Blazing a Two-Way Trail - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Blazing a Two-Way Trail

Both Tom Heaviland and Michael Kravitsky, IV have been NALP Trailblazers for 15 years or more. During that time, they’ve collectively mentored at least 25 people, owners of large and small companies alike who represent nearly every segment of the lawn and landscape industry.  The two trailblazers share many of the same thoughts, not the least of which is being a mentor is “give and take.” Without expecting it or even trying, they’ve always gained something from the experience, may it be a friend for life or a kernel of knowledge that has helped their businesses grow.

Heaviland, owner of Heaviland Landscape Management in Vista, CA, was an early mentee in the program. “The company was much bigger than mine and had developed processes and other systems that would later help me grow,” he recalled.

What he remembers most about the experience was how his mentor openly shared company financials.  “’What’s ours is yours,’ he said, and I’ve tried to be equally as open with my mentees. Being a peer mentor, or Trailblazer, gives me an opportunity to help someone else by sharing my industry experience with them.”

As Heaviland pointed out, however, what he shares is not only his industry experience, but that of his past mentees, as well.  “When I meet with a new mentee, I go in with the attitude that I will help them in some way. When the day is over, I find that I’ve also learned from them. There are so many good ideas out there.”

Even though Kravitsky has been a longtime Trailblazer, he never participated in the program as a mentee. But the owner of Grasshopper Lawns in Larksville PA, hasn’t lacked mentors. What he’s learned from his grandfather and father when they ran the company, what he’s learned from industry friends, and what’s he’s even learned from his flight instructor he shares with mentees.

“My grandfather taught me to be diplomatic. My father taught me to be outgoing. From an old industry friend, I learned how important it is to be interested in people and what they do. My flight instructor imparted something entirely different, how to stay in control under pressure. I’ve shared a little of each with the 10 or so people I’ve mentored,” said Kravitsky

He continued, “What I’ve found is that most mentees struggle with being unorganized so I help them where I can. In one instance, just advising someone to buy a smartphone was the one piece of advice he needed to make his business run more smoothly.”

This industry veteran has advised mentees on the nuances of running a family business and even made them realize that one mistake or bad experience is not “the end of the world.”  Even though Kravitsky operates a lawn care company, he noted that probably half his mentees have been design/build or landscape management. As he put it, business is business and many of the same rules apply to all of them.

Like Heaviland, he believes that every teaching opportunity is also a learning experience.  “You always get something in return when you show an interest in people. You help them, yes, but they, too, have something to share.”

The two, added Heaviland, the give and take, make being a mentor a very rewarding experience.  “Hopefully, I’ve helped some people along the way and I can say for sure what I’ve learned from them in return has helped my business immensely.”

The deadline to nominate an industry veteran as a mentor in the NALP Trailblazer program, is May 5. The form can be found on the NALP website and faxed or emailed.