Taking the Gavel - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Taking the Gavel

For those of you who may not know me, I am the COO of a lawn care company, ArborLawn, Inc., and an irrigation company, Spartan Irrigation, Inc., both of which operate from a base in Central Michigan. I am a graduate of Michigan State University, father of two adult children, and grandfather of three. If prompted, my wife Sherin would likely accuse me of being a workaholic.

I have been involved in our industry’s associations since the mid-1980s, in our state association where I served on the board of directors, and as a PLCAA member. But, it was volunteering to serve on a committee for the Legislative Day on the Hill event in 1994 that truly piqued my interest in and stoked a passion for becoming more involved in a national association — one that would be a strong advocate and voice for the green industry. 

Beyond all its accomplishments and great member-value programs, PLANET has become that strong, authoritative voice. Like anything else in this ever-changing world, however, our association has to be innovative and vigilant, and not rest on its achievements. Hence, PLANET must continue to speak as one strong, united voice to our legislators, regulators, public officials, and, yes, the general public. We must continue to promote our industry as the true “green” industry, and tell our story that members of our industry are the real “environmental heroes” who create and maintain the “quality of life” in communities across America.

This past year, under the stalwart leadership of David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, PLANET created a bold and aggressive strategic plan to further strengthen the organization as a leader and the voice of the green industry. The plan is the combined efforts of our board of directors, committee leaders, and PLANET staff, and was completed with total transparency to include many ideas and suggestions from other PLANET volunteers and members, as well.

The strategic plan restates our  Mission Statement to, “advance and communicate the interests of PLANET members in the conduct of effective and environmentally responsible landscape services.” It also spells out our Core Purpose, which is to “advance opportunity and professionalism for the green industry.”

While addressing PLANET’s five promises, the plan sets the following goals to be met within the next three to five years:

  • Expertise & Advocacy. To be recognized as a definitive authority by government and as the definitive standard for integrity and environmentally responsible greenscape services by the public.
  • Certification & Standards. Public and private projects will require landscape industry certified individuals and landscape industry accredited companies.
  • Resource. To be valued as a primary source for education, information, research/data, and best safety and management practices by the green industry and as a leading authority of green space management and care by the public.
  • Organizational Partnerships. Industry, government, and other state, regional, and national associations will respect and value PLANET as the partner of choice for green industry-related initiatives.
  • Industry Development. Green industry careers will be among the most highly respected, and PLANET will be critical to career planning and green job creation.

The strategic plan details objectives for reaching the above goals. For example, to enhance public awareness about green initiatives within PLANET and our industry, the plan calls for the production of more social media content and YouTube documentary information about PLANET, with links to our Web site, FAX template, toolkits, and so forth.

Among several strategies defined as “critical” for positioning PLANET as a resource, the plan emphasizes the need to take further advantage of PLANET Universe, align educational offerings to be part of a cohesive, comprehensive curriculum, and explore the feasibility of establishing connections with university/college curriculum.

One dominant theme throughout is the important role partnering will play in reaching the above working goals. This includes partnering with suppliers, with other like-minded associations, with state associations, and with colleges and universities.

My charge for the coming year is to keep our organization focused and on target to communicate the plan’s objectives and execute its strategies. This is a challenge to which I look forward. Taking a page, and the gavel, from David, I also look forward to working more closely with PLANET leadership, volunteers, and staff to continue to grow our association and our position within this great industry.


Jerry Grossi, Landscape Industry Certified Technician

PLANET President 2011/2012