The Sod Solutions Story
Sod Solutions is a family owned and operated business with principles based on a family atmosphere and values. The success story of Sod Solutions is a history of innovation, teamwork, perseverance, stewardwhip, fellowship, hardwork, and faith. Success is sometimes measured by a snapshot of numbers. Sod Solutions' success can be measured and attributed to the people associated with the the company including growers, employees, and other interests that have seen the products, programs, and partnerships of Sod Solutions transform turf farms and improve the turfgrass industry.
Sod Solutions was officially incorporated in 1994 but the roots and concepts of the company started in the mid-1980's. Tobey Wagner, president and owner of Sod Solutions has a passion for turf, plants, and general landscaping. His father and grandfather taught him horticulture techniques and the appreciation of the great outdoors. LeeAnn Wagner, Tobey's wife, kept the books while significant input also came from LeeAnn's father Tom Hendrix, a successful business man. These inputs and experiences combined with input from family and employees has seen Sod Solutions become the nations top company for researching, developing, and marketing patented turf grass varieties.
During the 1980's the Florida sod industry was robust as housing and development flourished. Growers had dfficulity keeping up with production to keep up with demand. Challenges for growers included limited land for production as development competed for farm land, increasing transportation costs, and several cold winters that decimated the commonly produced St. Augustine 'Floratam'. In 1989 an historic cold snap produced a freeze that resulted in tempertures in Orlando of 17 degress. Miami saw temperatures drop to 30. Vast areas of Floratam were damaged and lost at both farms and homes. Suddenly, cold tolerance was a top issue for turf selection, particularly for St. Augustine grasses.
During this same period Tobey Wagner and Elmer Kirkland, a turf grower in New Smyrna Beach, had been working together on some improved St. Augustine grasses including a Florida release called FX-10 and an experimental line called SS-100. SS-100 would eventually be trade named Palmetto St. Augustine which became the flagship turf product for Sod Solutions and the #1 patented turf grass in the world with well over a billion square feet sold to date.
The original business idea that Wagner worked on was to develop a broker business along the I-95 corridor in Florida that would exclusively market and sell FX-10 from Florida growers to landscapers in coastal Georgia and throughout coastal South and North Carolina. This is one of the methods on how relationships with key Florida growers developed. Several of these key relationships have grown into key friendships that continue on today after 20 years.
FX-10 was a University of Florida release that was touted as having extreme drought tolerance which is a key issue in the south. After several coldsnaps during the 80's and 90's cold tolerance suddenly became a critical issue as FX-10 was killed by a series of cold winters. Studies in Florida and South Carolina quickly confirmed that Palmetto was a very cold hardy variety. To this day no commericially sold St.Augustine has matched the cold tolerance of Palmetto.
The Palmetto St. Augustine program began in 1993-94 as four central Florida growers licensed Palmetto St. Augustine. Palmetto was formally introdcued at a March 1994 Florida Sod Cop-op (which has since been renamed Turfgrass Producers of Florida) field day at Gary Resmondo's farm near Lake Placid, Florida. This milestone moment was the birth of the Sod Solutions licensing program. By the end of 1994 there were 12 charter growers of Palmetto St. Augustine in Florida.
Two years later, at the end of 1996, there were 51 licensed Palmetto growers across the southern United States in various climate and soil conditions reporting positive results from their fields and customers. Several of these growers formerly grew only Centipede or Bermuda grass for that transition zone. Until they experienced Palmetto, they didn't believe there was a St. Augustine that could have such a significant market impact. In less than two years Palmetto had more growers than any other proprietary grass in the sod industry. After eight years of scrutiny and testing, Palmetto proved itself to be shade, cold, frost, drought and disease tolerant. Jimmy Golden, a professor at Clemson University conducted several studies that comfirmend field reports on the cold tolerance.
As the Palmetto St. Augustine program developed, stories appeared in national and international turf magazines giving both Palmetto and Sod Solutions positive and beneficial exposure. Growers from the western United States, Australia, Brazil, and South Africa inquired about Palmetto. These inquiries prompted trips to these regions and countries that yielded both new licensed turf prodcuers, turf breeders, and new products. These turf breeders prompted Sod Solutions to build a development and breeding program that over the years have resulted in iconic products like EMPIRE Turf and Celebration Bermuda. These brand names are now known worldwide. Sod Solutions now works with multiple national and international universities and has contracts with particular universities to handle their grasses.
At the end of 2012, Sod Solutions has 15 grasses, works wth over 250 growers worldwide, and has become the top company in the industry in developing, researching, and marketing patented and trademarked grasses. Whereas Palmetto, our flagship product, primarilary introduced Sod Solutions to growers and the home landscaping industry, grasses like EMPIRE Turf, Celebration Bermuda, Latitude 36 bermuda, Discovery Bermuda, Geo Zoysia, RPR Ryegrass, and HGT Rye grass introduced Sod Solutions to the golf and sports industry nearly 10 years ago. Sod Solutions products started out mostly in residential homes, but can now been seen in professional fields and high profile sites across the world.
The future of Sod Solutions is bright. From the United States to Brazil, Australia to China, Sod Solutions is making a significant impact to improve and expand our business. With an ever expanding market into both cool and warm season grasses, the company's footprint is world-wide. Sod Solutions now works with over 8 major universities in the USA to develop even better grasses. In 2012 an Authorized Distributor program was started, and now has over 250 retail outlets carrying and selling our turf products. We plan to expand the program further in 2013 and begin to add key installers in select markets. We have a growing web business that will be releasing software and website packages for turf farms to help them drive sales and successfully market their business. Sod Solutions is a company of innovation that is always looking for ways to improve our industry.
Whether you are a homeowner looking for an easy to maintain grass for your lawn, a sports manager wanting the best grass for your team or city, a golf professional wanting the top products for your course, a landscaper wanting go-to turf varieties to spec for your clients, or a farmer wanting to join our team, we have the products to meet your needs.