Another milestone has been reached at The Grass Group.
Tim has reached a half century with his 50th Birthday on Friday 10th and was presented with an Olive tree and champagne from his colleagues, he also managed to grab some time with his family who celebrated with a meal at the newly opened Shard Restaurant in London.
Thanks to the benefit of BBC iPlayer its possible to catch up on Sunday nights Countryfile and see gorgeous looking gallops that are at the very centre of Newmarket itself. There are days when you are late and trying to get your children on the Cambridge train to get them to school on time that you swear at the hundreds of horses, yes hundreds, that crisscross Newmarket roads going to and from the gallops. However, horse racing has been Newmarket’s life blood and as a local company we are proud when we see our mowers used by the dedicated grounds staff to help produce such fantastically prepared grass gallops and race courses.
Watch the full episode here
Monday starts off with a trip to see our dealer in Lisburn (Johnston Gilpin) travelling on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin this had to be one of the roughest crossings I have had, next day we go off to see the local authority in Derry showing them the RGD140 seeder which they loved for its quality of build, accurate seed metering system and ease of use not to mention competitive price tag, we also showed them the new INFiNiPower™ Hybrid system which they also loved for its Green footprint, its flexibility and range of cassettes, also it impressed them with the speed of change from Battery to Engine/Generator set and the full range of cassettes to carry out a multitude of tasks on their Bowling Greens.
Next day was a trip over to Greenmount College where we showed a group of 4th year students the INFiNiPower™ and let them have a play with the Battery and engine/genset versions which went very well indeed we used the Ultragroomer (set at level) and no-one could believe what was going into the grass box and the excellent finish it was leaving, most commented that you could not even see where it had been.
Next Day we go off to Rosapenna Golf Club whereby we had 9 other golf course managers come along and take a look at the INFiNiPower™ again with a full range of cassettes we mainly showed the battery version which will cover 7/8 greens depending on the type of work carried out, we took along some special Ultra Groomers for Paul the Course Manager as he came to see us at Harrogate in January and asked if he could have a special set with wider spacing for his greens as it was a very open Links course, Soup and sandwiches was our lunch treat and excellent it was too…
Later that day we took the INFiNiPower™ to Castlered City council to their bowling greens and watched them all wonder with open mouths at the silent grooming and Vibing we did on the green to smooth them.
Then it was time for the hotel, more wonderful Guinness and home early the next morning…
We finally made it! After 4 attempts we managed to do an ATT Infinpower demo at The Reed School with Grant Shuttle and his team. The previous 3 attempts had to be cancelled due to the weather, but on the fourth with the promise of doughnuts we made it!
First things first, a cup of tea, doughnuts and a chat. Grant had heard about the Infinpower and its interchangeable cassette system and was keen to see it on his cricket square which is used by Surrey County Cricket for practice, and due to its close proximity to the school buildings our claims to how quiet it is. We also knew that Grant had several artificial pitches so we were keen to see how the machine performed on them.
First we had a go on some practice wickets, these were sand free tarmac based artificial wickets used for practice and net work. These are normally maintained using chemicals and a motorised brush collector. The wickets had been sprayed the day before but the active ingredients had no time to work. We went with the Infinipower using battery power and the Ultragroomer cassette, setting it to its highest workable setting, as this was the first time we had used the Infinipower on an artificial surface with our hearts in our mouths we made a start.
There was no need to worry as it performed without fault, and we started to set the Ultragroomer deeper into the pile of the artificial surface. We eventually took the Ultragroomer down to just over 1mm and had cleaned a wicket in around 15-20 minutes to a standard that in Grant words ” I haven’t seen them in this condition since they were laid, they are like new”.
Next we went out to his main cricket square where we groomed a wicket for him, again Grant was blown away with the amount of material that the Ultragroomer removed in one pass and how it had stood the grass up ready to be cut, and how quiet the Infinipower was in the proximity of the buildings.
We then quickly tidied up his artificial golf green and job done time for tea and more doughnuts….
The ATT INFiNiSystem™, the only walk behind complete turf refinement cassette system in the world has now been awarded the Quiet Mark accreditation.
The visually stunning machine energised by the INFiNiPower™ an all new dual power source to improve efficiency and reduce noise, has just been recognised and approved by the UK Noise Abatement Society with their prestigious Quiet Mark.
Under the Quiet Mark scheme only products that meet strict criteria on noise levels can display the distinctive purple logo.
The Grass Group have been working hard towards getting the INFiNiSystem™ recognised and the whole team are delighted that the INFiNi sailed through with flying colours. We now join ranks alongside major companies such as Lexus, Philips, DHL and Twentieth Century Fox to name just a few!
