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Fall 2012

Landscapes, hardscapes, waterscapes, all scapes

Downtime is likened to a swear word here. But thanks to a dedicated and experienced staff of landscape professionals, an armory of versatile and reliable Bobcat equipment and a responsive, supportive dealer, the many diverse jobsites of Lanoha Nurseries remain void of cursing.

Chris Lanoha, vice president of Lanoha Nurseries.

Chris Lanoha, vice president of Lanoha Nurseries.

Every year, when Old Man Winter succumbs to spring’s resurgence, the soil begins to warm and landscapes erupt in color, Chris Lanoha and the more than 300 landscaping professionals on his staff launch into what Lanoha describes as controlled chaos — and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Yet despite what many consider a seasonal business, by divesting into other ventures, Lanoha is able to keep the majority of his 300 employees engaged year-round.

“We’re not a seasonal company,” says Lanoha, vice president of Lanoha Nurseries and one of several family members currently involved in the business. “Essentially we do everything under the sun here and are committed to our people. There are many facets of our company that keep us busy throughout the year. And we don’t cut our people’s hours or their pay during slower times. One of the many things I learned from my dad is that loyalty is everything. It’s how he established and grew the company and has given us a big competitive edge. It’s a philosophy that adds a lot to the grand scheme of things.”

From humble roots that began with a pickup truck, a couple of lawnmowers, a few landscaping implements and a vision, Lanoha Nurseries was founded in 1974 by Lanoha’s father, Dave, on a modest 10-acre plot of land in an area now considered central Omaha. With the Missouri River comprising the eastern border of this thriving business mecca and separating the cornhusker state from Iowa, the senior Lanoha anticipated Omaha’s growth would likely move in a west/southwest direction. So like the resilient pioneers who settled this vast, rich-soil frontier, Lanoha, too, expanded west.

A Lanoha Nurseries scape

A Lanoha Nurseries scape

Diversity keeps seasonality in check

Lanoha Nurseries grew to become one of the largest landscape companies in the Midwest and a leading commercial and residential landscaping entity largely by divesting. Over the years, Lanoha expanded operations by establishing other divisions, including commercial development, landscape construction, grounds maintenance, retail garden centers, irrigation systems and recycling/mulch. Now situated in the far western edge of Omaha, this landscaping leader has more than 1,400 acres of fertile Nebraska soil dedicated specifically to growing their own stock — an approach that assures quality and hardiness with plantings that will not only survive, but thrive, in the often harsh Midwest climate.

“We started growing all of our own trees, annuals, perennials and shrubs in 1977,” says Lanoha, “everything we build, construct and install we typically also maintain. It takes many types of versatile equipment completing a wide variety of tasks to keep everything running smoothly here. We’ve owned other machines over the years, mostly acquired though auctions, etc., but Bobcat® equipment has always been the core of our business and the backbone of our equipment needs.”

During the busy spring and summer months, it isn’t unusual for Lanoha to have as many as 35 crews scattered throughout the heartland working on different types of “scape” projects. With design/build landscaping and hardscape projects comprising the bulk of their commercial work, Lanoha says the company’s Bobcat skid-steer loaders and compact track loaders have become the workhorses of his operation. And with more than 70 different Bobcat attachments, there are few chores his crews can’t complete using Bobcat equipment.

Chris Lanoha's S250 skid-steer loader

Chris Lanoha's S250 skid-steer loader

“We’re known in our area for doing really creative and elaborate hardscape design projects,” Lanoha says. “We do a lot of natural stone and large limestone walls and use Bobcat skid-steer loaders exclusively for all of that work. We’ll attach a hydraulic breaker to size the stone, then swap the breaker out with a pair of forks to pick up and position the heavy stones and build these massive walls. Using the same skid-steer loader, we’ll attach a bucket to grade the site after the wall is completed. All of the Bobcat attachments we own extend the loaders’ versatility, which is crucial in our business.

“We also do a tremendous amount of grading,” Lanoha says. “Dirt work and grading has always been the core of what our skid-steer loaders do. I have crews dedicated specifically to grading — what we consider our operating core group.”

Chris Lanoha's S250 skid-steer loader

Chris Lanoha's S250 skid-steer loader

Down with downtime

Once “controlled chaos” commences each spring, there is no time for downtime. And with several of the operating units of Lanoha Nurseries in operation around the clock, equipment reliability is essential.

“Lanoha Nurseries is a 24/7 facility,” Lanoha says. “I’ve got select Bobcat skid-steer loaders that run all day and all night. We have four skid-steer loaders dedicated to harvesting our own trees using Bobcat tree spade attachments. We will then swap out the tree spade with a set of forks and load them onto semitrailers, using the same skid-steer loaders, ready to dispatch for our early morning planting crews. It is a highly efficient, around-the-clock operation.”

Landscape specialists from Lanoha Nurseries
operate Bobcat loaders and excavators at
their many installation sites in the Omaha
metropolitan area.

Landscape specialists from Lanoha Nurseries operate Bobcat loaders and excavators at their many installation sites in the Omaha metropolitan area.

In addition to the reliability and dependability, Lanoha also appreciates the operational simplicity of Bobcat equipment, which makes training operators easy.

“Bobcat equipment makes it easy to train new operators,” says Lanoha, “and it’s also very safe. I have guys in various divisions who have been dedicated to their own Bobcat machine for many years and operate them 10 to 12 hours a day. Many of these guys take great pride in having operated the same machine for 6,000 or 7,000 hours … something that is almost unheard of for a skid-steer operator in the landscaping industry. They’re like compact battle tanks!

“‘Downtime’ is a term that’s not in our vocabulary here,” Lanoha says. “We simply cannot have downtime, and our dealer, Bobcat of Omaha, knows that. They keep us up and running, regardless of what’s involved. There has never been an issue as far as helping us out. They also understand the needs of our business. All I have to do is make a phone call and they’re here.”

24/7; 365 days a year

When spring madness begins to subside, work activities shift to other areas. The Lanoha Nurseries maintenance division maintains most of the landscape, hardscape and waterscape projects its crews have completed in the area … and over the years, that number has grown substantially. Lanoha relies on his fleet of Bobcat equipment — 13 skid-steer loaders, three compact track loaders, two compact excavators, a Toolcat utility work machine and a telehandler— to keep the operation running smoothly 24/7, 365 days a year, snow, sleet, rain or shine.

“We don’t have a down period,” Lanoha says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing, or whatever … we are out there working. If Bobcat ever wanted to test its machinery, we would be the place to do it. Our equipment gets used continuously and is worked hard virtually around the clock. Our service and equipment maintenance staff takes good care of all our machines, but we also run them hard and they are used nonstop. Diligent maintenance is the rule here, but it also helps knowing we have a responsive and supportive dealer that has the parts we need when we need them, and is willing to go the extra mile for us. I attribute a big part of our company’s success to our dealer and the reliability and versatility of Bobcat equipment.”