We’re here to help you succeed.
Experience the value of partnership
At Tom Irwin, we have a unique perspective on your daily challenges because, before our Client Representatives joined Tom Irwin, they had their own careers as Golf Course Superintendents, Sports Turf Managers, and Greenspace Professionals. As a result, they understand your culture, your goals, and the best way to ensure your success.
Our commitment goes far beyond giving you exceptional products. It’s about creating a professional community that gives you all the advice, knowledge and support you need to succeed. It’s about making sure you get the results you’re after no matter what your budget is. It’s about visiting you regularly to see firsthand how your turf is thriving—and hear how you’re feeling about things. It’s about giving you state-of-the-art tools to streamline and automate your processes so you spend more time in the field and less time behind your desk.
We’ve always prioritized long-term trust over a short-term sale. That’s how relationships are made, partnerships are built, and enduring friendships are formed. Everything we do is centered around making sure your greenspaces—and your career—flourish as a result of our collaboration.
Tom Irwin team members and Client Representatives work directly with our clients at the annual Leadership and Professional Development event.
Of all the many lessons Chris Petersen learned from his father Jack, former President of Tom Irwin, one stood out – and has stood the test of time.
“Early on, I learned from him the value of relationships,” said Chris. “I learned that helping people do good things is a life’s work. And every day I try to do that.”
That daily effort has led Chris to work at Tom Irwin – and across the turf industry – to accord turf professionals the status, respect, and resources they deserve for the important role they play in society.
I believe the people we serve are heroes. They work so hard to improve the quality of life for everyone. That’s why everything we do is intended to help them – and to enable our team to help them.
For Chris, it begins with building a cohesive, caring, and capable team at Tom Irwin.
“My greatest inspiration comes from working together with our team,” Chris noted. “We are so aligned. We believe the same things. And we encourage and support each other.”
Innovative solutions are another part of the equation. When Jack Petersen turned the leadership of Tom Irwin over to Chris, he offered one piece of advice: “Make sure to take the company back 20 years in terms of client relationships, but forward 20 years in terms of technology.”
At first glance, those goals may seem contradictory, but they are not. By directing the development of the innovative Tom Irwin Planner, Chris gave clients the benefits of a high-tech software tool that not only makes their jobs easier, but also enables clients and their Tom Irwin reps to work more closely together, strengthening their relationships.
The final ingredient is professional development.
“There was a time, 30 years ago, when superintendents were called greenskeepers,” said Chris. “They didn’t make much money and they weren’t appreciated and valued, and that upset my father. He worked hard to elevate their status. About 15 years ago, we realized we could drive that effort forward considerably by starting our Leadership and Professional Development Program.”
The Leadership Program was designed to help Tom Irwin clients develop the management and communication skills necessary to lead their teams, advocate for their ideas and initiatives before their superiors, and advance their career aspirations.
Chris also saw the Leadership Program as an important way to elevate the status of another key client group: sports turf managers. Chris set up a Tom Irwin team exclusively dedicated to supporting the needs of sports turf managers in 2005.
A decade later, realizing that sports turf managers and the communities they serve often lack well-built, sustainable athletic fields or the expertise needed to improve their condition, Chris established Tom Irwin Advisors. This team of expert consultants works to ensure that communities’ athletic fields and parks can provide beauty, enjoyment, and recreation for years to come.
I think we’re all realizing now that the value of green space has never been greater.
“The work we do has never been more important. That’s why our work is so rewarding. And that’s why we will continue to do everything we can to care for, protect, and grow our green spaces.”
Well into his fourth decade at Tom Irwin, Paul Skafas recognizes what has kept him so committed to the company’s work for so many years. It’s all about the client.
“Golf course superintendents live unique lives,” he said. “As an observer, I’ve always been drawn to the romantic nature of the position. They’re up before dawn, their dogs at their side, totally in tune with the natural world, the climate, and the environment, watching the sun come up, the irrigation heads turn, the team venturing out to prepare the facility for the day’s play. There’s something about it – the independence, the self-reliance, the beauty of nature that attracts so many good people to the profession. It has been a great honor to serve such people.”
As idyllic as that scene may be, Paul is also keenly aware of the challenges turf managers face and the many hats they must wear.
As a superintendent, you’re part diplomat, part scientist, and part CEO. You have to be a renaissance man to succeed, and the pressure you face on a daily basis is immense. Yet, it’s so worth it, because the results of all that work are these wonderful green spaces for people to enjoy.
It all began for Paul in the summer of 1984, when then-owner Norm Irwin called him with an opportunity to become Tom Irwin’s fourth sales representative.
“I worked in the office and the warehouse that fall to get a feeling for the business, and hit the road as a sales rep in 1985,” he recalled. “Jack Petersen and I traveled the road together for much of my first season. We grew our friendship as he helped me round off some sharp edges,” Paul laughed, remembering many of the lessons Jack taught him. “He was an incredible man. More than anything, Jack taught me about empathy – that people do business with people who care about them and try to understand their challenges. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.”
Jack shared everything he’d learned about client service with Paul, and later with Jack’s son Chris when he joined the company. Together, they built a culture of caring and capability that deepened as Jack put Chris and Paul in positions of leadership.
“The difference between Tom Irwin and our competitors is very clear,” said Paul. “Our competitors focus on product, and that’s okay. Product is important. But we go beyond that. We focus more on our clients’ success, personally and professionally. And in doing so, we build relationships that often last a lifetime.”
“Understanding that, Chris really took Tom Irwin to the next level,” said Paul. “He was intently focused our team’s and our clients’ leadership and agronomic learning. To facilitate that, we built Tom Irwin’s Leadership and Professional Development Program and our Agronomic Academy.”
These innovations have proven popular with Tom Irwin’s clients.
It never ceases to amaze our clients the lengths to which we go to improve ourselves and them, offering avenues for professional and personal development. Our client programs are a big investment for our company, but it’s one we’re happy to make because of the impact it has on our clients’ lives.
Paul noted that, under Chris Petersen, Tom Irwin’s impact has reached even further.
“Chris has brought enlightenment to our industry – the way even international companies go to market, what they understand to be important,” he said. “He’s had an impact nationally on this industry – how to market and brand the fact that what we do, collectively with the people who care for our green spaces, is important to the health and well-being of our society.”
While much has changed over Paul’s tenure, he knows Tom Irwin has remained true to the vision of his mentor, Jack Petersen.
“I know Jack would be proud of the way we’ve stayed true to the ‘client first’ mantra while applying modern technology and capabilities to further his approach to customer service,” Paul concluded. “Our strong client relationships are living proof that it’s working.”
Rob Larson’s life in turf began at the young age of 14 – and he’s been at it ever since.
