Team Spotlight: Giving Thanks to Tino Alba

 

This is our second feature in the Team Terracare Employee Spotlight series. This series highlights our hardworking and dedicated team members.

 

In this edition of our Spotlight series, we’re showcasing Tino Alba, a Senior Account Manager based in our Dallas / Fort Worth branch.

 

20161020_112654It started with a good old baseball game.   Bruce Verdick, Vice President of Texas operation first met Tino Alba playing in a men’s softball league back in the early 90s. Over many games and social events associated with the league, Bruce and Tino became friends, and eventually, Tino joined Bruce’s team in 1992. Over the years, they’ve developed a deep friendship and have continued to work together ever since.

 

Bruce describes Tino as, “an old school, honest guy who is a natural born leader, customer centric and extremely reliable. Through his hard work and dedication, Tino creates deep respect from his field crews and colleagues. He sets and maintains high standards, for both himself and the team which drive outstanding and consistent results for our client’s year round.”

 

Tino is a Senior Account Manager leading one of Terracare Associates’ largest accounts, the City of Grapevine. Tino has been essential in creating a strong, trusting public-private partnership with the historic city and tourist destination. Each year, the city welcomes more than 20 million visitors and is home to more than 50,000 citizens. The city boasts more than 22 miles of paved and natural trails, an 8,000-acre recreation lake, Lake Grapevine, 48 parks, a botanical garden, and many more attractions. Presenting a clean, well-kept and beautiful landscape is a high priority for the City of Grapevine – and Tino and his team are eager to deliver, taking pride in high-quality work. Regularly, Tino meets with the City of Grapevine to discuss current and future projects, regular maintenance and to troubleshoot any problems that might occur. He works with his crews to ensure the teams are delivering top-notch service and results to keep the City of Grapevine and other clients looking pristine.

 

The City of Grapevine recently received the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Landscape Professionals.  This prestigious national recognition for superior landscape maintenance services is given to a few hundred properties across the country each year.

 

We give our thanks to Tino Alba and his crews for a job well done.

 

Interested in joining Tino and our stellar team in the Greater Dallas / Ft. Worth area? We’re hiring! http://myterracare.com/careers/

Tips for Driving Safely with Snowplows

Winter is just around the corner. Municipalities, cities, DOTs, and others are gearing up for the winter by preparing their snowplow crews and equipment. We can all learn valuable lessons from these agencies by preparing our vehicles and ourselves for the upcoming season.

 

Snowplows serve to make the community and roads passable during the worst winter weather. Snowplows are fitted with heavy, wide plows on the front of the truck to clear as much snow and ice from the road as possible – this means sometimes they may cross the centerline, shoulder of the road or make other moves in their effort to provide a driving surface the general public can navigate. If you encounter a plow, slow down and give them the space they need to perform their task. Your best chance to arrive at your destination safely is to stay behind the plow as the worst of the conditions are in front of the plow. It’s important that everyone, from individual drivers to plow operators, stay safe on the road to get home safely so here are some tips.

 

Prepare your vehicle

It is good practice to maintain your vehicle year round, however it is especially important to winterize your vehicle to avoid the dangers of frigid winter weather.

Check the following before snow begins to fall:

 

  • Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid
  • Battery
  • Ignition system
  • Brakes
  • Electrical system
  • Tires
  • Antifreeze
  • Heater and defrost system

 

Additionally it’s recommended to carry blankets, booster cable, a flashlight and extra batteries, snow scraper and shovel.

