Fert in Hawaii

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by RABBITMAN11, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. RABBITMAN11

    RABBITMAN11 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,377

    I want to know if there is a market to start a fertilization Buisness in Hawaii? This is a serious question!
     
  2. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,118

    There probably is. I became the only custom applicator doing turf and ornamental work in the city, possibly in the state, in July 2007. I used to work for a well known landscaper as their senior maintenance foreman and applicator. I went on my own because there was no support on the part of my employer to provide high quality lawn and landscape maintenance. The company was content to provide bad customer service. I am doing well, however I meet a lot of resistance to what I do because the landscaper/gardener already does fertilizations and pesticide applications. Most landscapers/gardeners are not T&O certified as I have been since 1994. Or they send out an illiterate worker who has no concept of callibration or effective application techniques. Usually it is a case of both. I remember my former employer callling me to ask "how much MSMA to put in one gallon of water?" I chewed his A$$, because I do not know how much per gallon of water. I only know AI per acre or M. Or worse still is the do it yourselfer. They do not want to hire out work that they are not qualified to do, all they want to know is "what do I buy to kill this weed/insect etc". My normal answer is "nothing, the chemicals that will work are restricted to commecial applicators." BTW it is a frequent occurance to have a pesticide related incident involving homeowners applying malathion upwind of an elementary school, thereby causing the students and teachers to be taken to the ER for organophosphate poisoning.
     
  3. RABBITMAN11

    RABBITMAN11 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,377

    Well I live in the Midwest, and I travel too Maui once a year and really want to move there. I am more familiar with cool season grasses, and plants but I would like to get into the chemical side of the business over there! (Tree and shrubs, Pest control, and Lawn care applications. Any suggestions on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Like how to get started what type of clients over there would be likely interested.
     
  4. Tscape

    Tscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,370

    I stayed at the Hale Koa a few years ago. I took the tour of the grounds with Darryl Barbadillo, the landscape director. It was a real eye opener. I did not know a single plant, and the turf all looked like something from another planet. How would you make up for your lack of familiarity with the plant material?

    My wife and I vowed to move there one day, but we realize it would be a real challenge to earn a living. Any jobs for a quick learning, college educated guy on Oahu?
     
  5. RABBITMAN11

    RABBITMAN11 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,377

    Well I guess I would learn the way I did here! I really didn't have any help here just suppliers and I grew my business here very well. I know i don't have a clue about the plants and turf I Guess I would just have to learn.
     
  6. turfsolutions

    turfsolutions LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 851

    I lived there for 2 years and one day will be back. I can't help much on the strictly lawn treatment biz, however, there is a definate market for landscape maintenance. Full year business, not too hot, never too cold weather wise. There is a lot of rich people on the island, I mean big bucks. You just have to find a way in the door. Downside is that the cost of living is very high and there is a lot of competition. As for getting to know the plant life, you will be at a disadvantage but with time will get it.
     
  7. RABBITMAN11

    RABBITMAN11 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,377

    I do know one guy there that just signed a big contract with one of the resorts. I guess I could talk to him and see if I could get my foot in the door through him.
     
  8. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,118

    I can tell you it is very different from working even in southern Florida. I have been a long time lurker on this forum and I am jealous. Only 4 rounds a year?. That will not work here. I apply a minimum of 12 rounds to the turfgrass and anouther 12 to shrubs and groundcovers. BTW, I have seen the grounds at the Hale Koa Hotel. They do not fertilize enough or do enough weed management. The soils here are usually extremely nutrient deficient. Also it is normally a heavy clay that is either too acidic in the upland areas or sodic and alkaline in the low, coastal areas. To acheive professional results that clients are willing to pay for, all of my accounts are fertilized monthly with a custom blended liquid fertilizer. I am normally applying 1/2lb/M nitrogen + 1/4lb/M K along with micronutrients. This does not cause overgrowth or thatch. On the other hand, the slow release granulars commonly used in the continental US do not work the same here. The constant high heat makes them release too fast. Also most well maintained lawns here are cut below 1" with a reel mower. The normal grasses used here are hybrid bermuda, seashore paspallum, st augustine and zoysia. Granules tend to not go down to the soil. They stick to the stolons and cause burn. Also the granules get picked up at the next mowing. Perish the thought because fertilzers cost up to twice what they do on the continent. 46-0-0 is $23 for 50lb, the turf blends such as 24-2-10 40% SCU are $25 for 50lb. Greensgrade fertilizers that would work on the low cut turf are over $30 per bag. In this case, liquids are the most ecconomical and effective way to go.

    I do not mind visiting a site monthly, because while I am applying the liquid, I am also looking for disease, insects and weeds. I think Hawaii is the purple nutsedge and kyllinga capitol of the US. Everyone else should be thankful they only see it in early summer. I am fighting that stuff while most of you are on winter vacation. The tropical foliage and flowers tend to get infested with mealybug, scales and whitefly. I can only shake my head when I see a landscape worker trying to spray shrubs and trees with a backpack sprayer. What I use for most of my applications is the 25l. Maruyama MS074. At 350psi and 1.9 gpm I can spray almost anything. I even use it for the liquid fertilizers, very few lawns that I maintain are over 5000 sq ft. Sorry got to run, it is 7:10 in the morning and I am out the door.
     
  9. RABBITMAN11

    RABBITMAN11 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,377

    Greendoctor do you think that there is a market for tree and shrub and Insect control in Maui? Perimeter application as well. I understand that there is so much more to what you do verses what we do, But what about targeting the resorts and golf courses?
     
  10. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,118

    I would forget about golf courses and resorts. They are a close-minded, conservative clique that is stuck on doing things their way, regardless of results. There is usually a superintendent in charge who has no interest in subbing out applications, even though his own staff does a really half a$$ed job of it under his regressive and ignorant direction. It is an embarrasing statement that the fertilizer programs I offer my clients are far more sophisticated that what is done on a golf course or resort turf area. I know for a fact that many of the "landscapers" and superintendents base their fertilizer programs on granular 16-16-16. I live on Oahu, so there is a market for a commercial applicator on Maui. I do tree and shrub insect control as well as exterior perimeter treatments. Most of the ants, centipedes, roaches and scorpions actually are in the landscaped area around a structure. There have been a number of people who have called me in to spray for those kinds of pests, even though they have a contract with T******X. Reason is the application technique of spraying a total of 16 oz of Termidor or Phantom solution over 200 linear feet of perimeter is not cutting it I come in with 1 oz Talstar in 7 gallons of water and the average 1000 sq ft perimeter of ground cover, shrubs and mulch gets a high volume spray under high pressure. It is amazing how many roaches and centipedes are dead the next day. I have to laugh when I see a technician spraying a 1/4 inch line of solution around a structure.

    The reason why my business is growing is because I offer what even the big established landscapers will not do. I am a one man show. The buck stops with me. I take responsibility for good results, as well as treatment failures. Before anyone asks, I am a Hawaii state certified applicator with both a T & O and a right -of-way/IVM endorsment. There are almost no callbacks because my accounts are under my surveillance every 14 days. For that level of service, I have no problems asking for and getting $100 per 1000 sq ft. If you are able to control pests on trees and shrubs, then there is no problem staying busy and making money. It is true that there are a lot of people with money in the state. My favorite clients are the widows who are grateful that their lawn is the greenest on the street, there are no weeds anywhere in the landscape and their shrubs are flourishing. They are not millionaires, but they have no trouble with my fees after a "landscaper" failed to deliver on what was expected of a professional.
     

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