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News & Notes
Hewson Landscape, Inc.
OCTOBER 2014

 

  
                            
OKTOBERFEST 
Is this fall truly the calm before the winter?
In This Issue
   
Greetings!
    
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
October is here and we are wondering what the winter will bring. So far I have read that it will be another heavy snow season like last year. I have also read that it will be a mild winter. It's truly a coin toss, as no one can predict. I attended a seminar last night with the NJLCA, and the guest speaker, John Allin  is a snow industry consultant. If we have a winter like last year in NJ, there is not enough salt out of the ground to satisfy the needs of consumers.
Stock up early, to insure you have product. Just a safety heads up when driving-This time of year it's hard to see pedestrians walking, and jogging as they tend to blend in with the landscape. It would be great if people trended towards Hi-Vis clothing.  There are a lot of wet leaves on the ground too, so keep a safe driving distance and avoid skidding. Happy Halloween and  I'll see you in November!
  
All the best,
Shelly Hewson
President, Hewson Landscape Inc.   
            
Change the clocks... Change the batteries!
          
     FIRE PREVENTION AWARENESS

We check the weather.  We check our e-mail.  We check our phones as if they were newborns.  How about your smoke detectors?  

National Fire Prevention Week was earlier in the month, and is observed for the month of October, commemorating the 
Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  

On the night of October 9, 1871 in Chicago, a fire was started in a barn.  The fire spread overnight, burning for over a day and a half.  Chicago had not seen a drop of rain since July and the streets were paved in wood - a literal vehicle for disaster, as the townspeople would come to learn.  The fire ravaged over 2,000 acres, left 300 people dead and another 100,000 homeless.   That is a real wake up call.  From that point on fire prevention became a national concern, and people had to be aware of what they could do to prevent fire on their own.

As scary as the Great Chicago fire was, it was not the biggest.  In an incredibly eery twist of fate, that very same October night in 1871, an even more devastating fire ripped through North East Wisconsin, burning 16 towns to the ground and claiming over 1,100 peoples lives and destroying 1.2 million acres.

A lot of changes and precautions have been put in place in order to prevent fire related catastrophes.  Rules, regulations, fire codes, inspections, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and flame retardant material...  All products of folks learning their lesson the hard way and then putting their heads together to rise from the ashes.

So when was the last time you checked your smoke detectors?  It takes less time than it does to check your e-mail!  Hold that button and make sure it beeps.  Put a sticker on the battery or the detector itself with the date of the new batteries as a reminder.  They really can save your life!

 SET THE BAR
Things to consider when hiring a contractor 
 
Do it yourself?  Or hire a contractor?  With the recession receding, a lot of homeowners are able to hire  contractors once again to take care of those projects they have been putting on hold.