“My uncle had a maintenance contract on Green Hill Golf Course, a public golf course in Worcester,” said the Auburn, Massachusetts native. “He asked me what I was doing that summer and before I knew it, I was working on the maintenance crew. I’ve worked in some facet of the golf business ever since.”
When asked to explain why he embraced turf work so quickly and totally, Rob had a ready answer.
“I loved it all – the outdoors, the camaraderie of the crew, the challenge of producing a quality field that people can play on every day in different conditions,” he said.
So when Rob’s uncle, who had attended the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, approached Rob before his senior year of high school, he was ready.
“He asked me if I was interested in doing this for a living. I said, ‘Absolutely,’” recalled Rob. “I applied to the Stockbridge School, got accepted, and got my degree in Turf Management in 1987.”
Soon after the graduation, Rob got his first superintendent job when the Green Hill superintendent left. At only 20 years old, Rob Larson found himself in charge of an 18-hole municipal golf course.
The young superintendent grew into the role and spent the next 15 years caring for a series of golf courses in central Massachusetts. Then one day, Chris Petersen from Tom Irwin began calling on him.
“Right away, I liked his approach,” Rob remembered. “He didn’t try to sell me. He wanted to know about my goals and what I was trying to accomplish. He always asked really good questions. I felt that he cared and he was there to help me.”
Rob’s business with Tom Irwin grew as he and Chris shared their ideas on organics and other turf management topics.
“About three and a half years in, he asked me if I’d be interested in joining Tom Irwin as a sales rep,” said Rob. “I was flattered, but at that time, I didn’t really think selling was for me, so I politely declined. When another opportunity opened up a year and a half later, my mind had changed and this time, I pursued Chris. By then, I knew that a sales position at Tom Irwin was about helping people, personally and professionally, not just about selling product. Selling product was simply a result of building strong and trusting relationships.”
Rob didn’t find the job switch to be a huge transition because the end goals were the same.
None of us who left superintendent jobs to join Tom Irwin left because we were dissatisfied with the work or burned out,” he said. “That’s a big difference in the Tom Irwin culture. We did it because we enjoyed the experience we had with Tom Irwin and wanted to bring that to other superintendents to help them. And of course, it was a great opportunity for more personal and professional growth.
With close to two decades at Tom Irwin now, Rob is comfortable in his role as a leader and mentor to his younger colleagues – but he considers that a two-way street.
“Tom Irwin is a culture of humility,” he said. “The younger representatives want to learn from the veterans who have been around, but we older guys are equally keen to learn from them. What worked for them as superintendents? For instance, what can they tell us about the technologies they employed that might enable our company to serve our clients better?”
The touchstone for any initiative is whether it helps Tom Irwin clients succeed.
“We’ve continually expanded our capabilities,” said Rob. “Because we take our role as leaders and agronomists seriously – and seek to help our clients with any challenge – we’ve continued to invest in training and developing both our and our clients’ expertise. We know the only way to continue helping our clients is to continue to grow and improve together.”
Rob has the client relationships to show for it. “I’m proud to have a lot of long-time clients who take pride in their work and whose properties have been the measuring stick for other golf courses,” he said. “We enjoy our personal time together as much as our business time, and I know their life goals as much as their business goals. You inevitably grow close with them as you strategize with them to help them grow their budgets and communicate with their members. Over time, you become a confidante, which I find both rewarding and humbling.”
It all began when Greg Misodoulakis first set foot on the Whip-Poor-Will Golf Club in Hudson, New Hampshire at the age of fourteen.
“I didn’t know a golf ball from a ping pong ball,” he admitted, “but all the kids in the neighborhood played, so I gave it a shot.” He was immediately hooked. But it wasn’t just the game that attracted him – it was the whole environment. He wanted to be a part of it.
“I began working as a cart boy, then in the pro shop, then I gravitated to the grounds crew,” he recalled. “I developed a love for the care of the golf course.”
That love was strong enough to lead Greg to the UMass Winter School for Turf Managers in pursuit of a career. After graduation, he was back in New Hampshire, working first at the 36-hole Green Meadow Golf Club before returning to Whip-Poor-Will as head superintendent.
It was in 1985 while Greg was at Whip-Poor-Will that he first encountered Tom Irwin when then-company president Jack Petersen came to call along with a rookie client representative named Paul Skafas.
“Paul and I immediately hit it off,” said Greg. “He helped me tremendously in my new role.” That relationship continued for almost 20 years, as Greg’s career advanced to head superintendent positions at two Boston-area courses – Bellevue Golf Club in Melrose and Bear Hill Golf Club in Stoneham. A self-described “devoted Tom Irwin client,” Greg grew to rely on the Tom Irwin team to help him succeed.
“I had to navigate some difficult situations and Paul really got me through them by helping me to be a better communicator,” he said.
Today, Greg performs the same role for his Tom Irwin clients. It was in 1999 that Paul approached Greg to join the company as a client representative – an offer he did not immediately accept. He wasn’t ready to switch careers.
“I told them I was flattered, but I loved my property and I was doing the job I was born to do,” he recalled. “Then Jack Petersen said something that changed my mind. He said, ‘what you’re doing now, you’ll still be doing. Only with us, you’ll be doing it on 50 courses. You’ll be helping guys just like you solve problems and be successful.’ That convinced me.”
Greg quickly learned that the first order of business was not to develop product knowledge (that would come over time), but to develop his understanding of client needs, which is essential to building trust.
Building trust is number one, and always will be, and that’s one of the things that we do best. As trust is built, clients are more willing to share their challenges and work with us to develop effective, long-range plans.
Planning is key to delivering what Greg feels is Tom Irwin’s greatest value to clients: time.
“For a superintendent, there are never enough hours in a day,” he said. “Some of the most important work is done well in advance. By working with clients in the off-season to develop and implement a long-range plan, we’re able to help free up their time. They don’t have to spend hours in their offices every week laying out sprays and doing paper work. A strong plan translates into success during the heat of battle in the summer,” he said.
Above all, Greg attributes Tom Irwin’s continued success to a company culture built on continuous improvement.
“When I went to my first outside sales training session, on either side of me were Chris Petersen and Paul Skafas,” noted Greg. “Now, they’d already been serving clients for more than 20 years by then, but yet here they were, still willing to learn and improve.”
The reason is that it always comes back to the client. How can we better serve them?
As a company, Tom Irwin has evolved and grown considerably since Greg Misodoulakis joined two decades ago. But it has remained true to its heritage.
“At the very beginning, Jack Petersen said to me, ‘Greg, it’s not about selling products, it’s about helping people. The only thing we sell is relationships.’ And that’s still true today.”
An impulse decision to relocate to North Carolina ended up redirecting the life and career of Framingham, Massachusetts native Mike DeForge.
