December is typically a time for planning: determining budgets and strategic direction including planning purchases, labor needs and setting rates for next year. It is a time to reflect on where you've been, where you are and where you hope to be. Considering this, we decided to focus this issue on “Pulse of the Industry.” The past few years have been a stress test for the green industry, but also reveal our strengths, weaknesses and forecasting guide for 2005.

The grounds-care industry continues to grow despite the recession this country has experienced in this decade. Residential construction has been a key factor in making this happen. Golf course construction has slowed in the new millennium but still remains positive. As employment and disposable income improve, golfer participation should get a boost, and golf development may see a comeback.

In this issue we will report on the current size and scope of the grounds-care industry and also forecast growth areas and concerns for the coming year. We have researched a pile of public documents to give you a snapshot of our industry and its different segments. We also interviewed key manufacturers and grounds-care practitioners like yourself to get an idea of where the grounds-care business is going in 2005.

In the past, we published an annual Buyers' Guide in December. However, this year we decided to publish the Buyers' Guide as a special section in key issues that relate in a timely manner for your needs. In January, you will see the Chemical/Irrigation Buyers' Guide. This is the time that you will be making your decisions on chemical and irrigation needs, and it is also coincides with the start of our Chemical Update series. In tandem with the Chemical Update series, you will have all the information you need to check out the products you want to use and contact information for making purchases. The only thing we don't provide is pricing information. In September, we will publish the Equipment/Seed & Sod Buyers' Guide. This ties in with the International Lawn & Garden Expo in Louisville in October and your chance to peruse some of the new products at the show. Of course, you also have the online Buyers' Guide at your disposal on the Grounds Maintenance Web site,

Enjoy the holiday season.

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