Monthly Archives: July 2015

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WorkWave grows recurring revenue

NEPTUNE, N.J. – WorkWave has announced significant growth in the first half of 2015, increasing core recurring revenue by 55 percent and staff by nearly 30 percent, while adding over 900 new customers, with key customer wins US Coachways, Friendly’s Ice Cream, Fort Point Beer Co., Hoskins Pest Control, Budget Pest Control, Molly Maid, City of Houston and Spring-Green.

“Demand for WorkWave’s field service management and fleet management software solutions continues to grow among both small businesses and enterprise customers, as they increasingly realize that efficiencies from the cloud continue to make their options more affordable and effective,” said Chris Sullens, CEO of WorkWave. “WorkWave helps clients large and small operate more efficiently and profitably, and our combination of deep industry expertise in multiple service and delivery verticals and flexible cloud-based solutions enables us to quickly scale to support this continued year-over-year growth.”
Continuing an upward path, WorkWave increased staff from 144 employees to over 180 during the first half of 2015 and expects to reach the 200 employee count by the end of 2015. WorkWave’s start in 2015 is fueled by growth in its core pest control vertical and rapid adoption of its integrated routing, GPS and lead generation offerings across both of its target industry segments. Additionally, WorkWave announced its corporate rebrand and recent acquisition of Foxtrax GPS, a cloud-based leader in fleet tracking technology, both of which help strengthen its position as a leader in mobility solutions for the field service and fleet management industries.
WorkWave and CEO Chris Sullens were also named a winner in the 2015 Globee Awards in early 2015, recognizing company growth and success alongside other deserving privately held organizations from around the world.

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ACA update

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the tax subsidies for health insurance provided by the federal government to citizens in the 34 states that have not established the health insurance marketplaces or exchanges were legal. That means some 6 million people, including the nearly 3.5 million people in small business plans and small business owners, self-employed professionals and early retirees who depend on subsidized health care costs, will continue to receive them. 

