February 15, 2012
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

The weather is everything in this business. It trumps economic conditions. It can be the key to success and at the same can pose huge challenges.  

At Congress 2012, we were blessed with exceptional weather which resulted in the second best attendance in the history of the show. Almost 13,000 people attended. I hope you were one of them.  

The atmosphere was very upbeat. There was a positive and optimistic buzz throughout the four days. Here are few highlights.

Amazing show committee

I bet we enjoy one of the best show committees anywhere in the world.  The members are hands-on. They drive skid steers and fork-lifts, helping students build their gardens. They plan and install the new-product showcase. They are always around to help the exhibitors and attendees with anything they need. They assist staff with every aspect of the show.   They care deeply about the association and the event. They are inspirational. On behalf of every member, exhibitor and attendee I want to sincerely thank the best show committee in the world: Beth Edney CLD (chair), Terry Childs (vice chair), Scott Beaudoin, Phil Charal, Brian Cocks CLT, Douglas Coote, Paul DeGroot, Barry Dickson, Nathan Helder, Michael LaPorte CLT, Brian Lofgren, Bob McCannell, Klaas Sikkema, Nick Solty, Monica van Maris and Jack VandeRee CLT. This core group was supplemented by many other volunteers.  

Paul Day’s retirement

After 17 years of exemplary service to Landscape Ontario and Canada Blooms, Show manager Paul Day has decided to retire to pursue a less intense schedule.

Paul’s intelligence, wit, humour, energy, experience, entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the show industry shone through every one of those years. He is a sensitive person who truly cares about the success of his clients. Paul has a great deal of heart.

As soon as Paul was hired, the shows exploded. They reached new heights in terms of size, importance, credibility and loyalty. Congress became an award-winning show. Paul was also the first show manager of Canada Blooms when it set records for a first-time show in Toronto. That season 72,000 people decided to visit. Paul contributed immensely to its success.

Acting on Paul’s advice, Landscape Ontario started another show in the fall under the name Garden Expo. It tripled in size within three years and it too became an award-winning show.

Although Paul is leaving Landscape Ontario, his influence will be felt for years. Paul left Landscape Ontario a much better organization than when he started 17 years ago. His legacy is assured. This year the Tailgate party was dedicated to Paul. It was a fitting and memorable tribute to his contributions. Thank you Paul! Would you like to volunteer on the committee?   

Life lessons

One of the U.S.- based speakers asked me why we call our trade show “Congress.”  The definition of the word is “coming together of people.”

Although Congress is a trade show, its real benefit is the “coming together of people” for mutual benefit and improvement. It’s the face-to-face connection that results in personal, social, business and professional growth that makes it so much more than a trade show. It’s the relationship-building that goes on in an accelerated and focused fashion that enriches lives.
Each one of the 13,000 attendees had stories to tell, experiences to relate, friendships to renew and things to learn — me included.

Forgive the personal and sentimental nature of the following story, but I feel that it demonstrates the type of attitude that I continually observe among members who put the good of others above their self interest.
During move-out, I was sitting with one of the many volunteers having dinner in the show office. For some reason we began talking about the importance of friends, family, contribution ethic and the meaning of life.

The conversation started because we were marvelling at how Landscape Ontario enjoys the contributions of so many dedicated and passionate members who give their time to building a strong community.

Many of our members think beyond themselves, thriving on doing something for the benefit of others. The member told of a touching story about a mother on her death bed, her entire body filled with cancer, gasping for her last laboured breaths, and yet her instinct was to console her family.  

The story reminded me of my own mother who passed away a couple of years ago, under similar circumstances. On one of my last visits to her, I happened to have a headache. Even though she was in terrible pain, her concern was about me. I have a cherished photograph of her sitting up rubbing my temples and saying a little prayer for my health.

Thinking beyond one’s self is a life lesson I will never forget, from both a personal and professional perspective.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tonydigiovanni@landscapeontario.com.