As part of a larger public relations campaign to raise awareness of the value, expertise, and knowledge that comes with hiring professional lawn and landscape companies and to foster a deeper appreciation for green spaces, PLANET recently unveiled a new consumer-focused website—LoveYourLandscape.com.
LoveYourLandscape.com provides homeowners and commercial clients with helpful information about the importance of healthy plants and green spaces, seasonal tips (to include timely summer tips and water-saving tips), and the benefits of hiring a PLANET member or Landscape Industry Certified professional. It includes design tips and ideas, highlights the benefits of indoor plants, contains discussions about sustainable landscape practices, and provides information about how to choose a professional company and about the Landscape Industry Certified accreditation. It also is a great place for the media to get helpful consumer information for articles.
PLANET encourages you to test drive LoveYourLandscape.com, then link to it and include it in blogs, social media, or client communications. Each month will include a new “spotlight” story about how people benefit from their lawns and landscapes, and will highlight the work of members.
Note: As part of the effort to raise awareness, the new public relations campaign also has been successful at getting advice from PLANET “pros” featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens.com, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and commercial publications like Condo Management Magazine, Facilities Manager, and other facility management magazines. Check out our PLANET in the News section of LandcareNetwork.org to see where PLANET might be popping up next.
There’s an old saying in business: You’re only as successful as the people you surround yourself with. I believe this implicitly from my experience in the corporate world, working with other trade groups, and certainly, most recently, serving as your president. It’s been an exciting and very rewarding year for me in many ways, from the industry professionals and volunteers I’ve come to know, to the PLANET staff members who make the organization run so smoothly. Their combined contribution bodes well for the industry and the future of PLANET.
Following are just a few of the past year’s highlights that I believe standout among others, all of which could not have been accomplished without the efforts and support of those mentioned above.
Certainly, an important one is the addition of the Irrigation & Water Management Specialty Group. Since many members already offer this service, adding this group seemed logical. Doing so also brought on board those dedicated exclusively to providing irrigation installation and maintenance services, further validating PLANET’s role as the “voice of the green industry.”
This past year, we’ve made great strides in reaching out to past presidents whose experience and wisdom are pivotal to our continued growth. We’ve engaged them at the Green Industry Conference (GIC) and other events and keep them updated through a bimonthly past presidents newsletter.
In addition, PLANET launched a few initiatives to accelerate membership numbers and further enhance the effectiveness of its well-received certification program. To help expand the membership base, leadership has been in discussion with state groups to allow their members to become eligible for PLANET membership. This effort, under the leadership of Ohio Landscape Association Executive Director Sandy Munley, will continue this spring to include a focus group comprised of other state leaders.
PLANET also enlisted a new PR firm, Four Leaf Public Relations, to help promote PLANET and to educate consumers about our industry and about the importance of hiring a well-educated, professional company that has Landscape Industry Certified staff.
The PLANET staff and leadership continue to put incredible effort into key events such as the GIC and Lawn Care Summit. Once again it proves that these venues are important not only for the information they convey, but also for the networking opportunities they offer attendees.
I haven’t even mentioned PLANET Universe, other educational resources, or the community service programs, such as PLANET Day of Service, Renewal & Remembrance, and PLANET Gives Back. Committees are also hard at work with Student Career Days and Legislative Day on the Hill—all of which continue to receive wide support among membership and the industry.
This is a dynamic organization with unlimited potential that is made possible by its leadership and other volunteers, the PLANET staff, and its CEO Sabeena Hickman, not to mention the ongoing important support from the industry. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being PLANET president and welcome Glenn Jacobsen as your next president. His talents and leadership skills will carry forward an agenda that promises a great future for the people of PLANET and the industry.
Norman Goldenberg, Landscape Industry Certified Technician
Immediate Past President
Edward J. Snyder III, Owner Greenleaf Services, Inc. located in Linville, N.C. was one of PLANET’s recent Safety Recognition Awards winners but notably one of the seven recipients to have won the ‘Best of the Best’ award. This particular award honors the companies that have won the Overall Safety Achievement Award–Gold Performance status for the past three consecutive years.
Edward took a moment to share with us what safety means to him and the way in which he operates his business.