 

When driving:

  • Give snowplows room to do their job. It’s best practice to not tailgate or try to pass a snowplow while it’s in working.
  • As a general rule, stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow.
  • Plows pushing snow can create a cloud which can blind drivers who are following too closely.
  • These are large, heavy vehicles and the drivers are intent on their task at hand, don’t be another distraction to the plow driver. They cannot stop in a short distance.
  • There may be spreaders on trucks to distribute salt or sand on the road, these can cause damage to cars if driving too close, stay back to protect your car and you.
  • Always turn on your headlights, and have plenty of fuel and wiper fluid (carrying an extra gallon is a good idea) and have appropriate tires for winter driving conditions.
  • Don’t over estimate your braking capabilities, many 4 X 4 vehicles are heavier than normal, thus the braking distance is greater. Your traction is determined by weight and tire tread. Sand or cat litter in your trunk will add weight and can be used if you do need help with traction.
  • Leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front and behind you.
  • Bridge decks freeze first so take extra caution when driving on these.
  • Remember to always buckle up!
  • Ignore the phone and email until you get to your destination. There are other people on the road that deserve your attention.
  • Most importantly, SLOW DOWN!

 

It is not too late to get help with your snow removal needs. Send us a note or give us a call, we’ll get back to you with a proposal and estimate for how we can help you.

Team Spotlight: Chris Prowse

Welcome to our first Team Terracare Employee Spotlight feature series. In this series we will showcase our amazing team members and highlight their work, achievements and what get’s them excited to come to work every day.

 

Last month, TCA won the NALP Award of Excellence for the City of Carlsbad.  One of many outstanding team members working on this property is Chris Prowse.  We kick off the Spotlight series featuring Chris.

 

Baseball diamonds are the center pieces of many city parks.  As a part-time team member from San Diego, California branch, Chris Prowse takes ownership in his work and helps maintain all of the baseball fields and diamonds for the City of Carlsbad parks system. Baseball diamonds are a specialty of Carlsbad Park’s upkeep. As a crew member, he maintains all the city’s baseballs fields by cutting the grass, grading the infield dirt so water runs off instead of forming puddles, raking and dragging the infield after use to keep it level, safe and playable.

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Chris is a part-time employee. He uses this job as his retirement project, a way of spending time outdoors and staying active. His goal is to train others to learn his trade since there is a skill and a method around the upkeep of baseball fields. 

 

We asked Chris’ manager, Amanda Haas, about him. Here is what she had to say: “Chris is a team player and extremely knowledgeable. He is easy to work with and is thorough in his work. It’s a pleasure having him on the crew.”

 

Want to work with Chris? We’re hiring in San Diego.

The Autumn Landscape Checklist

Just in time for winter, autumn is an ideal time to prepare your landscape

Autumn months are optimal times for improving, preparing and caring for your landscape and property. Every region of the country experiences different winter weather so while property managers need to prepare accordingly to their region, there are a few tasks that are applicable to every landscape.

Mark Slicker, Business Development Manager in Dallas / Fort Worth, shared a few of these general tips for property managers:
  • Change out any summer seasonal color for winter seasonal color. Install a variety of flowers which will handle the winter months such as Pansy, Viola, Dianthus, Cabbage, Kale and Dusty Miller.
  • Prune. This is the time to prune trees and shrubs to minimize any possible damage which might occur during ice and snow storms. We recommend pruning magnolias, live oaks and wax myrtles.
  • Reshape trees. Conduct major re-shaping of shade trees (oaks, aspens, poplars, elms and birches) as needed after the first freeze when plants go dormant. This is a good time to remove dead or excess plant materials that stands out on bare limbs.
  • Install new plant material. Plant roots grow anytime the soil temperature are 40 degrees or higher – this is typical during the fall. Cooler temperatures and more moisture means newly sowed plants can focus on establishing heartier root systems.  If a root system is established in the fall, then when spring arrives, this expanded root system can support and take advantage of the full surge of spring growth. It also means it is more likely to survive during the summer heat.
  • Divide and replant perennials. The great part about perennials is once the plant is established and healthy, these plants can easily be divided and replanted in other areas of the property. Now is a good time to do this task. Perennial flowers such as iris, day lily, coneflower, coreopsis, and lavender are great examples.
  • Control weeds. Weeds are just like other plants in your landscape. They are saving the last bits of sunlight, water and nutrients to survive through the winter. Now is the time to apply weed killing compounds as the plant will take this with everything else it’s gathering to survive and transports it directly to the growing point of the plant.
  • Aerate. No matter the style of aeration, the fall is the best time to aerate the green spaces and grassy areas on your property. Aeration opens the soil and promotes a better environment for grass roots

  

Need help cleaning and preparing your property this fall? Contact us for a free assessment on how and where to best work with you to exceed your property’s needs.

