Equestrian excellence from Mansfield Sand

Equestrian excellence from Mansfield Sand: SE Hill, a highly regarded company which specialises in the design and construction of equestrian manege facilities, has revealed why it has relied on Mansfield Sand products for over fifteen years.

Over the years SE Hill has built a reputation of a company that can deliver a professional and reliable service. As well as providing drainage, access tracks, earthworks and landscaping and numerous other constructions works, the company also specialises in equestrian facilities – and that is where Mansfield Sand comes in.

Equestrian excellence from Mansfield Sand

Equestrian excellence from Mansfield Sand

“We’ve been working with Mansfield Sand and have been using their products for over fifteen years,” said Managing Director Steve Hill. “I wouldn’t dream of using anyone else.”

Steve relies on Fibresand and Equestrian Silica Sand for his various manege projects.

Fibresand is a simple but highly effective concept, of using synthetic fibres to stabilise a silica sand in order to produce a free draining yet relatively firm, sure footing surface.

The rot proof, polypropylene fibres stabilise the silica sand by providing a high degree of resistance to sand particle movement when the surface is subjected to compressive and/or shear forces from the horses’ hooves.

Fibresand is a cost effective, durable and resistant surface which works as an excellent base layer that is free draining with a sure footing.

Alternatively, Equestrian Silica Sand provides an excellent riding surface which is free draining. Ideally suited as a base sand, it is recommended that the Equestrian Silica be incorporated into a fibre stabilising product to provide structure and further stability.

Commenting on SE Hill’s use of Mansfield Sand products, Louise Barrington-Earp, Equestrian and Landscaping Sales Representative, said:

“Steve finds the Equestrian Silica Sand as a very good sub-base which he then blends a stabilising fibre into.

“The Fibresand, on the other-hand, comes pre-mixed so it means contractors can apply the product immediately with no on-site mixing.

“Overall, Mansfield Sand is delighted and proud to have SE Hill as a customer. We have built a very good business relationship over the years and Steve’s workmanship is second-to-none.”

Steve was equally complimentary: “There is a reason I have been using Mansfield Sand for so long,” he said. “The products are of great quality and are always consistent; the haulage aspect is fantastic and obtaining quotations from Louise is a professional and speedy process.

“From products to service, I put my trust in Mansfield Sand.”

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Demonstrating product excellence with Toro

Demonstrating product excellence with Toro: Toro, a global leader in turf and landscape maintenance, is going the extra mile when it comes to product demonstrations, with the launch of the new Toro® Demonstration and Support Trailer.

The support trailer is an exciting step forward and sees Toro bringing the product closer to the customer for a real-life demonstration of capability and quality.

Demonstrating product excellence with Toro

Demonstrating product excellence with Toro

When it comes to products seeing a demonstration is essential in deciding whether it is the right one for your business. The Toro Trailer aims to bridge this gap by bringing the solution direct to the customer for demonstration. And not only that, customers will get to see a whole range of Toro products on board. The support trailer offers a new, professional and completely secure way to transport and showcase Toro products.

With a secure, sleek design, the Toro Demonstration and Support Trailer is able to securely transport multiple machines and product ranges ensuring stock arrives in perfect condition. Whether products are requested for a demonstration or are being dropped off for a trial period, the Trailer can carry everything from the smallest handheld tools to the largest lawncare and construction machines.

Stamped with the distinctive red Toro branding, the Trailer is a real standout presence on site and when travelling. For trade show demonstrations, the Trailer will be invaluable at not only showcasing the full range of Toro products, but supporting the brand with this unique asset. With more people realising the joy and value of outdoor spaces in the past year, the Toro Trailer will
play an invaluable role in supporting customers to care for these spaces, while helping make the Toro brand even more present in the market.

Discussing the new Trailer and its potential, Sales Manager Matthew Coleman said: “Having the Toro Trailer means we can bring products right to customers and demonstrate what they can do on site. Customers get to see the products doing what they do best, in the environment where they would be used. I am excited to get the Trailer and Toro products out on the road in 2021, delivering demonstrations and trials to customers new and existing. It’s great to be able to visit customers again and see how Toro can support their landscaping and turf care needs face-to-face.”

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A charter for excellence

A charter for excellence: James Pope took on his dream job in the middle of a pandemic but, as he explained to Scott MacCallum, after a difficult start he now truly appreciates the wonders of Charterhouse School.

James Pope is looking out over the stunning, immaculately maintained, sports grounds of Charterhouse School and thinking back to 2020 and a year when he was pushed to his very limits.

