I'll make a run up to Dallas.

The bows I bought from CDI last year held up very well. The ones I got from HD the year before faded to pink within a few weeks.

Back in July they had a holiday event up there that I went to. Atlanta is the biggest show but I don't see myself going that far to a show. I've been using the CDI as well. HD is pretty much only going to be a replacement parts source for me I think. Between CDI and Vickerman I can get just about everything I need. I like working with companies where things stay the same year after year and turmoil is not the norm.

You would think a company would have their supplier send sample ahead of time to put out in the sun or rain to make sure they don't fade or crap out after a rain or two. Profits not quality control as the primary focus tends to get companies in trouble on a regular basis.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-05-2013, 09:28 AM
I'm not sure how much HD will direct sell to home owners but I think this is going to be the next fiasco. How pissed are home owners going to be when they buy LED stuff and find out they can't fix it when one bulb failure takes out half a strand on wire frame stuff. When they get told they need to buy the over priced HD Magic Box for $160 and trouble shoot the lights just to change one GD bulb there are going to be some angry people.

I find it very ironic that in 2012 HD did a skit at their annual NE event about the proper way to operate and showed a Joe Blow type idiot character and the wrong way to do things. Then two years later they direct sell to any fool with pocket change. I think to be a fly on the wall in Scott's office and to see what their churn numbers are would be very interesting. I would guess the lifespan of the average member is 2-3 years at best.

BI must be having retention issues as well to be the one who first went to direct sell. Charging $1500 to members only to sell them out a few years later really makes you look like you have a total lack of moral standards. It's all about making money and the hell with operating in good faith with any level of morality.

You could never sell this wire frame stuff at a mass merchandiser because they would RTV truckloads of it back to NE when it fails. I think both NE places are some what painted into a corner where direct selling is a Hail Marry attempt to keep pumping the water out of a sinking ship.

I think quality control on things like powder coating, all sealed LED bulbs, improved metal quality, and better welding have to improve by leaps and bounds for selling wire frame stuff on a large scale to be feasible from a durability and maintenance view point. Profit margin seems to be way higher up on the priority list then quality control and actually working in good faith to do what is good for your end users.

You don't see Decor begging for members and for guys getting started in this line of work that should send you a clear signal that going the traditional route with C7/C9, garland, and wreaths is really the way to go and is easily sustainable.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-12-2013, 12:25 AM
I was in a pinch so I tried some of the C9 warm whites from Seasonal Source sold by a local irrigation supply place. The color look spot on to the Minleon's I like to use. The bulbs were very similar as well.

I knocked out a house in the morning and one in the afternoon as it was getting dark. I finished and turned on the lights to see 16 bulbs out of 220 were a little on the green/pure white side. I know this supply place had an issue last year but I thought it was in the past.

We swap out the bulbs and on the way home I go by the morning job I did hoping for no green lights. Of course at the most difficult spot on the second story there are about 20 bulbs in a row that are green.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-19-2013, 11:21 PM
I had my camera on the wrong setting but here's a sneak peak at the one Griswold house I do. There a HD snowman on his gate and some other assorted things in the yard.

The custom mounts I had made last year are used on the Santa sled and Reindeer. The 12' tree also has a huge steel plate welded to the base to make it very stable.

All the rules are violated here. We have LED and incandescent and use warm white as well as bright white. We also install a multitude of things the client supplied. The tree in the picture is a Vickerman 12' exterior use LED tree which retailed for $2000. The tree is the most expensive single holiday item I have ever sold.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-20-2013, 09:08 PM
Last year I was not able to get many pictures so this year pictures are a major priority.

addictedtolandscaping
12-21-2013, 02:02 PM
The first one is beautiful

PlantscapeSolutions
12-21-2013, 03:07 PM
The first one is beautiful

I was trying to get three pictures in one day. My camera does way too good of a job in low light situations and actually brightens up the picture which is beneficial most of the time. This is not one of those times.