Our hotel was ideally placed, rooms good as was the food which was buffet style morning and evening so need of a translator! Daisy was waiting on the stand for us and we were up and running.
John Coleman and I are old hands at it now, we swap the battery and engine generator over non-stop, like an F1 pit crew, and everyone’s jaw always drops in amazement. As we say the INFiNiPower is a true hybrid! We had greenkeepers, loads of dealers from China from small and large companies. Daisy rapidly got into the swing of highlighting the advantages of the interchangeable cassettes, the cost savings, the first class English build quality etc. Everybody was highly complementary.
What did surprise me was the number of dealers we saw from other Countries. To name a few, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and E. Sussex!! A typical conversation was “ I’ve just been speaking to one of my clients, he is a top green keeper, and he has told me that I have to be the dealer for you as the INFiNiPower is the best thing he has seen at the show!!”. That was certainly the case for the dealer from S Korea.
As JC and I reflected on what was an excellent first exhibition for us as the only English exhibitors. In China a number of things were clear. As with the rest of the World they love a quality product. It wouldn’t be long before we going to be back and JC was going to have to work on increasing production! I didn’t have to tell him there was going to be a lot more Countries we were going to have to visit!!
So having slept very little thanks to Chinese customs I boarded the plane at Heathrow with some trepidation as to whether or not our exhibition machines would be on the stand to greet us. BA must have seen I had a bad night because, bless them, they gave me an upgrade to a bed for the trip out and I confess it wasn’t long before I was making the most of it!
Beijing airport is massive and modern; you can’t see where it ends on the horizon! With display banners in hand we went through customs, this time unhindered and met up with our charming interpreter, Daisy who got us to the hotel and on to the exhibition centre in the Olympic park. The Olympic park is vast and walking to and from the hotel was a brisk way to start the morning as there was snow on the ground.
Once inside the exhibition hall it was bedlam and so dusty you could hardly breathe! They were making the stands cutting ply, spray painting creating a really unpleasant environment. However all was forgotten when we got to our stand and our equipment had been release by customs – now we were in business!
Me and my big mouth! 2.30am of the morning of the flight to Beijing I get woken by our Chinese shipping agent saying there is a big problem with the consignment and it is blocked in customs. So half awake I am trying to figure out what they have found in our packing cases that should not be there. The agent says that the customs are going to send over a picture by email of the offending article. So half an hour later, now wide awake, I receive a picture and it’s not very clear but I realise it was one of the INFiNiSystem Cassettes, can’t read the description due to the flash glare but finally conclude from the black guard that it is the SMARTStar spiker. So what’s the problem? After another hour of going backwards and forwards it turns out the factory declared the item on the list with the Serial number 1514 and as all could see it was 1814!!! All this hassle because of a that. There were no more items than there should have been, we weren’t trying to sneak anything into the country that we shouldn’t have, it was clearly there on the list but the whole lot was hung up in spite of it. Oh the joys of international sales I can’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to export!!
So following on from San Diego it was clear that the Asian market was worth prospecting. The opportunity to exhibit at the next Chinese golf show in Beijing seemed too good to miss particularly as Chinese greenkeepers and importers had been on the stand enquiring about the INFiNiSystem. The exhibition centre is on the Olympic park apparently within sight of the iconic Birds Nest stadium.
The paperwork needed to attend is prodigious, they may be happy to export but they are not keen to let us into sell to them. Karyn our office manager is rapidly becoming an expert and if we get there it will be thanks to her. The visa has just arrived and the interpreter is booked. So as long as we don’t trip up at the customs we should be alright. Let’s see if we can get some of our Sterling back for high quality Sheffield made UK products!
Travelling to California in Feb is not perhaps the best time of the year for the beach but it was certainly better than the weather in the UK!! It looked nice from above flying down the Pacific coast with the surfers bobbing up and down like little sea birds. I think they might have been worried if they had known who was at the controls of the helicopter!
The show was well attended and there was quite a large contingent of English greenkeepers present who had been invited over. TGG is not responsible for promoting the ATT range in the USA but the show is the natural world wide focus for all dealers and importers of ground care equipment. We met up with dealers keen on taking on the INFiNiSystem as well as the TM System from Asia as well as Eastern Europe. It is clear that The Grass Group needs to go international to meet demand! The Pacific Rim mainly operates pedestrian greens mowers and the flexibility of being able to interchange cutting cassettes with maintenance cassettes is invaluable. Some of TGGs other suppliers, Trilo, Progressive and RotaDairon were also present at the show and reported a good level of interest from US greenkeepers. What was heartening was that it was clear that there was a renewed vigour in the USA and that there were clear signs of recovery in the economy that even a non economist could see and feel. Let’s hope it spreads quickly!