“Safety is not just a word. As a business owner, safety is a commitment to my employees and business by way of our company’s culture. It is my responsibility that I provide the safest environment for my employees to help ensure they return home safe and sound to their families each and everyday. Being part of the PLANET STARS Safety Company Program gives me the tools and information to incorporate safety into my company’s culture.”
Lou Kobus, Landscape Industry Certified, president of Fox Run Nurseries, was also one of the ‘Best of the Best’ winners. Here is his view of PLANETs STARS Safety Company Program…
“A good company safety program which prevents accidents… saves money.” Being part of PLANET’s STARS program and participating in the Safety Recognition Awards helps my company work towards safety excellence through our involvement and sharing our experiences.
The cost of rehabilitation of individuals, lost time, cost of repair or replacement of equipment/vehicles and the lost production time “on the job”, is significantly more costly than any cost associated with a Company Safety Program.” An accident which results in lost time, manpower, equipment, and/or vehicle usage equates to lost production and resultant revenue. We at Fox Run Nurseries believe that by having a safety program in place, incorporating frequent and adequate training to our staff and by providing an environment that advocates safety, that our staff will take ownership to prevent hazards and injuries. Our safety record reflects our commitment.
We all know that safety is a priority on the job. If you aren’t already a STARS member, join the STARS Safety Company program, a free safety initiative designed for companies to set the precedent for safety throughout the industry. The STARS program helps industry service provider companies lower their total costs of risk by reducing hazards and injuries. With this initiative, PLANET works to connect all landscape industry companies in an effort to lessen the risks associated with this industry.
In addition, PLANET’s Safety Recognition Awards program, sponsored by CNA, is accepting applications for those companies that consistently demonstrate their commitment to safety, and reflects the dedication of these individuals and their companies to creating and maintaining safe work environments. By entering, you will receive a free copy of the Safety Benchmarking Survey! The deadline to enter is around the corner…April 30, 2013.
As President of Ecolawn Inc. located in Eastlake, Ohio, we’re a small family owned lawn care company serving the Greater Cleveland area since 1993.
I joined the STARS Safe Company Program (Safety Training Achieves Remarkable Success) in 2006 and it’s a privilege to have received the ‘Best of the Best’ award, as part of PLANET’s Safety Recognition Awards Program for 2011 at the Green Industry Conference this past October. ‘Best of the Best’ meant that we were honored with the Overall Safety Achievement Award–Gold Performance status for the past three consecutive years.
As the owner of my company, it’s my responsibility to create and enforce a culture of safety. This includes finding and teaching the best people to work and provide lawn and landscape care to our customers. At Ecolawn, focusing on safety isn’t just better, easier or less expensive; it’s the only way we’ll operate. Equipment is on an aggressive preventative maintenance routine that identifies and corrects safety and performance issues. Our employees work in an environment that fosters safety and security with proper labeling, tagouts and aggressive impromptu and scheduled training.
This safe culture continues with the service our customers receive. Drivers make pre trip truck and equipment safety checks, drive professionally and without distractions. Technicians inspect properties and spot treat only as needed so they use the least amount of control product to get the job done. Furniture and toys are moved to avoid contact. Customers receive ‘best practice’ educational materials to teach them about the environmental benefits of healthy turf and landscape plantings, and help them reduce emissions and water use in caring for their properties.
As landscape industry professionals with continuous public exposure, it’s important for people to know we share their concern for the environment, their safety and the well-being of our employees. We have to set a good example.
The STARS program provides a good outline and makes it easier to operate a company with a strong safety culture. Take the time to recognize your company and the safety minded culture you share with your employees. Enter PLANET’s Safety Recognition Awards Program – the deadline to enter is April 30, 2013.
Are you ready to compete for your credential?
PLANET’s Student Career Days—The National Collegiate Landscape Competition event held in Auburn, Ala., March 7 – 10, 2013, is described as a “Landscape Olympics.” Last year, I wrote a blog “Go for the Certification Gold,” using the summer Olympics in London as my theme. “In this Olympic year, go for the gold of our industry…earn your Landscape Industry Certified designation today.”
Whether you participated in Student Career Days held earlier this month or are taking an exam to become Landscape Industry Certified, you’re demonstrating a commitment to excellence that rivals the well-trained athlete competing in the Games.