The best looking picture was taken when it was actually too dark. The second picture has a street light just out of the picture and a GD tree in my way. The last picture is a huge home but there are tree's in the way so what should be an impressive picture (with less light) is just average.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-21-2013, 03:28 PM
This is one of my favorite homes. It has 550' of C9's and 82' of garland. I hope to light the tree in front of the wall next year. If you look at the little straight roof that protrudes just below the highest peak that was done with a 40' ladder last year. This year I said the hell with that and lowered down a 8' ladder from the peak and climbed down. A little scary but a big time saver. I don't think OSHA would approve of this or a lot of other stuff.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-21-2013, 06:48 PM
Here is a shot of the 48" Cheyenne Pine.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-27-2013, 10:15 PM
I'm still trying to get website pictures. I'm trying to get pictures of everything and then go back if I have time for retakes. Only so many days to get lots of pictures.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-28-2013, 02:39 AM
This was a new job last year with C7's. I only push C9 now even on small homes. I think C7 multi color can work because it's so vibrant but for everything else C7 seems to leave people wanting more impact.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-28-2013, 10:57 PM
Still working on getting new and better pictures.

Hope Landscaping
12-29-2013, 12:03 AM
Nice work!

PlantscapeSolutions
12-29-2013, 11:45 PM
Still trying to get more pictures. My collection of website pictures was pretty sorry last year and I don't want to repeat that again next year.

The tree with the glowing orbs has 78 Starlight Spheres in it. I picked them up as a client last year and I hung their 60 aging spheres. I made them buy my lights to wrap the tree's. This year they purchased 80 new spheres from me to replace the aging ones (two bad ones).

I wanted LED spheres but GKI and Vickerman don't have the warm white in LED. Dara found one supplier with LED but it would have retailed for close to $5,000 and only had a one year warranty. Buying a few globes with a one year warranty isn't a big deal but five G's with what amounts to a six week warranty is too risky. This is an $845 install and I'm not going to risk losing it over some product going bad prematurely.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-30-2013, 09:31 PM
Here's a few more. The house in the picture has coping on the two wreath peaks an that's why there are no lights. I only had two days notice to do the project for a party. Next year I'm thinking about painting and fastening some angle iron shaped flashing to the peaks. This way I can quickly throw up sockets with magnetic clips.

The metal roof was wet when we started. I had my employee on the end of of an arborist rope while I sat on the ridge of the house keeping him safe from falling.

A note about magnetic clips is they are not very good if the temps are less then 40 F for installs. In the 30's they become brittle and break easily when you flex them to put them on sockets.

Hope Landscaping
12-31-2013, 12:25 AM
Nice work! I already miss the opportunity to do more holiday lighting this year.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-10-2014, 10:38 AM
Did any of you guys get an email from Wintergreen Corporation (http://wintergreencorp.com/)? It's the same address as Christmas Lights Ect.. I have not heard of it so I'm assuming they are rolling out a wholesale division. They are already doing pre-order discounts good until the end of the month.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-19-2014, 10:12 AM
Here is a picture that compares the CDI bows (left) to Vickerman. I have several lady clients who basically tell me they are bow snobs. If you get clients with very high standards you can't beat Vickerman bows. They sold out of 18" bows back during the summer.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-19-2014, 10:22 AM
Here are some shots of the device I used for hanging the larger wreaths. I doubled back the cable and zip tie it as an extra safety feature. You can hang wreaths really fast with this set up and all you need is adjust one set screw.

PlantscapeSolutions
02-10-2014, 09:27 AM
I just finished my new website and will have a good holiday lighting section for next year. I was Googling holiday lights to see who currently ranks high and how their sites look. I came across this http://www.wehangchristmaslights.com/bizop/bizindex.php. The video that has looked pretty good right up until they busted out the staple guns.

Hope Landscaping
02-11-2014, 01:37 AM
I just finished my new website and will have a good holiday lighting section for next year. I was Googling holiday lights to see who currently ranks high and how their sites look. I came across this http://www.wehangchristmaslights.com/bizop/bizindex.php. The video that has looked pretty good right up until they busted out the staple guns.

Lol, you mean to tell me you don't have a couple staple guns laying around?? jk.

On another subject; as I'm getting more into holiday lighting I need to look into roof safety, have any suggestions for that? Like harnesses etc...

PlantscapeSolutions
08-22-2014, 11:33 AM
Mike Marlow has left the building. It will be interesting to see where he ends up going. I would think he would be staying in the holiday lighting sector. I bet Scott is a bit freaked out. Lots of people bailed on HD but Mike surely kept some on board they would have left if he had not been there.

Stuttering Stan
08-22-2014, 10:04 PM
Wow, that's news to me. Hopefully he will resurface before the season begins. Heck of a standup guy!

PlantscapeSolutions
08-23-2014, 01:22 AM
Wow, that's news to me. Hopefully he will resurface before the season begins. Heck of a standup guy!