Unfortunately, despite those subsidies and other tax incentives, healthcare costs continues to skyrocket. And, according to a report from the Urban Institute, a Washington DC-based think tank, small businesses are among those most vulnerable to the steep healthcare cost increases. 
THE ACA TODAY. Admittedly, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides professional landscape contractors and their businesses with insurance options, increased buying power via the government sponsored marketplace – and an overwhelming amount of confusion and paperwork. What can lawn care and landscaping business owner do to keep healthcare costs manageable while complying with the ACA’s updated and ever-changing rules? 
First, it should be understood that the ACA’s taxes and tax credits are based on the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTE) and their average annual wages, not solely on the number of full-time employees. In simple terms FTE or “full-time equivalent” equals (the total number of full-time employees) plus (the combined number of part-time employee hours divided by 30). Seasonal employees, contractors and business owners don’t count toward the total.
THE DOWNSIDE. Other than the sharply escalating costs, every snow removal contractor should be aware of the ACA’s downside. Much of the negative impact of the looming “Employer Mandate,” stemmed from employers reportedly cutting hours. Although the negative side effects of the ACA are very real for some snow and ice removal businesses many of the earlier radical claims were over-dramatized and used as a talking point.
Of those that are required to comply, only truly large businesses that don’t currently offer benefits and employ many low wage full-time workers, face truly hard decisions. Those businesses offering higher wages typically already provide benefits, while smaller businesses (with between 100 and 50 FTE) will benefit greatly from not owing the fee on the first 30 employees. So, a business with 100 FTE and 60 full-time workers will only owe the fee for 30 employees, assuming, of course, that they currently insure no full-time employees.
THE UPSIDE. It’s safe to say the smaller the businesses, the better the tax breaks. After all, the ACA provides small businesses with affordable insurance options, cost assistance and increased buying power via the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Small businesses with fewer than 50 FTE employees can use the SHOP to get better deals on employee insurance, but aren’t mandated to do so.
Consider a few of the ACA’s other applicable rules:
• Small lawn care and landscaping businesses can see up to a 50 percent reduction in their share of the cost of employee premiums. Employers with fewer than 25 FTEs, paying average annual wages below $50,000, qualify for tax credits to help pay employee healthcare premiums. Employers with 10 or fewer full-time employees, paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less, qualify for the maximum credit of 50 percent. The amount employers do pay is tax deductible and can be carried forward or backward.
• Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, must be filed to claim the tax credit – all the way back to 2010 since the credit is retroactive.
• Thanks to the ACA, employers can offer more and better quality benefits. In fact, because small businesses are able to shop for group health plans on their State’s Health Insurance Marketplace via the SHOP, a landscape contractor now has the same buying power as larger businesses. Along with tax credits and increased buying power, many landscaping businesses may now be able to provide benefits to their employees.
• The self-employed with no employees can get health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals, but not through SHOP. And, everyone can use paper applications in lieu of the Internet.
• Retroactive to January 1, 2014, and through at least 2015, two percent shareholders in a landscaping business operating as an S corporation can receive reimbursement for their individual health insurance premiums. Even better, the S corporation will not be subject to the excise tax penalty if it correctly includes the health insurance premiums on the two percent shareholders’ W-2. The two percent shareholder must report the income as wages, but will be allowed to take a self-employed health insurance deduction.
• Effective for 2015, every contractor and business providing self-insured health coverage to employees must file an annual return reporting certain information for each employee covered. This rule was optional for 2014.
• Last year, many small employers were shocked to learn that employee payment plans, plans under which they reimbursed employees for the cost of obtaining individual health insurance, violated the ACA rules, and they risked a $100-per-day-per-affected-employee excise tax if they continued using the arrangements. The IRS recently provided guidance that clears up some of the earlier confusion.
• Don’t forget there is an additional cost for some small businesses – a $63 pre-existing conditions fee. That’s right, for some employers purchasing insurance, there is an annual $63 fee. The ACA small business fee decreases each year until 2017 when pre-existing conditions are phased out.
THE MEDICARE TAX HIKE. The Medicare Part A tax is paid by both employees and employers. Often overlooked however, is the fact that a contractor or business with profits over $250,000 faces a .9 percent increase (from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent), on the current Medicare part A tax. 
Since this tax is split between the employer and employee, they will both see a .45 percent increase. Small businesses making under $250,000 are exempt from the tax. Employees making less than $200,000 as an individual, or $250,000 as a family, are also exempt.
OPTIONAL STRATEGIES. Instead of shifting to the individual markets, some businesses have opted for a high-deductible group plan and set up a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) to help offset employees’ medical expenses. An employer can dictate the expenses they will reimburse, thus limiting their out-of-pocket exposure. 
The advantage of an HRA over a Health Savings Account (HSA) is that the plan can be structured so that if an employee does not use the money in an HRA, the money will still belong to the landscaping business. An HSA is another option, but it gives employers less control over how the money in an account is spent; the funds are made available to employees whether or not they incur any medical expenses. 
This year and beyond. On the horizon is an excise Tax on High-Cost Plans (also known as the “Cadillac Tax”) that kicks in for employers starting in 2018. Employers may have to pay up if their group health plans exceed a certain dollar limit. The limit for 2018 is $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage.
For self-insured plans that exceed these limits, the employer will pay a 40 percent nondeductible excise tax on every dollar above the limit. This penalty can be significant even for a plan that exceeds the limits by only a few hundred dollars per year, making now the time to think about changing an existing plan. 
THE SUBSIDIES. In 2013, more than 93 percent of businesses with 100 to 999 workers offered health coverage to employees, compared with just 32.3 percent to businesses with fewer than 25 workers. 
Fortunately, self-employed contractors and workers in small-businesses have, at least since late 2013, been able to buy subsidized individual health insurance plans on government-run exchanges. This has reduced the uninsured rate among nonelderly workers at businesses with fewer than 50 employees from 23.5 percent in June 2013 to 13.2 percent currently. The uninsured rate among self-employed workers fell from 30.4 percent in mid-2013 to 19.6 percent.
The subsidies, available to anyone who earns between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty level, have helped reduce the cost of insurance – at least until recently. Escalating insurance costs have already begun impacting landscaping businesses and others who do not qualify for subsidies.
While supporters of the ACA tout its success in providing insurance to millions of Americans, recent rate filings from large insurers reveal the law may have been built on a shaky foundation. In recent weeks, large insurers selling coverage under the ACA have proposed massive rate increases for 2016 – some exceeding 40 percent – because they haven’t been able to sign up enough young and healthy customers. 
Skyrocketing healthcare costs are not however, the only reason every landscaping business – and its owners – should seek professional assistance. Keeping abreast of the many benefits and potential pitfalls of the ACA are also extremely important.
The author is a financial writer based in Ardmore, Pa.