This pursuit of a higher achievement shows drive, focus and determination. Certification is a goal worthy of your time and energy. While we’re between Olympic years and the winter Games are a distant date in 2014, my challenge stands. “Go for the Certification Gold.” Here’s how to challenge yourself and compete for your credential.
PLANET offers several certifications – seven to be exact. While they’re arranged under Manager and Technician categories, both levels are of equal distinction with many individuals choosing to obtain both and pursue several specialties under the Landscape Industry Certified umbrella. Personally, I chose the Technician-Exterior first, specializing in maintenance and installation. Then I set my sights on the business certification and achieved the Manager credential. Now, I am a Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician.
Choose a program, register, order any recommended study materials, and plot your training regimen. Give yourself enough preparation time. Most of the programs allow up to three years to study and test.
Pace yourself. One technique a newly Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Michael McShane, successfully used: I read the study material any time I had a chance. I read each module once and highlighted important areas that I felt would need to be reviewed again. I went through all of the study guides a second time and wrote key elements of each section in an outline. I reviewed the outlines that I drafted numerous times prior to the test.
More than 5,000 actively hold the Landscape Industry Certified designation worldwide with the majority of certificants located in the United States, followed by Canada. Competing for your credential, like an Olympian, is an internationally shared endeavor. No matter where you’re from you can go for the green leaf that decorates the Landscape Industry Certified logo.
A logo that, once earned, you can display to your peers and customers with pride as long as you maintain it by earning continuing education and service CEUs every two years. After all, top athletes stay conditioned to be a peak performance, so must the certified contractor stay on top of the latest industry information, trends and technologies.
Countdown to the winter Olympics in 2014 is on and I challenge you to make a personal and professional commitment to earn your industry’s own gold standard by becoming Landscape Industry Certified. You’ll stand above the rest and can promote your distinguished status for years to come. Your name will even be listed on the Honor Wall.
Let the certification games begin! Contact PLANET at 800-395-2522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
David Hupman, Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician
BRICKMAN – Great Lakes Division, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chair, International Certification Council
TurfMutt spends time with the PLANET staff at the 2012 PLANET Day of Service.
From February 18 – March 11, you can enter the TurfMutt sweepstakes to win a $250 donation to your local animal shelter and help dogs (cats and other critters) find a forever family. Two winners receive a $250 donation and an eco-friendly TurfMutt backpack with school supplies.
To enter, go to TurfMutt’s facebook page.
All you have to do is check out TurfMutt’s new Public Service Announcement (PSA) where TurfMutt is sharing the beauty, fun and discovery families can experience right in their own backyard. (Those 16 years of age and older can enter. )
TurfMutt is based on a real-life rescue dog, named Lucky, who lives in DC. For more information on his story, click here.
PLANET loves to honor our members and the great work that they do throughout the entire year. Our members and this industry, are committed to serving the world’s green spaces and those who use them! They are dedicated to providing the best for their customers and representing PLANET well.
This past fall, PLANET introduced our newest award—the Community Stewardship Award—to recognize PLANET member companies that have demonstrated leadership through their dedication and consistent contribution to the good of their communities.
PLANET designed this award to honor our member companies or student chapters that have made significant quality of life improvements in their communities through their volunteer work over the course of at least three years. One of the goals of this award was to help member companies become leaders in their communities, which in turn will not only help build trust in them but in our industry as a whole. These all reflect our industry’s commitment to being a steward of the environment and to making our communities safer, better places to live.
PLANET joined forces with Landscape Management as a media partner to help promote the great work that our industry does and share these winning companies. It was the first year and so we weren’t sure what to expect as far as submissions were concerned, but we were pleasantly surprised when we received approximately 60 applications of which every single one of them were exemplary displays of the amazing work and thoughtful spirits of our membership.
Today, PLANET is pleased to share the first two (of six) category winners that have been published in Landscape Management’s magazine to date. The winner of the Small Green Industry Service Provider (GISP) category (under $1 million annual revenue) is Utopian Landscapes, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, featured in the January Landscape Management issue. The Medium GISP category ($1 to $5 million annual revenue) had a tie amongst Drake’s 7 Dees, Portland, Oregon and Southeastern Outdoor Management, Panama City, Florida of which both are featured in their February issue. Take a minute to read all about the amazing work that these three companies do for their community.
