Stuart J. Sperber

Stuart was a pioneer of innovation who profoundly influenced the landscape and nursery industries.  Known as an industry advocate and leader, Stuart built Valley Crest Tree Company into one of the premier tree nursery and specimen tree moving businesses.  Stuart established Valley Crest Tree Company on a three acre parcel in the San Fernando Valley never expecting that more than half a century later his footprint would have reshaped the future of the nursery business.


Stuart held dual roles as Vice Chairman of the Board for ValleyCrest Companies and CEO and co-founder of Valley Crest Tree Company.  A 50-year member of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Stuart was one of the nursery industry's leading advocates and a leader who profoundly influenced the long-term advancement of the nursery business in the State of California. Throughout his career, he worked to enhance the industry's role in bringing together the public and private sectors to collaborate on issues contributing to public interest in areas of legislation affecting the state's nursery and growing industries.


Stuart held numerous leadership positions with professional landscape organizations. He was the former President of the California Landscape Contractors Association, a member of the National Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, Western Chapter of International Society of Arboriculture, American Association of Nurserymen (California), and President of the University Education Trust at California State Polytechnic University Pomona.


Stuart earned a number of accolades and distinctions for his contributions to the nursery industry.  In 2007, Stuart’s alma mater, California Poly Pomona, awarded him both the distinguished alumnus of the year and an honorary doctorate in recognition of his continuing contributions to the school and to the industry at large. In 2005, he was conferred the Pacific Coast Nurseryman Award, an honor bestowed by the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers on the individual who best demonstrates a lifetime of horticultural excellence and professional achievement.


In June 2007, at Cal Poly’s commencement ceremony in what was his last public address, Stuart thanked his family and friends for their lifetime of support, and encouraged the graduates to believe in their dreams.

Mickey Strauss

Mickey Strauss brings over 45 years of experience in all aspects of the construction and landscape industry. Since launching his landscape career, Mickey has been involved in planning, estimating, purchasing and executing millions of dollars worth of projects. His experience in corporate finance and contract law is a complimentary balance to his many years as a field superintendent and on-site project coordinator.


In 1975, Mickey was named "Man of the Year" of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA). The oldest and largest landscape trade association in the United States. This prestigious recognition was given for his local efforts to establish an effective program for improving professional standards within the landscape industry.


In 1976, he was elected President of the Valley Chapter. At the Association's annual convention in November of 1980, he was named California's "Man of the Year" for his statewide involvement and efforts to improve the landscape industry throughout California and then was elected State President of CLCA in 1981.  Mickey is a past President of the California Landscape and Irrigation Council, Inc. (CLIC), a trade association of union affiliated companies specializing in public works and commercial landscaping. He served as President of CLIC in 1985, 1990, and 1995 and again in 1999. From 1985 until 2007 he served as the Chairman of the Labor Negotiating Committee for CLIC and was responsible for negotiating labor agreements with the Southern California District Council of Laborers. In addition he is also was active member of the negotiating committee with the Southern California Pipe Trades, District Council 16.


Mickey has served as a judge for many of CLCA's Certified Landscape Technician Tests. A program designed to test landscaper's abilities, to certify their qualifications and to maintain high standards throughout the industry. He has also served as a judge for numerous local and Statewide CLCA Trophy Awards programs, as well as the Los Angeles Beautiful Awards programs and California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship Fund (Class Fund) Landscape awards.


Mickey served as President of the Greater Los Angeles Green Industry Council (CGIC), a coalition to facilitate the interaction of member professional associations dedicated to the enhancement of the landscape environment. Mickey was also appointed as Director and Secretary of the Council for a Green Environment (CGE), a coalition of businessmen and associates in the ornamental horticulture industries with its main purpose to promote the benefits of a green environment and to counteract negative publicity generated by the drought throughout California. In 1996, he was appointed to serve on the California State Assembly's "Select Committee for Construction Issues" to further improve the construction industry in California.


Mickey also serves on The Board of Directors of Golden Oak Co-op Corporation, an industry co-op to provide services, information, and education and negotiate the best insurance value for members of CLCA, Birch Financial, Inc., an Insurance premium and equipment finance company.  Landscape Contractors Insurance Services Inc., an insurance brokerage company designed to provide CLCA members the best and most complete group insurance programs. Mickey is also the Chairman of CLCA’s Benevolent Fund, a program to offer assistance to members in time of need.


As a Contractor, Mickey holds a A-General Engineering, B-General Building, C8-Concrete, and C27- Landscape Contractors License.