We would hope that the contractor we choose is honest and trustworthy and does a great job.  But unfortunately, you cannot assume that your Contractor will set the bar as high as your expectations are.  But you are paying someone to do a great job, aren't you?  After doing some research, I have come up with a few pointers to help you select the right guy/gal for the job!
WORD OF MOUTH
Everyone knows someone who does something!  Ask around to friends and neighbors and other contractors to see if they know anyone who can do what you need done.  Stop by the hardware store or local fix-it retailer and ask customer service if they can recommend any top notch contractors - ones who buy good materials and pay their bills on time!  Yes you can ask that. 
MAKE A LIST
Compile a list of potential contractors, and do some recon of your own.  You can find a lot of information on the internet.  In your research, note if they have a website with photos of their work. See if there are any negative reviews of their business floating around.  Make sure they are legit. I typically do not trust everything I read on the internet.  In this day and age, a good strong business will have a website, that shows they take pride in promoting their work and want more.
PICK UP THE PHONE
Once you  have researched and chosen a couple contractors you think may be a good fit for your project, call them!  Communication is key when working with anyone.  Especially if there is a lot of money at stake.  If you get a voicemail and no call back - RED FLAG!  Contracting is a busy business, so don't get discouraged if it takes a little while for someone to get back to you.  Once you get someone on the phone, ask if they are taking on new projects.  Discuss what you are looking to have done and see how comfortable you are with their answers. You will need to wait your turn "in queue" to be added to a decent contractor's schedule of existing work flow.  Do they seem personable and knowledgeable about their craft? Are they licensed and industry trained or certified? Ask them if they can get you in touch with previous clients, so you can speak with them and see the work that was completed.  Ask if they use sub-contractors and how long they have used them for.  This question is pivotal, because you want to know who is supervising the job. Set up an appointment with the ones you felt the most comfortable speaking with, to come to see the job and get you an estimate.
THE APPOINTMENT
First impressions really do matter.  Are they on time?  If they were late, did they communicate that with you?  What are they driving?  Show them where the work will be done and feel free to ask questions.  Are you comfortable with their answers?  Are they receptive of your concerns?  It is very important that they make you feel at ease.  They may be working with you for a long time depending on the size of your project, and you need to trust them at your home. Go with your gut!!!
THE ESTIMATE
Have the best candidates provide an estimate for you.  Sometimes there are design fees associated, depending on the detail they provide you with for the scope of work.  You really do want them to provide as many details as possible.  Plans or drawings are a huge plus.  Get a couple estimates.  Do not feel you have to settle.  Also, do not go with the lowest price!  If you have 3 estimates and 1 is totally low balled compared to the other two, there is a reason!  They more than likely cut corners, use cheap materials, have unqualified employees, or are desperate for work. 
THE CHOOSING!
You have your estimates, you are starting to envision your future completed project and getting excited.  Have you asked the potentials if you can stop by a job of theirs that is in progress?  I would highly recommend this!  You can get a feel of how they are on a job site.  Are there workers milling with productivity or is the whole site in shambles?  Is it tidy and neat?  Is everyone on the phone? Is there a job supervisor, keeping production flowing? Is there a portable restroom on site?  How about the equipment being used and the people operating it?  Do you see them utilizing safety equipment?  Seeing how a business operates before hiring them is one of the best road trips you can take.  
THE DECISION
Congratulations, you have decided which contractor you will be hiring to complete your project.  Now, get an agreement in black and white.  Discuss your payment details/schedule.  
DO NOT PAY CASH.  Checks are a paper trail, if something should go wrong.  Be sure you have a contract/agreement drawn up and have step by step details of how the job will be outlined.  Have the contractor provide you with proof of liability insurance and their workman's comp. coverage.  Once you are satisfied with the agreement on paper, SIGN YOUR NAME!  And be sure the contractor signs as well.  A written agreement signed, sealed and delivered will cover everyone involved and is proof of what you were promised will be included and completed for you.
ADDITIONAL PROTECTION
Construction of any sort creates dust and debris.  Discuss a site clean up plan with your contractor before making up your agreement.  Have them specify how day to day debris and messes will be maintained and also who is responsible for having the debris cleaned up upon completion and how it is going to be hauled away.  Typically this would be included in the contract price, BUT you can never be too sure.  Also check to see if any stock piled material will be left behind upon completion.  You may want to hang onto a case of tile, or a few extra bricks, but beyond that, what are you going to do with a pallet of drywall? 
PERSONAL BELONGINGS 
Before the work begins on your property, be sure to store away any items you do not want damaged, or to potentially walk away.  Your patio furniture for example.  If you are having a deck done, it needs to be out of the way anyway, if not it will be covered in saw dust, or could be used as a work horse!  Tuck away your hoses and shovels if you are having concrete or stone work done, because chances are, what you have is not construction grade and will take a beating if they are used by the contractor.  
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?
After your job is completed, the contractor should be more than willing to do a final walk-through with you to ensure all items outlined in your contract were completed to your satisfaction. This is the time to write down anything that was not completed (a punch list) and be sure they are buttoned up before you make your final payment.  