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HydroPoint promotes Charles Zaher

HydroPoint, makers of WeatherTRAK and EPA WaterSense Manufacturer Partner of the Year, has announced the promotion of Charles N. Zaher to regional vice president of channel sales. Zaher’s proven success is founded on consistently providing timely and appropriate solutions that achieve both environmental and financial objectives, and is an instrumental force in HydroPoint’s channel strategy and success. He joined the HydroPoint team in 2007 with 35 years of irrigation experience in sales, marketing and business development. Charles holds a Master of Science degree in irrigation and soil management from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and currently resides in Orange, Calif. with his wife Kohar and three sons. He frequently speaks on the topics of irrigation design, system components and water management strategies to both technical and business audiences.

In his new role as regional vice president of channel sales, he will continue to serve as the primary sales executive for several distribution partners, including John Deere Landscape, Sprinkler Supply, CPS, Ewing and Hydro-Scape. Additionally, Charles will be spearheading the strategic growth and strategies of partnership programs to achieve the best practices across all preferred networks.

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ETwater launches SmartClub

NOVATO, Calif. — ETwater has announced the launch of SmartClub, a new pilot program that enables sustainability-minded individuals to become ETwater ambassadors and directly assist in the placement and activation of the ETwater Smart Irrigation service. This new business model gives SmartClub members the opportunity to promote water conservation and efficiency while also participating in a share of the revenue from every subscriber they activate. To apply, go to

Over 60 percent of water use nationally is for outdoor or irrigation uses, and 50 percent of that is wasted due to overwatering. ETwater’s Smart Irrigation service solves that problem and saves more water, time and money than any other solution available in the market. The new SmartClub is designed as a partnership program with an affinity model for selling this innovative and important service. 
SmartClub members leverage their personal networks to sign up and activate subscribers. They raise awareness about the environmental and financial benefits of ETwater’s Smart Irrigation service, answer questions and provide interested customers with all the information they need to make a decision. A SmartClub member can sign up as many customers as they want to the subscription service. Each customer gets a low-cost device for their sprinkler and irrigation systems, an embedded wireless network account on ETwater’s 3G/4G wireless service, access to a cloud-based scheduling platform and concierge-level support. 
“If you believe in water savings, or want to help others save our natural resources, you need our Smart Irrigation service and technology,” said Lee M. Williams, COO from ETwater. “The sharing economy has erupted over the past few years as individuals seek out flexible new ways to earn extra income from work they are passionate about. We realized there was a huge opportunity to apply this peer-based model to the smart irrigation space, so every resident and business in the country can get access to the capabilities of our platform and technology.”
The American workforce is now 34 percent freelancer, according to a study from the Freelancers Union and Upwork. Companies such as Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit have broken open the freelance landscape, and increasing numbers of workers are looking for alternative ways to generate and supplement their income. At the same time, California is facing a historically bad drought, underscoring the need for more efficient water systems. In addition, smart home technology is rapidly gaining momentum. BI Intelligence estimates that there are 1.9 billion devices today, and there will be 9 billion by 2018. The ETwater SmartClub program sits at the nexus of all these trends.
SmartClub members can ensure the devices are installed and running smoothly, and can also pick up other install, landscape survey or maintenance jobs in the SmartClub marketplace. In order to become a SmartClub Pilot member, individuals must participate in ETwater’s online training program and adhere to a professional and friendly code of conduct. They are entitled to $20 on activation per site, as well as 10 percent of the recurring monthly subscription fee for up to one year of the subscription term that any subscribers activate. Members also receive ETwater’s service free for one year.  

