Straight from Red Hen’s FAQ Vault … Doing Off-Seasons the RIGHT WAY at Red Hen Turf Farm

PHOTO: One of Jeremy's To-Do Lists

One of Jeremy’s To-Do Lists

Here’s a question we hear A LOT once winter has taken hold of the Michiana area and we throw in the towel as far as harvesting sod is concerned …


Here’s what JEREMY has to say about some of the ways that he spends his off-season time:

PHOTO: Jeremy Cooper, Turf Operations Manager, Red Hen Turf Farm

Jeremy, Turf Operations Manager, Red Hen Turf Farm

I’m actually amazed at how many times we are asked this question. But, it’s a common conundrum for “green industry” professionals … how to make the most out of any off-season downtime that you might have?

Some days, we wish the answer could be, “Well, we HIBERNATE, of course!” but in many ways, Red Hen’s off-season is just about as busy as our sod-production season

Yes, some of our seasonal employees are laid off until early March, but on a daily basis we still have 8 employees working full-time …

 Approximately 2880 OFF-SEASON Payroll Hours ... That's a lot of hours!

Approximately 2880 OFF-SEASON Payroll Hours … That’s a lot of hours!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

@ 1:15 p.m.

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and I am leaving my house to car pool with Rick Glassman, the Environmental Education Coordinator from the St. Joseph County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and some of my fellow SWCD Supervisors.

Screenshot - About the St. Joseph County Soil & Water Conservation District

Learn more at

The St. Joseph County SWCD is one of the community organizations that I volunteer for. Every January, a few Supervisors from the SWCD go down to Indianapolis to attend the Annual Meeting for the Indiana Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD). We Supervisors also take advantage of being in Indy by paying a visit to the State House to speak to our District’s elected officials. We give them our annual legislative presentation materials that highlights all the work that the SWCD does for St. Joseph County, and how the SWCD’s funds (including tax dollars) are put to good use.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

@ 1:00 p.m.

I am heading for home after a whirlwind of meetings with our state legislators and attending a few sessions at the IASWCD Conference.  It’s been a real success.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

@ 8:00 a.m.

I am working from Red Hen’s office today.  I’m going through our website ( ONE MORE TIME to catch everything that will need updated for the 2015 season.  I’ve got a meeting in 2 days with our web designer, and there’s plenty of editing that will need to be done.

I also plan out another Indianapolis trip that Lisa (our Office Manager) and I will be taking next week. We’ll be attending the annual Indiana Green Expo, Indiana’s most comprehensive green industry educational conference and trade show. I am also contacting some of our landscaper customers who will be attending Indiana Green with Lisa and I.  Our goal at Indiana Green will be to get some valuable training, and to check out the trade show and the Landscape Challenge. Some of the sessions that Lisa and I are thinking about attending include:

  • The Future of Lawn Care in the Midwest
  • Are You Wasting Money by Wasting Pesticides?
  • Invasive Species and the Green Industry – A Panel Discussion
  • Show Off Your Professionalism: How Do Your Customers Perceive Your Business?
  • How to Implement a Social Media Strategy

@ 3:30 p.m.

I arrive at a meeting in downtown South Bend to discuss the 2015 season with the regional manager for sod distribution to Home Depot and Lowes.

@ 10:30 p.m.

I arrive home for the evening.  Yes, that was a LONG but PRODUCTIVE meeting.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

@ 7:00 a.m.

Bright and early, I arrive at my first-ever South Bend BNI meeting. I only recently learned that on almost every Thursday morning, this eclectic mix of business professionals meet for an hour or so at the Morris Park Country Club.   BNI (or Business Network International) is a global network with local chapters. BNI’s mission is to provide its 150,000 world-wide members with tools to “increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional “word-of-mouth” program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.”   The weekly meetings include a 10-minute presentation by a featured speaker, dates for upcoming training opportunities, and more.

I was given the chance to introduce Red Hen Turf Farm to 50+ great people and then learn about each of their companies.  I hope to attend a few more BNI sessions before our sod season kicks in, and have a feeling I won’t be able to make it too many times between March and November.  These are short meetings and not too far away, so who knows?

Maybe you’re curious if your business would benefit from BNI membership?  Check out BNI’s Why BNI? webpage for a better idea of what to expect.

@ 9:00 a.m.

I arrive at Red Hen Turf Farm’s WORLD HEADQUARTER (haha!).  As soon as I get inside the door, I’m sitting back down with our web designer to go over Red Hen’s website plans.   

@ 1:00 p.m.

After the past few months of working on the early stages of a customized software project, we are meeting with the project manager from the company we’ve hired to design our “Turf Tracker” / CRM database / communication hub.  This is one of those projects where I’m contributing as part of a team, but our office manager, Lisa, is leading the effort.  We’re really excited about a soft launch possibly as early as the start of our spring season.  Our goal is to be able to provide better service to our customers, and being able to access and communicate information more efficiently is the key.

Friday, January 16, 2015

@ 8:00 a.m.

I arrive at Red Hen’s office and the phone rings.  The caller is asking about shade-tolerant sod, and we discuss some options.   Afterwards, I spend some time doing a little “team building” by catching up with my co-workers who I haven’t seen much of this week.

PHOTO:  Jeremy, Joe, Ron, and Don chatting over lunch

Jeremy, Joe, Ron, and Don chatting over lunch

@ 10:30 a.m.

Lisa and I are visited by two representatives from South Bend’s WorkOne office.  They give us more information about Indiana’s Operation: Job Ready Veterans program.  We are beginning the process of possibly employing veterans for a few positions within the next few weeks.  I’ve got some work to do to make sure we are fully staffed by early March.

During this meeting with WorkOne, we have a surprise visitor — the newest Red Hen team member who was born this past Sunday – Baby Boy Rhett Millar!  Congratulations to our owner, Gordon, and his wife, Casey!

@ 12:00 p.m.

The remainder of my Friday is filled with more marketing-related preparations.  I even get to check a few things off of my To-Do list.


@ 2:30 p.m.

After a long, productive, week, I decide to leave work an hour and a half early.  Next week is looking to be a busy one, too!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

And last but not least, I’ll throw the question back your way …


We welcome you to answer by leaving a comment or by sending us an email at

Until next time,

Jeremy, Turf Operations Manager, Red Hen Turf Farm