“When I got there, I had no job, no place to live,” Mike recalled. He did have a business degree from Framingham State University and several years of work experience, but nothing had seemed to click with him. “I was just looking for a way to pay the bills, so I answered an ad in the paper for golf course maintenance.”
Mike was no stranger to golf courses, having earlier worked on the maintenance crew of Maplegate Country Club in Franklin, Massachusetts. The North Carolina job turned out to be at Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro, a high-end course that was gearing up to host a PGA tournament in just two months.
“It was intense,” he said. “We worked crazy hours getting the place ready. Along the way, I was learning how the maintenance side of things worked, and I kind of fell in love with it.”
Forest Oaks provided Mike with a solid education and valuable PGA tournament experience. He then took his education to the next level when he moved on to the Golf Club at Briar’s Creek in Johns Island, South Carolina. That brand-new Rees Jones-designed private course was under construction when he signed on as second assistant superintendent.
I got in there at the beginning. I got to work the entire construction – from grow-in, to irrigation installation, to drainage installation. It was an incredible experience.
With his career path firmly established, Mike eventually returned to New England, where he secured a position at Putterham Meadows in Brookline (now the Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course). It was there that he met Tom Irwin’s Chris Petersen.
“My boss was running a bit late when Chris came by,” Mike recalled. “We got a chance to chat and I was a bit surprised at the interest he showed in me – who I was, what I’d done. I’d never had that kind of experience with other sales reps.”
Mike’s relationship with Tom Irwin grew when he moved over to the Wayland Country Club as Assistant Superintendent. When Chris approached him to join Tom Irwin in 2004, Mike was happy at his current job, but was ready for a new challenge.
“Something just felt right,” he said. “By then, I knew there was something really different about Tom Irwin. You could see how much they really cared about their clients. It wasn’t just business as usual.”
Mike took on a vast territory spanning New Hampshire and Maine, where he knew no one and the Tom Irwin brand had yet to be established. It took some time for the reserved Northern New Englanders to come on board.
And yet, 17 years later, they are some of the most loyal clients you could ever ask for. I was able to bond with them and earn their trust as they came to understand how much we care about them and their success.
For Mike, that’s a job that’s never done. “You’re never done building trust,” he said. “You’re constantly doing it – with every recommendation, every scenario, every time you do what you say you’re going to do. Trust is where relationships are built and maintained. It can take years to build trust and moments to break it.”
That challenge keeps Mike motivated. “Every day’s different,” said Mike. “You never know what challenge you’re going to walk into. I’ve got the best clients, and of course, it helps to work with the best team at Tom Irwin. From the sales team to operations to delivery, they’re some of the best people in the business. I’m extremely lucky.”
Brian Luccini has had a lifelong connection to green spaces. That’s not surprising. He literally grew up at Franklin Country Club where his father Gary was the head superintendent for three decades. In the summer, he and his family lived in a cabin on a pond in Myles Standish State Forest, the largest publicly-owned recreation area in southeastern Massachusetts.
Those early experiences made a lasting impression on Brian. He will never forget playing on the golf course or experiencing the sounds of nature in the forest.
We grew up in an environment where we had good-quality outdoor space available to us all the time. Now that I’m older, I realize how special it was.
In many ways, Brian’s career in Athletic Turf and Grounds at Tom Irwin has been dedicated to ensuring that more families have access to similar enriching outdoor experiences.
But while Brian’s responsibilities at Tom Irwin have brought him full circle, he initially resisted following in his father’s footsteps.
“I was very interested in science and biology, particularly fisheries biology, more so than the golf course work,” he said. Brian’s parents enrolled him in special programs to nurture his interests, and later at Dean College, he studied psychology. But the more he explored other interests, the more he was drawn back to his roots.
“At some point in my early 20’s, I realized, ‘I’m good at this and I like it,’” he said. Studies at UMass Amherst and the Rutgers University Golf Turf Management Program quickly followed, and soon Brian was working at Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Massachusetts. When head superintendent Dave Barber moved on to Wellesley Country Club a few years later, he brought Brian with him.
In 1997, Brian was named head superintendent of Laurel Lane Country Club in West Kingston, Rhode Island. It was there that Brian got reacquainted with the Tom Irwin team through his representative and kindred spirit, Greg Misodoulakis. But of course, the name Tom Irwin was already a familiar one.
“Jack Petersen, Tom Irwin’s president, used to call on my dad at Franklin Country Club,” he recalled. “My dad really liked Jack, there was a lot of respect between them.” Years later, Brian met Jack’s son and successor Chris Petersen at a New England Golf Course Superintendents Association event and they became fast friends.
For years, Brian enjoyed golf course work because it was something he and his father could share. But after Brian’s dad passed away in 2001, he felt it was time to try something new. Married now and with a new baby girl, Brian took a position as a sales representative for Turf Products Corp.
“I found I really liked helping people and solving problems,” he said. During his time at Turf Products, Brian often turned for advice to his friends at Tom Irwin, which now included Greg, Chris, and Rob Larson.
In 2005, when Chris Petersen decided Tom Irwin would increase its focus on serving the sports turf market, he reached out to Brian to help him launch the new venture.
“At that time, no one was creating a client experience or developing solutions specifically for sports turf and grounds,” said Brian. “That was our goal, to provide sports turf managers the services and support they needed and deserved. Our first couple of years was mostly research, just trying to get out and meet people and find out about their distinct needs.”
Soon, Brian found himself working with municipalities, prep schools, universities, professional sports teams and sports turf managers throughout New England to help them build, sustain, and share the kind of lush green spaces that enriched his childhood. Brian has since become an expert at helping clients understand how to work with Tom Irwin to make their athletic fields, parks and green spaces safer, healthier, and more sustainable.
Working at Tom Irwin has given me the opportunity and freedom to be innovative and forward-thinking. On top of that, I always wanted to be part of a company with business and personal ethics that aligned with my own. I found that here at Tom Irwin.
Jeff Houde’s association with Tom Irwin reaches back as far as his time in the turf industry.
“My first job was in the pro shop at the Thomson Country Club in North Reading, Massachusetts when I was 13 or 14 years old,” said Jeff. “When I saw the guys on the golf course maintenance side were making more money and working outside, I decided to move over there. I was 15. It was 1987.”
As it turns out, Paul Skafas of Tom Irwin was already doing business with Thomson Country Club and he and Jeff became friendly as Jeff worked his way up in the business. Each summer while in school, Jeff returned to the grounds crew where his relationships with people and the outdoors grew.
When it came time to go to college, Jeff opted to pursue a business degree at Salem State University before he realized that his true ambition was to become a golf course superintendent. So he switched colleges and graduated in 1995 with a degree in Plant and Soil Science from Essex Agricultural Institute.
