The chair of Landscape Ontario’s Turf Management sector group, Gavin Dawson has been involved with many industry groups, including the IPM Council of Canada, Ontario Vegetation Management Association, OMAFRA’s Turf sector Minor Use Commodity Liaison Committee, and the Box Tree Moth Industry Working Group.
How did you get started in the lawn care profession?
Shortly after college in 1987 I accepted a position with ChemLawn as a Tree and Shrub Specialist. My responsibilities involved the complete care of customers’ landscapes, their landscape plant material and turf. Over the past 33 years, although our name has changed, I have been fortunate to work for a science-based industry leading company that knows the value of people development. It has exposed me to challenges and opportunities across the green industry not just locally but on a provincial, national and international level.
How did you get involved with the LO Turf Management sector group?
After working with other groups in our industry through most of the 90’s, I joined Landscape Ontario’s lawn care group in the late 90s. There is no question that the changing regulatory environment through the 90s and beyond brought industry groups and competitors together like never before.
What are some of the projects you have been a part of with the sector group?
I was part of the formation of a few industry councils such as the Pesticide Industry Council (PIC) and IPM Council of Canada. Many projects that brought together industry colleagues, university researchers, and allied industries seeking to promote the benefits of turfgrass with publications, events and initiatives, which of course includes the annual IPM Symposium. community-based projects such as the St. James Park renewal, the National Military Cemetery Day of Tribute, and Source Water Protection Committees. Government communication initiatives at the municipal, provincial and federal level to further the professionalism of our industry, promote the benefits we provide communities and protect the interests of our employees and customers.
What is the biggest challenge currently facing turf management professionals?
While the labour work force is likely the most apparent day-to-day challenge and the on-going regulatory environment that prohibits viable pest control products for our industry in Ontario is likely the most commonly discussed challenge, I feel the demonization of turfgrass is the most threatening to our industry and our urban environment. The misrepresented role, misunderstood benefits, and the decreasing value of turfgrass in the eyes of policy-makers is at the core of all challenges faced by our industry the past 25 years.
How do you find the time to participate in meetings and sector group initiatives?
It’s about time management. For me, that wasn’t something taught, but learned through experience. Certainly your priority is the health and prosperity of your own business, employees and customers. But with the understanding of the importance of a sound industry comes the acknowledgement and commitment to invest the needed resources to participate and lead where necessary. And it doesn’t hurt when you develop great business relationships with those industry colleagues that share in this commitment.
Have you formed any business or personal relationships with others through your volunteer work with LO?
Many. Over the years, you see people come and go and some remain, however at the end of the day, probably the greatest benefit from industry involvement is the personal, professional, and business development you gain from your associates.
Why is it important for members of your sector to meet on a regular basis?
Staying engaged is critical to the benefit of a group’s efforts. Covid-19 has certainly challenged that, but like other challenges facing our industry, it brought us together. Perhaps not in group settings, but it certainly demanded an increased level of communication between members, colleagues and competitors.
What is the best part of your work day?
Task completion is what drives me, large or small. Whatever time of day a task is completed, is the best part of my day. The bigger the task completed the better the day.
Do you have any hobbies, talents or interests outside of work that you are passionate about?
I enjoy hockey, fishing and gardening, but my greatest interest has been watching my two boys graduate from university and now progress down their own career paths. I like all kinds of music, which is reflective by my two favourite bands, Blue Rodeo and Goddo.