Gravely Ambassadors broadcast from the test facilities at Sebring International Raceway.
Marcus McCall is an expert on two fronts. Not only does he help run McCall's Lawn Care, he also manages the popular @mccalls_lawn_care Instagram page. More than 5,000 people follow his daily posts that showcase the Viera, Florida-based company's work. He’s part of the second generation of McCalls to helm the company, which his father started in 2005 and is still family owned and operated. Both Marcus' father John W. McCall Jr. and his brother Phillip McCall also play an important role in the success of the company.
Marcus McCall was one of 13 Gravely Ambassadors to visit the Sebring International Raceway and site of a major Gravely testing facility in March. The group included lawn care professionals from across the United States, all of whom run social media accounts that attract thousands of followers. McCall, like many attendees, saw the outing as a chance to share best practices.
"Visiting the Sebring test facilities with the other Gravely Ambassadors lets me gain insight from other people who use the products every day and use social media to promote their work," McCall said. "People find our companies on social media that have no other way of reaching us besides word of mouth."
The group of Gravely Ambassadors visited Sebring to view firsthand the rigorous testing that goes on at the AriensCo test facility, and to get their hands on some of the newest Gravely products, including mowers and the Gravely job site vehicle (JSV). Everyone in attendance learned more about how Gravely tests and studies new machines at the facility and had exclusive access to its behind-the-scenes workshops.
They also had great opportunities to create content for their social channels. Reflecting the sweeping do-it-yourself media revolution that has changed the global economy, lawn and snow care professionals are becoming experts in using social media to promote their businesses, attract new customers, showcase their expertise, and in the process, have a lot of fun.
With cameras rolling and drones flying overhead, the Ambassadors shared their adventure in Sebring with their social media followers. They raced mowers up and down the acres of grass in front of the track, speeding over a wide variety of grass types, climbing up and down ditch embankments and spinning around tall palm trees. Gravely Pro-Turn® models, stand-on mowers and JSVs were all seeing action on the test meadow.
Stacey "Sef" Flanagan was also along for the ride. In addition to his duties as the owner of SEF the Lawn Surgeon, a lawn care company based in Richmond, Virginia, he also runs the popular "SEF the Lawn Surgeon" YouTube channel. He posts 2-3 videos a week for an audience of nearly 8,000 followers.
"I came on the Gravely Ambassador trip to make connections and learn more about how I can grow my business through my social media presence," Flanagan said. "Initially I started on YouTube only to document the growth my business, but I ended up connecting into a growing community of lawn care professionals that share my interests."
Flanagan's YouTube channel features a variety of content, including TV show parodies, vlogs, equipment reviews and lawn care how-to's for both professionals and amateurs. He also traffics in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but steers those followers to his dynamic YouTube channel. His company focuses on residential work because Flanagan finds it personally rewarding.
"I prefer working on home residences because I really like to help people that can't help themselves," he said. "I like to build relationships with my customers, like the elderly or the disabled. People that can't really handle their own lawn care."
The group of 13 Gravely Ambassadors that visited Sebring came from across the U.S. (pictured below). They all were brought as guests through the Gravely Ambassador program, a program that welcomes individuals who use social media accounts for their businesses to feature Gravely and other landscaping content with their followers.
"I became a Gravely Ambassador to have a better relationship with a company I admire and trust," McCall said. "Personally, landscaping is my career choice and passion. I wake up every day with passion for what I do. Nothing beats working for yourself and being able to provide for your family. Gravely has helped my family in more ways than one."
Landscape contractors can apply to become a Gravely Ambassador and join similar future events. Ambassadors also have the privilege to see and demo new products before they launch, gain access to Gravely employees for product training and interviews, and experience other exclusive benefits.
A Gravely Ambassadorship is about more than products and events, though. It's about the lawn care professional community coming together to share best practices, learn from one another, and most importantly, create a culture that benefits the industry as a whole. And it's the best opportunity to learn more about how AriensCo works with dealers and customers.
"Every time I connect with Gravely, I learn more about how family-oriented the company is, versus being just straight business," Flanagan said. "The company really cares about its workers and the people that it works with."