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NYS IPM 2002
Excellence-in-IPM Award Winners:
Laurie Broccolo

Landscape Company Reaps Benefits, Award, for Green Practices

Laurie Broccolo's landscape business may not charge the lowest prices. Her labor costs are higher. She hardly advertises. She even helps the competition.

She breaks the traditional rules of business, but it works -- for Broccolo, her 29 employees, and her 2,800 clients. Indeed, in an industry where the annual client turnover is 20 to 30 percent, at Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care in Rochester, NY, the turnover is about 2 percent.

Why such success? In large part, because Broccolo practices integrated pest management, or IPM -- a set of techniques that minimizes the use of pesticides while promoting soil and plant health. Such careful attention reaps rewards. Catching pests early cuts way back on pesticide use. Many years, Broccolo's has only needed to treat for grubs on about 3 percent of their clients' lawns and gardens.

Now, the dedication to a method that's proven so valuable to her clients has won Broccolo and her employees the 2002 "Excellence in IPM Award" from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, part of Cornell Cooperative Extension at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, for her leadership in environmentally sound practices for landscape care.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that we're getting this award," says Broccolo. "The support of the Cornell community has been key to growing our business, and we're incredibly grateful."

Broccolo's biggest source of expertise is Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County. "We talk with them almost every day," says Mills. "We let them know what we're seeing in the field, and they help us analyze the problems we find. We couldn't survive without them."

Broccolo's also has a close connection with the NYS IPM Program's Jana Lamboy, a specialist in ornamentals. "We're working together to develop standards for integrated pest management in landscape care," says Lamboy. "Laurie and her staff are always excited to help with any new project. They're always looking for new ways to reach people, to teach them about IPM."

From sending out newsletters and "green tips" flyers to garden show talks, Broccolo's helps their customers understand what IPM is all about. In fact, the last four digits of their phone number are "4IPM."

During winter months, Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care provides seminars for others in the lawn care industry. They teach "best practices" to managers of commercial properties, mowing companies, and sometimes even their competitors in tree, lawn, and garden care.

"The more everyone knows, the better off we are," explains Jody Mills, Broccolo's horticulturist. "Plus, nearly half of our business comes from landscape contractor referrals."

Broccolo received the award on November 13 at the New York State Turf and Grounds Exposition in Syracuse, New York. "We're as thrilled to give this award as they are to get it," said Michael Hoffmann, director of the New York State IPM Program.

written by Mary M. Woodsen