Before long, he was a 24-year-old head superintendent at Furnace Brook Golf Club in Quincy, Massachusetts.
“It was an incredibly valuable experience,” he said. “The last four years I was there they made me general manager of the club, in addition to being superintendent. The owners refinanced the property, which gave me the chance to rebuild the entire club – the golf course, clubhouse, parking area, kitchen, bar, everything.”
While he enjoyed his work, Jeff had a secret ambition in the back of his mind.
I knew very early on – many, many years before I joined the company – that I wanted to work for Tom Irwin. They were such a large part of my life and I’d seen how much they’d helped other people in their careers. And I loved how they came to market – with honesty and courage. They were just a great group of people who were there for you, whether it was business or personal. I wanted to be part of that team.
Eventually, he got his chance to join Tom Irwin in 2005. His assignment was to build the business in southern New England, a region with some of the most competitive markets and demanding golf courses in the nation.
“I didn’t know a single superintendent. I didn’t have a single account. It was like I was dropped onto another planet.” said Jeff. “And Tom Irwin’s brand was not well known. Thank god I had the support team I had.”
Jeff quickly discovered something else challenging. “The Tri-State area is an incredibly difficult place to grow grass.” For Jeff, that simply meant that superintendents would be more receptive to a supplier who could do more than just sell products.
“I discovered people were looking for a valued team member to be part of what they were doing – and they found that with Tom Irwin,” he said. “They came to realize how much the entire company supports them.”
As his client list has grown, so have Jeff’s relationships with his clients. “When you’re a long-term, committed partner who comes in and cares and offers solutions, it’s almost inevitable that you become close,” he said. “My clients are my friends. I know their families. I’ve watched their kids grow up.”
Jeff has also seen the personal impact Tom Irwin has had on his clients. “We work in an industry made up of smart, hard-working, dedicated people who take personal pride in what they do. It’s a privilege for me to work with people like that,” he said. “We help them make their work lives better. And when your work life’s better, your home life’s better.”
“That’s the reason we get up in the morning,” Jeff concluded. “We can have a positive impact on people’s lives. That’s the whole premise of who we are and what we do. We’re always looking to facilitate the best we can in people – in every aspect.”
It’s perhaps inevitable that someone who grew up in the four-season sports paradise that is Stowe, Vermont would have a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors. That’s certainly true for Chris Kneale. His childhood was spent largely in nature – whether he was skiing, camping, or playing hockey, baseball, or soccer. Working outdoors was not far behind.
“I got my passion for parks, recreation, and open spaces while working for the Stowe Parks & Recreation Department all throughout high school every summer,” said Chris. He enjoyed the work so much that he took his high school guidance counselor’s recommendation to enroll in the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture. He earned his degree in Turfgrass Management in 2003.
Upon graduation, Chris landed a great first job at Wellesley College, the elite women’s institution ranked #3 among U.S. liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Joining as Athletic Turf Manager, Chris reported to John Olmsted, the long-time Facilities Manager at Wellesley, who became a valued mentor.
“I was pretty green when I started,” Chris admitted. “It was a really high-end facility and it was all hands-on. It exposed me to a lot.”
It was while Chris was at Wellesley that he first came into contact with Tom Irwin in the person of Chris Petersen.
Chris helped me better understand the industry from the product solutions side – creating plans and doing soil testing, a lot of the things I still had yet to learn.
In 2007, Chris left Wellesley College for Bentley University to become its Grounds and Transportation Manager. Bentley supports a sizeable athletic program for men and women that includes football, baseball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, softball, and track and field, as well as 100 intramural sports teams. There were two synthetic and three grass athletic fields to maintain along with 163 acres of campus grounds.
In that role, Chris further developed his skills managing large teams of employees as well as significant capital projects. Tom Irwin’s Brian Luccini was a valued resource in helping Chris hone his abilities.
“That’s when I got exposed to the Tom Irwin Leadership and Professional Development Program,” remembered Chris. “It really helped me with being a better manager and communicator. It also enabled me to better understand what I wanted to do in my career.”
I figured I would be at Bentley for the rest of my life. It was a great, great opportunity. But as I learned more about Tom Irwin and the entire team, I really wanted to be a part of that culture.
When he joined Tom Irwin in 2010, Chris was the company’s first representative to focus on serving sports turf clients in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, and Vermont. “I was blazing a new trail,” he said.
Chris was able to build a client community because he understands from personal experience what it’s like to juggle the challenges of budgets, resources, available time, and community needs. “For a lot of our clients, the focus isn’t just turf,” he said. “They’re maintaining everything outdoors in their town.”
Tom Irwin’s agronomic expertise can fill a critical gap in a town’s resources, but Chris emphasizes that his clients aren’t the only ones who benefit from the relationship. “Sports Turf Managers are a resourceful group, adapting to challenges all the time. I am always learning from them.”
He has found an increasingly receptive audience. “We’re fortunate to have clients that see the value in athletic turf,” he said. “And it works because our goals are aligned; we’re all in this for the community. It’s not just a sale. We’re going to walk the fields with them and do a needs analysis before even talking about product.”
Achieving optimum results takes work and creativity, especially with the pesticide restrictions that many jurisdictions have in place, and the amount of use their fields get. “We have to think outside the box,” said Chris. “Having a process and a plan is key. We’ve changed how we aerate, how we seed. We’ve essentially created our own textbook to make it work agronomically. Having that process gives our clients the confidence that we’re doing the right thing.”
“There’s a huge fulfillment in seeing towns achieve success and recognition for their accomplishments,” concluded Chris. “And it’s meaningful to see our clients share that recognition.”
Greg Cormier remembers the day Tom Irwin’s Chris Petersen first called on him at Concord’s Nashawtuc Country Club in 2009. Greg had joined the club as head superintendent that February and was building his team when he was first introduced to Tom Irwin.
“Chris reached out to me and asked if we could get together for an introduction. It was an eye opener for me,” recalled Greg. “When we met, he didn’t have any brochures, we didn’t even talk about product. What we did talk about was me and my goals, and my challenges so far in my new job. He just seemed like a nice guy who was truly interested in me and my success.”
Greg and Chris quickly hit it off. “We didn’t really do any business at first,” he said. “But I got to know him and we built that trust. And from there we forged a relationship together.”
By the time the two met at Nashawtuc, Greg Cormier had been in golf course turf management for five years. The native of Westford, Massachusetts began his career landscaping as a summer job. That led him to college at The State University of New York (SUNY) College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill, where he intended to pursue a degree in landscape. When he arrived at Cobleskill, he discovered the Turfgrass Management program and quickly changed his major. An internship at the Weston Golf Club convinced him that his future was on the golf course.