A charter for excellence

A charter for excellence

He might smile at how he managed to move on from a workable doggie paddle to a more than serviceable butterfly in what was the essence of a sink or swim situation. To stretch the swimming analogy, he might now see it as a springboard to what he and his team is achieving going forward.

James applied for his dream job early last year. Interviews were held during early stages of Covid complete with the embarrassed, almost jokey, non-hand shaking protocols, but by the time he rolled into the spectacular grounds, for his first day in the job on May 26, we were in the depths of the first lockdown.

“The opportunity to take the job at Charterhouse was far too immense to turn down. The grounds are unbelievable, just like a film set, and there was a blueprint there which meant that it could be the best site you’ve ever walked on. It’s got that sort of capability,” said James, who had previously been Head of Grounds at St Paul’s School, in central London.

Perhaps one of the films he might have been thinking about was Mission Impossible because there is a fair chance that was the theme going around his head that first day.

“Maybe I naively took on the job thinking that it would all have blown over by July or August. We’d be out of the woods by September, and that everything would be fine by the new academic year. But it wasn’t to be, was it?”

James did have a full day’s handover with his predecessor, Lee Marshallsay (now at Eton), but had it been a month the chances are elements would still have not sunk in. However, Covid put pay to the opportunity of a longer handover process.

“I arrived at 7am and we had 11 hours together and Lee, who I knew from our time at Harrow together, said we should walk the site. Half an hour later we hadn’t completed the tour. All the time Lee was passing on so much information and knowledge then, at the end, he handed me a ring binder, so full it couldn’t be closed. But even then, that didn’t cover everything.”

Five weeks later having digested as much of the handover document as he could, he started.

Eleven months on, and looking back, James can’t help but wince, as, with lockdown, it meant he arrived with half of his team on furlough, including his Admin Assistant.

“I didn’t know any of the staff and I really didn’t know where anything was kept.” recalled James.

Fortunately his Deputy, Liam McKendry, had not been furloughed and, at the same time as getting to know each other, he was able to pass on what he knew.

“Liam was an absolute rock because he knew the site, although he hadn’t been here two years himself, and he knew the team and the types of situation we would be likely to expect. Without him in those first few weeks I’d have been lost as it’s a huge site full of complexities.

“However, Liam had only been on staff for a couple of years himself so there was quite a bit he didn’t’ know either. So, in many ways, we have been learning much of the site together,” said James.

“I spend the first three or four weeks trying not to be overawed, getting to know everyone and building up trust between myself and the team.”

A charter for excellence

A charter for excellence

Having arrived from St Paul’s, to a site that was five times bigger with a large forestry area to maintain, as well as a nine hole golf course and all the sports pitches it was a genuine task – made worse by the fact that James’ first few months coincided with a hot dry spell.

“It was verging on 30 degrees and our site is near enough 100% sand so it looked like a dust bowl for two months., There was nothing we could do unless it poured with rain, which wasn’t looking likely,” recalled James.

“I was concerned. I’d only just started and it’s a dust bowl. People were going to think that I couldn’t do the job. I really wanted to get stuck in, but what could I do. I’m giving myself a headache just thinking back,” said James, who added into the mix the fact that the Director of Sport was also newly appointed and, like James, learning a new job in the middle of a pandemic.

With the weather not doing him any favours and James genuinely concerned about having everything ready for September he got his first break.

“We took a bit of a gamble and started to do everything we needed to do, as if the weather was favourable, and hope that the weather would change for us. And lo and behold, it did! Someone was looking down on me. In August it rained.”

Since that early trauma, James has gone on to appreciate fully the wonderful environment in which he is now working.

“St Paul’s wasn’t a small school by any means but in terms of status and stature boarding schools like Charterhouse are the crown jewels. Ourselves, Harrow and Eton are all on the same page. Charterhouse is huge.”

It may have only been a year, but James has already seen at first hand what marks Charterhouse out as special.

“What really impresses me about Charterhouse is that when they do something they do it properly. It is not done with any element of compromise, no stone is left unturned. Every detail is covered and they want it to be the best it can be. They don’t want mediocrity and that spurs me on to produce the best as well.”

James is interesting on the subject of the day-to-day differences between his current job and his previous one.

“At St Paul’s where there is over 1,000 pupils but only 30 boarders, while there are 800 pupils at Charterhouse. At St Paul’s, from the moment you got there at 6.45am for a 7am start there were children already coming in and it was getting busy. Sport started at 9am and would go on to after 6, and there was sport being played six days a week.

