July 15, 2011
By Tim J. Kearney CLP
Garden Creations of Ottawa

There is a place that once a year springs to life and demonstrates everything that we, as professionals, hope to believe is possible. This place has peace, quiet, and beauty. But, it also reveals the future which makes your soul feel good.

The place is Kemptville College, near Ottawa. The event is the annual CLT test days in mid-August. And why is it taking place? It’s because certification does work, and is becoming recognized. Slowly, but surely, consumers are requesting certified workers on their properties. Some companies understand the value of having staff become certified. But at this point, there are just not enough of us.

Ask yourself if you are part of the solution, or part of the problem? We all complain about not enough relevance to our industry and association. Would it not be wonderful to know that the consumer will request certified staff? This day is coming, and many say sooner than you think. The consumer will demand this type of company.  

Holds us together

From a personal perspective, our company culture has been to encourage training, education, and certification at all levels. After participating in this journey since the very beginning, I believe it is one of the fibres that hold our company together, during good times and bad.

This spring (a pretty good example of bad) has been most trying for everyone in our industry. No one escaped the incessant rain that served to not only dampen the economy, but certainly decreased consumer demand.   On top of that, the volume of jobs this year is not as plentiful as in the past. So couple this with the bad weather, and the need to run a company profitably requires everyone to buy in. All in!

How does this relate to Certification? I believe it is the hidden thread of professionalism. By being linked to the industry, staff hears and freely associates with others from other companies across the region. They share stories of good and bad, but they all know that they are working for a determined and committed industry with companies who are equally committed and determined.  

Staying one step ahead

I witnessed my crews working 12-hour days this spring in the pouring rain and then coming in on Saturday to stay one step ahead. All of this happened with a positive attitude that says this is our window of opportunity and we need to work. So annuals were planted and grass cut (and yes...cut again) and beds cultivated and shrubs pruned. Customers called to say how they couldn’t believe how happy the staff members appeared working on their properties.

Construction crews worked where possible and then helped out our service crews and maintenance crews if the workload was deemed impossible.

It is understanding what the industry is all about that fuels this. I really believe having a culture of trained and educated people, and insisting on professionalism, has allowed us to weather the storm (pardon the pun!).

Are they perfect? Absolutely not. But there is not one employee that I have (75 per cent or more have participated in our certification journey) that you wouldn’t gladly hire. I cringe to think of not having certified staff that “gets it.”

So if you or one of your team decides to go for it, you can expect a great experience and an experience that will make you feel good. The camaraderie that exists at the Kemptville test days is inspiring. The site is deemed to be one of the best, as pronounced by a respected U.S. test evaluator who attended a test a few years ago.

Perfect time for journey

Now is the perfect time to acquire study manuals and begin the journey toward certification. Review them together, or individually. Setting goals is good for any organization. Why not have a goal of everyone being certified?  Once a few of your staff are successful, the beauty of friendly peer pressure insures you will have others who want to try.

I have staff with all designations and staff with a few. I also have some who just keep trying. It is all good.  

So are you part of the problem or part of the solution? The solution is easy.  A certified, recognized workforce will go a long way to creating public awareness and confidence.

The best kept secret in Eastern Ontario awaits you.

Landscape Industry Certified Certification dates

July 21, 22, Landscape Ontario (Milton)
Aug. 11, 12, Kemptville College (Ottawa)
Sept. 30, Oct 1, St. Clair College (Windsor)
Oct. 24, 25, Landscape Ontario (Milton)
Nov. 5 Fanshawe College, (London) written only

Certification orientation
June 4, Landscape Ontario (Milton)
Sept. 9, St. Clair College (Windsor)

For more information on Certification visit horttrades.com/landscape-industry-certified and/or contact Rachel Cerelli at Landscape Ontario, rachel@landscapeontario.com, 1-800-265-5656 ext. 326