Bring it on!

Seventeen years ago, I was president of the state association in Oregon and attending an Executive Forum Meeting in Sun River, Oregon. At the time, I remember making it a goal to one day become president of the ALCA group (now one of PLANET’s legacy organizations). That time has come and passed, and serving as your president has been my highest honor. Over the last year, I’ve worked with great people and great leaders — everyone working hard to make a difference. I can’t say thank you enough to all of you for giving me this opportunity.

In reviewing the past 12 months, a couple of things stand out. First, PLANET has evolved. The merger between the two legacy groups has been melded into one strong association that is all-inclusive. The “good old boy” image is long gone, as PLANET has become highly transparent and open to all. Everyone’s opinion is not only welcomed, but also needed as we work together within PLANET and with other groups to tackle the challenges our industry faces.

Top on this list, of course, is that our industry is at risk from an agenda-seeking, vocal minority. One of PLANET’s objectives is to rally the troops, all 100,000 companies and more than 1 million employees who comprise our industry. The strategic plan over the next five years highlights this effort as our association shifts gears to externalize our story to get the word out about what members of our industry do and the benefits we bring to the table. Yes, we are environmental stewards with our service offerings; we give back to our communities with volunteer efforts; and we are certified professionals who possess a wealth of technical and business acumen. These messages are extremely important to get out, and they will get out if we rally the troops.

We’re moving in positive directions in other ways, as well. Our relationship with state partners is getting stronger by the day as we continue to find and share solutions to challenges that affect all our members. As an industry, we’ve also learned to survive, even thrive during the toughest of times, and we find ourselves stronger for it. And, PLANET continues to engage past leaders, including the five past presidents who sat on the board this year. Having their expertise and experience at hand is invaluable to our growth and success.

With that said, I can’t say enough about this past year’s board members, their strength  and their capability as strategic thinkers. The new incoming board promises to be just as strong if not stronger. Our CEO Sabena Hickman, CAE, CMP, and the PLANET staff match the board’s strength, enthusiasm, and commitment. They, too, are doing an incredible job. My father gave me two invaluable gifts that I brought with me as PLANET president: optimism and enthusiasm. When one adds in the amazingly strong volunteerism that PLANET has working at every level, and then top that off with our CEO who says, “Bring it on” … anything is possible. There is no better formula for “wild success.”

I want to leave colleagues and all PLANET members with a couple of thoughts about volunteerism and succession. With regards to volunteerism, serving as president has been good for me as well as for my company. It has boosted the morale of our employees who have also stepped up, taking our company to that next level. Being part of building a successful business at Dennis’ Seven Dees has been very rewarding for me, but it doesn’t compare to the return I have received in the “not-for-profit” world at PLANET. Again I can’t say thank you enough for giving me the opportunity. 

With regards to succession, I remember sitting at a table with CNA’s Tony James a few years ago. He remarked at the time how he thought a one-year stint as president would be a good idea for business owners just as it is for the PLANET presidency. As he put it, to have only one year to “give it your best” to make a positive difference is not only healthy for the organization, but it also creates a powerful force for growth and change. I’ve had my time to step in, and hopefully I’ve made a difference. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is the old PLCAA and ALCA magic is alive and well in PLANET… so bring it on!   

David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager

PLANET President 2010/2011

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