“At Charterhouse there is breakfast, then classes before any sport and then it is only played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

It doesn’t feel so busy, but it is much more geared up to producing quality surfaces because there is time available to work on them. The window of opportunity to get things done is much bigger. That said there are many more surfaces to produce.”

The school has a strong reputation for having sports surfaces which rival the very best.

“That goes back to when Dave Roberts was here, and look what he’s gone on to do (Head of Grounds at Liverpool FC). He made a huge mark here and guys on the team still talk about him now. A really nice bloke who brought that professional football and sport ethos into the school environment.”

While not treating his first year as a false start, priorities were certainly different than they would have been had Covid not struck, and James is certainly looking forward to tackling his new job under more conventional circumstances.

“I’d like to think in six months’ time we’ll be in a position to say this is the start. We’ll have come through a period of not knowing; of toing and froing, of preparing for sport, of not preparing for sport; should we spend money on that or not as we don’t know what is going to be happening.

“Going forward the Director of Sport will know how he wants to work and mould his department and that will have a direct impact upon us as a team.”

And from his own perspective James will be looking at what products work on the Charterhouse site.

“The great thing here is that the size of the site lends itself to trialling products which makes us far more competitive when it comes to negotiating prices. Because we have so many pitches we can dial down on what is going to work for us.

A charter for excellence

A charter for excellence

“We will be constantly trialling to see what works, and even if it does work, we will then ask if we still do better. We don’t want to be short changed. It also makes us popular with the trade as it shows that we are open minded.”

His current core group of companies are ICL; Turf Care, Limagrain and AGS while machinery wise Baroness cylinder mowers are used for the outfield cutting and Dennis as well.

“I used them at St Paul’s and I’m used to it, know that it doesn’t break and that it has good back-up.”

Another huge plus for James at Charterhouse is his 14-strong team plus himself. “I think the world of them all. If it wasn’t for them, in the middle of Covid I don’t know where I would have been. They have all worked here a long time and know what they are doing and at the beginning I told them that they don’t need me to tell them what to do but just to go out do their job and that I wouldn’t be chasing them around.

“I think it gave them a new lease of life from knowing that I trust them.” So, given the difficulties of the last year what are James’ ambitions for three years down the line?

“If the team are coming into work and seeing the difference and that we are better than we were when I turned up that would make me happy. It is as much their site as it is mine, I’m just the custodian, but I’d like them to be taking pride in what they have achieved.”

After coming through a period as challenging as 2020 and the first half of 2021, and that springboard boost, no-one would bet against it.

P&K strives for excellence

P&K strives for excellence: Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club in Bridgend, commonly known as P&K, is one of Wales’s few true championship links courses. Its lofty sand dunes and unique series of habitats hug the same stretch of South Wales coastline as its near neighbour Royal Porthcawl.

It is also one of the few golf clubs in Wales to have been awarded GEO certification, in May 2020. This environmental management award recognised the club’s efforts to achieve a credible standard for sustainable golf course operation, and its important contributions in protecting nature, conserving resources and strengthening local communities.

P&K strives for excellence

P&K strives for excellence

“Achieving this certification is just part of an on-going commitment to continue striving for excellence in sustainable golf,” says club secretary/manager Simon Hopkin. “This has also seen us invest this year in more modern and environmentally friendly course maintenance equipment, with the help of Sean Brown from John Deere dealer Powercut and the company’s territory manager Nick Ashman.

“The club celebrates its centenary in 2022, when we will be hosting the R&A Men’s Home Internationals tournament, so we’re keen to achieve the best course we possibly can, not just for that event but for the year-round benefit of our members and visitors.”

After initial discussions were held with P&K on how best to upgrade the club’s ageing mower fleet, Powercut and Nick Ashman arranged to have a brand new 2750 E-Cut hybrid electric triplex mower transported to Wales for its first ever public demonstration. This was also the first pre-production machine to arrive in the UK after its launch at BTME in January 2019, and was shipped direct from John Deere’s stand display at The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles, which required a special police escort off the site.

Following this P&K agreed a John Deere Financial five-year finance lease deal, with a three-month payment holiday due to Covid-19, and put in the first UK order for three 2750E mowers, two equipped with cutting units for the tees and collars and one for the greens. The order also included a 6500A lightweight fairway mower, with an HPX 815E Gator utility vehicle and a 5075E utility tractor on turf tyres plus H-Series front loader bought earlier in the year.

