I am always intrigued to see how the grounds and sports turf industry continues to test the character and minds of those who chose to earn a living from this industry.
Over the years I have met many interesting characters, none more so than Ian Somerville, who I have had the pleasure of knowing since we first met up at Cranfield University where we both were studying for a Master of Science course in Sports Turf Technology under the supervision of the inspirational Alex Vickers who now works as a consultant for the IOG.
Ian, like me, is not frightened on taking on new challenges and over the years has held several jobs within the industry. Having bumped into Ian at Harrogate in January, he was keen for me to meet up with his new boss Miles Todd of 360 Ground Care.
Ian was keen for me to meet up with Miles and find out for myself how 360 Ground Care had started and find out more about its ambitions for the future. I was invited to attend a U20’s Six Nations International rugby match at the Zip World Stadium Conway in March, as the company are responsible for maintaining the stadium’s pitch.
Miles had in fact booked a hospitality box and invited several guests including me to attend the match and enjoy the experience of a six nations U20’s international rugby match between Wales and Ireland. Ireland Under-20s showed the spirit of champions to roar from behind to beat Wales 26-17 and claim a historic Grand Slam. Already crowned Under-20’s Six Nations winners after results went their way in Round Four, the visitors were indebted to late tries from Colm Reilly and Tom Clarkson as they turned the tables in the final ten minutes.
Miles began his career in Greenkeeping at Rhuddlan Golf Club straight after leaving school. During his seven years at the club he managed to work is way up to the post of Deputy Course Manager while at the same time gaining relevant greenkeeping qualifications and becoming one of Toro’s Greenkeepers of the Year.
He then left Rhuddlan GC to become course manager at Maesdu GC at the age of twenty four and during his time there was selected as an member of the Bernhard’s delegation to San Antonio. He also was a founding member of the YGC (young greenkeepers committee) and served a two-year stint. Miles also took the opportunity to volunteer and work at three Open Championships.
After eleven years of working in the greenkeeping sector Miles, with the aid of a financial backer, took the decision create 360 Ground Care toward end of 2016 and began trading in January 2017.
He created the company after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the golfing industry and wanted a new challenge. He saw an opportunity to provide a professional grounds maintenance and renovation service for both the golf and sports turf sectors, as he was acutely aware of clubs having less capital budgets for machinery and moving towards hiring contractors to undertake specialist / renovation works to save money.
Miles has invested in a fairly large fleet of machinery that includes three tractors, Vredo 214 seeder, Imants re-cycle dresser, Imants Shockwave, Imants Koro, Imants Rotosweep / scarifyer, Weidenmann XF spiker, Air2g2 aerator, Dakota 410 spreader, Trilo dropspreader, Trimax mower, Bomford flail remote control mower, along with transport trailers and vehicles and a pedestrian and ride on mowers. A considerable investment for a small company of four employees.
In their short time of trading, they are now an approved contractor for the WRU and the FAW and work closely with both sporting bodies to improve their playing surfaces. The company has also been granted approval to undertake work for the NRW (Natural Resources Wales) framework for whom they carry out vegetation and ecology management on many of their sites, including sssi sites.
Working with Miles is Ian Somerville, who joined the company in August 2107 as contracts manager. An old head to help grow the business, he was followed by Jordan Wynne who came on board in November 2018 when the company secured the RCG contract at the Zip World Stadium.
Jordan spends three days a week looking after the Zip World Stadium preparing the playing surface for a plethora of sports throughout the year. Jordan previously worked at the All England Lawn Tennis Club for three years (Wimbledon 2016, 2017, 2018) whilst also taking time out to work at the Westpac stadium and Shrewsbury school before taking up his present job with 360 Groundcare.
The company is steadily building up a reputation for delivering high quality workmanship across several disciplines particularly sports turf and managing ecological sites. They now have several long-term customers seeking their expertise.
Miles and Jordan are currently undertaking the end of season renovations at Kings School, Chester utilising the Imants Recycler to rejuvenate the football pitches, followed by some oversseding.
Recent work has also included the restoration of some heathland at Delemere Forest GC removing large swaths of gorse, bramble, grass and bracken on many steep slopes using their Bomford remote flail mowers.