One of the ongoing challenges for any business owner is untangling from the minutia of daily life and taking a good look at the big picture. What’s the old saying — “can’t see the forest for the trees”? Well, I would like to take a few moments to share a view of the PLANET forest.
Over the last several years, our association has been posturing to become the leading voice of the green industry. In deference to some members who may think otherwise, there truly is power in numbers. Our certification program has reached “critical mass,” and it will become an industry standard in the very near future. This will happen, and it wouldn’t be possible without the resources that a large, unified group provides. Just last month, for example, 87 new Landscape Industry Certified Technicians were reported by our state and regional partners, along with the addition of three new Landscape Industry Certified Managers. That’s huge, and we are working on an initiative to hurry the certification message along to customers that PLANET-certified individuals are pre-qualified to work on their properties.
As I write this, PLANET is on the verge of receiving substantial outside support for its industry safety efforts. Our partnerships with the likes of CNA and OSHA, along with initiatives such as the STARS Safe Company Program, will soon be joined by a $164,900 government grant that promises to further invigorate our safety mission of preventing accidents and injuries in the green industry.
Size and voice does count when it comes to getting support for industry-wide causes. And they will count even more when it comes to fighting industry battles; more such battles are imminent. What was once the burden of lawn care professionals, fighting extremist who wanted to disband their industry, is now shouldered by all PLANET members. Make no mistake about it, the entire green industry is now under attack from those who want to eliminate grass and restrict plantings. They’re fueling their arguments with water (or lack thereof), economic concerns, and ironically sustainability, suggesting that our profession isn’t the environmental steward it claims to be. Their intent is to ban outright or seriously restrict many of our important services. PLANET has been waging and will continue to wage this battle on Capitol Hill, in state legislature, and at the local level, wherever detractors try to get traction. Again, success will ultimately depend on having a strong, unified green industry voice and presence.
PLANET Universe is another “big picture” item. Introduced just last month at GIC, this online clearinghouse for everything green industry-related was unveiled with more than 1,000 submissions, policed by PLANET to ensure the information is relevant to our industry. This new PLANET initiative will make it easy to locate and share important landscape industry-specific resources.
The Crystal Ball Subcommittee has been intensely focused on the topic of innovation as it applies to the green industry. Innovation not only is a critical tool for embracing change, but it also offers incredible opportunity for green industry businesses to grow and thrive well into the future. This insightful study will be released early next year as Crystal Ball Report #30.
PLANET’s certification and safety initiatives, efforts on the legislative front, unveiling of PLANET Universe, and futuristic envisioning by its Crystal Ball Subcommittee are just a few examples of how your association is working on your behalf. The other equally if not more important half of the forest is the individual voices within PLANET. One of PLANET leadership’s primary responsibilities is to make sure the interests and requirements of each individual specialty group (Design/Build/Installation, Landscape Management, Lawn Care, and Interior Plantscaping) do not get lost within a larger organization. At one level we all share the same concerns about safety, industry recognition, and over regulation; at another, each group has its unique agenda, voice, and need for community.
Right now, PLANET’s Board of Directors and other members of leadership are addressing this critical issue. The goal is to make the operation of PLANET as transparent as humanly possible, encourage more participation at Strategic Planning Sessions and board meetings, and speed up communication by making every PLANET member feel like he or she is an insider. PLANET is working for you, and its long-term goal is to continue to do so in a most efficient way.
As a side note, PLANET’s partnership with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is offering members another opportunity to learn and grow. The Lawn Care Summit, hosted by NPMA and PLANET, will be held December 1–3 in Atlanta. This educational forum offers both technical and business management sessions for all lawn care professionals. Billed as an event developed by lawn care professionals for lawn care professionals, the program targets owners, managers, and technicians. But, in the true spirit of sharing, it’s also open to any landscape contractor who may be looking to diversify into lawn care. Check PLANET’s Web site for more details about The Lawn Care Summit, including registration.
David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager