Three keys to nursery success
Bobcat compact track loader and tree spade combine to keep up with demanding schedule
Russ Stokes, Ivanhoe Nursery
Keeping up with the daily demands at a nursery requires three critical characteristics: a knowledgeable manager, well-trained operators and a dependable Bobcat® compact track loader with attachments. Ivanhoe Nursery in Mundelein, Illinois, has all three, which is why the company continues to prosper.
Ivanhoe Nursery opened for business in 2000 and is owned by the Wirtz Realty Corporation — the same company that owns the Chicago Blackhawks®. The nursery is a grower and distributor of landscape-grade shade, ornamental and evergreen trees, and has 50 acres to grow products rated for a USDA plant hardiness zone 4a.
The nursery has grown tenfold since its inception, according to Manager Russ Stokes. Stokes is a certified nurseryman with more than 35 years of experience in horticulture. He says when he started working for Ivanhoe Nursery in 2009, the company operated a different loader brand. He lobbied the owners to switch to Bobcat compact equipment, based on the success he had at previous jobs.
“From my many years of experience with other loader brands, I knew that Bobcat makes good equipment for nurseries and landscapers,” Stokes says.
After much effort, Stokes eventually convinced the nursery owners to purchase their first Bobcat loader — a T770 compact track loader — with a bucket and a truncated model tree spade from Atlas Bobcat, the local dealer.
“The Bobcat track loader gets us in and out of the fields,” Stokes says, “and a lot of times we have to harvest trees when it is muddy. Our heavy clay soil here gets muddy when it rains, but the Bobcat T770 goes anywhere and it gets the job done, thanks to the machine’s rubber tracks.”
Primarily serving local landscape contractors with a variety of tree, shrub and evergreen species, Ivanhoe Nursery cannot be without its Bobcat compact track loader and attachments.
“If our machine goes down, it is almost devastating, especially in spring,” Stokes says. “It is critical that the Bobcat loader is running when we need it, because sometimes we work up to 12 hours a day. I’ve been through a lot of different machines in my time in the industry, and I think Bobcat loaders are the best for us. Bobcat loaders are built to handle tough nursery and landscaping applications.”
One of the primary reasons for using a compact track loader at the nursery is the confined area where the trees grow. Stokes says the rows are generally 10 feet apart and the trees are spaced 8 feet apart.
“When we need to dig a tree, we only have eight feet on each side, and then behind you is another tree,” he says. “You have to be able to work in the space provided to pull up the tree, based on the size that the customer requests.”
Stokes and the loader operators transplant balled and burlapped trees with the loader and tree spade to a customer’s vehicle or to a holding yard where the trees can quickly be retrieved for a customer.
“We like the truncated spade because when you stand up the balled and burlapped tree in its wire basket, the bottom of it is flat, so the tree stands up.”
Ivanhoe Nursery’s Bobcat compact track loader and tree spade are indispensable to the company’s day-to-day operations, Stokes concludes.