Sod Solutions announced Mark Kann has accepted the position of Florida territory manager. He will begin employment in February, bringing over 25 years of experience in the turfgrass industry to the company. For the past 14 years, Mann has run the turf research facility for the University of Florida Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, Florida.
“Mark Kann brings both an extensive professional background and impressive educational credentials into his new role within the Florida turfgrass market,” Sod Solutions President Tobey Wagner said. “He has clearly demonstrated his interest and expertise to work with producers throughout the region as a sod professional and will be a resource for Sod Solutions. We are excited to welcome Mark as our new Florida territory manager.”
Kann holds a bachelor of science degree in turfgrass science and a master of science degree in horticulture sciences from the University of Florida. In his master’s program, Kann minored in agricultural education & communication and agronomy, with a research focus on evaluating educational programs.
During his time as the coordinator of research programs at the UF Plant Science Research and Educational Unit, Kann managed numerous research projects involving turfgrass, ornamentals and greenhouse production.
“We are confident that Mark’s skills, background and personal values will prove to be great additions to our existing team,” Sod Solutions COO Christian Broucqsault said.
Prior to his role at the University of Florida, Kann served as both golf course superintendent and Assistant Superintendent at several golf clubs in Florida. These positions allowed Kann to learn the management of golf courses, to include irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide applications, planning, maintenance and more.
“When I moved to Florida 25 years ago, I wanted a job on a golf course so I could play free golf,” Kann said. “I started working in golf course maintenance and quickly moved up from raking bunkers to becoming a pesticide technician within a couple of years. It was an exciting time for golf with Tiger Woods preparing to join the PGA, but also the beginning of environmentalists questioning the negative environmental impacts of golf course maintenance.”
Since then his passion for designing environmentally friendly golf courses expanded and changed his major from landscape architecture to environmental science while attending UF. Soon after changing his major, he met Ron Garl, a golf course architect, who gave him hope of designing golf courses himself one day. But, when the economy crashed and golf course construction halted, Kann embraced the golf course maintenance path and eventually research.
Kann has received numerous awards and scholarships from Florida horticulture and turfgrass entities and has held numerous leadership roles.
“I have been extremely active in the turfgrass industry throughout my career, serving on the board of directors of several allied associations including the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association (FGCSA), Florida Turfgrass Association (FTGA) and the Seven Rivers Golf Course Superintendents Association (SRGCSA),” he said.
He served as president of both the FGCSA and SRGCSA and was FGCSA Education/BMP Committee Chair for nearly a decade. “I played an integral role in helping to create the FGCSA Golf BMP Certification Program which was nationally recognized by the GCSAA for its importance to government relations,” Kann added.
Kann has been able to work closely with researchers to see the good, bad and ugly of turfgrass research. In the golf course industry, he could diagnose the problems with grasses but in research, he was often restricted on what could be done to resolve issues.
“Many of the breeding trials restricted the use of fungicides and insecticides, so I just had to sit back sometimes and let nature take its course,” he said. “However, this provided me the opportunity to see many grasses thrive under minimal inputs and recognize its importance in helping to reduce negative environmental impacts.”
Kann has work on projects with Sod Solutions for the past 14 years during his role at Florida.
“I have always been impressed with the company’s mission, products and employees,” he said. “I have seen them continue to grow and expand as a company and promote environmentally friendly turfgrasses which is something I feel very strongly about. I see this position as another great opportunity to serve the industry and share my passion, knowledge and experience of turfgrass.”
He will begin his position as Florida territory manager the second week of February 2021.