Rick’s Corner: Spring is on the way…

Hello everyone,

This is Rick from Hofstetter Landscaping. As we reach the 2/3rd mark of February of 2015, I am happy to say that spring is on its way at last and will be here in just a few more weeks. I know most of us will be happy to see the end of this winter. Certainly Ashleigh and I will be glad to see it over.

We had enough good weather in the fall of 2014 for the crew to work right up into mid-December, before it became too cold to work outdoors. Our last project for the year was an 80’ by 3’ retaining wall, a set of 4 steps, 6’6” wide and 700 sq. ft. of patio, with 80’ of sienna pressure-treated fence. Sienna is a new colour of pressure treated wood, sort of a cross between light green and brown. When installed it looks somewhat like cedar, but it can be difficult to acquire as it is not a fully stocked item at most lumber outlets yet. Let me tell you, this made it very irritating –  running across the city to 4 different locations to get enough product to complete the job! The lumber at one location was so bad that we could not even buy a single piece from them; it was too warped and split. Finally, a Home Building Centre on Wilson Ave. past Jane got in a brand new order still wrapped in plastic, and we were very happy with that load.

That wasn’t the only trouble we encountered. It got so cold while building the fence that two brand new nail guns broke (the metal got cold and brittle, and snapped off the end of the nail guides). That meant the last 30’ had to be done by hand, which meant lots of frost bitten fingers and runny noses.

I was very pleased to see Michael O’Brien step up and take a lead on building the base for the wall, this was his first time on his own and he did a great job with his helper Brandon Harnish. Very nice, solid and very level, just the way we want it.  The boys laid the wall almost all by themselves with the material being brought to them by Alec Francis, Daniel Hofstetter and me.  Ron Hofstetter kept busy as usual setting grades, digging, laying the patio and setting the posts.

The job became very slippery towards the end, as there was a thin layer of dirt on the driveway when our first snow fall came that turned the hill into a slushy mud slide. It was no fun cleaning that!

Once again this year we ran into the best customers, the kind of people you would love to have as friends; super friendly folks and always happy and so delighted and thrilled with their finished projects. My favorite customer had to be Anna, a lady from Pickering; we all looked forward to each day at her house as she was so friendly and happy and always smiling, and what a beautiful warm smile she has. It was well into the high 30s when we worked there, and not a breeze to be found anywhere. Anna kept the crew well stocked with water, drinks, tea and coffee and some really delicious snacks. We built a patio, walkway, steps, a large garden and a drainage bed to drain water coming in from higher properties that were dumping onto Anna’s property; we also built a front and side walkway and a front garden and a 10 x 16 pad for a greenhouse which Anna had ordered.

I must say Anna’s yard had the hardest soil we have ever run into. It was a former farm property and was full of rocks. Every inch had to be dug by pick axe, and we hit a rock at every swing of the pick, but we did get a lot of rocks for our drainage bed and Anna was happy to see us use them all. After we power washed those rocks she had a lot of really nice colours of granite river rock.

 

 

I have to admit that after 25 years in this business, I find it frustrating to go to potential clients homes who don’t have any idea what they want and have no idea of a budget – or at least they don’t want to share the information, because they are afraid you might just hit it. Many clients are afraid to say a number because they are afraid the number they give will be too high and that the contractor will raise the price to hit that magic number. Well I would like to tell you something right here, right now: whatever number you have in mind will not be too high. In fact, in my experience a good guideline is to think of a number you think is good or within your desired budget. Now double that number, and chances are that new number is about 1/3rd of what the job will cost.

If that seems high, you have to remember that the money doesn’t just disappear. Allow me to demonstrate. Ashleigh and I were in Ft. Lauderdale for a cruise recently, and we had only been there 7hrs when Ashleigh slipped and fell and broke her hip and had to have hip replacement surgery. We came to the hospital by ambulance, stayed the night, she had the surgery at 3pm that afternoon and by the next morning the bill was $225,000.00. By the 5th day it was over $500,000.00. How can 5 days cost $500,000.00? Well, while I was there I saw what was going on. I saw a beautiful, modern hospital, all the best equipment and highly qualified surgeons and staff. The staff: from the orderlies to the cafeteria staff, from the nurses to the cleaning staff, everyone was fantastic. In fact, even the worst person on staff was spectacular! The time-honoured lesson here is that you get what you pay for. Ashleigh was up and walking a mere twelve hours after her surgery, and now seven weeks later is walking without a walker or even crutches. The surgeon was awesome – thank you Doctor Robert Mills! I am so grateful to this guy. I would not have wanted to be shopping around for the cheapest doctor or a cheaper hospital.

So what does this have to do with landscaping? Everything! We’ve all heard the expressions “you only get what you pay for” and “a good job is not cheap, and a cheap job is not good”. It’s a lesson that applies in every industry, landscaping included.

I have been looking into some new equipment recently, and have found some equipment I really like.  Sure, I can find a cheaper Chinese model for less than ½ the price, but it is a copycat model that has all its technology stolen and is made of totally inferior materials. The transmission in it has a 225 hour lifespan. Yes, they look identical, but they are not – the differences that you can’t see still matter!

In landscaping, two jobs may look similar. They may use what appears to be the same material on the surface, but it may not be the same at all. There are a lot of different manufacturers making a lot of product that may look the same, but in reality they can be totally different. Here at Hofstetter, we use UNILOCK Products, and are Unilock Authorized Contractors. This is their Guarantee:

TRANSFERABLE LIFETIME GUARANTEE

Our commitment Transferable Lifetime Guarantee

Our commitment of quality and strength.

Unilock was the first concrete paver manufacturer in North America to offer a Lifetime Guarantee, and we have continued to back it up to make sure you’re completely satisfied with our product. That’s quite the commitment since we have over 10 billion stones on the ground! We can do this because our product is better and stronger.

In fact, our internal standards of manufacturing far exceed industry standards set by ASTM, CSA and European organizations. Our Lifetime Guarantee has been a part of our commitment for the past 40 years. We stand behind every stone we make – just ask our customers.

Our Warranty

Unilock provides a Transferable Lifetime Guarantee on the structural integrity of our paving stones, slabs, retaining wall units and natural stone for residential use. Any materials installed and maintained to our guidelines, and subject to normal wear, that prove defective, will be replaced without cost. Color matching cannot be guaranteed and replacement labour is not included. Registration is required and must be complete within 60 days of your dated proof of purchase.

I have always said that “Our Best Work Is Buried” and that is still true. It is the base thickness and base materials that will make a job last and how it is compacted, or if it is compacted at all. There are numerous ways to cut corners and save money for the contractor, but it is the home owner who gets hung out to dry when it all falls apart.

We are an above board company, we are fully insured and carry $5 million worth of business insurance to protect our clients; all of our vehicles carry $2 Million worth of insurance (the most you can get), and we are fully covered by WSIB. We are also members of Landscape Ontario and of the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, as well as the Better Business Bureau. Rick has his Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI), certification.

Our employees are paid a fair wage and we all pay taxes. We collect the HST and pay it to the government. Our HST number is 116694621. We are also licenced by the city of Toronto: Licence #T93=4298744

Hofstetter Landscaping gives a 5 year warrantee in all our installations.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please call us at (647) 955-8382 if you are looking for top quality work at your home.

Rick Hofstetter

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