In our Behind The Drop Q&A series, we bring you brief interviews with some of the minds driving innovation at Aquatrols. We speak to a wide variety of folks who work here at Aquatrols, exploring topics from research, to conservation, to business.
Today we are featuring an interview with Tom Breiner, who recently joined the Aquatrols team as a Territory Manager covering a section of the Eastern US. From his extensive experience as a golf course superintendent to his journey into the sales side of the industry, Tom discusses his transition to the Aquatrols team and how his passion for the industry all began.
What was your first position within the golf industry? How did your career within the industry evolve?
I started on my 16th birthday at Oak Hill Golf Club in Milford, NJ. Most days I pushed a rotary mower or raked bunkers by hand. I was thrilled when I finally got to operate a piece of equipment that actually had a seat! I quickly learned to handle most tasks, as the crew was quite small.
Eventually, I became a full-time employee and had a dual role as mechanic/assistant superintendent. We weren’t big on titles then. There were only three full-time employees in the golf course maintenance department (including the superintendent!). This course really started my career and helped me learn every facet of turf maintenance.
Following my role at Oak Hill, I was an Equipment Manager (just a fancy title for a mechanic!) at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club. Within two years, I moved up to assistant superintendent. I decided to further my education during that time and went on to attend Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School. A couple years after graduation I was able to land a position as a golf course superintendent at my old course, Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club. I stayed at that course for about twenty-five years – so you could say that I enjoyed it!
What drew you to pursue a sales career within the industry?
In the 40 years I spent on golf courses, I always had a strong interest in the commercial side of the industry. In 2011 it was time for a change! I was fortunate to get an excellent opportunity to work as a manufacturer’s rep. I quickly learned that I was well suited to this side of the business. In the past ten years I have been able to build a ‘second career’.
How has your prior experience helped you in your current position?
My career as a golf course superintendent has given me great insights into the challenges of turf management. Having spent 25 years at a 54 hole facility, I have dealt with a wide range of agronomic conditions! I had great success in addressing difficult soils through a comprehensive approach.
Consequently, I am solution-oriented and work to match products and practices to address the complex needs of the turf manager.
What excited you most about joining the Aquatrols team?
I am grateful to represent a product line with such a stellar reputation! I see great possibilities to take the broad portfolio of unique technologies to distributors and turf managers.
You have a lot of experience both in the field and on the sales side of the turf industry. When you were a superintendent did you use Aquatrols products and if so, how?
I remember when there was only Aquagro L! We used it consistently on greens. When Primer came out, it was a game-changer. We quickly learned the value of using this technology. When Aqueduct was introduced, we used it in combination with chemical controls to successfully treat persistent fairy ring disease.
How would you use them differently now with your expanded product knowledge?
I would make a much stronger commitment to a season-long program. I would utilize various Aquatrols technologies to address each specific challenge on the property. With the broad product offering there is the ability to judiciously select products to meet both agronomic and economic goals.
Being on the sales side now and seeing the superintendent’s job from a different angle, what is the best advice you can give to current superintendents?
Make physical and mental health a priority! The role of a superintendent is demanding. At times, finding a healthy work-life balance is nearly impossible. Whatever it takes, it is extremely important to find some ‘me time’ and family time every day!
Lastly, what can you be found doing when you’re not working?
Six years ago, I bought a farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that was built in 1757. I find great satisfaction in various projects on the property.
In addition, I have two very old tractors that I enjoy working on. For many years I was employed as a golf course mechanic, and I’ve never lost my love of ‘wrenching’.
To learn more about our team and read additional Behind The Drop features, click here.