 

Snow season is coming, we’re preparing

At Terracare Associates, we like to prepare. As fall weather settles in and gives way to cooler temperatures, we are preparing our company, teams and equipment to handle colder, nastier weather conditions including freezing rain, blizzards and ice storms in the communities we operate in. Preparation now is essential; it allows us to perform timely, accurate and thorough work when winter conditions and weather hits quickly. Here is what we are currently doing to prepare our teams and clients for the upcoming winter season:

 

  • Hiring Staff. These team members are essential to keeping the communities we operate in safe and their roads clear. Staff is typically on-call from October through mid-May. While you stay warm at home, these dedicated team members are in trucks, on ATVs, even out shoveling so the community has access to as safe of conditions as possible. (Looking for extra work? Check out our careers page and apply!)
  • Training. Training is an on-going process at Terracare Associates. Once staff is hired on, we do conduct an “All Staff” orientation in early October which includes video training, necessary paperwork, equipment training and a driving test with a snow plow. Depending on our contracts with clients, we create curriculum and training around individual routes so our drivers are familiar with the routes before they are deployed to these routes during bad weather conditions.
  • Setting expectations. Our managers have thorough discussions with property managers and owners, and municipality staff to clarify the expectations of service delivery expected for each snow event. We work with property managers to plan and prepare for a variety of conditions and weather including managing tree and property damage from early season storms, huge storms that may disable an area for a while and more.
  • Preparing vehicles. Currently, our full-time personnel have started the process of changing over our vehicles from summer work to the winter outfitting of snow plows and sanders. They are running through safety and equipment checklists that include examining and checking tires and conducting preventive maintenance.
  • De-icing materials. Our team is in the process of gathering, cataloging and preparing materials to combat snowy and icy conditions on the roads. We’ve placed orders on ice melt material orders for most of our municipal contracts and will soon be ordering those same materials for the properties we currently partner with and serve.

 

If you have not made arrangements for snow removal this season, give us a call or send us a request for proposal and a manager will be in touch to address your needs.

Drive safely and stay warm.

We’re in the winner’s circle!

Terracare Associates captures four prestigious National Awards of Excellence for Landscape Maintenance Services

 

Our Terracare team is proud to announce we’ve won four 2016 Awards of Excellence by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). This tribute recognizes us for outstanding landscape maintenance services honoring the following properties: Ceronix, Inc. and The City of Carlsbad, in California and The City of Grapevine, and CVS Health Tower, in Texas.  We have built a strong partnership with our clients and are thrilled to share this award with each of them. Our crew teams work diligently each day to bring out the best in every property. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors!

 

Here is our nationally recognized work for 2016:

Ceronix, Inc.; Auburn California

We’ve become the partner service provider that can handle Ceronix’s complex landscaping for their corporate headquarters. Our team helps manage the 21-acre property that doubles as a licensed wildlife sanctuary. Our work has included managing and maintaining ongoing maintenance landscaping, enhancement landscape projects, and irrigation systems.

 

The City of Carlsbad; Carlsbad, California

We’ve built a strong private public partnership with the city to meet the city’s high expectations for landscape maintenance and enhancements for their park system. We manage and maintain almost 940,000 square feet of turf, including 5 synthetic and 10 natural athletic fields, dog parks, basketball courts, recreational picnic areas, play structures, skates parks, a pool complex and a wide array of landscaping.

 

The City of Grapevine; Grapevine, Texas

This historical tourist destination is home to more than 50,000 residents and welcomes more than 20 million visitors annually. With so many people living and visiting, the City of Grapevine turned to us to help maintain their beautiful landscapes and functioning infrastructure throughout the 24/7/365, especially during harsh weather like floods and droughts.

