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Conserva Irrigation Partners with Target

July 13, 2018
"Franchising Feature" & "Irrigation & Green Industry" Both Feature Conserva Irrigation®

When Target sought help saving water at its thousands of locations across the country, Conserva Irrigation had exactly what they were looking for.

As a top retailer, Target’s red bullseye is synonymous with consumers. The company has more than 1,800 stores in the United States alone and employs over 350,000 people worldwide.

To Russ Jundt, vice president and founder of Conserva Irrigation, Target’s logo symbolizes much more than just a place where families can stock up on high-quality merchandise at a reasonable price. To him, the company’s red bullseye represents the value of team work, something that is near and dear to his heart as a leading water conservationist.

Conserva Irrigation is a landscape irrigation company that started back in 2010. The company was founded on innovative principles of water conservation. Conserva now has 44 franchises spread across the United States. Jundt created Conserva because he wanted to find a better approach to stopping the tremendous amount of water wasted by typical irrigation systems. Using studies published by the Irrigation Association, Fairfax, Virginia, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jundt developed a proprietary process for auditing irrigation systems and a “System Efficiency Score” that rates water efficiency according to a numerical scale.

Teaming Up

In the summer of 2015, Jundt met with Target Corp.’s operations and sustainability teams. The meeting was set up by a Conserva franchisee who’d performed some snow removal services for the retail giant. Before this meeting, Jundt and his team audited three store locations and felt confident they had the ability and technology to improve their water efficiency.

Jundt recalls that around two and a half hours into the meeting, “Someone on Target’s sustainability team asked me, ‘What are you selling?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I just want to solve your water problem.’” This was exactly what Target was looking for.

According to Target, “To make sure we leave our planet in better shape for future families, we integrate sustainable practices throughout our supply chain and operations with an eye on using resources responsibly and maintaining healthy, vibrant communities.” With this goal in mind, Target has put policies in place and “set goals regarding climate policy, chemical strategy and a freshwater stewardship approach.”

During the first meeting, Jundt and his team reviewed the results of the three audits and shared a water budgeting tool with the Target teams. He told them, “We know how much water you used and how much you need to cut it to achieve a 75 percent application efficiency score.” The target teams were interested in how to obtain such a score for every one of their stores, and by December of 2016, a pilot test was created by Conserva for nine Target stores in Florida.

Part of the Hometown Team

Although Jundt’s water efficiency pitch grabbed the attention of Target’s sustainability team, Jundt believes it was his closing remarks that really sealed up the deal. Jundt talked about being part of the hometown team, and while Conserva is now based in Richmond, Virginia, both companies call the Minneapolis area home.

Jundt grew up in a small town west of Minneapolis, and to him, sharing a hometown with Target conveys a sense of camaraderie. “My dad said, ‘take care of the people in a small town because you’ll see them around later. You have to treat them right.’” Jundt took his father’s advice to mean being responsible and appreciating the relationships we develop.

Updating Irrigation Systems

Even before Conserva made any visits to Target locations, a number of them had already had smart controllers installed to run their landscape irrigation systems. But as those who work in the irrigation industry know, installing a smart controller is not enough to guarantee efficient use of water.

Jundt explained that when a Conserva franchisee makes a visit to a Target store location, they check a total of 120 different data points. According to Jundt, the goal is to “figure out where the wasted water is going and to do that, you need boots on the ground.” After the auditor has assessed the site, they create a model based on Conserva’s proprietary algorithm that shows what needs to be repaired. Once everything has been addressed, the auditor’s focus turns toward optimizing the smart controller.

Conserving Water Together

By the end of this year, Conserva will be in over 300 Target locations by the end of 2018. Since the partnership between the two companies began, Conserva has saved Target over 36 million gallons of water.

In March 2018, Target announced a new freshwater stewardship initiative, created with the World Wildlife Fund. The goal of the initiative is to reduce absolute water use by 15 percent in its stores, distribution centers, and headquarters locations by 2025. Optimization for Target’s outdoor irrigation systems will be overseen by Conserva.

Conserva crews who have worked at Target stores say they don’t feel like outside vendors. Jundt said, “While we are on those properties, we are Target team members, and we treat those locations with respect. When I drive by one of the stores, I think to myself, ‘that’s us.’”

Conserva’s project with Target also received recognition in the form of the Vanguard Award from the Irrigation Association. The award honors the collaborative execution of an innovative installation project in the irrigation industry.

Speaking about the future, Jundt said, “We suspect that this significant and prideful relationship with Target will continue to expand.”

Interested In Starting Your Own Conserva Irrigation Franchise?

If you are interested in becoming your own boss, or if you have extensive experience in the irrigation industry, you should consider starting your own Conserva Irrigation franchise. Conserva serves both residential and commercial properties across the country. Our franchise owners have access to proven client retention systems and a year-round cycle of irrigation-focused services that offer them consistent and predictable revenue.

Call (804) 621-7167 to find out how to become part of the Conserva Irrigation franchise family.

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Holden Andrews

Marketing Specialist

Started working at Empower Brands in July 2022, and core priorities include:

  • Provide franchisees with day-to-day support in both the online and offline space.
  • Facilitate creative team tasks for custom design work.
  • Assist franchisees in setting up social media and pay-per-lead platforms.
  • Manage national social media platforms, as well as schedule regular local social media postings.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I really enjoy the people I work with and the opportunity to help franchisees succeed.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is…

I enjoy taking my dog on walks and pick-up soccer.

