Working for the nation’s largest integrated landscape company, with six divisions and branches in nearly every state, the professionals at ValleyCrest Landscape Companies manage billions of gallons of water each day. Although the company is enormous, each branch operates as its own, smaller version of the company, providing a higher level of local expertise while benefiting from national resources.Irrigation Advisors around the country take their jobs as stewards of the nation’s fresh water supply very seriously. North Carolina’s Regional Irrigation Advisor, Max Walker, is a 37 year veteran of the irrigation industry. An educated, active proponent of sustainability since long before “green” became a buzz word, he has devoted his career to improving the way water is used, both through his job with ValleyCrest and as a Smart Water teacher for the City of Charlotte. Walker was instrumental in market testing and perfecting the SmartLine controller in the early 2000s, Weathermatic’s first smart controller, which is now the world’s top-selling weather based irrigation controller.
In Charlotte and surrounding areas, ValleyCrest manages the landscape for many high rise properties. Maintenance tasks include potted plants, decorative material, plazas, water features, and hardscape. Many of these properties are LEED certified, with rooftop gardens, cistern systems, and advanced irrigation that requires a matching level of expertise.
In addition to Charlotte high rises, North Carolina branches manage large-scale commercial and HOA properties around the state. Properties with outdated or poorly installed and managed irrigation systems face endless troubles from water waste: high water bills, asphalt damage due to runoff, failing plant material, customer complaints, and safety issues. ValleyCrest aims to remedy all of these issues for their customers through proper water management.
To maintain LEED certification, properties must have particular irrigation components, manage them properly, and provide detailed water usage reports, not estimates. Weathermatic’s SmartLine system with SmartLink Wireless Network provides specific usage reports that satisfy the arduous LEED requirements and keep ValleyCrests’s customers aware that their water is being managed as it should. “Simplicity for people who don’t use irrigation every day is item number one. If a customer is looking at a controller with [SmartLink web-based control], they can just look on their computer and not even leave the office. That’s what I like most.” Walker says.
Together, ValleyCrest irrigation professionals and Weathermatic products can help LEED projects earn up to 12 credits. Even if the property is not seeking LEED certification, a high rise property with many irrigation zones will benefit greatly from the SmartLink system, which allows the water manager to make adjustments to the entire irrigation system from their computer or mobile device.
Always budget conscious, commercial and HOA customers often tell ValleyCrest “we’re spending too much on water”, which Walker sees as “a direct line to say we need to change to…smart controllers.” He knows saving water doesn’t just cut down on water bills, it can dramatically reduce a property’s most expensive repair: hardscape damage. “Property owners cannot estimate what [hardscape] damages will cost, they just budget a general number. If used properly, SmartLine will not allow asphalt damage.”
ValleyCrest properties that are served by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) receive an additional benefit from installing Weathermatic’s web-based SmartLink irrigation management system: properties with a separate irrigation water meter and the SmartLine smart controller, coupled with an on-site weather station, are exempt from Tier 4 (the highest) water pricing. Lower water costs can save a large property up to $80,000 in a year.
Walker’s irrigation crew manages around 147 controllers, 60 of which have Weathermatic SmartLink web-based control. Having the ability to manage those 60 controllers from their office or truck rather than driving to each controller to make adjustments every time saves this ValleyCrest branch thousands of dollars a year on labor and fuel costs.
Properties where Walker’s team installs and manages a SmartLine system tend to be very happy with the savings they receive and typically invest that money in additional irrigation upgrades or landscape enhancements, which bring ValleyCrest more business and more satisfied customers. He is confident in promoting Weathermatic products to his customers because he regularly sees water savings from 25% on the low end, up to 70% on certain properties.
With so much competition in the irrigation industry, Walker has great pride in the ValleyCrest and Weathermatic partnership, with good reason: If the controller doesn’t work how you say it should, “People’s minds change about who you are, what you stand for. A lot of controllers have kinks that need to be worked out…We have a controller that works the way it says it will work.”