In our Beyond 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 Valentine, who is our Northeast Territory Manager for the U.S. From his extensive background within the turf industry to his love for nature, Tom discusses what brought him to Aquatrols and how his passion for the industry has evolved.
What was your first position within the golf industry? Why is golf special to you?
Since I was old enough to carry a bucket full of divot mix I have been engaged within the industry. I had the amazing good fortune of growing up working at Merion Golf Club, where generations of my family have worked for nearly a century. I did not fully understand what a gift this was to me until my young adult years when I started learning more hands-on experience about the business from my father. Growing up my father instilled in me a love for nature and the environment that reflects so much of what I put my heart into today. While I do enjoy the game of golf, this career’s ability to make the great outdoors your office every day is what makes it so special.
How has your prior experience in the golf industry helped you in your current position?
Although I’m currently closing in on my Masters of Turfgrass Science at Penn State’ World Campus, some of the most valuable things I have learned about turf were at the kitchen table “classroom” of my childhood home. When my father wasn’t talking to my brothers and I about turf inside the house, he was usually bringing us along to show how and why certain things had to be done on the course that day. Growing up in that kind of environment has given me an “insiders” perspective on the daily challenges that our customers face, because I have witnessed those same wins and losses in the turf world throughout my entire life.
What drew you to become a part of the Aquatrols team?
Aquatrols’ conservation philosophy was immediately appealing to me. I believe that turf managers can solve a lot of issues through a commonsense plant health management approach – specifically focusing on the maintenance of healthy soils and optimum water quality. It’s a fair analogy to compare plant and human life. In other words, having a foundational, balanced program in your life with nutrition and other necessary inputs, including clean, fresh water will greatly impact your overall health! Conversely, if a plant can’t absorb nutrients efficiently, gets dehydrated, or is “drinking” poor quality water, the plant will see a decline in health.
What’s the difference between the Northeast and other regions of the U.S.? What are the biggest challenges superintendents face in this area?
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about the differences in management practices (i.e. my world of cool season grasses vs. the warm season areas) but there’s still a whole other worldliness to speaking with an Orlando golf course superintendent versus a superintendent from Philadelphia. When a turf manager moves from one side of that transition line to the other, they basically need to do the opposite of everything they’ve ever learned! However, it’s the similarity in perspectives of superintendents from around the world that I find most interesting. The overwhelming number of superintendents I know think of themselves in the constant battle to find that balance between providing great game playing conditions while protecting mother nature in the process.
You are very enthusiastic and passionate about customers and the Aquatrols brand. How does that attitude help you bring creative ideas to the table in your position?
People respond to passion, and passion is real – you can’t fake it. I’d like to think that my passionate belief and excitement about a beneficial product or our company’s broader vision transfers to others. We work with one of the most powerful forces in the universe…mother earth! What we bring to the table matters and I am proud to say that our company makes decisions with this important tenet in mind.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes in your position. What are some things that most customers don’t realize you can help them with or do for them?
The biggest asset I bring to my customers is my network of professionals within the company. If I don’t know how to solve a certain agronomy problem or need more info about a product, I can dial our agronomy specialist, a biologist in our research department or a variety of other Aquatrols’ employees – allowing me to tap into a global information network that most people can’t! Working in this industry is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle. This is the same mindset as most of our customers, so I’m on the same page with them.
What is the one thing about the Aquatrols brand and products that you always want new or potential customers to know?
We are embracing the successes of the past and bringing them into the brave new world of plant science. Companies are like living creatures, you need to evolve and grow or else you end up like the wooly mammoth. We are committed to introducing new products and technologies that will help turf managers be more successful while keeping an all-important eye on the continued health of mother earth.
To learn more about the Aquatrols’ brand and vision, visit our “About Us” page at www.aquatrols.com/about