Fate intervened when his boss at Weston left to become head superintendent at the legendary Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York – the only club in America to have hosted all six men’s major championships that move around the country. He asked Greg to join him there.
“I was very lucky to go directly from college to a Top 10 course that had just hosted a PGA championship,” said Greg. He stayed at Oak Hill for five years, working his way up from spray tech to superintendent of the club’s West Course.
It was golf course boot camp. I just learned tons and tons every day, from construction to major tournament experience.
Taking the job at Nashawtuc in 2009 enabled Greg to return to his home state and be his own boss. He spent the next seven years there building a successful program.
“I really loved my job, but I was always looking to grow and develop professionally,” he said. “I earned my Golf Course Superintendent Certification in 2015. I built my team there. But I got hungry to do something more.”
Conversations with Chris Petersen eventually led to a job offer from Tom Irwin.
“Over the years that I had been a client, I had always had tremendous respect for everyone at Tom Irwin,” said Greg. “I always thought in the back of my mind, wouldn’t it be awesome to work at a company like that?”
Being a Tom Irwin Client Representative was a new experience, but familiar in many ways.
“I’ve always really liked helping people – whether it was mentoring people that worked for me or sharing challenges and solutions with other superintendents,” he said.
Now I have the opportunity to work with over 50 golf course superintendents. It’s a great feeling being accepted as part their team. That’s where my passion is and that’s why I love what I do.
As a former superintendent, Greg appreciates the value he delivers to his clients. “At the highest level, we’re finding ways to make their lives easier and more productive – professionally and personally,” he said. “Sometimes it’s agronomic advice. Sometimes it’s getting them the solutions they need as quickly and easily as possible. Sometimes it’s career advice. Whatever their needs, our entire company works towards their success.”
Greg has seen his business grow because of one thing. “My clients trust me,” he said. “I’ve become a real part of their team. Whatever their need or concern might be, they seem to call me first. That means everything to me.”
With a few years now under his belt, Greg has a good perspective on the company he works for. “What I saw in Tom Irwin is what it is,” he noted. “We are absolutely true to our core belief in putting our clients first. It’s not just what we say, it’s what we do.”
Does it take a great superintendent to make a great Tom Irwin client representative? In the case of Harris Schnare, it definitely helps – as does a five-year stretch as Tom Irwin’s Client Relations Manager.
Harris spent nearly 20 years in the golf business, starting as a 13-year-old working at Stow Acres, a public club boasting two 18-hole championship golf courses.
I fell in love with the golf business at a young age. I loved working outside, seeing the fruits of your labor pay off, and being able to transform a landscape.
After working at Stow Acres throughout high school, Harris went on to the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture where he completed both the two-year Turfgrass Management program and the four-year Plant and Soil Sciences program. His passion for golf course care was further whetted by an internship at the prestigious Westchester Country Club in New York where he gained some memorable PGA tour experience.
Harris was still in school when he was offered the assistant superintendent position at Stow Acres. He worked there for three years before taking the head superintendent job at Wayland Country Club at age 25. Five years later, Chris Petersen from Tom Irwin approached Harris about the Client Relations Manager position at Tom Irwin.
“I was interested because it wasn’t just an office job,” Harris recalled. “It was an opportunity to get out and see clients, be on golf courses and sports fields, and be in a position to help guys at facilities all over New England.”
Joining the Tom Irwin team was an eye-opener. “As a client, I always appreciated the camaraderie that the team had,” Harris remembered. “But when I attended my first product solutions meeting and witnessed the scientific background and product knowledge that this sales team has – it absolutely blew me away. That’s when I knew Tom Irwin was different.”
The Client Relations Manager position proved to be the perfect training ground for his current role as Client Representative.
I gained an understanding of how all the departments – Operations, Warehouse Distribution, and Sales – work in concert to deliver the best client experience.
At the same time, the job gave Harris exposure to conditions and challenges at golf and sports facilities at every level of conditioning and play. With that broad perspective, he became better equipped to observe what works and spot opportunities to offer suggestions and solutions appropriate to each client.
His new role as Client Representative has given Harris the time and opportunity to build deeper relationships and have a greater stake in ensuring his clients’ success. His efforts have been well-received.
“Clients see me as a fellow superintendent who not only has his own experience to draw upon, but can also share what he’s learned from working with hundreds of other clients,” he said. “Because we have a high level of trust, I’m able to offer frank assessments of issues I may see on their properties. And by the same token, they feel free to offer constructive criticism that I can pass on to our team so we can get better.”
He enjoys the fact that his northern New England territory is a challenging one. “I’m developing a better understanding of what it takes to help golf courses thrive in New Hampshire and Vermont,” said Harris, “including how to survive winter and deal with the unique challenges that the climate presents.”
In a role that depends so greatly on the follow-through and excellence of others, Harris is grateful to be receiving the same expert backup he used to provide to the Tom Irwin Sales team.
“I couldn’t do this job if I didn’t have confidence and trust in the whole Tom Irwin team,” he said. “Everyone of us takes responsibility for the total client experience. And our clients are confident of that fact.”
The game of golf and golf course work have been a driving force – no pun intended – in Chris Cyr’s life from an early age. How early? How about eighth grade?
“That’s how old I was when I joined the grounds crew at Wahconah Country Club,” said Chris with a laugh. “My older brother was a pretty good golfer and I followed in his footsteps.
At first, I was just looking for a way to play free golf, but I fell in love with it. I probably spent every free hour of my formative years on a golf course.
For Chris, enjoying outdoor recreation was one of his most treasured memories of small town life in Dalton, Massachusetts in the Berkshires – with golf at the top of that list. “Wahconah Country Club was two minutes away from my parents’ house and right across the street from my high school,” said Chris. “I couldn’t avoid the game of golf, really.”
It was no surprise, then, when Chris gravitated toward a career in golf. He attended UMass Amherst and earned a degree in Landscape Architecture in 2009, but after briefly exploring opportunities in that field, his then-girlfriend (now wife) Meg urged him to follow his heart and pursue a career path as a golf course superintendent. That meant another two years at UMass, another degree – an A.S. in Turfgrass Management – and an internship at Myopia Hunt Club. From there, Chris was on his way.
His ascent as a superintendent was steady, with nearly three years as an Assistant Superintendent at Walpole Country Club followed by four years as a Senior Assistant at Blue Hill Country Club. By the fall of 2018, he was in charge as Golf Course Superintendent at Milton Hoosic Club in Canton, Massachusetts.
“I loved every minute of it,” said Chris about his time at Milton Hoosic. “If they let me, I probably would have retired there. Never in a million years would I have imagined moving to this side of the business.”
