December 1, 2013
phil charalBy Phil Charal
LO president

It is hard for me to believe that two years have passed since I became LO president, and this will be my final column before ending my term.

There have been so many great visits and conversations at Chapter events and meetings. I have enjoyed them all throughout my term, as well as being a part of the process.

I thank all LO members who allowed me the privilege to serve as their president over the past two years. I have learned a tremendous amount about our industry. It has been an honour to represent this great association. I congratulate the LO board of directors for their incredible support and passionate dedication with such conviction for the Chapters and Sector Groups they represent.

I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the support I have received from the incredible staff members who really make the job of president so much easier.

I need to give a very special tribute to our tireless executive director Tony DiGiovanni, who has been an incredible inspiration to me. He will never know how much I have learned from just being around him, and watching him promote our industry wherever he goes.
He should be Toronto’s next mayor (just kidding, LO needs him more).

Each and every time I had a problem, question or did not understand something (which was often), Tony was there, morning, noon and night, including weekends. He will be glad to be rid of me.

Every year LO meets with other landscape associations from the U.S. at the Great Lakes conference. There are representatives from eight other states around the Great Lakes. Ontario is the only Canadian member. It is overwhelming for me when attending this conference to see the incredible difference in how other associations are structured and how unique LO is when compared to our American counterparts. We have developed a very successful formula in establishing, maintaining and operating a very productive association. For that I am very proud.

I am also proud of our incredible volunteer base that continually shows great passion and enthusiasm. We are the largest, and by far the most successful, horticulture trade association in the world. Our members are the biggest reason for this success.

We need to keep telling our story and continuously promote our great industry. The green industry is very challenging. We must contend with labour shortages, weather and the issues surrounding seasonality. If we all strive for excellence and continue to be professional and support our great association, we can not only survive these issues, but make a good living for ourselves and the next generation of green industry members.  

If you are not already involved in your local chapter or sector group, I challenge you to do so. Your association needs you. And, believe me, you need your association. I guarantee that your involvement in LO will make LO relevant to you and benefit your business in many ways.

I would like to wish our new president Dave Braun the very best for a successful term. I know he will benefit in the same ways I have over the past two years.

I would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014.

I look forward to seeing everyone at Congress from Jan. 7 to 9.