If you’re looking for signs that the industry is moving toward recovery, look no further than this year’s Green Industry Conference (GIC) in Louisville. The mood was definitely positive and numbers were up nearly across the board. A ramped up GIE+EXPO trade show with the addition of Hardscape North America exhibitors kept both the indoor exhibits and outdoor demo areas alive with interest. Seminars were well attended, the keynote address with extreme adventurer Jamie Clarke received a full house standing ovation, and all tables at Breakfast With Champions, where networking and open sharing was as active as ever, were packed, as always.
This is just a glimpse of what was a very successful conference and trade show, but there was something even more significant going on beneath the surface for PLANET members. As an association, it’s obvious we’re in a very good place.
The first sign of this was evident for those who attended the keynote. They found a copy of PLANET’s first-ever annual report resting on their chairs. Our numbers and where dollars are spent have always been available to members, but this is the first time the information has been packaged in a readily accessible and very attractive brochure format. This is just one symbol of PLANET’s efforts to be totally transparent and ensure that all members feel like and indeed are insiders.
That feeling transferred to the six-hour board meeting where time literally flew by. Board members were engaged and obviously enthusiastic about where PLANET is going. As a quick side note, too, it’s important to emphasize that these meetings are OPEN to all members. We all need to be aware of the key issues impacting our association, and the more knowledge we all share, the more powerfully aligned we become as the voice of the green industry.
There were other signs, as well, that the five-year-old merger between PLCAA (Professional Lawn Care Association of America) and ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America) is beginning to pay back dividends. Twenty past-presidents, individuals who represent the brick and mortar for the foundations of both legacy groups and PLANET, attended the conference as well as the red carpet reception held in their honor. The CEO Forum had double the participation of last year’s event, and it included a roundtable discussion with OPEI Leadership — an indication again that our voice is getting stronger.
Among other indicators that PLANET is evolving was the high level of energy and enthusiasm within each of the specialty groups. There was huge participation in the specialty group receptions, and a sense of each community building strength, yet blending together to form a stronger, more uniform association. Specialty group members seemed to be growing more comfortable as representatives of a segment of the industry and of the industry as a whole.
One final thought about this year’s GIC and the legacy it likely will leave on the future of our association. The industry’s premier educational event provided a truly great experience. Attendees not only will come back next year, but they also will spread the word to their associates and peers about the exceptional take-home value this event delivered — that’s good news for all attendees, GIE+EXPO exhibitors, GIC sponsors, PLANET and its partners, and the industry.
Positioning PLANET as the voice of the green industry is about leadership doing the best job it can to deliver on the five PLANET promises for members. Remember, you are part of a powerful, unified, growing association, making an impact on each other, our communities, our country, and our planet!
David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager