Proscape

Overview

COMPANY

Proscape — Greenwich, R.I.

Since 1995, Proscape has provided full-service landscape design, development, and maintenance, as well as snow and ice removal, across southern New England from its home office in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Company founder John Pontarelli grew the company from one truck and a single mower into the company it is today, with 70 employees and a fleet of 31 mowers. From Hartford, Connecticut, to Nashua, New Hampshire, the company provides corporations, multi- family communities, homeowners’ associations, retail properties, and small businesses with sustainable landscapes.

CHALLENGE & SOLUTION

When Proscape determined its customers were becoming increasingly interested in landscapers using sustainable solutions, the company field-tested commercial propane mowers. After a positive trial run, Proscape decided to transition its entire fleet to propane.

RESULTS

  • The company markets its propane use and sustainable practices to gain new customers.
  • Propane mowers help the company cut costs associated with fuel and maintenance to boost their bottom line.
  • Employees say the alternative fuel makes their work easier in Rhode Island’s damp and cold conditions.

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Details

Proscape began using propane-powered mowers in 2010. Clients, especially the larger corporations, had started showing interest in using sustainable practices for their landscaping. Pontarelli saw that demand for sustainability created an opportunity for the company to find a niche in the market and grow into a regional operation. In 2012, Proscape committed to using alternative fuels for their fieldwork and home office.

Leading the Market in Sustainability

Pontarelli says he first saw propane mowers at the Green Industry Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2009. Proscape tested propane machines in 2010 and converted its entire commercial fleet — then 20 mowers in total — to propane within the year.

“We are seeing property managers doing everything to be greener.”

JOHN PONTARELLI
FOUNDER

Proscape now runs 30 propane-dedicated John Deere mowers — a mix of zero-turn, stand-on, and walk-behind models. The company’s forklift at its production facility even operates on propane.

They were the first company in New England to convert all of their fleet to propane, he says.

Its early adoption of propane helped the company market itself as using sustainable practices, through which it gained new clients actively seeking more environmentally-friendly landscaping solutions. “The growth has been overwhelming,” Pontarelli says.

“We are seeing property managers doing everything to be greener,” Pontarelli says. “They are looking for and hiring vendors that adhere to sustainable practices and we’re glad we can fill this demand.”

Along with using propane, the company has incorporated other sustainable practices as well. Proscape is experimenting with propane leaf blowers and handheld power tools. It uses alternative fuel in its fleet trucks and construction equipment. It incorporates native species and drought tolerant plants into landscape design. Employees even monitor irrigation to prevent unnecessary and wasteful watering practices.

“As a landscaping company, we should be as green as we possibly can,” Pontarelli says.

Propane Made Proscape More Productive

The terrain and weather across southern New England can change quickly, creating challenges for even the most experienced commercial mower operators. But where Proscape’s gasoline mowers were slow or cumbersome to operate, Pontarelli found the propane mowers could perform at full power in more difficult conditions.

“When you use a gas mower in thick grass with wet and rainy conditions, the mower gets bogged down,” Pontarelli says.

“The propane mowers have exceptional horsepower. There is no lagging or lack of power.”

There isn’t any downtime to refill propane like there is with gasoline, which was a major reason Proscape initially became interested in propane. Pontarelli wanted refueling to be more convenient for the busy company, to allow employees to focus on quality and care for each lawn rather than filling extra gasoline tanks each morning. Without a lot of small gasoline tanks floating around on trucks and trailers, there’s also no risk for fuel pilfering, spillage, or mis-fueling by mistakenly putting an ethanol blend into mowers.

“The propane mowers have exceptional horsepower. There is no lagging or lack of power.”

JOHN PONTARELLI

The refueling process with Proscape is simple. The company gets deliveries of pre-filled cylinders twice a week from its local propane retailer. Employees simply load an extra cylinder on a company pickup or trailer and leave for the jobsite. For the most part, one cylinder is enough to get employees through the day, but an empty cylinder can be changed out for a full one in a matter of seconds with no need to leave the jobsite for a refueling station.

Pontarelli says his employees are more productive and happy. They no longer have to worry about spilling gasoline or leaving the job smelling like gasoline and engine fumes. Unlike gasoline, propane engines work with a closed-loop fuel system to reduce leaks and spills.

Propane Boosts the Bottom Line

While its environmental benefits were the main reason Proscape transitioned to propane mowers, the company also saw a positive impact financially.

Since transitioning to propane in 2010, the company saves up to 10 percent annually on fuel and maintenance costs compared to what it was spending with gasoline units.

“We are saving approximately $6,000 on an annual basis,” Pontarelli says.

The cost of propane is less than the cost of gasoline and diesel, and local propane retailers can help ensure contractors are receiving the lowest possible price in the area. Proscape is also saving money on maintenance while using propane.

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