Fleet Facts

If you have any diesel trucks in your fleet, at least one of them probably uses DEF (diesel exhaust fluid).  Since 2010 the EPA has been regulating diesel emissions with stricter guidelines.  Most newer diesel trucks come equipped with a DPF system - Diesel Particulate Filtration system.  These systems are a very practical and a simple solution to help reduce emissions from diesel engines and even improve the performance of the vehicle.

DEF is an additive that is made of urea and deionized water.  The system sprays the exhaust the engine makes with the DEF to help minimize and neutralize the contaminates, which in turn go into the filtration system.  The system then purges itself once the filter becomes too full by performing a regeneration, or a regen if you are familiar with this!  All we have to do is remember to keep the DEF tank full.   Since it is becoming a more common feature, DEF is available pretty much everywhere now, and not just at truck stops or diesel dealers.
  
Its very important to keep the DEF full.  If you have an issue with the DPF system and take your vehicle that is still under warranty to the dealership, the first thing they will check is the fluid level.  If the tank is empty, it could void your warranty.  DEF fluid should be topped off when needed, and included in your pre-trip checklist as a reminder, but 2.5 gallons should last approximately 800 miles.
  
 
Deer Oh Deer!  By Nicole Flynn

Deer mating season kicked into high gear this month and will go on through December.  
 
Seems the Bucks are in a "rut"!  
It rhymes, but no seriously - Bucks are hot on the trails to find their ideal Doe to mate and it's like they are invincible.  He has his blinders on and is on the chase for love!   That is why we see so many more deer carcasses this time of year. 

The deer we see with horns are the males, the ones without the rack are the females.  From mid-September through December is their mating season.  Bucks will travel in packs in pursuit of their Doe and will follow them for miles, across meadows and even highways, they are relentless.  Ahh, it is all about the chase for deer! Their mating habits are are pretty interesting, but can wreak havoc on the crops and our roadways.  
 
If you see one deer standing on the side of the road, slow down, because it is almost certain there will be more.  Especially around dawn and again at dusk.  Deer tend to feed along side the roads in NJ, where there is an abundance of food resources for them.  They also do travel the same routes.  So if you know you have seen deer on a particular road you take, they are probably still in the vicinity and could run out in front of you without warning, so always being prepared is never a bad thing.  
 
Scan the sides of the roads as you drive and you have a better chance of spotting a deer before they dart.  At night, if they are looking in your direction, you will see their eyes lit up by your headlights.  When you see their eyes, begin to slow down as you approach where they are.  That way, if they decide to mosey on into the middle of the road, you will have plenty of time to stop and let them go ahead.  If you do not have enough time to stop, do not swerve out of the way.  Apply the brakes as steady as you can to lessen the impact.  A deer can weigh up to 200 lbs - so that versus a car traveling at any rate of speed is going to cause damage no matter what.  
While no one wants to hit a deer, it happens.  I have been hit by a deer while sitting at a light.  It ran right into the side of the car, left a nice dent and some fur as evidence and kept right on going.  It came out of no where.  While that was totally unavoidable, being aware of your surroundings can absolutely make all the difference.
 
Safe travels to you during the "RUT".  Keep your eyes peeled.  
NEW ADDITIONS AT 
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Kubota M9540

This used Kubota was delivered and put right to work. No hanging around for this machine!
  
Extra! Extra!  Read all about it...
 
Hewson Landscape featured in The LICA Contractor monthly publication for the work we did for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Tournament at Liberty State Park.

Click to read the article!  Hewson Landscape polo field work
FOR SALE OR LEASE 
 
EPSON SureColor T5000
36" color/black&white Plotter 
Perfect for printing blue prints or large photos
One touch printing - Network capable
Stop running to Staples to get your prints!
  
Contact me today about financing info! 
(908) 222-3616.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH 
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"Nothing is impossible.
The word itself says I'm possible"

- Audrey Hepburn

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Hewson Landscape Inc | shelly@hewson-landscape.com | http://www.hewson-landscape.com
601 North Avenue
Plainfield, NJ 07060
Office 908-222-3616
Fax 908-222-3617