Convincing clients to switch from real to artificial turf is a question of re-education, says Jitendra Gharpure.
Convincing clients to switch from real to artificial turf is a question of re-educating the user, says Jitendra Gharpure, business development manager of Green Vision.
Sports stadiums, parks, golf courses... demand for turf is sky high in the Middle East at the moment. And with the growing focus on sustainability, it is not just natural grass suppliers that are cornering the market, but suppliers of artificial turf too. Commercial Outdoor Design talks with Jitendra Gharpure, business development manager of Green Vision.
Tell me about your turf product.
Green Vision manufactures a range of artificial grass products for sports, landscaping, and golf courses.
How long has Green Vision been in the region?
We are a two-year old company and have been active in the region for the year and a half. Our sales and marketing office is in Dubai, and our manufacturing facility is in Jeddah.
What is your grass made of?
The third generation artificial grass is made of polyethylene which is soft and kind to the skin.
How much demand is there in the Middle East for artificial grass?
Demand is growing as people realise that it is important to save water and that they are paying a high amount to maintain the natural grass facilities. Natural grass uses around 15 litres per square metre of water, which is a lot.
We are talking to government authorities in different GCC countries to see how they can contribute towards preserving the scarce natural resources by converting some of the areas to artificial grass in their projects.
There are many areas of greenery where no one actually sits so it is not necessary to have natural grass.
Is it difficult to convince clients to choose artificial over natural grass?
It is more educating clients than selling the product. Once the educating part is done then the realisation sinks in that it will help them in the long run. Landscaping is so individualistic.
When a landscaper designs a project, he or she always has a vision how the final outcome of the project is going to be.
It is so dependent on what he has seen and what he has experienced in his career. Making or breaking that thinking process and driving it in a different direction is a challenging task.
How long has artificial grass existed?
The problem of covered grass pitches in stadiums was first addressed in Houston Astrodome in the US in 1965.
The stadium had a covered baseball field of natural grass, which was kept green via a transparent roof.
The glinting of the sun impeded the players when catching high balls, however, so managers of the stadium decided to paint the roof and replaced the natural grass with an artificial grass carpet made from nylon fibres.
Nylon is a comparatively harsh material and that is one of the reasons why people still have some resistance to artificial grass as they are likely to have seen a nylon artificial grass, which looks fake rather than the current generation artificial grass.
Some of the matches in the World Cup 2010 in South Africa are going to be played on artificial grass pitches, and after that we expect there will be more acceptance and understanding of the products among the sports community.
How does artificial grass compare to natural grass in terms of cost?
Natural grass costs approximately US$4-US$5.4 per square metre for the material, but with added costs for maintenance, installation, irrigation system, it works out at approximately US$43.5 per square metre.
In comparison, artificial grass, assuming a life span of seven years, costs approximately US$10.9 per square metre, including the maintenance cost. It is, however, not a zero maintenance product.
Artificial grass still has to be cleaned, for example, but it does not need any water, pesticides or fertilisers.