September 1, 2019

Listen to the children

The Green Pencil comment written by Tony Lombardi was an extraordinary story about perseverance and stamina, as well as one’s total belief in what one does in life.

When I joined the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association office in 1988 I had never worked in the gardening industry, run an association or lobbied government. After the 20-odd years I was there, it was the best job I ever had following five different careers.

Tony Lombardi spelled it out perfectly — belief in oneself and what and how you do it.

I have always said that this industry has a quality that is specifically unique, one that I didn’t find anywhere else.

The quality, just as Tony Lombardi stated, is with and within the people who have devoted their lives to growing, retailing and landscaping. I found amazing qualities in the members of the Canadian sector; I found that all of them are just like Tony Lombardi in that they are eager, fully knowledgeable, dedicated to quality, very friendly and ready to help whether it be through association membership or boards of directors or, and this one I emphasize, helping other business members when asked, whether those being helped are in different sides of the sector or in the same side and competitive. This doesn’t matter — they are ALL friendly and ready to lend a hand. This, to me, is what makes the industry so special. I never found the willingness to help so strong elsewhere.

The examples he gave of negative comments coming from areas one would never expect are common, in that “outsiders” don’t understand what drives “insiders.” This industry is brilliant, beautiful, life-giving, colourful, satisfying, energizing, healthy, needed desperately for world health and survival, wonderful and sometimes exhausting. But in the end, the results are all the same — Fantastic!!! — and that’s why the Mr. Lombardis of the world work so hard and feel so good about themselves.

The industry has gone through a number of changes over the decades, from the hippies through to the yuppies, who believed in a nice garden but not doing any of it themselves so they hired the industry, through to the millennials who seem to do neither — but perhaps that’s a matter of better outreach to the population. But these new generations have had an effect on the industry.

I find through my industry friends that willingness to help within the sector is still very strong, and I thank them for the time they spent educating me to help them in their move towards continued success.

I tip my hat to Tony Lombardi for his perseverance, dedication to his company and his loyal staff, his belief in both and the obvious love for the industry that is reflected in the comments from his children — the only ones to listen to. Well done and good luck in your future years!

Chris Andrews
Retired CNLA executive director
Woodbridge, Ont.