East Kentucky Power Cooperative. It’s name alone gives you a sense of responsibility. Massive responsibility.
Owned by and composed of 16 electric distribution co-ops located in Central and Eastern Kentucky, East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) delivers power to more than 520,000 homes and businesses — that’s more than 1 million Kentuckians in 87 counties.
With such a tremendous amount of pressure to perform without fail, EKPC preserves its reputation and enhances its ability to function by partnering with local service providers who share in the same values and goals.
One such provider is Klausing Group — and this case study takes a closer look at the sustained attention and full-service care Klausing Group provides EKPC’s corporate headquarters in Lexington.
Full-Service — A Definition In Action
A utilities campus setting, EKPC HQ is approximately 55 acres in size and largely divided up into three segments: office complex, outdoor training facility and park.
For nearly a decade, Klausing Group has served this multi-faceted property year round in a variety of capacities:
- Landscape and turf maintenance
- Irrigation management
- Landscape design and renovation
- Snow removal
Prior to teaming up with Klausing Group, EKPC handled all landscape-related activities, projects and maintenance in-house, with it’s own grounds management department. The head of this department was Troy Varner, current EKPC facility supervisor.
Troy is a true horticulturalist, but his responsibilities stretched beyond the property’s time-consuming landscaping needs. He had to make this decision: Hire in a commercial landscape contractor.
“Overall cost savings and maintenance of our landscaping equipment” were the main drivers in moving away from an in-house landscaping department, according to the facilities supervisor. What led him to Klausing Group? “Reputation and dependability” — but more on that later.
Another benefit to handing off EKPC’s landscaping duties to Klausing Group was that it freed him up to better focus on many of the other responsibilities his position calls for.
When asked about this benefit of working with an outside commercial landscaping company, Troy explains: “It absolutely saves me time. I no longer have to worry about it [the landscaping] getting done, because I know Klausing Group is getting it done right — handling it in a professional, safe manner. That takes a lot of pressure off me and let’s me focus on safety, security and on other aspects of the building — interior and exterior.”
Understanding Expectations 24/7/365
When it came time to hand over the reins, it was only natural for Troy — with his background in horticulture — to have expectations. Here’s a closer look at a few of these landscaping expectations and how Klausing Group has handled them, keeping the property aesthetically pleasing and fully functional year round:
Whether EKPC HQ is getting primed for a monthly board meeting or simply going through a business-as-usual kind of week, “We want the grounds to look like it’s mowed at all times,” Troy says.
According to Dwight Hammons, LIC, Klausing Group account manager, the commercial landscaper maintains 36 acres of EKPC on a weekly basis. The more public-facing portion of that area gets the finish-mow treatment, which means high-performance mowers are used to provide a clean, manicured appearance to the turf.
Then, on a monthly basis, the remaining, larger portion of the property is bush hogged — aka tractor mowed — to clear the land of light brush.
“As a power cooperative, this is really a unique property to service when it comes to snow removal,” Dwight explains. “They have to have 24/7 access to the trucks and equipment stored on site, which gives us a pretty tight timeframe.”
This is where Klausing Group’s dependability comes into play.
“They’re always on time,“ Troy adds. “They know we like to have our driveways and walks ready by a certain time in the morning. And they do it. It’s important employees can arrive in the morning without issue of slipping and falling on the ice.”
Dwight adds, EKPC is using Klausing Group to its fullest potential as a single-source, year-round service provider to manage its grounds. The true benefit of this is something that becomes more and more evident as the seasons shift and the snowflakes begin to stick.
“You know the quality of product you’re going to get before snow removal,” he explains. “We get to know the property inside and out.”
Another benefit comes in the way of communication — a single point of contact. No matter the time of year, Troy knows all he has to do is pick up the phone and make one call, to Dwight.
The safety culture at EKPC is impressive and apparent throughout its grounds. And the co-op’s 66-page contractor safety handbook is an excellent example of this. So it makes sense EKPC will only partner with service providers whose reputations are deep rooted in safety.
Which is why Klausing Group has proven to be a perfect fit for the utilities campus. “Our onsite, comprehensive staff training meets the co-op’s criteria for what they expect and require out of a contractor,” Dwight says.
Leading examples of the commercial landscaper’s safety best practices include:
- Voluntary enrollment in E-Verify, the federal government’s internet based system that confirms employment eligibility of all its employees.
- Safety guards, like debris deflectors are never removed from equipment (e.g. string trimmers or mowers) and safety features, like roll-over protection systems (ROPS) are always engaged.
- Klausing Group is the first to implement on-street parking procedures, mandatory safety vests and eye protection (pictured above).
- Commercial vehicle operation in Kentucky requires an English speaking driver.
- Klausing Group employs more Landscape Industry Certified professionals than any other Kentucky commercial landscaping company.
“We have a learning and mentoring culture. And because of that we send you home the way you arrived; and our safety record is proof of that.”
Landscape Renovation — From The Inside
Along with Klausing Group’s grounds management services, EKPC HQ is also a benefactor of the landscaper’s design-build capabilities. A recent example of this is an overhaul of an interior courtyard — a space comprised of trees and other various plant material, turfgrass, benches and a large fountain.
“It’s a focal point of our property,” Troy says. “You can actually see it through the front door to our main building.”
If you ask Trenton Noel, Klausing Group construction manager, the challenge of this project, he’ll say it centers on the word interior.
“It’s a pretty extensive rejuvenation project,” Trenton says. “In order to access the space, we have to come through the building during normal business hours.”
This courtyard renovation project includes the removal and replacement of large shrubs as well as 15- to 20-foot tall trees, in addition to the installation of fresh new plant material (perennials and seasonal color) throughout the space.
Trenton adds, “We only use appropriately sized equipment for the space we’re working in. For this interior courtyard project, we’ll really only use a chainsaw to remove the trees. All of the other material will be brought into the building using a cart.”
This considerate and low-impact approach reduces the off chance for commotion related to the project, particularly in a corporate setting. It also minimizes any unnecessary debris inside the building as crew members come and go.
Confronting Site Challenges
Do you have challenging landscape renovation project in mind for your commercial property? Could your site benefit from a single-source, year-round service provider to manage its grounds?
Let’s start a conversation today. From turf care and snow removal to rejuvenated focal points and common areas, Klausing Group can keep your landscape attractive, safe and performing as it should — 365 days a year. Call us any time at 859 254 0762, or fill out this simple contact form and we'll get in touch with you.