Since repairing and maintaining irrigation systems is Southern Sprinklers’ specialty, and volunteerism and service are such a huge part of his and his company’s culture, Klaas, a US Navy veteran, decided that there was one more lawn he wanted to help maintain as part of their efforts — Arlington National Cemetery.
For the past 15 years, the Klaas family and Southern Sprinklers has paid all expenses for virtually his entire staff and his family to spend the third week of July at Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the Renewal and Remembrance program, sponsored by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. During that week, they and their employees, together with green industry experts from around the country, work to beautify the hallowed grounds of Arlington. Every company does what it does best. In the case of Southern Sprinklers, that means repairing the numerous irrigation system for the 624-acre cemetery that dates to the Civil War.
In addition, Southern Sprinklers has been very active in the local community and with disaster relief. Last year, when Hurricane Harvey inundated the Houston area, within 48 hours Southern Sprinklers had organized the local community, gathered emergency supplies, and sent two loaded down trucks and trailers to Texas. There, they met up with the Cajun Navy and were able to get the much-needed emergency supplies in the hands of those most impacted right away.
The company is also part of the Fulton County Partner in Education Program, making donations and spearheading other fundraising efforts. They have also brought water, in the form of irrigation, to two metro Atlanta schools in recent years. Klaas said their employees designed and installed the irrigation systems for the vegetable gardens at Roswell North Elementary School and have even created a hydroponic garden as part of the new outdoor classroom.
Roswell North expressed its gratitude by changing the name of the driveway in front of the school. It’s now called Southern Sprinklers Street. At Crabapple Middle School, they created an irrigation system for that school’s gardens as well – where food is grown and then donated to North Fulton Community Charities. Klaas was recently recognized by Crabapple and was awarded the MLK Humanitarian Award for all his work in service to others. He says that such recognition only inspires him and his company to do even more.
“Service is fundamental and absolutely necessary to me, and I feel very strongly about giving back to my industry, local community, state and country,” Klaas said. “Because Arlington National Cemetery is maintained by the Department of the Army, it has a very small staff, which can’t keep up with everything. We enjoy this opportunity to go to Washington D.C. and to work side by side with others who feel the same way. I am particularly proud of the Children’s Program we developed, which has grown each year. We teach all the children the importance of giving to others and to honoring those who have given so much to our country. It is the best week we spend all year”.