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Porous Pave adds new distributors

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Porous Pave has added three new distributors in the U.S. and Canada for Porous Pave, the company’s pour-in-place pavement material. The new distributors are Napa Valley Materials (California), Brico Services (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan), and J&J Porous Pave (Ontario). 

“Our distributors are committed to training and certifying installation contractors,” said Dave Ouwinga, president and chief executive officer, Porous Pave, Inc. “To help ensure excellent results, they also provide expert technical support during project planning and installation.”
An eco-friendly green building product, Porous Pave infiltrates stormwater on-site, reduces the volume and slows the velocity of peak stormwater flow into storm drains and storm sewers, decreases erosion from runoff, filters out water pollutants and recharges groundwater. Engineered with 29 percent void space, Porous Pave allows water to permeate through its surface, filter down through the compacted aggregate base on which it is poured, and then seep into the soil. Porous Pave XL consists of 50 percent recycled rubber chips and 50 percent stone aggregate with a moisture-cured binding agent. Porous Pave XLS is 100 percent recycled rubber chips with a more elastic binder. 
“One of our goals is better utilizing recycled materials to reduce construction’s environmental footprint. With its recycled rubber content, Porous Pave projects have re-used a total of six million pounds of rubber from 200,000 scrap tires,” said Scott Atkinson, president, Napa Valley Materials, Calistoga, Calif. “We care about improving water quality through stormwater management. Porous Pave has been proven in a decade of permeable installations,”
“There is a strong demand in Western Canada for permeable and pervious paving surfaces for retaining stormwater,” said Brian Pirot, owner, Brico Services, Calgary, Alberta. “As a supply and distribution company specializing in landscape and building supplies and equipment, we offer products that provide superior performance. Porous Pave is engineered to achieve greater permeability than other paving products.”
“I found out about Porous Pave when I was looking for an alternative to concrete and asphalt for my own driveway. We installed Porous Pave in September 2014, and it came through one of the coldest Canadian winters in a long time in great shape,” said Jim Roth, president, J&J Porous Pave, Stratford, Ontario. “I was so impressed, I started a company to distribute Porous Pave.”
Porous Pave XL is a hard material with the compressive strength to support vehicle as well as foot traffic. Applications include parking lots and driveways, walkways and trails, and golf cart paths. Porous Pave XL is also a sustainable and non-slip alternative to metal grates for tree surrounds in urban streetscapes. Porous Pave XL can be installed on slopes up to 30 degrees.
Porous Pave XLS is more impact-absorbing and provides a safe, slip-resistant surface for playgrounds and areas around swimming pools and spas. In addition, contractors can over-pour XLS on patios to re-surface cracked concrete. Its 100 percent rubber content and light weight (six pounds per square foot at two inches deep) make it a sensible solution for paved surfaces atop roofs, including rooftop patios and green roof walkways and borders. 
Porous Pave, Inc. will present Porous Pave XL and XLS at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Annual Meeting, September 15-17, 2015 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev. Celebrating its 50th year, the NRPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recreation and conservation. Bringing together more than 7,000 park and recreation professionals, conservation experts and citizen advocates, the NRPA Annual Conference is the premier annual meeting of the park and recreation community. Porous Pave will be located at booth #727. 