Be on the lookout for the subsequent issues of Landscape Management, as they feature the remaining winners from the Large GISP, State Association, Supplier, and Student Chapter categories.
Stay tuned as PLANET makes plans to feature more of the amazing work submitted by many of the applicants. They are too good not to share with you!
Mark these dates on your calendar, Feb. 21–23. That’s when PLANET members and their families will gather in Las Vegas to attend the second annual Green Industry Great Escape (GIGE). In two short years, what used to be known as the Executive Forum has developed a dynamic all its own. Last year’s event at the Atlantis on Paradise Island set the tone. Who can forget the big evening reception with a great island band, lots of food, and plenty of networking time, and that was just one of many highlights. See here…
This year’s venue, the new Cosmopolitan hotel in Vegas, will be just as entertaining. In addition to a few morning meetings and roundtable discussions, we can look forward to a tour of the famous Bellagio Gardens. If you want to totally escape from “green,” how about a tour of the Eldorado Gold Mine or a Scoot Tour of the Red Rock Canyon. The gold mine I can envision, but I don’t have a clue about the scoot. If I were to bet (after all we’re in Vegas), I would say it will be fun and very memorable.
Amid the glitz and glitter of this desert oasis, PLANET will be conducting some interesting, business, too. One focus of the afternoon meetings will be a presentation from JP Horizon’s Jim Paluch who will roll out PLANET’s involvement with his “Come Alive Outside” initiative. If you’re at all curious about this new partnership, you won’t want to miss this session. One hint—the theme of this year’s PLANET Day of Service will be, you guessed it, “Come Alive Outside.”
By now, most of you have also heard about PLANET peer groups. Over the years, several landscape business owners, including PLANET members, have taken advantage of this unique benchmarking process. The impetus is to create a way for like-minded business professionals to share ideas and strategies for profitable growth. Of course, in doing so, the groups also provide a special networking opportunity for members and an opportunity to develop relationships that can last a lifetime.
PLANET wants to expand this important process by hosting its own peer groups and has turned to Bruce Wilson from Wilson/Oyler to champion the program. This industry veteran has facilitated several such groups over the years and has intimate knowledge of what makes them tick. He will hold a special Q&A session at GIGE to talk about the peer group program and answer questions about how its works and can benefit participants.
There’s other important business to conduct at GIGE, as well, not the least of which is the installation of new officers and board members. For me, GIGE means my time as PLANET president is coming to a close, although I won’t officially hand over the baton to Glenn Jacobsen until May. The old saying about how time flies is absolutely true, especially when you’re doing something you truly enjoy.
There’s still time to register…. !!
I look forward to seeing you in Vegas!
Norman Goldenberg, Landscape Industry Certified Technician
As 2012 comes to a close, most green industry professionals would say, “It hasn’t been a bad year, but it hasn’t been a great one, either.” Still, the industry is picking up, albeit slowly in some markets, and 2013 promises to bring more good news. Homeowners are once again opening their wallets to enhance their landscapes, and we’re waiting patiently for the commercial market to follow suit. In the meantime, PLANET has been there, providing added value with webinars, an expanded PLANET Universe, and many other resources designed to help members improve their productivity and profit.
One theme especially comes across loud and clear for 2012–PLANET’s willingness and, yes, ability to partner with other associations and groups to help move our industry forward. This year, for example, we’ve formed a partnership with JP Horizons to help promote its Come Alive Outside initiative.
PLANET continues to work closely with state associations, sharing resources and experiences to foster a stronger industry. During the past 12 months, with great respect and thoughtfulness, we’ve also taken a step closer to forming a confederation of PLANET members, composed of state association members and current PLANET members. We’re not there yet, but a PLANET task force, charged with determining the viability of this expanded partnership, will have a report by the end of this year.
State associations have long been a strong partner with PLANET, evidenced by the long-standing success of the certification program. Currently, there are more than 4,000 Landscape Industry Certified Technicians in North America and Canada. When combined with other designations, the figure is well above 5,000. Our thanks go out to the state groups for their continued support of the program.
