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Industry Advocate: The lifeblood of our industry

August 23, 2022 -  By
(Photo: fatihhoca/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: fatihhoca/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Sometimes serendipity can really blow your mind and remind you how blessed you are to work in the green industry. Here’s something that happened to me recently. The first association I became involved with was the Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals. Fortunately, we shorten that to MALCP, so we don’t run out of breath saying it. I can trace my membership back to roughly 1988, so there are friends in the association that I have known longer than I’ve known my wife.

We’ll put together a couple of events each year to provide opportunities for pesticide recertification credits, one during the winter and another in the summer. These events were my opportunity to try my hand at public speaking. This year, MALCP asked me to speak at our Summer Seminar at a beautiful botanical garden.

Flash forward to a recent weekly NALP staff meeting. Our event staff went over the details of our annual Field Trip this year in Massachusetts. Wouldn’t you know it? The MALCP Summer Seminar and the NALP Field Trip reception were on the exact same date in the same botanic garden. What are the chances?

The MALCP Summer Seminar was great. Not as many people attended as we would have liked, but those who were there were attentive, engaged and grateful to be together after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. As the sun went down, the NALP reception kicked off with a catered potato bar and some libations for the 150 attendees. The host company, R.P. Marzilli & Co., had recently finished a two-year construction project at the garden that was nothing short of sublime.

Spirit of collaboration

At NALP, I am one of two horticultural professionals on staff. My colleagues are association professionals who bring their varied skills to running associations in many different industries. I was surprised to learn from them that people in many other industries do not get along with each other at all.

The green industry is quite the opposite. Maybe it’s the humbling nature of the work trying to keep plants alive. Perhaps it’s the respect for the creativity and skill in designing, building and maintaining landscapes. And if you’ve ever been to one of NALP’s events, you don’t go long without making a new friend.

This culture of friendship was certainly evident to me the next morning as the Field Trip participants gathered at dawn, shuffled onto buses and made their way down the road to Marzilli’s headquarters for a facility tour. We divided into small groups and traveled from one station to the next to learn how they do everything from sourcing plant material to recycling granite curbing.

I’ve been in the business for quite a while now and worked for many different companies, doing many different things. Along the way, I’ve had the privilege to work with so many wonderful people. As I walked from station to station during the tour, I got a chance to speak briefly with my friend Rick Wing for a few minutes. He and I worked together in the early 1990s, after which he joined Marzilli. It not only was great to see him, but it is also great to see how successful he has become.

But the best part of my day was talking to people just getting started in their careers in the green industry. Quite a few remarked how much fun they had participating in NALP’s National Collegiate Landscape Competition and how it helped prepare them for their careers. It is this kind of collaboration that is the lifeblood of our industry and that collaboration starts when you begin giving of yourself through participation in your state association and hopefully NALP too.

I know for a fact that is the case for me.

About the Author:

Bob Mann, LIC, formerly the agronomist for Lawn Dawg, is the director of state and local government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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