Industry veterans are quick to declare turfgrass management as a people business. Here’s a look at the people behind AQUA-AID Solutions and how they are using their backgrounds to help golf course superintendents and other turf managers handle the challenges of establishing and maintaining quality surfaces.
Sam Green, President
Hailing from humble beginnings in rural Virginia, Sam Green has traveled the world since joining the AQUA-AID Solutions team in 2013. The journeys and conversations are inspiring Green, a former golf course superintendent, to work with colleagues to assist turf managers at facilities of all levels.
“The travel is an opportunity to learn,” Green says. “I was very fortunate in my superintendent career. I had the resources that I needed at most of my jobs. When you go around with the distributors and visit end users, you see tremendous properties maintained and manicured to the ‘T,’ and then you realize they don’t have the resources. You listen to what they tell you. You learn a tremendous amount about the people in this industry. That gives you a better platform to help people. With the way our team travels and interacts with the end users, we stay on top of what’s going on. It’s a world market and we’re very fortunate as a company to delve into that world market.”
Bert Brace, Vice President
Bert Brace has seen the industry from a variety of angles in his long tenure with AQUA-AID Solutions. One of the biggest changes, Brace says, is how companies such as AQUA-AID Solutions are using successful superintendents to help build their businesses.
“The pure salesmanship with today’s social world just doesn’t kick it,” Brace says. “You can’t be a pure salesman and think you are going to go out and service people like you did 20 years ago. You’re seeing a lot of people leave the industry and companies are getting superintendents to be reps. That’s our goal to get people that have walked the walk and done these practices talking with their peers. You need generations that talk with that same generation.”
Brian Daniel, CGCS
Covering a giant territory consisting of the western United States and Canada, Brian Daniel relishes visiting a group of people he can easily relate to: golf course superintendents. Daniel spent more than 25 years as a Texas superintendent before moving into a role that allows him to find solutions for his peers.
“My favorite thing to do is to ride with distributors, see golf courses and meet superintendents,” Daniel says. “It’s almost like we have our own language. We just instantly have a lot in common and a lot to talk about. I would think that somebody that doesn’t have a golf background would really struggle to walk into a group of people that do, because it’s almost like we are talking another language. It’s just a camaraderie. You have been there. You know how it is when you have an irrigation line blow out on a Friday afternoon or there’s a huge cold front coming in and you need to get your group to go out and cover your greens on Saturday night at 8 o’clock. It’s a unique set of problems that we deal with and having that experience in the same issues makes us all kind of bond.”
Mark Langner, CGCS
As director of agronomy for 12 years at Farm Links in Sylacauga, Ala., Mark Langner educated hundreds of superintendents who annually toured the property. He’s now using a zest for helping turf managers in his own visits to golf courses and athletic fields.
“The fun part is being able to share all the things that we are learning with everybody else so that more and more people can have success in an industry that’s much tougher,” Langner says. “Let’s be honest, I went through some tough periods in it as a superintendent and I also went through some glory days in it as well. There are a lot of good, smart people out there who have a lot of good information to share. We know it takes more than one tool in the toolbox to help these guys be successful. Mr. (Bill) Eason has built his whole business and his whole career on listening to superintendents and turf managers tell the story of the problems they are having and then he goes out and finds the solution. That’s how we are continuing to be set up, hearing what the problems are, what the needs are and putting the product in place.”
Bill Brown, CGCS
A former golf course superintendent in the Philadelphia area with extensive multimedia experience, Bill Brown joined the AQUA-AID Solutions team in 2016. He brings a combination of turf management, business and digital skills to the company.
“When I visit properties, it’s not just, ‘Hey, we have a product that you can fix your problem with,’” Brown says. “We want to be a solutions provider to the turf manager. That may not be our product; it may just be helping them. But they will always be coming back to us. Being the mid-level superintendent and always having the high expectations of those properties and being able to find solutions is really what I feel like what I bring to the table for the properties I visit and AQUA-AID Solutions. From a digital standpoint, I sort of worked every aspect of the industry. I have the superintendent, media, digital, mobile app development, so I also bring that holistic knowledge to the table.”
After taking a detour from the turf industry, Sam Stimmel joined the AQUA-AID Solutions team late last year. He considers fertility and soils his “sweet spot,” and offers extensive experience in building relationships with distributors.
“I wanted to be able to use my experience working with distribution, working with new technologies, and pioneering products and geographic areas,” Stimmel says. “I thought here’s a company that I could offer a lot to and have fun doing it. I bring the distribution side experience as we are growing from being family run to the next level. Not that there’s anything negative about family run, but we have more people now and we are covering a bigger footprint and new products. I am being asked to support a structured growth.”
Guy Cipriano is GCI’s senior editor.