Q&A With SGL’s Simon Gumbrill


Simon at Wembley Stadium in London, England

With new supplemental light technology coming to the states, we wanted to learn a little more about this innovation in turf management.

The best person to ask about all this happens to be a leader in turf management with strong OSU ties. We posed these questions to  Simon Gumbrill, who is the Area Manager for Stadium Grow Lighting (SGL), responsible for sales development and after sales care in the UK, Ireland and North America.

What drew you to a career in turf management? Did you ever want to be something else?

My career in turf management evolved from a sales position and the promotion of innovative maintenance products that improve natural grass  playing surfaces and plant health. I learnt the importance of a balance between the grass plants agronomical needs and the groundsman’s requirements for quality play, and used this information to work with manufacturers and groundsmen who where and are prepared to work towards improvement.

In my youth my dream job was to be  a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force and I would still like that role now!

Tell us a little about the light technology from Europe and how you are bringing that to the USA.

The SGL field management system enables the groundsman to create a healthy growing environment for the grass plant, even in areas of shade or dormancy,  by using the correct values of light and heat in conjunction with  the Analyser system to ensure that the energy is used efficiently.

SGL have 190 stadiums including some of the largest and most famous sports teams worldwide using the lighting system to create the desired quality of playing surface.  The SGL system has become an accepted and desired tool for all stadium groundsman in Europe and we have sports turf managers at some of the major stadiums in the USA who use the SGL system and many others who are looking at embracing the system to assist them provide a safe and consistent playing surface that they can present well in periods of stress.
What part of your job is the most enjoyable?

My enjoyment comes from seeing improvement and progression made by the groundsman who embrace new technology and adapt to the increased demands and expectations of the playing surfaces. Sharing information and gaining an understanding of the demands on sports turf mangers in different regions and stadiums of the world. This all holds great value to me.

Who do you most admire?

Anyone who try’s to do their best.

What annoys you?

Anyone who says “it’s not my job!” When there is a task that needs attention.

What is your personal philosophy?

Get on with it !

And  “there is or will be an answer to the problem if we try to find it!”

Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?

I have been very fortunate to travel to many fantastic places and facilities but to name one individual place is an impossibility as it is the people l meet who make the places special.

As a leader in the industry, what qualities do you believe the most successful sports turf managers have?

The leading and more successful sports turf managers in the industry all share the qualities of passion, enjoyment, dedication, desire, pride, a competitive streak and a level of obsession!

What advice do you have for our turfgrass science students?

Enjoy what you do and work with and listen to those that do it well. And if people are reluctant to share their skills or knowledge with you they may not know very much anyway!

React  if you see a problem, as it is unlikely to improve if you do nothing!

Be prepared to discuss and share your knowledge.

Looking to the future, how do you see your field developing?

The SGL market will grow as the demands on field managers is increasing through additional play, larger stadiums and lower tolerance of poor surfaces. The move towards LED will take place when the technology and efficiencies for improved grass health and energy saving are there.

Thanks very much to Simon for agreeing to answer these questions.

For more information about light technology, consider attending the  Showcase Seminar at the New York Red Bulls on  May 5th.  This event is being provided to sports field managers free of charge.


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