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Steve Nguyen

Creative Director

Started working at Empower Brands in February 2009. Core priorities:

  • Oversee the creative development to ensure that the conceptual and visual work is of the highest possible quality.
  • Build, lead, and produce innovative concepts that transform into compelling print and digital visuals while maintaining brand standard and vision
  • Brainstorm with the creative team, maintaining strategic and creative thinking to develop new and creative initiatives.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I love being able to work with a great team over multiple brands to brainstorm and identify new projects and opportunities.

When I’m not working…

I have a multitude of hobbies that keep me outside. I’m a huge car enthusiast, an avid triathlete, and I love learning new things to keep my mind and body active.

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Annena Ellis

Digital Marketing Manager

Started working at Empower Brands in April 2018, and core priorities include:

  • Provide franchisees with day-to-day proactive guidance and support in the digital space.
  • Manage consumer corporate social media efforts.
  • Assist franchisees in setting up and developing a well-rounded and active online presence.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

The digital space is constantly growing and evolving, so I love being able to help our franchisees understand the digital landscape and evolve their businesses’ along with it.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is…

go stand-up paddleboarding at the Chesapeake Bay with my dog, Umphrey.

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Jane Campbell

Director of Marketing

Started working at Empower Brands in January 2009, and core priorities include:

  • Spearheads and implements the company’s overall marketing strategies.
  • Analyzes and assesses new online marketing opportunities and partners.
  • Drives new website builds and initiatives for all brands, franchise development, and Empower Brands.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I love evaluating opportunities and making recommendations that can positively impact our franchisees’ local businesses.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is

to go for long walks and/or hikes with my husband, sons, and dog.

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Austin Auandee

Art Director

Started working at Empower Brands September 2019, and core priorities include:

  • Working creatively across multiple brands to concept, develop and produce strategic, innovative and compelling on-brand print and digital assets.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I enjoy the company culture and love working with everyone here. The core values and practices facilitate an environment that encourages and supports creative solutions, growth and development from the ground up. The opportunity to explore and contribute my creative experience and skills over multiple brands is a challenge that I cherish.

When I’m not working my favorite thing to do outdoors is...

to go biking, camping and hiking.

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Lara Omick

Brand Marketing Manager

Started working at Empower Brands in 2018, and core priorities include:

  • Creates local marketing plans and advises franchisees on how to execute their plan.
  • Manages system-wide brand initiatives related to the National Ad Fund.
  • Collaborates with the in-house creative team to drive brand development and tactics.
  • Analyzes local marketing metrics and refines budgets, channels, and messaging.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I love the people that I work with and get to interact with every day.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is

take my chocolate lab for a swim in the river.

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Daniel Cockerill

Technology Training and Support Consultant

Started working at Empower Brands in May 2021, and core priorities include:

  • Bringing my knowledge of our CRM to all locations
  • Using my experience as an office manager to train new locations
  • Making everyone’s life easier by getting their systems set up and optimized

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

Working with a great group of people who all have the same goals in mind

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is…

Play golf

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Erich Johnston

Franchise Technology Solutions Manager

Started working at Empower Brands in July of 2018, and core priorities include:

  • Leads and manages all technology-related functions and projects for the organization.
  • Maintains and enhances the technology platforms utilized by all four brands.
  • Manages the IT Helpdesk and new and ongoing training initiatives.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I love working with franchisees and brand support teams to develop and implement new programs and functionality that increase efficiency and productivity.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is

take the kayaks somewhere peaceful and catch some fish.

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Micki Nguyen

IT Support Analyst , National Accounts Administrator

Started working at Empower Brands in March 2018, and core priorities include:

  • Help desk support for Empower Brands employees as well as local franchisees.

  • Onboard and train new franchisees on technology platforms

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

  • Helping the franchisees work though issues they may have. Being able to see their successes big or small.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is

  • Taking photographs of landscapes and families.

  • Going to the beach or the mountains to get away from the city.

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Cristin Smith

Division Controller

Started working at Empower Brands in June 2011, and core priorities include:

  • Lead the accounting support team.
  • Manage the corporate accounting functions and operations.
  • Produce and analyze the corporate financial statements and budget presentations.
  • Develop strategic plans along with the franchise support teams.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

My favorite part of my job at Empower Brands is being able to help small business owners understand the financial status of their business by supporting their accounting processes and financial statement analysis.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is…

go canoeing and smallmouth bass fishing on the river with my husband and children.

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Sarah Jaramillo

Accounting Associate

Started working at Empower Brands in August 2022, and core priorities include:

  • Support franchisees on accounting matters.
  • Record and track monthly sales for the franchise brands.
  • Process daily transactions and complete account reconciliations for Empower Brands.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

I love the connectivity – being able to establish relationships with both the people I’m working with and the people I’m working to support!

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is…

walking my dog, Bella, through our neighborhood trails.

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Clair Baker

Financial Analyst , Accounting Associate

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Matt Jones

Franchise Support & Systems Analyst

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Craig Undeck

Franchise Support Consultant

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Erich Kolb

Franchise Support Consultant

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Jay Gray

Franchise Support Consultant

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Jake Mathre

Director of Franchise Operations

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Russ Jundt

Vice President, Conserva Irrigation

Russ is the founder and Vice President of Conserva Irrigation, the only irrigation company founded on the principles of water conservation.

As brand leader, Russ drives the overall priorities and focus of the company including the service offerings, sales processes, strategic partnerships, and more.

Russ graduated with B.A. in Business Management from Saint John’s University.

What do you like most about working at Empower Brands?

  • I am grateful to work with like-minded, enthusiastic leaders who are inspired to be the absolute best they can be in their role at Empower Brands. This infectious attitude is prevalent across our network of successful franchise owners, which spills over to our hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers.

When I’m not working, my favorite thing to do outdoors is…

  • anything to do with water: Boating, rowing, water sports, time at the beach with friends and family, vacationing to beach destinations, and more.