Yet that’s exactly what happened when – out of the blue – Chris Petersen and Greg Cormier offered Chris a job in the fall of 2021. He was taken by surprise, but the more he thought about it, the more it appealed to him.
I was a Tom Irwin client at Milton Hoosic, so I’d had a first-hand look at the company, how they work with clients, and the value they bring. That’s what I loved about working with them. It was a pretty easy to decision to make.
He saw the Client Relations Manager role as a way to make an even greater impact. “Here I was working as a superintendent at a single property,” he reasoned, “but this position was offering me the chance to share what I love to do with folks in the turf industry all across New England.”
Since Chris joined Tom Irwin in January of 2022, his hopes and expectations have been borne out.
“It’s very fluid, dynamic. Every day is different,” he said. “The guys have been so good to me.”
“The cool part about this job is being able to provide that extra level of support to our clients,” Chris continued. “You never lose that superintendent mentality, so I’m always putting myself in their shoes. I’m always ready for that five a.m. phone call. There’s so many different ways to help people, and that’s the best part about this job.” Now with an insider’s perspective, Chris has even more respect for his teammates. “It’s a genuine caring about the folks they’re working for,” said Chris. “You can see it immediately when you come to work at Tom Irwin – how they speak, how they interact with clients. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Greg Tower was only looking for a summer job when a friend tipped him off to an opportunity on the greens crew at Sterling National Country Club. He got the position – and a lot more than he bargained for.
“I started working there in 1993 and from that point forward, my life changed,” Greg recalled. “I figured out that I loved working outdoors, loved the golf course, and loved the type of work that it brought.”
Today, he brings that same love to his role as Tom Irwin’s Business Operations Manager.
At that time he took the Sterling job, Greg was already enrolled at Salem State University working on a communications degree and planning a career in advertising. After graduating, he pulled up stakes and spent two years in Phoenix to try something new. But New England – and the golf course – kept calling him back.
“In 1996, I returned to Massachusetts, went back to Sterling National, and asked if they had a spot for me,” said Greg. “They said ‘Absolutely’ and hired me back as second assistant.” Greg spent the next 14 years at Sterling, 10 of them as head superintendent.
Greg began working with Tom Irwin’s Rob Larson at Sterling and continued the relationship with Paul Skafas when he moved to Ipswich Country Club as head superintendent in 2010. By the time Greg settled in for a five-year stint at Renaissance Country Club in Haverhill in 2012, he was a veteran Tom Irwin client.
In 2017, when Paul and Chris Petersen approached Greg about the Business Operations Manager position, he was ready to try something new.
“It was a complete career switch,” he said. “But I knew it was such a family-oriented, supportive culture that I felt I could make the transition.”
“I guide the warehouse and distribution operation, work with the IT and admin team, and support our client representatives from an operational standpoint,” Greg explained.
My role includes work on product acquisition, partner relations, and financial aspects of the business. In short, the smoother things run here, the better the client experience. I do whatever I can to make it as seamless, easy, and enjoyable a client experience as possible.
Greg’s background as a superintendent guides his approach to his work.
“These superintendents and sports turf managers have so much coming at them every day, the last thing they need is an incorrect delivery, a wrong delivery location, incorrect wrapping, or an invoice sent to the wrong person,” he said. “I’m there to make sure they can trust that we get it right the first time.”
“Because I’ve experienced what superintendents go through on a daily basis, I empathize with them,” Greg continued. “We coordinate their deliveries to be accurate, easy to locate, load, unload, and make sure any special instructions are followed.”
Greg knows that his operations team shares his commitment to excellence.
“The client focus is already built into our culture across all departments,” he said. “Even during early-order season when our people are picking hundreds of cases a day and moving hundreds of bags of fertilizer a day, they know that when you build it, how you build it, how you stack the product, how you face the product so the client can see it– these little things matter.”
Ultimately, it makes the client’s life easier and less stressful. “It can take such a weight off the superintendent’s and sports turf manager’s back,” said Greg. “Maybe they have an issue with a green or field or have insects or disease. When they get that product in good condition, they know they can put it down at their convenience and their mind can be at ease. They can focus on other things and not be stressed because our team was able to execute the process in a timely and friendly manner. Maybe they can leave at a decent hour that day and spend a bit more time with family.”
A lifelong golfer, Kevin Bracken said, “I never really thought about working on a golf course until after I got out of college.” Instead, armed with a Bachelors degree in Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University, the Marlborough, Massachusetts native began his career in sports memorabilia and sports marketing, selling authenticated collectibles and organizing autograph shows.
When the company he worked for went out of business, a friend of Kevin’s hired him as a grounds crew member at Stow Acres Country Club as a “fill-in job” while he looked for something more permanent. But before long, Kevin was hooked. “After a year on the grounds crew, I got promoted to Assistant Superintendent,” he said.
I liked it so much, I went back to school to get my certificate in Turfgrass Science from Ohio State University.
The “fill-in job” turned into a decade-long run at Stow Acres where Kevin developed and refined his skills before landing his first superintendent position in 2016 at Nabnasset Lake Country Club, a private nine-hole course in Westford, Massachusetts.
“When I arrived at Nabnasset Lake, I was very happy to find out that they were a Tom Irwin client,” said Kevin. He’d known Tom Irwin from his time at Stow Acres and over the years had attended many Tom Irwin Leadership Forums and Product Innovation events.
That successful relationship, which continued throughout his tenure at Nabnasset Lake, took a fateful turn in 2021 when Chris Petersen approached Kevin about joining Tom Irwin as Distribution Manager.
Despite knowing nothing at first about the responsibilities of a Distribution Manager, Kevin welcomed the opportunity as a way to learn and grow. “It was completely new to me,” admitted Kevin with a laugh. “That seems to be my modus operandi when taking a new position.”
He embraced the new role and immediately developed an appreciation for its centrality to ensuring client satisfaction and efficient operations.
“I handle much of the process from when an order is placed through delivery,” said Kevin. “I enter the order, process it, schedule it, and fill the truck routes for the week.”
Kevin’s real-world superintendent experience is essential to understanding how best to keep Tom Irwin’s clients supplied with the products they need. “In this business, everything is so time-sensitive, especially when you get into the heat and humidity of the summer,” said Kevin.
I know from first-hand experience how vital it is to have those essential products on hand when you need them. We’ll often get orders that a client needs the next day, or even that afternoon, and we’ll do what it takes to make that happen. My team really goes the extra mile to provide that critical support to our clients.
Working at Tom Irwin has given Kevin new insight into the company and how it operates. “When you get inside, it’s remarkable how many moving parts there are and how many clients we serve. However, we take great pride in shielding our clients from the effort that sometimes goes into filling their orders, and we try to make every client feel like they’re our only client.”
