© courtesy of bayer

A new industry company with recognizable products and people is starting to form.

Bayer announced March 10 that it entered a definitive agreement to sell its Environmental Science Professional business for $2.6 billion to London-based private equity firm Cinven. News of the sale became public a little less than 13 months after Bayer started the process of divesting its Environmental Science business, which serves the golf, lawn and landscape, pest control, production ornamentals, and vegetation management markets.

© courtesy of bayer

Pending proper approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year. A portfolio of market-leading products and 800 employees will transfer to the company emerging from Environmental Science. And, yes, the company will eventually have a new name.

“All of our solutions — Signature, Esplanade, Specticle, you name it — they all stay the same,” CEO Gilles Galliou said in an interview with Golf Course Industry. “We will have a transition period with Bayer, because obviously you can’t switch one name to another. All the regulatory requirements are needed and we need to transfer a lot of ownership to the new company. It’s our ambition to have a name that fits our innovative spirit and our sustainability thinking, so we’re working hard to find that new corporate identity.”

Think naming a product is tough? Imagine naming an entire company. The regulatory process for naming the new company could take as long as two years, though Galliou said he expects the new name to be launched sooner. In the meantime, the same products will be available through the same channels. “My No. 1 goal is to make sure right out of the gate there will be no issues for our customers,” Galliou said. “Business continuity is my No. 1 goal.”

The company will be uniquely positioned because it will no longer be tied to the agriculture business. With Bayer, Environmental Science served as a division under the Crop Science unit. Environmental Science contributed more than $700 million to Bayer in 2021, according to Galliou, and numerous markets within the division, including golf — which has experienced a net gain of 800,000 participants over the past two years — are flourishing.

© courtesy of bayer

“We had a very strong performance year after year in 2020 over 2019 and 2021 over 2020,” Galliou said. “We see the momentum in these markets. We saw the momentum, in particular, in North America. A big part of our current business is in North America. We see the opportunity to grow. It’s the right time to focus on those markets.”

The company will be based in North America, with the Environmental Science headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, becoming the new company’s global headquarters. The transaction also includes the Environmental Science research facility in Clayton, North Carolina.

Galliou, a Bayer veteran who has spent nearly his entire tenure in Environmental Science, will lead the new company, which will expand to 1,000 employees thanks to new positions required to handle central functions. Galliou has already endured one major challenge: guiding the Environmental Science team through the uncertainty of the process.

“I cannot state how grateful and amazed I am by the commitment, the passion, the hard work, the will to succeed, the excitement and the positive thinking the team has shown,” he said. “It’s been an incredible work experience. You learn every day about stuff that you have never done before.” Galliou added that beyond normal attrition the company has retained “nearly all of our talent” during the past year.

Cinven’s purchase of Environmental Science represents one of the biggest infusions of private equity investment to enter the golf maintenance industry. Cinven, according to its website, has more than 130 investments in six sectors: business services, consumer, financial services, healthcare, industrials and TMT (technology, media and telecommunications). The firm has offices in London, New York, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Guernsey and Luxembourg.

“Their experience is a lot in acquiring one division of a big company and turning it into an independent company,” Galliou said. “We are going to build on that experience, because that’s exactly what we need. More than that, I believe Cinven has shown the capacity to drive companies to success. They also have very openly expressed wanting to do good for society and the environment. We are totally aligned on those elements.”

The companies are also aligned on the importance of innovation. Once the transition period passes, expect new products from the company with a new name.

“Cinven is extremely excited about our capacity to innovate,” Galliou said. “Our product portfolio has tremendous value. It’s an extremely strong product line. If we don’t supplement and add to our innovation for years to come, the value of that portfolio is good for, what, five, 10 years? The investment is very clear about our growth, therefore innovation is at the center of what we are going to do.”

Tartan Talks 69

Quitno

Thinking about starting a bunker project? Or interested in bunker-based discussions?

Wilczynski

Practical guidance on the process of improving the hazards is the focus of a Tartan Talks episode with Chris Wilczynski of CW Golf Architecture and Todd Quitno of Lohman Quitno Golf Course Architects.

“When we get a call about bunkers, it’s because they are underperforming,” Quitno says. “They are not draining, they are contaminated, they cost a ton to clean up after storms, they haven’t been touched for 20 years. It’s rare when somebody calls and says, ‘We want new bunkers just because, even though ours are great.’ There’s always a problem and you have to understand the problem.”

That call often comes from a superintendent, whom Wilczynski calls “the most critical person” in successfully executing a bunker project. “The last thing I’m going to do is create something the superintendent is not going to be able to maintain,” he says. “I need that superintendent to sell it internally. I’m on the outside and he’s there every day.”

“Bunkers are the No. 1 complaint at private clubs and public clubs,” Quitno says. “They are also the most photographed, most talked about element of golf. Should they be hazards? Should they be perfect? People like them, people enjoy them, people hate them. They are polarizing. That’s what makes them great.”