I would like to see Mike start his own business. As many year of experience as he has it would not be hard to go from zero to 100 pretty quickly. Mike is kind of like Colonel Sanders in that he knows the secret recipe for the HD greenery.

From industry contacts I know HD has done a great job of concealing who makes their greenery in China. Most companies have struggled to create greenery on the same level. Vickerman is probably one of few companies that comes close to HD quality. The Vickerman warranty is still three years. Any minor issues I have with their product Dara quickly fixes.

According to Jason Christmas Designers is working on a new line of greenery. Hopefully it will be ready for this season.

I would think if you were able to come up with HD quality greenery you could make a good living just servicing that market niche. As long as you use quality LED lights your exposure to liability is limited. Forget all that pain in the butt wire frame yard art and LL stuff.

I feel bad for anyone who loaded up on the LED wire frame stuff after the last big failure. Having to spend time trying to search for that lone bulb that went out and killed half a strand of lights is going to be frustrating. The unsealed LED bulbs have poor longevity and the newer wire frame stuff is going to be hell to keep lit and running.

PlantscapeSolutions
08-24-2014, 12:06 AM
This will be the first season where my website was worth a crap. Organically I'm on the first page of Google in my lawn top dressing category and usually hold one of the top spots. I'm hoping to creep up to the first page of Google before November gets here. I'm making some YouTube videos to link to my holiday lighting page. Hopefully some extra content will help.

PlantscapeSolutions
08-27-2014, 09:33 PM
Wow, I just got a mass email from Stacy with Brite Lights of Houston and her husband Carlos passed away unexpectedly. Not sure what happened but hopefully she will be OK. They have a pretty large operation and as some of you know were a distributor for HD last year. I don't think Carlos was even 40 years old.

greenbaylawns
08-29-2014, 12:24 AM
Wow, I just got a mass email from Stacy with Brite Lights of Houston and her husband Carlos passed away unexpectedly. Not sure what happened but hopefully she will be OK. They have a pretty large operation and as some of you know were a distributor for HD last year. I don't think Carlos was even 40 years old.

Wow!! Thoughts out to Stacy and her family. I meet them once in Omaha at a convention.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-04-2014, 12:10 PM
You would think Scott would have sent an email thanking Mike for years of dedicated service or something. Things must have really not gone well with Mike departing. He was really the glue that helped hold the place together over the years so I'm really surprised not a single word has been said thus far.

I'm sure the average lifespan of an HD member has been awful compared to places like Decor that stick to the traditional lighting. I can't imagine Brite Ideas is much better. They also pretty much let you buy without a membership now as well and have no stellar greenery line.

I think the whole wire frame/LL type stuff is just not sustainable and the high end market really has no use for that stuff here in Texas. I just have a few wire frame/LL clients and pass on selling any more stuff if people inquire about it. The fact that one bad bulb now kills a large section of a display and requires a Magic Box to find the bulb is just crazy. I frickin dread taking stuff out of the boxes to inspect it every year.

Some of the guys who did get big into the LED wire frame stuff were really struggling last year to keep everything lit and customers from getting pissed. As the non-Always Lit Technology stuff ages it's bad reliability is only going to get worse. It's going to get to the point where your customs will not be willing to pay to put the stuff up anymore. Your going to end up having to shell out some money to entice people to switch to C9 stuff.

I have no intention of selling any BI or HD wire frame stuff but it would be interesting to hear from any BI guys how things have gone over there the last few years. BI has contacted me several times trying to get me to buy from them so I'm sure they have also struggled to build up and maintain their member numbers.

For anyone checking out the holiday lighting forum and pondering getting into the biz I would tell you to follow the C9/greenery plan and avoid the temptation to deviate.

CleanCut1
09-19-2014, 06:59 PM
I switched from HD to Bite Ideas two seasons ago and have been very happy with everything. I replace a few bulbs in their wire frame products here and there (about the same replacement rate as C9's), but no major issues like with HD. When a bulb goes out the rest of the strand stays on.

BI added mixed noble garland and wreaths this year and is said to be the same as HD. My pre-order should be shipped next week. I can let you know how the MN looks once received.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-19-2014, 07:29 PM
I switched from HD to Bite Ideas two seasons ago and have been very happy with everything. I replace a few bulbs in their wire frame products here and there (about the same replacement rate as C9's), but no major issues like with HD. When a bulb goes out the rest of the strand stays on.

