Story by Emily Schappacher
Andrew Ziehler isn’t just interested in lawn care products. The owner of Ziehler Lawn and Tree Care in Centerville, Ohio, is interested in partnerships. Which is why for the past 20 years Ziehler has worked closely with Bayer, using the products that keep his clients’ lawns green and healthy – and the array of other resources and support the manufacturer provides. “We look for partners that are going to help us in multiple areas – we are not just looking for the product itself,” explains Ziehler, whose company provides 90 percent lawn care and 10 percent mosquito and pest control services to residential customers. “Whenever we ask Bayer for a little bit more help we always seem to get it.”
Don’t get him wrong – Ziehler sticks with Bayer because the products work. He relies heavily on Merit® for grub control and uses Maxforce® FC Ant Killer Bait Gel and Suspend® PolyZone® for surface insect and mosquito control. But Ziehler also takes full advantage of Bayer’s training and educational opportunities and appreciates Bayer’s support of green industry associations like the National Association of Landscape Professionals. He counts on his Bayer sales representative to keep him up to speed on things like new products and advancements in technology, industry trends and emerging lawn or pest problems pertinent to his region. “The No. 1 thing is that we have confidence in the results of the products,” Ziehler says. “But Bayer is also involved in so much stuff. It is not a transactional relationship. They are supporting what is going to be happening in the future and allow us to provide services for a long time.”
“The beautiful part of Bayer having so many sales managers around the country is that it makes a big company seem small,” explains Eric Skorich, Ziehler’s Bayer area sales manager, based in Columbus, Ohio. “It brings a big company down to a level where customers like Andrew can put a face to Bayer and can feel comfortable calling me directly.”
Skorich serves as the liaison between Bayer and customers like Ziehler. He also works closely with local distributors and is well versed on Bayer’s products and how they work in the lawn and landscape market. Skorich also has access to Bayer’s Green Solutions Team when customers have technical questions that he can’t answer. “I am the first point of contact when customers have questions about our products,” Skorich says. “My customers can call me at any time; if I don’t have the answer for them right away I can get them to someone who does.”
For lawn care operators looking to establish a preferred supplier partnership, Skorich recommends looking for a company that provides solutions, not just products. “All companies have products to sell, but I like the solutions-based approach to help solve problems my customers are having,” Skorich says. “I have become a resource for Andrew – he can ask me questions, he can bounce ideas off of me. It’s building relationships on a more personal level.”
Ziehler agrees that getting to know your product sales representatives on a personal level is important for LCOs to create a partnership that is truly beneficial. Taking the time to get to know one another by going to lunch or playing some golf helps lay the groundwork for the open communication and trust needed for a company to thrive. “A lot of times, lawn care operators just go to the local supplier and pick a product off the shelf. They don’t always know that there is all of this support available, so they are not able to take advantage of it,” Ziehler says. “LCOs should be sure to ask a lot of questions and get to know the reps for the products they use. Once both sides really understand each other, you can get the recommendations and advice that will help your business grow and help you take care of your customers in the best way. “As with any relationship,” he adds, “you get out of it what you put into it.”
Partners for Success.
When Bayer Area Sales Manager Eric Skorich visits Ziehler Lawn and Tree Care, the team comes out to brainstorm solutions to current problems. During a recent visit, Skorich (left) meets with owner Andrew Ziehler (center) and service manager/certified arborist Sean Meier (right).
Family Comes First.
Owning a family business takes time—lots of it. Ziehler Lawn and Tree Care owners Andrew and Dessine Ziehler turn to their representatives at Bayer to keep them updated on the latest chemical trends and solutions. That allows the Ziehlers to spend more time where it counts, with their children, Matthew, Loula and Georgia.