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April 2014 Web Extra: Goldenberg on big companies, industry challenges

April 8, 2014 -  By

Norman Goldenberg, retired senior vice president of government affairs and industry relations for TruGreen, is featured in the April 2014 “1-Minute Mentor.” Here are two additional questions from our interview that didn’t make it into print.

Norman Goldenberg

Norman Goldenberg

Big companies in the Green Industry sometimes get a bad rap. As someone who worked for one for many years, what’s your response to the criticism?

I started out working at Truly Nolen for six months and then I worked for Orkin for seven years. Then, I ran my own business for 15 years, both pest and lawn. I expanded from Miami to West Palm Beach and then sold it, so I’ve had the perspective of starting with big companies and running my own business.

There’s a lot of bashing of the big companies. I think a lot of it is jealously and that may be well founded when there’s (price) undercutting. But there’s an economy of scale that allows bigger companies to do things for less than small- or medium-sized companies.

I can place myself on both sides of the coin, but one thing I respected (as an independent operator) was the advertising  Orkin and Terminix were doing back then because it helped recognition for my company. I’m sure the advertising from them helped me expand my book of business.

What do you say is the No. 1 problem facing the lawn care industry? How should the average LCO respond?

Without a doubt the biggest problem facing lawn care is the environmental activists using a nonscience to stop us from doing work. When they discuss things like pesticides and nutrients in groundwater, a lot of the science doesn’t bear that out, but the voices of our industry aren’t heard to the extent the activists’ voices are heard.

This is why the very small operators need to be part of a trade associations—to speak up for thousands of members and licensed businesses that are permitted to do this kind of work. If the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) had 25,000 members versus 4,000 it would make a lot of difference on Capital Hill. I believe in a strong association leading the way in public policy in Washington and in community relations through local membership.

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Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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