BI added mixed noble garland and wreaths this year and is said to be the same as HD. My pre-order should be shipped next week. I can let you know how the MN looks once received.

I think the way they ditched the "Always Lit Technology" was all about making more short term money at the expenses of the end user. From the feedback Mike had given me the "Always Lit Technology" may very well have doubled the cost of the unsealed light strands for metal frame use.

You know those unsealed LED strands probably cost all of $2 to $3. They probably saved $1.50 per set which let them pocket $25,000 which covered some of the costs of the LL light strands that they paid for. The fact that Brite Ideas, Home Depot, Walmart, and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry sells some sort of Always Lit Technology tells you HD is the lone wolf doing something awry that is going to blow up in their face.

I will have pictures of new greenery available from Vickerman next year (hopefully) that targets HD's line as well as pictures of Christmas Designers new line next week hopefully. CDI is also getting into the big wreaths now with much more heavy duty frames from what Trish was saying. Jason with CDI is here in Texas only a few hours from me and is sending me some stuff on Monday. Can't wait to see it.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-24-2014, 08:23 PM
Here are some samples of Christmas Designers new greenery starting from the top. They still do the three year warranty on the lights that most companies dropped if they ever did it to begin with.

1. New garland with mixed foliage and pine cones.
2. New mixed foliage wreath with pine cones to match.
3. This shows their 9" plain garland next to the new 18" garland. Even the 9" has more density this year and the 18" super thick.
4. Left- wreath to match 9". This also had more density the older material. Right- wreath to match 18". This has really good density
5. Regular wreath to match 9" garland.
6. Wreath to match 18" garland

I'm still waiting on the new Vickerman sample

PlantscapeSolutions
10-01-2014, 10:19 AM
Here are some samples of Christmas Designers new greenery starting from the top. They still do the three year warranty on the lights that most companies dropped if they ever did it to begin with.

1. New garland with mixed foliage and pine cones.
2. New mixed foliage wreath with pine cones to match.
3. This shows their 9" plain garland next to the new 18" garland. Even the 9" has more density this year and the 18" super thick.
4. Left- wreath to match 9". This also had more density the older material. Right- wreath to match 18". This has really good density
5. Regular wreath to match 9" garland.
6. Wreath to match 18" garland

I'm still waiting on the new Vickerman sample

I was just looking at my packing list on my sample set and on #4 I have a goof up. It's the same wreath they ended up sending me two. One was just squished to the point where it didn't even look like the same wreath. Opps.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-01-2014, 10:38 AM
Any of you guys getting ready to do filtered direct mail should be able to get 25% off if you call InfoUSA 866-372-2550 and ask for Patience Williams. Just tell her David with Plantscape Solutions referred you. InfoUSA is one of the biggest direct mail companies and really can filter your results the way you want them to be. Don't ever use the default mailing list any post card place offers for cheap or nothing. Those list's will really waste your money. I learned this years ago when I had the post card place I was using send me the list so I could take some random address samples.

My target market is homes in the multi-million range working down to $800K. I only target people who have been in their house 15 years or less which happens to be about 93% of the homes. In my target market 34% of the homes are either new or they have changed hands in the last year which is great. That's about 1700 new people in my target market which covers 5,000 homes. Do any of you other guys target your customers? I could never do the USPS every house deal that works in some markets.

Cactusmailing.com is the place I use for my card printing. They are in AZ and I'm in Texas but you don't have to deal with local people. Most of the time you will pay a premium to use some local place that is not mega high volume. They have bad azz printing resolution and user a higher grade of card stock by default then other place do. They beat the pants off the unnamed advertiser on this site. Call them and ask for Joe!

PlantscapeSolutions
10-12-2014, 01:51 AM
Here are some 9' x 16" samples from Vickerman of the Cheyenne Pine and Camdon Fir. I used the 14" last year but am considering using the 16" this year. For some reason the Camdon version has more lights then the Cheyenne on the 16" version but on the 14" version the bulb count is the same.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-24-2014, 11:06 PM
I just put up my first home of the year last week. Last year it was a 911 install and I didn't have time to come up with a way to put lights on his peaks that I liked. The peaks had a stone cap on them and I didn't want to glue down 40 clips every year.

This year I painted some metal flashing and attached it and it worked great. Next year the new peaks will be super fast to install and remove.