 

CVS Health Tower; Irving, Texas

The client’s goal was to make the challenging landscape around the existing building more sustainable, water conscious and employee-friendly to create a campus park-like setting. They looked to us to bring the expertise, knowledge, experience and manpower to help plan, budget and execute this project seamlessly and to continue the maintenance associated with the building and the landscaping.

 

NALP strives to recognize professionalism and enhance public perceptions of our industry and its professionals through its awards programs. Our Awards of Excellence showcases superior projects in the areas landscape, lawn care, and interior maintenance, design/build as well as installation, container plantings, and erosion control.

 

The 6 Step Quick Guide to Brush Management

According to WX Shift, “since 1970 the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than double in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time.” With years of drought and hotter temperatures stretching into the fall months throughout most of the western U.S., vegetation flammability has increased making wildfires a concern for many municipalities, HOAs and commercial properties. To help curb these concerns, brush management should be an integral part of every landscaping plan.

 

The USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service defines brush management as “the management or removal of woody (non herbaceous or succulent) plants including those that are invasive or noxious.” Brush management is applied to accomplish many results including reducing fire hazards around structures, helping firefights protect life and property when fires breakout, restoring natural vegetation cover to protect from erosion and more. In the west, many cities, municipalities and counties have established guidelines and rules for managing brush and reducing fire risk. Here are steps to follow when examining and executing brush management:

 

Step 1: Plan and identify what plants, trees and areas need brush management.

Step 2: Clear as much loose dead wood and invasive species as you can within the area. This will help you see what other plants and trees need care and pruning.

Step 3: Thin the plants and trees in the area. Start by trimming down plants over two feet in height to a height of six inches. This ensures two aspects: the roots remain intact to help minimize soil erosion. Depending on where you are in the country, thinning can be prioritized differently so check with your local county to learn what thinning should be done.

Step 4: Prune all plants or groups of plants that remain after the thinning process. Depending on the type of plant, the “umbrella” shape should be applied where possible. This means pruning lower branches to create umbrella-shaped canopies.

Step 5: Dispose of the cuttings and dead wood properly by either chipping wood to return to your property or by carting it to a landfill.

Step 6: Continue to monitor plants, thinning and pruning annually since plants grow back.

 

Need help making sure your property is ready for fire season? Send us a note and we’ll work to help you find a custom solution for your property.

Property Highlight: Ceronix, LLC

Our Sacramento area team helps manage and procure the grounds at Ceronix’s corporate headquarters in Auburn, California. The company is an online retailer and supplier for high quality LCD replacement monitors and outdoor displays. Within the Auburn community, Ceronix has become a special area for community and wildlife to relax and refresh. Here are some fun facts about the property:

  • The 21-acre corporate complex in northern California operates as a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Its corporate grounds double as a licensed bird sanctuary with rare exotic birds, fish, turtles, and other amphibians.
  • More than 30 different bird species inhabit the area
  • The series of streams and ponds are home to more than 2,500 koi fish.
  • The landscaping maintenance and enhancement projects are so extensive they require a full-time gardener, an aquatics specialist, and experienced crews on the property throughout the week.
  • The water filtration and management system was so complex that Ceronix worked with TCA and a pond system builder to build, adjust and dial-in efficiencies on new and improved water pumps and irrigations systems. This allowed the high phosphorus stream and pond water to be distributed by a booster pump into the irrigation. The changes to the system and filtration created a true recycled process for both fertilization and conserving water.

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Interested in learning about the other properties we’ve maintained, enhanced and procured? Read about our work in Texas and Napa Valley, California.

Commercial Property Management: Why Parking Lots Are Crucial In Making a Great First Impression

As a business or property owner, your parking lot is a crucial aspect of your business, contributing to your business’ overall value and appearance. A freshly sealed parking lot with new striping gives a more mature, complete and professional feel to a business. Incorporating the best preventative and corrective maintenance plans of action into your overall property management and budget will help your business make a solid first impression.