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NCNLA awards horticulture scholarships

RALEIGH, N.C. – NCNLA has awarded scholarships to three students through the NCNLA Horticulture Scholarship program for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Committed to recognizing and rewarding future industry leaders around the state, NCNLA developed the NCNLA Horticulture Scholarship to provide full-time students enrolled in 2- or 4-year horticulture programs the opportunity to receive education financial assistance.
This year’s recipients of the NCNLA Horticulture Scholarship are:
– Anna Gragg, Mayland Community College
– Lucas Yanders, North Carolina State University – Agricultural Institute
– Katherine Miller, North Carolina State University
Scholarship recipients are determined through a competitive application process, administered by the NCNLA Board of Directors. Applicants are evaluated by numerous factors including scholastic aptitude and industry potential. Work experience within the industry, leadership ability and financial need are also considered when determining scholarship winners.
For more information on the NCNLA Horticulture Scholarship program, please visit

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Abby Wambach wants real grass

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The 2015 Women’s World Cup final match became the highest-rated and most-watched soccer game ever to air in the United States. Not only did it turn the world’s attention to women’s soccer, it also put a spotlight on a concern many people don’t think about – playing on artificial turf.

For Abby Wambach, co-captain of the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, well-maintained grass under her soccer cleats isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity for playing aggressively and reducing risk of injury. Wambach’s appreciation for playing on grass has been front and center since the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) announced the games would be fielded on artificial turf in July 2014. 
“There is nothing better than playing the sport I love on a real grass field,” said Wambach. “The ball moves quickly and I’m required to react fast and with precision. Real, well-maintained grass helps me anticipate the ball’s movement and feel better about going all-out.”
Wambach’s appreciation for playing on grass created a perfect partnership with RISE to raise awareness about the value of real grass fields and the products and processes needed to care for them. 
As part of the partnership, Wambach conducted media interviews from New Jersey Red Bull Arena on July 29. Her voice helped carry RISE’s messages to today’s parents and tomorrow’s next generation of soccer stars.
“Soccer is a great foundational sport, and I want kids to someday be able to experience everything I have,” said Wambach. “That all starts with a natural, healthy playing field.”
“The benefits of real turf playing surfaces bring to life the importance of healthy grass in all the places we live and play, which gives us the opportunity to show the value of products used to maintain healthy turf,” said Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs for RISE. “Abby’s media interviews and the content shared through social media highlight her professional athlete’s perspective, though the benefits she describes are well known to athletes, parents and communities across the country.”
During the interviews, Wambach told athletes and parents of athletes to think about the following elements before stepping on a playing field:
1. Natural turf is the optimal playing surface: Natural turf provides athletes with an optimal playing surface – real grass. Practice and competition on natural grass creates softer, and up to 40 degrees cooler, fields with less risk of knee and ankle injuries and skin abrasions. 
2. Turf care is an integrated game plan: The best playing fields showcase the results of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to managing weeds, insects and diseases that harm grass. Well maintained grass offers thick, reliable play; otherwise, grass can become patchy with weeds or dirt, creating tripping and other hazards. 
3. Groundskeepers need a complete toolbox: Professional groundskeepers and sports turf managers need access to effective pesticide and fertilizer products that help keep grass healthy. Turf managers use these products judiciously to solve or prevent specific problems.
4. Natural turf is personal: Natural grass fields vary with region, soil type, weather patterns, field use and more. The approach for all fields should be specific to those conditions to keep the field in great playing shape. With proper maintenance, natural grass fields do not have a fixed life and can be used for more than 20 years without replacement.
To learn more about RISE’s work with Wambach, visit You can also follow Debug the Myths on Facebook at and Twitter @DebugTheMyths.

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Teaching vs. presenting

Marty Grunder

My banker recently sent me a story about Urban Meyer, the football coach at The Ohio State University, the 2014 NCAA football champions. It can’t be argued that Meyer is one heck of a coach. The story focused on Meyer’s debate on whether his sister, vice provost for Undergraduate Affairs at the University of Cincinnati, was a presenter or a teacher.

Meyer spoke of the importance of being a teacher instead of a presenter. He said a teacher makes sure that their students truly understand the information and take action with it. A presenter just dumps information and doesn’t pay any attention to whether it’s understood or not. Teachers make a difference and change people’s lives. Presenters are often forgettable as they aren’t engaged enough to make that big of an impact.

Talk to any successful owner of a landscaping company and they will all tell you that training and education are important parts of their success. You will only realize your team’s utmost potential by training, educating and equipping your team so they can effectively handle all sorts of tasks without your involvement. Growing a landscaping company happens when you teach your team to follow procedures and systems. Presenters don’t move this agenda forward; only teachers do.

