Back-story on Certification Rebranding - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Back-story on Certification Rebranding

Happy New Year !

I wanted to take the time to give you some background regarding the development of the new certification branding effort and the resulting Landscape Industry Certified brand.


Many things emerged in the last 5 years to reshape PLANET Certifications. The first was directly due to the merger [of ALCA and PLCAA]. The PLANET certification inventory now consisted of CLP, CLT-I, CLT-E, COLP, CTP, and CTP-CSL. The first three are certifications that we partner with the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA). The remaining three involve turf certifications that PLCAA contributed to PLANET.


About three years ago, PLANET conducted a Certification Strategic Planning session facilitated by a professional psychometrician, Buck Chaffee, with the goal of bringing all of our certifications into compliance with the best practices of the certification world, and also to find a way to effectively market our certifications to the end user. The result of the meeting was a mandate that PLANET bring all certifications under a single brand. The goal was to eliminate all the alphabet soup of the different certifications under a single, marketable banner. Some additional requirements of this planning meeting were that we would find a solution that was agreeable to all stakeholders in certification and some of those included: PLANET membership, PLANET leadership, state landscape associations, CNLA, certified individuals, educators, and both ALCA and PLCAA legacy members. This strategic plan was voted on and approved by the PLANET Board.


To this end, the International Certification council (ICC) and PLANET leadership held exhaustive meetings and outreach efforts that included facilitated roundtables at Summer Leadership and GIC meetings, and face-to-face town hall forums at state association meetings conducted by PLANET presidents,  CEO and staff.  Also, the ICC made presentations to the DBI, Grounds Management, Lawn Care, and Interior specialty groups in Columbus, Ohio at GIC, and two Louisville GIC meetings…as well as Wilde dunes, Niagara Falls and Stowe, Vermont Summer Leadership meetings. In between these face-to-face meetings, we held countless teleconferences that targeted all of the stakeholders mentioned so far, and then some. After a two-year process, the ICC approved a new brand. The goal from the beginning was to develop a brand that was accepted by the state associations, PLANET, CNLA, and all the specialty groups.


I was just one person who was present at almost all of these meetings and I literally cannot tell you how many hours, or how many people participated in this process. I can tell you that the hours numbered in the multiple thousands for all involved and the participants numbered in the multiple hundreds. Some meetings were contentious, all were frank and open, and this was a public and transparent effort. At our first Louisville GIC, the ICC approved a new certification brand, but concerns expressed by leadership led to an additional year of outreach and ultimately a new recommendation that was approved by the PLANET Board and the CNLA so that all our certifications will now be under the same brand throughout North America.


I am proud to say the ICC under the leadership of Joel Hafner, the PLANET Board under the leadership of John Gibson, James Martin, Jason Cupp and Bill Hildebolt, PLANET staff, the CNLA Board and staff represented by Phil Paxton and Joel Beatson all worked tirelessly to hear, and incorporate everyone’s input. It was evident that there was no single answer that every individual or every group loved. We had to form consensus and even though many did not have immediate buy in of the heart, we did get buy in of the mind and finally the backing of Landscape Industry Certified. We ask that whenever you use your certification efforts in marketing, you use the Landscape Industry Certified logo.


All of this occurred simultaneously with the occupational analysis and redevelopment of the CLT-E test, CLT-I test and the lawn care tests as well. The ICC has budgeted to complete the revamped lawn care tests and development of new study materials in 2010/2011.


I will be the chairman of the ICC for the next three years and if I can be of any service to you in filling in any additional details about this process or anything that the ICC is working on, please feel free to contact me or the PLANET Certification Team.


Michael Becker, Landscape Industry Certified Manager and ICC Chair