March 15, 2016
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Recently I attended the funeral of one of our members, Arthur Skolnik, who passed away suddenly while on vacation in Antiqua. Arthur was a wonderful man — full of passion, enthusiasm and humour. He will be missed and will always be remembered warmly.

As your representative, I attend many of these memorials and find them surprisingly uplifting. It is so special to hear the heartfelt and intimate stories of wonderful individuals. It is inspiring to witness the strength of family members who are changed forever.

The core sentiment reflected in most eulogies is the concept of contribution to others; leaving a legacy of caring, nurturing, humour, and love; making a positive difference in the lives of others; blessing others by the life led; living a life that matters. This was certainly the case with Arthur’s life.

At the ceremony, the Rabbi used the metaphors of nature and trees to describe Arthur’s life. I wish I had a recorded her words. They were touching and poetic. Another moving aspect of the memorial was the burial. Each person was asked to shovel some earth onto the casket. The Rabbi explained it was one of the highest blessings possible because we would be doing a favour that could not be returned. Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound.

Doing favours without the expectation of something in return is what the Landscape Ontario community is all about. We are, in essence, in the collaboration and community building business. We provide a conduit for people with like interests, values and passions, to come together to help make each other better and build better businesses. I always refer to Landscape Ontario as a “club for mutual improvement and benefit” and have witnessed many examples over the years.

Years ago I was sitting in a room of garden centre owners. All of them were competitors. One of them, Joe Pepetone of Holland Park Garden Gallery, was being particularly free with his strategies and ideas for success. After the meeting I asked why he did that. He explained the math was in his favour. If he shared an idea and encouraged others to do the same, then if there were 10 people in the room, he would then go home with 9 other new ideas.

About 15 years ago, Mark Bradley from TBG and LMN called me up. He had been developing a system for operating his own business and it dawned on him that it could also help others. He wanted to know if he could host a budgeting workshop at Landscape Ontario. I told him we could easily host the seminar, but I did not think many people would attend because it was spring and members were gearing up for their busy season. Surprisingly, the response was so overwhelming we had to host three seminars to accommodate everyone. This was the genesis of LMN. It too, is a club for mutual benefit. It too, is in the collaboration business. Their core values of sharing, collaboration, professional development and prosperity are the same. In a real sense, LMN is an association no different than LO. Both organizations exist to advance the landscape sector and enhance lives.

Our profession is also full of people who work too hard, for too long, for inadequate returns. This was recognized years ago by LO Past Presidents Gerald Boot and Bob Tubby. Their solution to this problem gave birth to our Prosperity Partners and Peer to Peer Network, and to so many other business courses offered by our association.

Collectively, we have a very important mission, but the popular saying “no margin, no mission” is so very true. I have seen some of the best landscapers in the world — true artists — who were so talented their work communicated to the emotions of people, fail, because they were not able to maintain a margin in their business.

Our professional development programs, Prosperity Partners and Peer to Peer Network, are so important. As you start a new year, please take time to focus on the business side of your business.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at