2014 Land Management Winner

Eynon Weed Control - Oceanside, CA

Unlike most weed control companies, Eynon Weed Control does not work mostly with growers. From their base in Oceanside, CA, Mike Eynon and his team - led by Operations Manager Max Cassie - travel the Golden State for jobs at such facilities as oil refineries and pipelines.

"Places where everything is so combustible, they can't have any weeds," says Eynon.

They are places where only the best work can be tolerated, says Frank Aulgur of DuPont Land Management. "Everything is top notch," he says. "They are the cream of the crop in California."

Some jobs are big - and tricky. Take the 3,200 miles of canal that make up the Imperial Irrigation District in Southern California, It's an immense task, double that length - like going cross-country and back - when you consider that they coat everything twice. And they have to be extremely sensitive to the environment while doing it. Not just for fear of polluting the water, but growers in the area farm right up against the canals, and obviously no spray may touch the crops.

Other jobs are tricky - and big. To take care of the grassy weeds near the oil pipelines that snake their way up the hills near Richmond, CA, east of San Francisco, they have to mow them down. They can't use herbicides for fear of erosion on the steep hillsides. Mowing takes time, so a crew of 15 spends three months out of the year there. But it has paid off as recently as a couple years ago. "A welder there sparked a fire, but we had just taken care of all the weeds up the hill," says Eynon, "and the fire stopped right at the top."

Oil refineries too have to be weed-free. "The flares at the refinery shoot excess gas out of the top," he says, "so they have to have bare ground all the way around."

A similar situation exists with the many oil pumps that dot the area around Bakersfield, CA, though there is an added twist. "Not only do you keep the area around them clear to prevent a fire," says Cassie," but also so the oilmen can see the rattlesnakes."

They need a post-emergent herbicide that will hold for up to a year, so they use a lot of Crowbar, a relatively new product from DuPont. They are keenly interested in the effectiveness of the products they use because they have an iron-clad guarantee: If any weeds sprout up after treatment they will come back at no charge and take care of it. It's a guarantee that Aulgur says is highly unusual.

Maybe that's why they've been around for 30 years. Mike's dad Steve and his uncle, Mark, started the company with just one pickup truck between them - and it had a red rag for a gas cap. Word soon spread among the oil companies about how Eynon Weed Control was pretty good, and they still rely mostly on word of mouth advertising today.

But in heavily regulated California, all their trucks now have proper gas caps. And when spraying herbicide, they utilize radar to tell the computer-controlled sprayer exactly how fast the unit is going so they are always injecting the right amount of herbicide. Not only is it an environmentally friendly system, it makes good business sense.

"We know to the penny what the price is to the customer," says Eynon.