“Together with our head greenkeeper Paul Johnson, we conducted a machinery audit to help us identify the best machines to help us improve the greens, tees and surrounds in particular,” says Simon Hopkin. “As part of the overall course improvements, we had been filling in bunkers to create more roll-off areas, and we had already identified the need for mowers that could cope with the slopes, which hadn’t been possible up to that point.

“We also had a course audit from an independent STRI agronomist, who quizzed us about the machinery and cutting regimes and made some recommendations that contributed to the debate. Having to reduce our original wish list from six mowers to four, to make the package financially viable, then focused our attention on finding the most versatile equipment for our needs.”

Paul Johnson had heard early reports about the 2750E mower, and Nick Ashman confirmed its versatility for use on both fairways and greens, in particular how it could adhere to ground contours and still maintain a quality cut.

“I came away from our initial meetings with a really positive feeling, even before we had the demos,” says Paul. “I just thought if this machine can do the job that we need it to, this could be a very good solution and will give us exactly what we need.

“It was certainly exciting to be the first club to see the mower working. I already knew about the quality of the cutting units, so it was great to then see proof of the mower’s contour hugging ability and the accuracy of cutting around the swales, collars and surrounds. I liked the look of the mower too, with the yellow grass boxes. We all felt straight away that this was a game changer.”

Simon Hopkin concludes: “As soon as we started using the new mowers, everyone at the club commented on the improvement in the quality of presentation around the course, which continues to look superb. Since changing over to our new John Deere fleet, we are also very happy with the service and support given to us by Powercut. This combination of the right service and the right machines has now set the gold standard.”

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Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC

Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC: Whitefield Golf Club, one of the longest established golf courses in the North West have invested in a brand-new fleet of machinery with a retail value in excess of £250,000 to futureproof the club.

The prestigious 18-hole mature golf course, which boasts superb putting surfaces, undulating, partly tree-lined fairways and spectacular views is also renowned for its par 3 and has a reputation as being deceptively difficult, with golfers coming from miles around to take on the challenge.

Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC

Japanese excellence at Whitefield GC

The club’s ageing fleet had started to become an issue, failing to deliver the standard required and with a prestigious tournament booked for this summer, the team realised that a sizeable investment in an entirely new fleet was required.

Course Manager Danny Chamberlain called upon award winning fine-turf specialist supplier GGM Groundscare. Several considerations had to be taken into account when selecting the best machinery for the job, with reliability and productivity of equipment being key. In addition, being based in the North West of England, it was key for the machinery to perform well in all-weather conditions. The club trialled a range of products from leading manufacturers Baroness and Kubota and the Greens team instantly saw the great results, with the machines staying on cut for longer and giving a precise finish, which is so important for maintaining the image of the course”

Danny was particularly impressed with the results from the Baroness LM2700 Fairway Mower, which  delivers a high work rate while delivering exceptional quality of cut, low whole life service costs and also long life and the Baroness GM2810 Rough Mower, renowned for its fast speed when cutting extensive areas of fast growing  rough, the design of the decks allows cleaner discharge of grass giving a high quality stripped finish.

“It’s the simplicity that I love – not only will it reduce downtime, maintenance and service costs – the Baroness is far easier and safer for the team to use and gives a truly outstanding quality of cut”

Additionally, the Kubota L2501 tractor, RTV X900 Utility vehicle and ZD1211 Zero turn mower are all excellent machines and provide the club with the quality and efficient solutions that it needs. The Baroness and Kubota products work so well together and gives the ideal package to golf clubs.

It was this, along with the reliability and output of all the machines the club trialled and the fixed-cost service and support package that was available that were key factors for Danny. It allows the club to budget better and gave the team peace of mind that they won’t be receiving unexpected repair bills that gave him the confidence to place an order to replace the full fleet.

“It was a huge step for the club to move away from the previous manufacturer, and particularly when it came to making an investment of this size however, GGM Groundscare made the process so easy. Working with the right dealership is essential – after all, they become an extension of your own team. Service levels, parts back up and sales advice are all absolutely crucial. It’s fantastic to know that we’re heading into the future with the very best fleet for our club.”

Chris Gibson, Managing Director at GGM Groundscare said:

“We are absolutely delighted to supply this fleet of machinery to Whitefield Golf Club. It is well known as one of the most prestigious courses in the North West with a reputation for pristine greens, and we are thrilled to play a part in the maintenance of them. It really is Japanese excellence working together with Kubota and Baroness as there are no better machines for golf clubs to use to maintain one of their biggest assets – their course”.

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