Giving Back to Get Ahead

As part of  our#NALPStories series, we talked to Dan Foley, recipient of the 2015 Lifetime Leadership award about giving back to the landscape industry, and the importance of being involved in the association.

Giving back and being involved in leadership have always been important to Dan Foley, Landscape Industry Certified, National Association of Landscape Professionals Lifetime Leadership Award recipient. “I believed in giving back, but, at first, I wasn’t all that proactive about volunteering on a national level,” Foley remarked. “I was asked to volunteer and I did. I soon discovered how valuable it was to work closely with like-minded people who were willing to share. I caught the bug.”

“I went to my first ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America—a legacy association of PLANET, now the NALP) meeting in Tampa in 1991. At the time, I didn’t know anyone there except Michael Byrne, Landscape Industry Certified [a longtime ALCA member and friend], who dragged me to the event. Yes, I was intimidated but decided to walk away with two goals for every event I attended: (1) bring back something that I could do differently in my business or life and (2) meet someone who I would follow up with once I returned home.”

In 1996, Foley became active at the national level by joining ALCA. He chaired the association’s Membership Committee and volunteered for several other assignments on its Safety, Green Industry Conference (now LANDSCAPES) and Education committees. He planned on being ALCA’s next president but merger talks with the Professional Lawn Care Association of America accelerated in 2004, and PLANET was born in 2005.

“Those merger conversations and later serving as PLANET’s first president taught me how important it is to remain open-minded, to listen and to learn,” said Foley. “It was a bit unnerving to be the new association’s first president, but it was also very fun, a tremendous learning experience and extremely rewarding.”

This past PLANET president stayed active in the association until 2009 when he sold his business to the Brickman Group. “I needed to stay focused on my new team, so I took a brief respite from attending PLANET events.” In 2011 and 2014, he attended the GIC and the old “bug” bit him again.

“Not everyone is able to or even wants to get involved in leadership, but those who get the most from their NALP membership will take action in some way that works for them,” said Foley.

Foley attributes both his personal growth and his company’s success to the knowledge he gained from association members and the relationships he built with them.

This industry veteran says he still has plenty of energy and desire to be active within the industry and NALP, and to continue “to listen, learn and share ideas with members.”


The Lifetime Leadership Award is presented annually to a National Association of Landscape Professionals member who has demonstrated both leadership and service, as well as made a commitment and contributions to both the landscape industry and NALP. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2016 Lifetime Leadership Award recipient.

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