A presenter is someone who just reads from a piece of paper or just demonstrates, without having a feel for if the audience or the student is actually grasping the concepts. He shares his presentation and walk away, failing to engage the audience by asking questions and to get those present excited about the knowledge or information.

A teacher is someone who has lesson plans and strides to the front of the class to actively share a lesson with her class. She doesn’t turn her back on the class. Instead she pauses as she teaches to make sure her students are following along, grasping the concepts. Great teachers make learning fun and focus in on details when needed and seem to make difficult subjects palatable.

Let’s talk about how you might be a teacher rather than a presenter in front of your team. Let’s say you are talking to your team about how to weed eat properly. I know what some of you are thinking – that’s silly, everyone knows how to weed eat. Wrong! Smart landscapers train and educate their teams on how to weedeat. Think about how much weedeating you do. Think about how much time can be lost by not doing it efficiently. Think about all the windows you could break if you don’t do it correctly. Think about how many edges won’t look right if your team doesn’t do it correctly.

A teacher would have an outline that detailed everything she wanted to get across and have the highlights of that outline on a handout for everyone. A teacher would systematically go through the outline, stopping along the way to ask questions.

Ask the group to share what they have learned so far. A teacher would demonstrate, ask others with experience to demonstrate and then when done, ask the class to demonstrate what they learned to make sure everyone now knows how to weedeat properly.


A teacher would go over even the simplest of all details and not be afraid to point out the obvious because she realizes details matter. A teacher would hand out a quiz and grade them. A teacher would frequently check on her students days, weeks and months later to make sure they are weedeating correctly and praise those who are in front of the whole team.

Think about the teachers in your life that you liked the most, think about the ones who helped you improve. Work to be that kind of teacher. Don’t be a presenter who just gets up in front of everyone, dumps a bunch of information and leaves. Be a patient, detail-oriented teacher who gets his students involved and excited about learning. Your team will appreciate your efforts and your profits will improve as a result of some properly equipped teammates.


Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail


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Greenscape supports community effort

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. – Greenscape team members will join in and volunteer during the build process of the new Sun Sprouts Fort at the Marbles Kids Museum. The Fort is being built with the help of volunteers, donations from a crowd funding campaign and supporters, and a matching grant from Moe’s Triangle.

“The Sun Sprouts garden is a learning tool that helps kids understand where food comes from,” says Daniel Currin, president and CEO of Greenscape. “They get their hands dirty while having fun and enjoying the outdoors. We think it’s important for children to have a meaningful connection with the outdoors and we hope this helps facilitate that. We’re proud to support this community effort to add another great outdoor space in the Triangle. Green Team members will assist with site prep, removing the sand from the old dig pit and filling it in, replacing worn path materials and relocating existing plants while the construction takes place. Learn more about the Museum by visiting 

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New HDD Advisor released

PERRY, Okla. – The Ditch Witch organization, a Charles Machine Works Company, has released a web-based Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Advisor tool. Customers can use the advisor to quickly determine the right tooling configuration for their Ditch Witch or Vermeer directional drill string.

“Time is money for our customers. That’s why we developed this easy-to-use, interactive tool,” said Jaime Wines, director of parts sales and marketing, Ditch Witch.
“It gives drill operators the confidence to quickly and correctly select downhole tool options – everything from the SaverLok to the drill pipe to the backreamer – to match the drill unit they’re using and soil conditions on the job.” 
Historically, identifying the proper tooling for job sites was time-consuming, cumbersome and paper-intensive. The new HDD Advisor gives operators and dealers an intuitive tooling-product roadmap, and quickly recommends configurations and solutions based on a few questions.   
The new HDD Advisor also includes the option to save drill string configurations for future reference and streamline ordering of replacement parts. Operators can share their drill string configurations with their dealer of choice, and print or email summaries from a PC or mobile device.
To increase the value for operators, both Ditch Witch and Vermeer drills can be selected within the tool. Visit to see HDD Advisor in action. 

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