February 15, 2010
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

This article was written the day after Congress. What a wonderful week it was!  Positive energy flowed from approximately 13,000 people. Great weather, exceptional conferences and a large vibrant trade show led to outstanding attendance. Here are some highlights.  

Pre-Congress seminars

Over 600 registered for the education programs the day before Congress. This is a new record.   

The Landscape Designers Symposium was a huge success, prompting numerous responses, such as “awesome” and “best ever.”

This was the first year we collaborated with the Ontario Parks Association.  Equally positive comments came from the attendees and staff who took part in OPA’s 54th annual Education Forum. The IPM Symposium, Certified Landscape Professional Program and Irrigation Group Conference were also hits.

Great collaboration

Speaking of collaboration, Communities in Bloom Ontario, Ontario Parks Association and Landscape Ontario all worked to bring over 63 mayors, elected officials and key staff to Congress to discuss the greening of communities. In keeping with the green theme, Via Rail sponsored two trains, one bringing delegates from Windsor and the other from Ottawa. Toronto Mayor David Miller presided over the opening ceremonies and delivered a passionate speech about the importance of green communities.  His talk was followed by Lawson Oates, director of the Toronto Environment Office, Steven Peck, founder of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, and Keith Kerman, director of the City of New York Parks Department.  

As the original green industry, we have a wonderful story to tell. Bringing mayors and elected officials directly to Congress to witness our size, scope and energy “raises the volume” and reinforces our message of societal benefit. This type of event would never have happened without collaboration.    

If you have not attended an Awards of Excellence program before, you should consider doing so next year. It is the Oscars of the Ontario landscape industry. Our members’ work is remarkable in creativity, excellence and quality.  

This year two of the industry’s best ambassadors, Frank Ferragine and Mark Cullen, co-hosted the show. Both gentlemen are united in passion for the industry and are perennial contributors to the association’s community.

Executive committee highlights

Traditionally the executive committee meets the day before Congress to discuss priorities for the year. Here is a summary of the discussion. The committee and new board would love your
feedback. The group agreed on the following areas of focus for 2010.
  • Understanding the needs of our members:
    Association services and programs must enhance the lives of the membership and be delivered in ways that are responsive to their busy lifestyle. We need to spend time listening in order to continually improve our offering   
  • Helping members thrive in the new economy:
    We will continue our focus on business development by using the Prosperity Partners program as the framework. We will promote the concept of “leveraging strengths” as a technique to vastly improve the performance of your company, while stimulating renewed energy, enthusiasm and passion in your team. We will also ramp-up technical education programs by adding different levels. There will be renewed emphasis on horticultural information.  
  • Public awareness:
    We have a remarkable story to tell the public. We offer many life-enhancing benefits as an industry. The Green for Life program will be used as the symbol of our public communication activities. We will also align with the green movement and explore the idea of developing an Ontario-wide community environmental program, such as waterfront cleanup, Day of Tribute, Bravery Park Movement, Arbor Week, etc.
  • Chapter renewal:
    We will strive to make Landscape Ontario more relevant in the local community by delivering programs and activities in an optimum fashion according to the first priority (understanding members’ needs as outlined above).
  • Company accreditation:
    The idea of creating a membership journey of excellence by providing the tools, resources, coaching and accountability processes will be explored. Two principles of this investigation will be accessibility and mentorship.
  • Membership recruitment:
    The membership campaign has already begun.
  • Peer network groups:
    We will explore the idea of developing a province-wide peer network program (roundtables).

Annual General Meeting

The new president is Tom Intven from Canadale Nurseries. Tom has observed that financial, social education and personal growth flow from participation and “engagement” with the association programs, activities, network and community. Consequently, the theme of his presidency will be “Prosperity through Engagement.”   

Our staff team has already embraced the concept to guide our development in support of the membership.    

After many years of service on the Board of Directors, Bob Tubby will be transitioning off to join the elite past presidents’ club. His contributions have been immense. Bob’s vision, caring nature, business acumen, professionalism, quiet competence, thoughtfulness and personal integrity reflect the ethic and aspirations of the Landscape Ontario community.  

Bob made it his mission to help members improve their business skills.  The Prosperity Partners concept was initiated during his tenure as president and he continues to chair the committee that is responsible for that program.   

He demonstrates his caring personality to competitors, fellow members, employees, students and friends by always being ready to help others prosper financially, professionally and personally.
Here is the secret of its success: Landscape Ontario is a reflection of the spirit and enthusiasm of many amazing, hard working, contribution-oriented, principle-centred, forward-thinking members who care about the industry, the public they serve and each other.

Have a great 2010!  See you at Canada Blooms.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tonydigiovanni@landscapeontario.com.