Kevin knows it’s working because he hears it quite often from the company’s clients. “Our clients give us great positive feedback,” said Kevin. “I get texts all the time saying a delivery went great, they were thrilled with it, our driver was helpful in moving products around for them, etc. It makes me really proud of our team. Our guys are what make us move, in the warehouse and in delivery. Everybody works together and everybody has the same goals. They take pride in perfect deliveries and their knowledge is incredible. It’s a great group of people to work with.”
Tom Irwin has been a part of Ben Petersen’s life since his childhood, but it’s only recently that he found his career with the company as Branding and Marketing Manager.
“From the time I was 14 and all throughout high school, I worked every summer in the warehouse,” Ben recalled. He became more fully immersed in the world of golf when, as a senior in high school, he interned at Norfolk Golf Club, a nine-hole private course in Westwood, Massachusetts.
“I never played golf, but I loved working on the course and providing a place where people can get together outdoors and have fun,” he said. “That was my introduction to the business.”
While Ben enjoyed the work, he wasn’t focused on a turf management-related career and his educational path eventually led him to the University of Vermont where he majored in Community Entrepreneurship. It’s a program that instills the foundations of successful enterprise development in the context of social responsibility.
I wanted to help people, and the program focused on running businesses in ways that help communities. I didn’t plan it that way, but in an unexpected way, it ended up tying into my work here at Tom Irwin.
Ben graduated in 2014 and, step by step, he found himself gravitating toward the business his father Chris and grandfather Jack had built.
“As I was exploring career opportunities, I took a job on the grounds crew at Wayland Country Club,” he said. “I worked under Harris Schnare, who is now one of our Client Representatives in the north country. That’s when I picked up golf. I began to take an interest in what superintendents do, and it was a real eye-opener.”
When Chris Petersen asked his son to help out with some marketing projects for Tom Irwin, Ben was more than happy to lend a hand. Things grew from there.
“It started out as a task-oriented, part-time position,” said Ben. “But before I knew it, I fell in love with it and it was full time. It gave me a window into all the client-centric investments and projects the company had going on, and my interest grew.”
Working with Paul Skafas, Tom Irwin’s Vice President and Director of Branding and Marketing, Ben became increasingly involved with the development and management of Tom Irwin’s Leadership and Professional Development Program, the Agronomic Academy, the Product Innovation seminar, and now the development and relaunch of Tom Irwin’s website. Along the way, Ben has gained a new appreciation for the commitment the company has for its clients.
“One way I market Tom Irwin the best I can is by helping our clients better market themselves,” he said. “That might mean offering to proof their resumés or cover letters, helping them with the framework to build better presentations for proposals, interviews, or committee meetings – whatever it takes to help them position themselves better and brand themselves more successfully.”
In the process, Ben has built relationships with many of the Tom Irwin clients.
That’s my favorite part of the job – spending time with and getting to know our clients. This industry is all about people, and my favorite time is being with our people and our clients.
He’s also gained a deeper appreciation for the way the Tom Irwin team works. “We have a group text that includes sales, operations and client relations. It serves as a sounding platform where the group shares daily challenges and observations in their area. It’s cool to watch the problem solving happening at such a fast pace sometimes.” Ben said. “That’s something I never realized – that you have the whole Tom Irwin team behind you – and a network of industry partners, as well – not just your individual rep. With Tom Irwin, You’re Not Alone.”
After his first trip to Africa, Ian Lacy knew that the value of recreational green spaces is universal to all communities around the globe.
As head of Great Britain’s Institute of Groundsmanship’s Professional Services organization, he’d been sent to Botswana on behalf of FIFA, the International Federation of Soccer, to discuss with groundskeepers in Africa maintainence of the soccer fields FIFA had built in preparation for the 2010 World Cup South Africa qualifying competitions.
“We drove 40 miles outside of the capital of Gaborone into the wilderness,” Lacy recalls.
“Living conditions were very simple – earthen houses, no electricity. And suddenly, in the midst of this wilderness there appears this modern football pitch.”
That soccer field had clearly become the center of village life, used by several schools and hundreds of children every day and a source of great pride for the local community. A large and enthusiastic group of groundskeepers from the region spent several days with Lacy, discussing how best to keep these treasured resources in safe playing condition.
I saw what an incredible impact recreational green spaces can have on a community.
He witnessed similar scenes on other FIFA-sponsored trips to nations from Costa Rica to Azerbaijan.
The British-born Lacy traces his love of sports and turf back to his childhood dream of playing professional soccer for his beloved Liverpool. That dream eventually led to Ian signing as an apprentice professional soccer player for Hartlepool United in northeastern England. After a serious ankle injury forced him to abandon soccer, he found a way to keep connected to sports and turf by becoming an apprentice greenkeeper on an English golf course.
After years of work and dedication, Lacy became the head of the Professional Services division of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG). At the IOG, Lacy helped develop the sports turf industry’s first Performance Quality Standards (PQS). An innovative assessment tool for measuring a playing field’s condition and performance sustainability, PQS is now employed by the British government for all field construction projects. Those same standards form the basis of his work as lead advisor for Tom Irwin Advisors.
When asked what has driven him throughout his career, Lacy has a ready answer. “My passion for creating and caring for green spaces started at a very young age,” he replies.
Having started at the bottom as an apprentice greenkeeper, then becoming a qualified greenkeeper, then a head groundsman, taught me the value of proper design and construction and the impact it has on a field’s ability to serve a community over the long term.
Lacy is also motivated by a desire to ensure that young athletes get the best possible start.
”Having watched my own son growing up loving sport, I want to make sure that everyone’s sons and daughters have the best playing surfaces on which to learn, improve their skills, and enjoy the sport they are playing.”
Lacy has shared that passion and expertise during his time as a sports turf lecturer in the UK as well as here in the United States, working in collaboration with US sports turf managers and lecturing to groups across the country on PQS, field design and construction. Lacy also discusses the need for understanding the positive impact that sustainable green spaces have on a community.
“One comes to realize that, whether a village in Africa or a small town in America, our parks and recreational spaces enhance the quality of life in our communities,” says Lacy. “That’s what drove me across the water to America — that and having a chance to create something very exciting and to be working with a group of fantastic people.”
Quality turf has always been at the center of Scott Vose’s professional life. As a golf course assistant superintendent, he was judged by the playing experience he delivered to his demanding clientele on a daily basis. As the Turfgrass Technician at the University of Connecticut Plant Science Research Farm, he supported research that promoted sustainable recreational areas and agricultural lands.
For Scott, the motivation has always been clear.
Everybody can appreciate a beautiful landscape just by looking at it. When you’re actually involved in its care, you can take ownership of it, and that’s what really drives me.