Other awards and recognitions that Mickey has received are CLCA’s Allegiance Award (1992), CLCA’s Woman’s Auxiliary Knight of the Garter (1987), and CLCA Orange County Chapter’s Meridian Award (2005). Mickey continues to be an active member of CLCA, serving as Vice Chairman of CLCA’s Landscape Political Action Committee (LANDPAC), member of CLCA’s Immigration Task Force and Legislation Committee.


Mickey resides in Chatsworth with his wife of 40 years, Lucinda (Cindy). They have two sons, Jeff who works for a small landscape contractor in the San Fernando Valley, and Jason who is a sales representative for American Landscape, Inc. At end of 2006, Mickey sold his interest in American Landscape, Inc., for which he owned for 34 years. Unable to sit still Mickey has started a new landscape venture. MSM Landscape Services, Inc., located in Sylmar, CA.


When asked why he spends so much time with the industry involvement, Mickey quotes Theodore Roosevelt:

"Every professional man should put back some of the monetary benefits he has taken from his industry by serving that industry with his efforts, his time and his money."

Mike Schwartz


After graduating College, Mike began his career in our industry in 1963 working for Western Landscaping News as it advertising sales manager. In an effort to grow his career, Mike accepted a sales position 2 years later (1965) with Richdel Inc. a very small manufacturer of a mechanically timed valve, a 24 volt valve, and a mechanically timed controller for lawn sprinkler systems based in Glendale, Ca.


Mike was charged with pioneering the virgin do it yourself market with the limited product line and account base wherever and whoever would listen to the now storied history of a consumer oriented plastic valve, and a programmable controller.  While traveling all of California with over a 100 yellow page books that listed hardware stores, Mike began knocking on doors attempting to explain to store owners the virtues of a timed sprinkler system and the simplicity of the two products in hand.


As time and travel went on and on, working state fairs, home shows, & tent shows, sales momentum began to build.  In an entraprunerial fashion, Mike and the owner, (Del Merriner) would build the products and hand deliver the order whenever possible.

Several years down the road, several innovative products were first developed by Richdel, such as the plug in transformer concept, range of plastic valves, another controller or two, and a continuing expertise in developing the then non existent do it yourself market for sprinkler systems.


At that same time, Mike was bringing the trade name "Lawn Genie" to the market and for years to come, the brand and product line became an industry standard.  As growth occurred during the next 5 years, a factory relocation to Carson City, Nevada became a reality in 1970.  At that point in time, a range of new products were developed, employee growth was happening, manufacturing efficiencies resulted and the company grew in the next 10 years, 15 fold.


In a few years that followed the relocation, Mike was asked to move from managing all the sales and marketing responsibilities to Executive Vice President and one of the board of directors.  At this time, Mike developed a new Turf division (known as the PROFESSIONAL SERIES)  which began to take hold and became very complimentary to its retail business.


In 1983, the company sold to GardenAmerica Corp. and Mike was again charged with the sales and marketing responsibilities of a much larger organization.  As continued growth occurred, Mike was instrumental in the acquisition of Irritrol.  This addition to its current business provided the platform for the company to go public.


In 1988, GardenAmerica sold to Emhart Corp, which two years later sold to Black & Decker.  At this time, Mike decided not to join the senior management team of Black & Decker and resigned.  After an extended absence from the industry, Mike Joined Orbit Irrigation in a sales capacity, and then joined the Hydro Rain/Blu Lock group and currently is the Western Regional Sales Manager.

Bob Mattson
Professor Emeritus, Cuyamaca College

Robert Mattson, born February 9, 1948 lived in Poway, CA and was a devoted family man with a loving and understanding wife Marcia, daughter Melissa and son Jeff.  Bob worked as Utility Crew Supervisor for Padre Dam Water District in Santee, CA and was moved over to run the backflow department until he retired February 2006.  Bob was a member of AWWA, as well as being the AWWA Southern California Administrator.


He held a Backflow Tester Certification, Backflow Program Specialist, was a Proctor in Charge, Proctor and instructor for AWWA.  Bob also held Backflow Tester Certification, Specialist Certification as well as Proctor status for ABPA.  For the past few years he held the position of Vice President for the Southern California Chapter of ABPA.  Locally in San Diego County, CA he was a past Vice President and held the position as Treasurer for the Cross Connection Control Advisory Committee of San Diego County.  Bobs devotion to the backflow industry, in general, was far and away above the call of duty for just one person.  He loved being involved in the backflow industry and spent a lot of his time helping anyone that asked.  He will be missed as a mentor for many as well as an inspiration to all of us.  His devotion to backflow was intentional and never faltered.  Bobs ability to organize anything that was handed to him was envied by many.  When it came to Southern California AWWA Certification there will never be anyone that can match his way of making any situation run smoothly.  He will be missed by all.