Certainly, one of the biggest examples of a successful partnership is the one we have with OPEI. The GIC and GIE+EXPO exemplify the important relationship among all members of the green industry, from manufacturers, distributors, and dealers, to their landscape professional customers. Attendance this year was up in both events, and we look forward to seeing this trend line continue in 2013.
Last, but far from least, is the partnerships PLANET members have with their communities, giving back whenever and wherever they can. The PLANET Day of Service has been a huge success, and this year marks the second year for PLANET Gives Back, a volunteer service where PLANET volunteers work together during the week of GIC to enhance sites in downtown Louisville. And, who can forget the biggest community event that PLANET performs annually—Renewal & Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery?
As we move forward, retaining and developing even stronger partnerships will be fundamental to growing our association and our industry.
Norman Goldenberg, PLANET President Landscape Industry Certified Technician
If you hold a credential, a degree or a certificate, you should be proud of your achievement and make sure you put it to good use throughout your career. Especially when marketing to customers, your expertise should be readily available, accessible and noticeable. As they say, “it’s a sad dog that doesn’t wag its own tail.”
That goes for your co-workers and staff. Your expertise gives you an edge and your customer a reason to feel confident about hiring you. Always play up any credentials your team holds at every opportunity.
As a Landscape Industry Certified Manager or Technician, you set the standard for professionalism in the industry. Using your toolkit, your imagination, and simple strategies, you can promote your certification, impress and assure customers, enhance your career and gain recognition from your colleagues and supervisors. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
• Use Landscape Industry Certified after your name on all correspondence to showcase your credentials.
• Add Landscape Industry Certified and include the logo to your business card, and use your card when meeting with customers and potential business partners.
• Use Landscape Industry Certified and logo as part of your email signature.
• Wear your Landscape Industry Certified pin and logo on your apparel.
• Hang your Landscape Industry Certified certificate in a visible place of honor in your office.
• Send a news release (template provided in your online toolkit accessible to active Landscape Industry Certified professionals) to your customers and media announcing this achievement. Don’t forget your alma mater!
• Seek or accept speaking engagements that will promote you as Landscape Industry Certified, and give you and your company more exposure.
• Volunteer a testimonial or submit an article to PLANET or other organizations to use in its communications, promotional material, and on website.
• Post social media updates about your certification. Tell your friends, family, customers about your certification on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
• Talk up your certified status. Take advantage of community events and professional meetings to speak about your credential and why communities and homeowners benefit from hiring certified professionals. Use the “Do you know who’s working for you?” brochure in your toolkit as a guide.
• Encourage your company to recognize certified staff. Ask your organization to help promote your certification by posting the following message on its Website with a list of the company’s other certified professionals.
Congratulations to our Landscape Industry Certified professionals! Certification helps ensure that our team members have the knowledge, experience and integrity to provide the best possible service to our customers. Earning a PLANET certification demonstrates an elevated commitment to the profession and our customers.
[List organization’s certified professionals]
• Educate customers with leave-behinds. Leave the “Do you know who’s working for you?” brochure in community common areas, homesites, or commercial sites to inform customers about choosing companies with Landscape Industry Certified staff. TIP: Customize the brochure with your company information. Brochure templates are in your certification toolkit.
• Tell the reporter you’re certified. When interviewed by industry or consumer media, don’t forget to state that you are Landscape Industry Certified.
• Add individual’s name with the Landscape Industry Certified designation and the logo next to that person’s name on your company’s website.
• Add individual’s name with the Landscape Industry Certified designation and the logo next to that person’s name on company’s promotional literature.
• Put the Landscape Industry Certified logo on your company vehicles.
• Advertise employee achievement in the company newsletter.
• Do a news release or other media format about your Landscape Industry Certified staff.
• Advertise to customers that employees hold this designation showing commitment to excellence.
• Use the social media and blog posts to list your staff’s credentials and help build your business.
• Announce that you have Landscape Industry Certified on staff on your on-hold messaging or voice mail.
You get the idea — there are many ways to leverage your credentials. Be creative and bold, but don’t forget the obvious and easy places to Market Your Expertise!
Karen Barnett is PLANET’s director of certification and can be reached at 800-395-2522; email@example.com.