Today, he brings that deep knowledge and commitment to excellence to communities throughout New England as a Technical Advisor for Tom Irwin Advisors.
A childhood spent mowing lawns and accompanying his father to the golf course fostered Scott’s lifelong love of the outdoors. By the time he was college age, it was a foregone conclusion that the Willimantic, Connecticut native would study turf science. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2009 with a degree in Turfgrass and Soil Science.
Scott quickly joined Connecticut National Golf Course as an assistant superintendent as the highly-regarded 18-hole public course was undergoing a major construction project. In addition to gaining construction experience, Scott learned how to coax the best playing conditions out of a high-volume golf course during his two years there.
When a position became available at the renowned University of Connecticut Plant Science and Landscape Architecture Research Farm in 2012, Scott leapt at the chance to deepen his knowledge and experience. The 153-acre facility is dedicated to promoting sustainable recreation areas and agricultural lands, enhancing the use of plants to solve environmental problems, and guiding the design of sustainably-built environments.
Working alongside PhD researchers, he spent the next eight years supporting analyses of golf course turf, seed trials, EPA studies for athletic fields, and home lawn research.
The work was rewarding on several levels. “We were all searching for the best ways to help people maintain quality green spaces – while also looking out for the community’s health and the health of the environment,” he said.
When Tom Irwin Advisors’ Ian Lacy approached Scott about joining the company, he saw an opportunity to bring that expertise to a larger audience eager for the support.
At UConn, I got deep into the science of turf. Now at Tom Irwin Advisors, I’m personally helping people find solutions for their turfgrass problems, which I find deeply gratifying.
Scott relishes the role of problem-solver. “I used to be obsessed with the TV show CSI, and I see my role at Tom Irwin Advisors as kind of a sports turf CSI,” he said with a laugh. “I love being part of the client’s team, engaging with people, and forming new relationships. And I get to make a positive difference on multiple properties all across beautiful New England.”
While Scott is deep into the science of turf, he doesn’t lose sight of the higher purpose of his work.
“Green spaces bring people together like nothing else,” said Scott. “If I can help create better, safer, and more sustainable fields that bring communities together and provide more enjoyment for people, that’s better for everyone.”
For as long as Kevin Dufour can remember, he has shared a profound connection with the earth and its environment. His lifelong passion for conservation and environmental protection began at the age of 8 with his eager anticipation of Ranger Rick Magazine and his door-to-door activism for “Save the Whales” and “Save the Rain Forest” campaigns.
Dufour remains an avid environmentalist, outdoorsman and adventurer — a passion that fuels his belief that recreational green spaces can exist in harmony with our environment and improve life in our communities.
The challenge, notes Dufour, is that few if any individuals possess the complete range of knowledge necessary to build an environmentally sustainable sports or recreational facility. To make this point, he shares an anecdote.
I was talking to a friend who’s an architect. She was building a field at a middle school and I asked her what standards she used to determine how to build that particular field. She replied, ‘We followed DOT standards — the Department of Transportation.
Those are the same standards they use for putting in a median strip. They tell you about the soil type, the grade, and the drainage — but nothing about the field’s sustainability or how it’s actually going to perform down the road.”
Kevin Dufour recognizes the need for performance quality standards and how to achieve them in a sustainable way. As an environmental scientist and attorney at law, he understands environmental responsibility and the complex laws and regulations associated with it.
But that’s only the beginning. Dufour knows that true sustainability is a balance between environment, economy, and community.
The holder of a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a law degree from the Massachusetts School of Law, Dufour is a LEED-Accredited Professional in Operations and Maintenance and the recipient of an EPA Commendation for Outstanding Performance.
Those credentials and experiences enable Dufour to help clients set and achieve their sustainability benchmarks.
No one wants to see a beautifully-designed landscape wash into a nearby stream.
“There’s no point in building a state-of-the-art recycled water system if the grass is going to die due to salt intolerance. Making the right choices at the design phase is your best insurance against project issues and future maintenance problems.”
Tom Irwin Advisors can guide those decisions by assessing and mitigating areas of concern while building environmental stewardship into the organizational culture of your team.
Jack Schmidgall is living proof that, with proper guidance, recreational green spaces can be built and maintained sustainably, providing any community with generations of enjoyment.
“People used to come and play on my fields and say, ‘Why can’t we have fields like this in our town?” says Schmidgall.
That’s kind of where it started. I’d get a phone call from another facilities manager who’d heard from somebody who’d played on the Danvers fields. They had a desire to improve their town’s recreational spaces but didn’t know where to begin.
For decades, Schmidgall has been the go-to guy for New England facilities managers and groundskeepers seeking advice and guidance.
That knowledge comes from more than 40 years of experience that began when the Wakefield, Massachusetts native took a summer job at Colonial Country Club in nearby Lynnfield. As captain of the Wakefield High varsity soccer team, Schmidgall already understood the value of well-maintained turf to sports performance and safety. After earning his degree in Turf Management at the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School in 1974, Schmidgall was recruited by the town facilities manager in Wakefield to take over responsibility for the newly-built high school athletic facilities. Schmidgall spent the next decade in Wakefield before moving on to Danvers, where he devoted another 26 years to creating a legacy of sports turf excellence.
Along the way, he developed his own field testing regimen, which he has employed at venues as diverse as Foxboro Stadium and a women’s softball complex in Croatia, and took a leading role in pioneering the use of organic nutrients for sports turf.
His efforts did not go unnoticed. Schmidgall received national recognition for his work, including the Sports Turf Managers Association’s 1992 Baseball Field of the Year and 1993 Softball Field of the Year, and the High School Baseball Coaches Association 2000 National Groundskeeper/Field of the Year.
Schmidgall has been equally committed to knowledge-sharing among New England turf and tree professionals. In 1990, he helped found the New England Sports Turf Managers Association (NESTMA), which he served for four years as president. He has also led the Massachusetts Tree Warden and Forester’s Association, and served as Athletic Field Representative for the University of Massachusetts Turf Advisory Board.
In many ways, Tom Irwin Advisors represents the culmination of Schmidgall’s career.
“It’s great working in cooperation with other people in the business who have the same passion and vision in helping communities build safe and sustainable fields for people to enjoy,” he says. “We understand how systems operate and how budgets function. We’re able to look at all aspects — design, development, construction, management — all in a responsible way, because we’re experienced in all those areas. “
That broad, yet deep, perspective is key.
People are looking for guidance and reassurance, proper specification writing, and quality control. They want to know what they’re doing is right,” says Schmidgall.
“We can help in almost every situation that can arise — that’s something unique to us. We understand expectations and impacts, we offer alternatives, and the result is a comprehensive proposal — the right materials, the right process, the right equipment, at the right cost.”
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