A Day in the Life- Episode 2: Chris Calefate

Next up on my tour de King Green is Chris Calefate.  Chris is a service manager at our Gainesville, GA branch.  He’s been with King Green over 10 years.   Chris lives in Gainesville with his girlfriend (yours truly) and our dog, Akela (check her out in the pic below, she’s pretty cute!).  He’s a huge football fan rooting for both of his hometown teams, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Falcons.  A typical day for Chris varies.  He handles a myriad of managerial duties to include meeting with customers, taking customer calls, assisting in managing the technicians, and assigning routes to the technicians, when needed.  I spent part of the day riding along with him a couple of weeks ago.

Chris Calefate

Akela Coker-Calefate

Our day starts in Cumming, GA.  The Mr. called our office because he has some concerns about his lawn.
Issue #1 Fireweed
Fireweed has been a terrible nuisance this spring.  Fireweed grows in the thatch layer, above the soil.  Therefore, it isn’t prevented with pre emergent weed control. You can read more about fireweed here.

Issue #2 Winter Damage

This past winter was very tough on warm season lawns (bermuda and zoysia).  This article on our website gives some great detailed information about cold damage to turf. You can see where the turf is brown and hasn’t greened up at all in some areas.  Pesky fireweed is in this shot too.

The customer didn’t mention this as an issue, but we noticed this odd discoloration.  This is most likely from the customer using Round-up on their own in their planting beds and not realizing that the sprayer was dripping.  OR, a garden hose could have been left lying in this spot for too long.

We met with the customer, Chris sprayed all of the weeds and fertilized this monster property (30,000 square feet), and moved on to the next stop.
We pulled up to a beautiful bermuda lawn (I should have snapped a picture).  The invoice in hand says that Mr. is upset because we spilled fertilizer in his lawn.  Chris knocks on the door and I walk around trying to find the fertilizer as the lawn was treated just two days before.  No sign of spilled fertilizer.  The customer takes us over to a barren spot under a tree to point out where he thinks our technician might have spilled fertilizer.  The area is thin and weak, but there is no fertilizer.  Mr. thought that the turf was thin because of spilled fertilizer, but in fact, the area is very shaded and the soil is compacted.  We suggested limbing the tree up a bit or extending the beds (to reduce turf area in the shaded areas) as well as a core aeration of the entire lawn.  We left the now happy camper and continued on to the next stop.

The lady we met here is probably one of my favorite King Green customers.  She reminds me of my grandmother; warm, funny, and very energetic.  She has 7 grand kids and is working on making what she called a secret garden, in her backyard for them.  She has installed various plants and created a walkway into the wooded area behind her house.  The customer is preparing for her 4 sisters from Indiana to stay for an extended visit and is concerned about the bare areas of turf to the left of her house.


Same problem as the guy before, I just didn’t get a close up picture.  She has some large trees that have matured and overshadowed the turf on the edge of  her lawn.  The roots are extending out past the currently pine strawed area.  The lawn is competing with the roots for water and nutrients and roots will always win. Chris suggested extending the pine straw areas out into the lawn instead of continuing to encourage turf.  She thought that was a great idea and is going to have her grandson help her.  She was due for her next application (fertilization and weed control), so Chris treated the lawn while I enjoyed the air conditioner in the truck!

As we were leaving, I thanked the Mrs. for being so kind and told her I enjoyed meeting her today.  She told me “you have a choice, you always have a choice to be nice or not”.  Made me like her even more…
I got to bask in the air condition a bit longer as Chris wanted to drive by a house to check up on the fertilizer he applied a couple of weeks ago. The lawn was bright and green, so we kept driving.
The next customer on our docket is new to King Green.  She did not receive the spring pre-emergent applications because of the time she started service with us, and the result is a fairly weedy lawn.  Chris spot sprayed the weeds with some specialty products and talked to Mrs. about what she can expect.  Each application, her lawn will improve and next spring she will not have the same weed problems as they will be prevented with a pre-emergent. This is a great learning experience for me as there are lots of weeds to identify!

Oxalis

Virginia Buttonweed

Orchardgrass

Sedge

The next customer called to have a manager inspect his lawn because he has thin and bare areas.  He also mentioned a shallow rooted weed popping up in the front lawn (noticing a trend here?).  His lawn was green and healthy and ALMOST weed free.

Fireweed


This monster of a tree produces the shade that is causing the problem in this guy’s lawn.  Down past the sloped area, the turf looks like this.

The turf is green and thick until you reach the area right before the walkway.  There is simply too much shade for bermuda grass to thrive.  The customer wasn’t home, so Chris treated the fireweed and left some information about the shaded areas.
The following customer had a beautiful lake view!

Her concern was the area at the front of the house.  She also has thinning areas of bermuda turf.  The lawn is surrounded by trees and only gets a couple hours of sunlight each day.  The lady intended to just extend the beds and fill the area with mulch, but wanted our advice first. She also wanted her price per application adjusted :).  Chris told her she had the right idea, so we sprayed a few weeds (weeds will populate bare or thin areas even if you treat with a pre-emergent), and made notes not to include this area moving forward.

Our last destination was yet another customer concerned about thin bermuda.  This customer has a fairly shady landscape, but does receive enough sun to support bermuda in a few areas.  The customer recently took our advice and sanded part of the turf.  The grass is already thickening up, so Chris fertilized the lawn for him to help speed up the process.  We left some notes for the customer and headed back to the shop.

Chris and I parted ways upon our return.  He went down to our main office and I stayed here at our marketing building.  There he continued with his day by following up over the phone with anyone we didn’t meet and checking in the technicians when they arrived.  I really enjoyed getting out of the office and gaining some insight about what our service managers do daily.  Chris pushed a spreader, sprayed weeds, and provided great customer service to our customers!

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