 

Evaluation

Since parking lots are big part of your property, they require timely and appropriate maintenance. Parking lots sporting many potholes can leave a poor impression on visitors. As a property owner or manager, you should evaluate your entire parking lot and note the types of distress and the severity of those deficient areas. Here is a high-level list of what to look for:

  • Number of potholes
  • Approximate square footage of damage and severity of the holes (low, moderate, severe)
  • Cracking, the amount of square footage and the severity (how wide is the cracking, etc)

 

Plan of Action

After the evaluation, which can be conducted individually or with the assistance of a professional, a plan of action should be developed for maintenance and incorporated into the facility budget. The maintenance plan should be split into two areas, preventive and corrective. Remember deferred maintenance is often more expensive and larger in scope because of the neglect. Pavement technologies change rapidly, which means plans and costs can change too.

  • Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach addressing the needs of normal wear and tear. We recommend developing annual, five year and ten year plans. Annual programs should include sweeping, crack sealing and a periodic check for any areas that might show the need for patching before it turns into a full blown pothole or worse. Many of these can be repaired fairly quickly by the use of an Infra-red machine. Next create a detailed five-year plan. It would include the yearly maintenance plan along with a seal coat to renew the asphalt surface and seal the surface from the possible penetration of water. A seal stops water from entering the ground under asphalt, which would allow the expansion and contraction by seasonal temperatures. Projecting out to a ten-year plan, you would include the annual maintenance and add a slurry seal, which would replace some of the thickness that may have worn away and fill ion minor ruts and cracking.

 

  • Corrective is the type of work involving removal and replacement of material — think of potholes as a general rule here. Corrective care often involves cutting the area(s) and removing the material, replacing it with fresh asphalt and compacting the asphalt to the level of the existing surface. If the area is large, you now have equipment removing large areas of failed asphalt (or concrete), then re-compaction of the afflicted area and new asphalt laid — a very expensive procedure. Worth noting, irrigation is a common culprit of asphalt failure. Water will find into the weak point in a paved surface and will work its way to the sub-surface where the strength and stability will degrade. This often results in the start of a pothole.

 

 

Proper and regular maintenance of parking lots are often susceptible to tight budgets. Try to protect this line item and you will reap the rewards later when you do not have to invest heavily in major repairs. A professional company can help with recommended repairs and the timeline for future maintenance.

 

3 Reasons to Install Hardscape Enhancements This Year

There are a variety of enhancements property managers, municipalities, and cities can invest in to improve the look, feel and safety of their landscape and property.  Implementing a few easy hardscape enhancement can result in  benefits to tenants, neighborhoods or citizens.   The right blend of landscape and hardscape enhancements can drive visitors to your property through style and attention to detail. We recently highlighted three simple enhancements worth investing in.

Hardscapes can level and shape the look of your commercial property. Hardscapes refer to hard landscape materials which are incorporated into a landscape. Hardscapes include paved areas, retaining walls, amphitheaters, sleeper walls, walkways, picnic or bench areas, and any other landscaping composed of materials such as wood, stone, concrete, etc. which are included in a landscape.

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Hardscapes have several benefits:

  • Create new spaces. build areas for people to gather. Think patios, walkways and other similar hardscapes provide places for groups to meet, eat lunch, and relax. The right installation is welcoming, safe, integrated into the space properly, and increases overall satisfaction for visitors to the property.
  • Focus on low maintenance. Hardscapes, such as patios and retaining walls, require little maintenance (think time and money) as they help reduce landscaping needs and costs while providing additional ways people can enjoy the space.
  • Sustainability rules. Consider adding a large rock slab walkway (i.e. flagstone) or permeable pavers to allow water to run off into the surrounding ground. These two options are more environmentally-friendly as they are designed to let rain and other precipitation penetrate the ground directly to nourish plants and replenish groundwater supplies.

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Ready to take your commercial property to the next level? Contact us for a free assessment on how and where to best implement these enhancements into your property.