Listen to the podcast on the Superintendent Radio Page of popular podcast distribution platforms.

#TurfheadsGrilling, Part 2

Social media food fest returns for a fiery second year.

Gas, charcoal or pellets? Back porch or backyard? Meat or … veggies? (Or maybe meat and veggies?) None of those questions will matter this year during our second annual #TurfheadsGrilling campaign — just as long as you’re outside, heating up a meal and showing it off to the rest of the turf community.

After a fun-filled first year, #TurfheadsGrilling is back, celebrating everything about grilling. The program launches again this month, highlighted by social media shares on Fridays, stories in the magazine and online, a road trip cookout and more, and AQUA-AID Solutions will partner with us for the second straight year.

“AQUA-AID Solutions is looking forward to Season 2 of the #TurfheadsGrilling campaign,” AQUA-AID Solutions president Sam Green says. “We partnered with Golf Course Industry in order to have an outlet for turf managers everywhere to share grilling recipes and tips. They did a great job compiling the recipes and we had good feedback and success. New ideas and of course the banter among the grilling specialist should make Season 2 even better. We’re looking forward to getting the campaign launched and actively participating.”

Every month will feature Friday Grillday themes — early-season team cookouts on April 22, Memorial Day weekend tourney cookouts on May 27, member-guest cookouts on June 10, for starters — but feel free to shoot and share whatever is on your grill any day of the week. If you include the #TurfheadsGrilling hashtag and mention @GCImagazine or @Solutions4Turf, your grillwork will likely be shared on our Twitter page and considered for our second annual year-end grilling guide and a 2023 team cookout. We’ll also ship out tasty spice and sauce boxes to grillers whose recipes and images are in the guide.

“We relishes our role as an industry content innovator and our desire to execute well-done ideas resulted in a printed recipe guide in last December’s Turfheads Take Over issue and a #TurfheadsGrilling campaign that generated tremendous social media buzz,” editor-in-chief Guy Cipriano says. “Thanks to the support of a wonderful partner in AQUA-AID Solutions, we’re thrilled to continue this program. We can’t wait to see what recipes, ideas and photos our readers, followers and listeners submit this year.”

What are you waiting for? Spring is here and your grill won’t start itself. (Well, it might actually start itself. Some of those fancy grills do that now. All the same, spring is still here and Fridays are fast approaching. Recipes and images can be emailed to Cipriano at gcipriano@gie.net and managing editor Matt LaWell at mlawell@gie.net. Happy grilling!

Course news

Foxburg Golf Preservation announced a major preservation and restoration effort for the Foxburg golf course, which opened for play in 1887 and is the oldest continually operated golf course in the country. The course hired RonForse of Forse Golf Design to prepare architectural plans to update the course while retaining its Victorian roots. … Sand Valley announced plans to expand its golf and resort experience, with construction on Sedge Valley beginning this spring under the direction of architect TomDoak and Renaissance Golf Design. Sedge Valley will add to the resort’s collection of acclaimed layouts, Sand Valley (BillCoore and BenCrenshaw), Mammoth Dunes (DavidMcLayKidd), The Sandbox (Coore and Crenshaw) and the forthcoming Lido. … Grande Dunes Resort Club in Myrtle Beach will undergo an extensive greens and bunker renovation project this summer, led by architect JohnHarvey, who worked with RogerRulewich on the original design and construction of the course. The course will close from May 16 to September 15. … Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club has announced a 10-year partnership with The Toro Company and local Toro distributor, Jebsen & Jessen. The formal agreement includes a complete fleet of Toro golf course maintenance equipment and irrigation products, as well as landscaping tools, training, and on-site service and support. … Historic Oakland Hills Country Club, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, will host the 2034 and 2051 U.S. Open Championships, as well as four additional USGA amateur championships starting in 2024. … Heritage Golf Group acquired Cape Fear National Golf Club in suburban Wilmington, North Carolina, and Brunswick Plantation Resort and Golf in Calabash, North Carolina, bringing its portfolio to 20 clubs — 14 of them acquired since July 2020. … Troon was selected to manage Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida, near Tampa.

People news

Aquatrols appointed IanGrove as its newest Southeastern U.S. territory manager, overseeing business in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. … Landscapes Unlimited promoted nine-year company veteran TomO’Connor to project manager in their South Region, covering projects from Florida to Texas. … Pursell Agri-Tech added BillAbetz, a 30-year green industry veteran, as director of turf and ornamentals. … Rain Bird promoted JeffLawson to golf marketing manager, TonyWhelan to golf national sales manager, and MohanSubramanian to Golf international sales manager. ... RISE, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, elected chair Karen Larson of Clarke and vice chair Jose Milan of Bayer Environmental Science. Blaine Pinkerton of Nufarm continues his term as treasurer.