David Pagano
Founder / Owner d.d. Pagano, Inc.

Dave Pagano started his "irrigation career" in the summer of 1957. After starting college in the fall of 1956, following graduation from Anaheim High School, Dave learned quickly that he needed to find a job to help cover living expenses. So, he went to work for the City of Anaheim Parks and Recreation Department as a draftsman working under the City’s Park Development Coordinator, Dick Kamphefner. Anaheim was just starting to design and develop new parks within the City and Mr. Kamphefner told Dave that it would be his responsibility to design the irrigation system for one of the new park sites.


After leaving the City in 1961, Dave transitioned to a new job as an irrigation designer for Nees Turf Supply Company, where his designs were provided to customers for free. Providing free irrigation designs was the norm for this time period in the irrigation industry. While at Nees Turf Supply, Dave moved from irrigation designer, to inside sales representative, to outside sales representative and over the course of six years, he worked closely with and for irrigation equipment manufacturers and distributors. Dave also had the opportunity to work with George Moody. George developed one of the first automatic sprinkler controllers

in 1927.


Donald Phelps

I was introduced to the Green Industry after I completed my service time with the Air Force in 1964. I needed a job and found one working on a golf course in the City of Concord Calif. My time there was spent with maintenance of the course and help finish building the back nine which completed the eighteen hole golf course. I moved on to other endeavors until 1970 when I gained employment with The City of La Habra. It was a young time for the city parks due to the lack of equipment and products that we now have. We, in the Parks Dept., only had two trucks and one of them was the Foreman’s. The other was a crew truck and being used at the time building a new park. We did have people working in parks as resident caretakers. They went direct from home to the park and went home from the park. When I was assigned a park, that’s when I first came in contact with irrigation. At the time the parks that had irrigation was irrigated with the big heavy Thompson sprinkler. When something happened to them they were sent out for repair. I found one in need of repair and wondering why it didn’t work I proceeded to take it apart. I only had a vise, large pipe wrench and a large hammer. I found that the graphite and oil had dried up preventing the gears to move. Looking around I found a can of penetrating oil. The end results were that I got the sprinkler moving once again. From that point on the practice of sending sprinklers out for repair was ended. Other things went wrong with them but learned to fix them also.


After 3 ½ years I left the City of La Habra to work in the high country in a wood molding mill. I rejoined the City of La Habra in 1977 and I’m still with them until Dec.31st. On that date I will be retiring. My total time will be 36 years and do not regret any of it. When I came back to the city in 1977 most all of the people that I worked with had left and to be able to learn to operate the equipment you were pretty much on your own. Things by then were better because by that time the weed eater and electric hedge pruners were with us and also we had more trucks to make our jobs easier. During this time I worked at irrigation once in a while but the last twelve years I have been doing it full time and never looked back. We still had some Thompson sprinklers and the opportunity to visit the refinery that made the Thompson and take classes on the product came available. We also were able to visit turf shows and see the new products that would make our jobs easier and better.


Most of my schooling for irrigation was by trial and error. The only teacher I had was learning by my mistakes. I hate to do my work over so I learned to pay attention to what I was doing and don’t cut corners in order to get the job done quicker because it will come around and bite you. I have found what I call sins, buried out in the field because people did the easy way out and hoped that they would never need to go back for a re do. Sometimes that didn’t work out and to this day I still find the sins that other people had committed. In my teaching, I make sure that the job is done correctly the first time because most of all, you do not want to re visit a main line repair that wasn’t done properly. Not to say that I don’t make mistakes and when I do I’m very hard on myself for doing so. When others do I just tell them that I had done the same thing and it can be fixed. I do remind them not to cut corners and be sure to do it right the first time.


One day I discovered a little place called Irrigator Tech. I gave it a try and I found that so much more was to be learned. I found the teachers were very knowledgeable in the field plus if you had something to add they would listen. I felt that I brought to the class, my experience, as much as I received. If I remember correctly, I was in the second class that Irrigator Tech had. I completed the course but I still came back for other classes that were offered. During one of the classes I made a suggestion to Richard that he should come up with a soldering class. I felt that there was a lot of people in the industry hadn’t learned to solder correctly. Richard listened and to this day you can find the soldering class on the schedule. My main objective is for the new people that come to the city parks dept. go and learn more about there job. Because when they hired on it was just a job but if they are around for ten years the job becomes a career. The bottom line is “Listen, Learn and take the time to try and do new things. Just when you think you have no more to learn there is always more coming to the Green Industry for you.

