Wild Success - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Wild Success

I am thrilled to be writing this as PLANET’s 2010/2011 president.

I’ll start by sharing some things about myself that you probably didn’t know. My involvement in this industry started when I was very young. I grew up in our family nursery and landscape business, the roots of which date back to my grandfather in 1927. I started out at 5 cents an hour and my first paycheck totaled $1.72. I was fortunate because I loved everything about the green industry right from the beginning … and I always knew this would end up being my ultimate lifetime career.

It’s been almost 40 years, and I don’t have a single regret about this choice. My dad, who was my greatest mentor, gave me his gift of enthusiasm and optimism. This has been my secret to success for life, for my business at Dennis’ 7 Dees, and what I bring with me to PLANET.

I come from a diverse green industry background that includes design/build, landscape management, lawn care, interior installation and maintenance, retail garden center, and wholesale growing. At Dennis’ 7 Dees, tree care is offered but outsourced. This experience will help me maintain a broad and inclusive perspective at PLANET when addressing issues and opportunities.

“Timing is everything,” and we have arrived at a unique moment in our industry. Think about it. The economy has bottomed out and is starting to gain strength; PLANET has a new CEO — Sabeena Hickman who is proven and solid; PLANET staff is empowered, motivated, and the best part — they are having fun! There is a new level of energy at PLANET. 

There’s a lot more …

  • PLANET membership has reversed a declining trend that has been evident in the association world; in fact, new membership for January was the best it’s been in five years.  
  • Attendance at this year’s Executive Forum was up 49 percent over last year.
  • In its first rollout year, PLANET Day of Service had more than 2,000 participants.
  • Certification, having gone through 16 years of development and fine tuning, has now reached critical mass. With more than 3,700 participants, it is on the verge of exponential growth. 
  • The STARS Safe Company Program has experienced tremendous growth and success helping PLANET members and nonmembers alike achieve a higher level of safety in the workplace.

Without question PLANET is on the verge of some exciting breakthroughs. This feels like the “right place at the right time.”

I believe that PLANET is perfectly positioned for “wild success.” Stop a minute and imagine a membership of 10,000. What would the strength of that voice mean to the industry … to our suppliers — to our members in terms of member benefits? Is this even possible? I believe that anything is possible if you think it, believe in it, and then give it attention.

The dust has settled from the 2005 merger, and it feels pretty good, as does the legacy magic that has made its way into PLANET. I can assure you that PLANET has its own magic, not unlike the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) and Profession Lawn Care Association of America (PLCAA). Nothing has been lost, except those legacy members who left. It is great to see that past legacy leaders are returning, and it is more important than ever to reach out to all past legacy members who are not currently active in PLANET. Remember “Voice of the Green Industry” was their vision, passed along. We are all working hard to make it happen, and PLANET needs them back to help!

Among priorities, we need to continue delivering on the PLANET Promise (to provide member value, grow our workforce, expand partnerships, advance marketplace recognition, and influence through advocacy). In addition, I plan to give special attention to advancing professionalism within the industry, something to which Bill Hildebolt was deeply committed. Professionalism is the common thread that runs throughout PLANET, and it provides separation from those unskilled opportunists who easily enter this industry.

Another top priority focuses on what this association is all about, our members. We need to find ways to help our members solve current economic challenges and create new ways to grow their business. As mentioned, we also need to grow our membership to increase our industry presence and have a louder voice on key issues. And finally, we must find ways to strengthen the community, identity, and voice of each individual specialty group within PLANET so that each segment of the green industry gets the attention it needs to thrive.

I will be challenged following in the footsteps of Bill Hildebolt, Ph.D., Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician, because of the great job he has done leading this association over the past year. In many ways, though, he has made it easy by leaving PLANET positioned for success. I am honored to be PLANET’s 2010/2011 president and enthusiastic and optimistic about our future “wild successes!”

David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager
PLANET President