Scientific Plant Service, Inc., is a privately owned corporation, chartered in the state of Maryland, in 1957.
Following is an excerpt taken from our 2007 Winter Newsletter celebrating our 50th Anniversary
In early 1957, Frank J. Burke, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Entomology, incorporated Scientific Plant Service in the state of Maryland. In the beginning we were full service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs. These services included pruning and removal of shade and ornamental trees along with custom pesticide applications for trees, shrubs and industrial vegetation control. The 60’s were instrumental in setting the standard to which we practice today. We became known for our tree foreman, Clyde Lowery, a Native American from South Carolina who would make his way around in a tree like a squirrel while sporting “bare feet”. To head our “ornamental care” we had “J.C.” Singleton who was trained in the art of pruning. In those days we pruned shrubs and trees with hand snips and pruners, not electric shears, a lost art! To avoid being stretched thin, Frank Burke hired Russ Hudgins as general foreman to assist in the management of day to day field operations. Russ supervised crews, performed spray applications and became a familiar face to all of our customers. Russ’ job evolved to customer sales before he left us after 18 years of service. With Mr. Burke’s entomology background it was only natural that plant health care services became our specialty. Preventive maintenance programs were developed for managing insect and disease problems on shade trees, ornamentals and fruit trees. As these programs were being developed our services expanded to include residential and commercial mowing, shrub bed mulching and fertilization of trees and shrubs. In the late 60’s our spray program became known as the area’s finest and was growing rapidly. That’s when I (Ken Mays) came in the picture to assist with pesticide applications and eventually manage that arm of our service for Mr. Burke. Frank trained me passing along his knowledge of entomology and arboriculture making it possible for me to become certified in pesticide applications as well become certified with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a Licensed Tree Expert. Whether he realizes it or not, he also passed along the foundation of which we function today. That is, to always provide the best service available, to maintain a well trained work force, to respect our customers, to be on top of changes and advancements in our industry, insist on doing all jobs right and to be proud of who we are and our industry!
In the early 70’s Franks’ training and teaching influences turned him to working with “retarded” citizens and teaching them landscape maintenance skills in his spare time. At that time he was instrumental in setting the foundation for the Landscape Management Program with, then BARC, now The ARC of Baltimore, which flourishes today as one the nation’s finest programs of its’ type! As Franks’ dedication moved towards this program, a decision was made to sell Scientific Plant Service, Inc., to an employee (and current owner) in 1975. Our missions remained the same under new ownership, however, the market was showing that we had moved into the era of specialization. Rather than continue as a full service company we decided to do what we knew best. We had established a reputation for extensive plant health care services, the foundation of our company. In 1978 we abandoned all pruning, mulching and mowing services to concentrate our expertise on plant health care. This was a good move. Our first year of specializing in pesticide applications was a grand success, surpassing the previous two (2) years sales! For the next 6 years we continued to grow and expand services within our specialty until 1984 when the decision was made to make a bold move. A new phase of our industry was being established in the metro area by major national companies, Lawn Care! At that time all my efforts were put toward developing a sound, unique lawn care program so, Bailey Walten took charge of operations for our other services. Bailey came to us in 1975 after graduating from the University of Maryland, with a degree in entomology. He applied his knowledge as a technician, moved into management positions and eventually became lead sales representative. After 23 years of dedicated service Bailey passed away from complications from Crohns Disease. His presence is still missed.
As we developed our turf program we knew it had to be better, it had to be different. Our commitment to using only the best of fertilizers and pesticides steered us toward the sports turf and golf course industries where only the best is used. In 1994 the door opened for us to enter the sports turf management field when we were solicited to manage Memorial Stadium for the CFL Stallions. That opportunity has taken us to where we are today; providing all forms of management routines on numerous facilities in the area from high schools to colleges to municipal properties. Once again we became unique in this arena specializing in Bermudagrass athletic fields. The 90’s also brought us another expansion of services, Snow Removal. Since all of our services were done during the months of March – December, snow removal was a natural fit (and necessary evil), making it possible to maintain our full-time staff during our “down” Winter months.
In the 60’s we operated out of a store front off Newbury Street in the now trending Mt. Washington Village. After that we drifted up and down the Falls Road corridor at various locations until we finally found a place to call home. In 1996 we purchased property in the Bare Hills Business Park where we have room to expand and stay for another fifty years.
It seems odd, but, today we are thought of as a “Lawn Care“ company! Our tree and shrub programs continue to flourish, while our turf program has gained a reputation as one of , if not, the finest in the area. We use fertilizers blended exclusively for us, to our specifications using high quality professional grade products unlike those used by any other local company. Since we were taking care of lawns, trees, shrubs and industrial sites, we rounded our product line by obtaining certification in Aquatics. This expertise allows us to manage invasive vegetation on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, ornamental and farm ponds along with storm water management ponds. A highlight in our aquatic treatments was working with the Department of Natural Resources in Cecil and Harford Counties, riding wetlands of woody growth restoring them to a marsh state to provide a habitat for the Bog Turtle.
Our growth is directly attributed to our insistence to maintain quality. Because of that over the years several area companies who decided to eliminate spray services turned to us to take over their client list. In the late 70’s Maryland Lawn Keeper turned over their Tree & Shrub work. In the late 90’s Arbormasters did the same as well as R.A.R. Landscape Services in 2004. In 2001 we worked out a deal with the retiring owner of Maryland Lawn Keeper, Inc., and took over their lawn care route. Another attribute to our growth is our stability. Earlier I mentioned key employees who worked here for ten, fifteen and twenty plus years. That’s stability! While I feel “all” of our employees are “key” to our image and reputation, let me tell you about a few …… George Piasecki (Sales) (highlighted in last Winter’s newsletter) has over 30 years experience with 21 of them with us, a graduate of, Glenville College, Licenced Tree Expert and Certified Applicator …… Damian Varga (Sales) a grad of Loyola College has 30 years experience with 6 here at SPS, is a Licenced Tree Expert and Certified Applicator and is current president of the Maryland Arborist Association ……..Brian Haga (operations mgr) 12 yrs with SPS , graduate of Frostburg University, Certified applicator. Our senior techs: Jack Muth, Rich Beere and Scott & Kevin Walker (the twins) have over 30 combined years experience in the industry with more then 15 of them with us. In today’s market place it’s considered extraordinary to work at one place five years, we have extraordinary personnel!
Next to our employees comes the long term relationship we have established with fellow contractors within our industry. In the mid 70’s Akehurst Landscape Service, Inc., contracted us to do pesticide applications on various sites where they had maintenance contracts. That tradition has carried through to today where we perform Lawn Care, Tree & Shrub and Aquatic services on properties in Baltimore and Harford Countries. Another relationship which started in the late 70’s is with the ARC of Baltimore. They too have us treat the properties they are responsible for, such as: Social Security Admin. in Woodlawn, EPA @ Ft. Meade, MTA properties (park & rides, Metro, Light Rail, MTA) from Brunswick in Frederick to Perry Point in Cecil County. Back in the 70’s a working relationship was established with George Shaneybrook which has carried forward with his son at G. W. Shaneybrook and Son. In the past ten years or so, we have expanded that list to include: Alpha Maintenance, Delmarva Grounds Maintenance, Outside Unlimited, Inc, Rhine Lawn Care & Landscaping and McHale Landscape & Design, Inc. McHale is a premier contractor who we have been working for in Southern Md and the Eastern Shore, and starting this spring, the DC suburbs! I guess you could say that we’re the contractors’ contractor. They know we are reliable, honest and will be there when the job needs to get done!
Over the years, we have given back to our community. We have provided complimentary services to the Pickersgill Home in Towson, Maintained the turf at the Holocaust Memorial in Baltimore and taken care of the lawn at the Flag House museum. Over the past five years we have teamed up with The ARC of Baltimore by being lead sponsor for their celebrity golf tournament in the spring. If you don’t know the ARC, they are a great group of people who work with and care for citizens with disabilities to help them be part of our community. You should check them out, their accomplishments will amaze you!
Taking all of the above in consideration, the most important factor that has contributed to 50 years of success is YOU, our customers! Without your commitment and loyalty to us, we wouldn’t be. We feel you have chosen us because you know the difference in Lawn Care companies. We have always done our best to keep you well informed about what we do and your landscape without giving you a hard sell. As you now see, we’re fifty years old, we’ve got roots and we’ve got commitment! We are not just a “lawn care company”, we are part of the community, we are professionals. When Frank Burke started Scientific Plant Service, Inc., in 1957 our company slogan was “friendly trees need friendly care”. Today we say we’re “the asked for company, because of our service, it’s in our name!”
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In 2008 management started formatting a new business plan to take SPS into its’ second fifty years. Knowing that we are a primary user of pesticides and fertilizers, a commitment was to be made to assure SPS uses the most advanced and safest technology available for the services we provide, our technicians, clients and environment as well as the Chesapeake Bay. We have implemented IPM practices for all our treatments to avoid “blanket” applications of pesticides. When new and better products become available, they are integrated into our standard programs, no matter their cost. We have mandated the practice of trunk and soil drenches on trees and shrubs when possible to avoid and reduce repetitive aerial/foliar applications of pesticides. The most important improvement made to date is, making POLYON FERTILIZER the basis of all of our fertilization programs. The POLYON technology eliminates the possibility of nutrient runoff and makes it possible for us to apply 30%-50% less nutrients and still provide a high quality lawn care program!
Our final initiative (to date) has been to re-brand our image. We developed and marketed a new corporate logo that better represents the NEW Scientific Plant Service, Inc., and our environmental awareness’s.
And now, we ask that you come, join us, and become part of our history!