Haruo Yamashiro


Haruo was easily recognizable at any CLCA function as he was always the man who walked around with his camera, taking pictures of everyone and everything, almost as if to memorialize CLCA and the efforts of its members.  For that we will be forever grateful to him.  But our gratitude as an Association does not end there…for Haruo’s life, as aided by his wonderful wife Takako, was a life of service to the community, to his fellow man.  Haruo’s legacy can be summed up in one word: Service.  Let me share with you some examples of this great man and his service to all of us:


(1) For many years, Haruo shared his time and talents with his community and his fellow members of CLCA. He gave with open hands and an open heart. He was beloved by his peers for his generous spirit, his many achievements and his unwavering dedication. Haruo was proud to say he never missed a CLCA meeting or a chapter project. He was instrumental in forming the Pacific Coast Chapter, and served as president of the LA/San Gabriel Chapter in addition to distinguishing himself as an Life Member and a Sustaining Member of the association.


 (2) Haruo’s commitment to excellence also shown through in his landscape projects for wherever Haruo touched the earth, it became a more beautiful place.  Haruo was well known for his beautiful and inspired gardens, first winning CLCA’s state-wide award for Special Effects in 1972. He went on to win top honors for his Japanese garden at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts’ Shin’enkan Pavilion and for the Japanese garden at the Hashimoto Residence. His second Special Effects award came in 1992 for the Star View garden at the Price Residence.


 (3) Haruo’s list of civic contributions is a long one. He won the CLCA Humanitarian awards for the Gardena Buddhist Church garden, the friendship garden at CaliforniaStateUniversity at Dominguez Hills, and the James Irvine Garden in Los Angeles. One Humanitarian Award-winning project especially close to his heart was the Japanese Cultural Institute Patio Garden, which he dedicated to Japanese-American pioneers. For decades, Haruo created the celebrated gardens that served as a centerpiece of Gardena’s Japanese Culture Shows. For these efforts and his genius in creating beautiful things, Haruo will always be remembered.


 For the 10th Anniversary of the Baltimore/Nagoya Port agreement, Haruo supervised the planting of 10 Kwanzan Cherry trees, and it was under his leadership that volunteers of the Gardena Valley Gardener’s Association landscaped the Gardena/Carson YMCA. In 1995, Haruo was inducted into the city of


Gardena Beautification Committee’s first Wall of Fame, an honor befitting this dedicated landscaper’s deep love of beauty and community.


Haruo’s life was one of commitment to excellence and his fellow man.  His was a quiet presence that set the example for all of us in dealing with others and in being a productive part of the community in which we live. Our lives are much richer because of Haruo and his memory lives on in his wonderful wife who stood by his side these many years; in his family who will walk in his footsteps and in his community which is much more beautiful because of the touch of his hand.  There are only a handful of people who come into your world, and touch your life in a dramatic fashion.  Some of the people are just flickers of light during a long life, while others are consistent glows.  Haruo was one who consistently glowed.


On behalf of the CLCA, I thank the Yamashiro family for letting us share your father and your husband for these many years for we are the richer for it.

Ted Byrne

Ted Byrne is responsible for providing sales, service, and support to golf professionals throughout the Inland Empire. With 38 years of experience in all phases of irrigation, including 19 years as the owner of Oasis Irrigation Supply, Ted is well-versed in irrigation system design, installation, and troubleshooting.


Ted specializes in golf course construction and design, as well as drainage design solutions on greens and tee boxes, but also has a stong background in both sales and management, having handled over 100 million dollars in irrigation sales over the years. As a member of Ewing’s Golf Sales Team, he can provide you with the products and service required to complete your job on time. An avid golfer for over 50 years with a five handicap, Ted enjoys playing golf and traveling in his motor home up and down the California coast. Ted brings a wealth of knowledge to any golf or irrigation project. He has always said, “If you can play the game like a pro, then selling the products and service is like making a birdie on every hole.”


He looks forward to bringing together Ewing’s strength and his expertise to help you succeed in every project you tackle together.

Education and Certifications:


• El Camino College, Torrance, CA; received an associate’s degree in business management

• Officers Candidate School, Fort Benning, GA; served in the United States Army for four years Association Involvement

• Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), member, Southern California chapter

• California Landscape Contractors Association, associate member, Inland Empire chapter

• United States Golf Association (USGA), member

• Irrigation Association (IA), member

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