April 15, 2014
By Dave Braun
LO President

Dave Braun To state the obvious, it’s been a long winter. You certainly don’t need me to tell you it’s been one of the most intense winters in recent memory. You just need to look outside. So why am I writing about it?

At Canada Blooms, I was speaking to our executive director Tony DiGiovanni about how I could write this month’s article about this snowy subject matter. In the next breath, I expressed my thought, “But who cares?”

Tony then shared a story that made me realize that shared experiences, even when discussing the obvious, are worth highlighting. Tony said that he had once written an article about how difficult the winter had been. Years later at an event, a man Tony had never met approached him.

“Tony,” the man said, “I just want to thank you!” “For what?” Tony asked. “Years ago, you wrote an article about how difficult the winter was. Even though it didn’t change my circumstances, it really changed how I felt. I felt much less alone. I felt that I was in this tough situation with everyone.” Simply put, anything affecting one of us is affecting us all, and knowing you’re not alone truly matters.

We have had a winter that’s gone on too long, with persistent cold and the snow cover that never left. At our nursery, we are prevented from digging on schedule because of the weather. We have turned down orders from customers in the U.S. who wanted trees before our season has even started.

This shortened season will also mean that when we are able to dig, many of our customers will want their orders as soon as possible (i.e. at the same time). Damage from the ice storm has had visible repercussions and the brutality of the winter may have created losses in some of our marginally hardy plants.

Perhaps those who have “felt” this winter most are our friends in the snow removal sector. It’s been a brutal year for anyone involved in snow and ice. So much snow. So little sleep. So little salt. For some companies the deluge of snow has been a financial boon. To others with fixed contracts, it has been a devastating experience given the high cost of salt and labour, and the enormous amount of snow to remove.

As in almost all aspects of life, with the negative comes a silver lining. Payroll starts later. The extreme low temperatures may have killed insects that we would have had to tackle, potentially reducing labour and pesticide costs.  We have more time to get our vehicles and equipment in shape for spring and ensure that our supplies are well-stocked. We have “bonus” time to brainstorm and plan as a team about our business. Most importantly, we gain additional opportunity to connect with customers both existing and potential.

When we can’t go into the field and focus on a singular task, it can produce a springboard for exploring new ideas for our businesses as a whole. Landscape Ontario has a wide array of excellent courses that are offered during the winter, from courses that focus on technical expertise to seminars on sales and leadership.  

In addition, the Canada Blooms festival in Toronto certainly elevated our spirits. From a simple idea blossomed the largest indoor festival in Canada. What’s most important to know is that we are in this together, as friends and as colleagues. Your fellow Landscape Ontario members are walking in your shoes and are available as a true source of support. What I know for sure? Spring will arrive for us all.
Dave Braun may be reached at dbraun@landscapeontario.com.