Grounds Supervisor and Landscape Manager Colby College, Waterville, ME
A.S. In Turfgrass Management from UMass
B.S. in Plant Biology and Recreational Tourism from Westfield State College
Certified Master Gardener
How did you get your start in the sports turf industry?
Working summers, after school, and spring breaks at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, MA.
Where did you go from there?
After seven years at Nashawtuc, I spent a summer at the Essex County Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA and then I had the opportunity to grow 18 new holes at the Lincoln Hills Club in Lincoln, CA. I worked at a couple of golf courses in the Metropolitan NYC area for the next decade before making the jump to Colby College.
Who were your mentors when you were first starting out in the business?
Dan O’Connell, who was the Assistant at Nashawtuc CC, taught me to not take everything so seriously and to have fun at work. I spent my first two years in college going for an accounting degree before he helped me realize that wasn’t what I really wanted to do, and I switched to turf. If you can still smile after an 80-hour week two decades into a career, then you’re in the right spot. When I got into management, I learned a lot from Matt TenEyck. Even though I spent the shortest time with him of any supervisor in my career, something clicked. I’ve stayed in contact with him for career and personal advice or just a good laugh ever since.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
If you don’t look forward to going to work in the morning, you need to make a change. After 24 years in the industry, I still get excited when the garage door goes up in the morning.
What is the next “game-changer” you see on the horizon?
It looks like robots and automation. I am also encouraged by the increase in effective organic products. With the recent push to keep pesticide use to an absolute minimum, these emerging products will be more important than ever.
What’s your favorite/most useful:
Equipment? Ventrac tractors. Also the ProTecTurf Pusher for synthetic fields, this took days off of our field clearing process.
Product? Organic fertilizers and insect products. With our emphasis on sustainability at Colby, the new products have been great.
Technology? WiFi-enabled irrigation systems with phone apps, no more rushing back to make sure the sprinklers aren’t set to go off during a practice or game due to scheduling changes.
Can you share a bit about your family life and what you enjoy doing in your free time?
I spend the majority of my free time restoring Jeeps and renovating our farmhouse and barn. My wife of 13 years was thankfully very supportive (or pretended to be) in the beginning when I would come home and say, “Hey, what about moving here?” Rounding out the homestead are three kids, two dogs, a pig, five ducks and fifteen chickens. Our current pandemic goal is to visit all the lighthouses in Maine.
What advice would you share with people starting out in sports turf management today?
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and cold call someone for advice or help. Sometimes a quick call can give you an answer you would never think of on your own. Also, early on in your career try to get as much variety in your career as possible. I have worked in MA, CA, CT, CO, FL, NY and ME and every area had a different approach to the same situations or was dealing with similar issues that helped me later in my career. You miss out on a lot of time saving techniques if you always do it the way you’ve always done it. You need to embrace change.
What have you found the most beneficial about being a NESTMA member?
The availability of continuing education on current topics. Being way up North and with all in-person conferences going virtual, NESTMA’s increased emphasis on webinars has been very helpful.