Business Smarts: Growing By Connecting with Industry Peers - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Growing By Connecting with Industry Peers

Photo: NALP/Philippe Nobile Photography

One of the popular benefits of joining NALP is the ability to connect with your industry peers. While it can be tempting to play things close to the vest and not open up to other lawn care or landscape companies, those who do choose to share and connect have found it extremely valuable.  

“There’s strength in numbers and there’s so much to learn in whatever industry you’re in,” says Ira Wade, co-owner of Wade’s Lawn Service, based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. “You’re not a one-man show. No matter what you achieve, there’s somebody or some company that is doing it better than you. We’ve learned you can glean from someone else. There’s wisdom in learning from others and being willing to learn. It’s a process of sowing and reaping. To me, you can get more back by being willing to able to help others.”

Deborah Wade, Ira’s wife and co-owner of Wade’s Lawn Service, says they have learned so much through their discussions with their peers. She says they are able to call one another and bounce ideas off of each other and get advice for issues they haven’t encountered before.

“As we grow in the industry ourselves, we need to find somebody to pour into, somebody to try to help, because that’s the only way we’re going to continue to grow, is by helping others because you’re not going to grow if you’re just an island to yourself,” Deborah says.

Industry Events

One of the main methods to network with fellow landscape professionals is through NALP’s industry events offered throughout the year.

If you are seeking the insights of fellow owners and CEOs, Leaders Forum provides the opportunity to connect and have thought-provoking discussions. Meanwhile, if you want to see how other companies operate firsthand, Field Trip is an event where you can tour a member facility and discuss their cutting-edge practices.

ELEVATE is an event that you and your key team members can benefit from thanks to the extensive education and networking opportunities there.

“Those events that exist through NALP are awesome,” Deborah says. “They’re wonderful because you meet some really great people, and they’re people from all different parts of the United States.”

Connecting Locally

Deborah notes that local networking is also a must because you never know when somebody nearby can help you. She says an example of this is how, through their networking, they were able to find a new vendor for their spring flowers instead of having to go to a location that was much farther away.

Photo: Wade’s Lawn Service

The Wades also started their own local peer group, Iron Sharpens Iron, in 2019. Deborah says it came about after a couple of other business owners had stopped by the shop and they were discussing different industry topics.

“We were talking about maybe we need to have a time where we all meet together and just talk about different ways we can network and help one another and that kind of thing,” Deborah says.

Their peer group discusses everything that pertains to the landscape industry, including how they can grow, methods to recruit and retain employees, and the different products they’re using.

They invite as many companies as possible, and Deborah says they’ve had up to 12 owners participate.

Deborah adds you shouldn’t limit yourself to just connecting with other landscape professionals. You should also get involved with your local chamber of commerce.

“They’re the lifeblood of a business community,” Deborah says. “You can meet a lot of people through that, plus you may be able to get some type of job through it; you just never know.”

NALP Networks

It’s also important to not leave networking to just yourself. Encourage your employees to get plugged into NALP’s different networks, which provide individuals the opportunity to connect with others with shared experiences.

Photo: Jill Odom/NALP

These free networks include the Young Professional Network, the Latino Landscape Network, the Veterans in Landscape Network and the Women in Landscape Network.

“I feel this is a safe place, a welcoming space for all to open tough conversations and real insight to hard situations,” says Jenny Girard, area manager at R.M. Landscape Inc. “What I love most about this group is they look for solutions, they bring people together to help solve some of the leading issues in the industry for women.”

Building rapport in these networks can also strengthen the connections you experience at in-person industry events.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.