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Throwback Thursday: June 1998

April 24, 2014 -  By

June-1998To some, Earth Day might mark an obligation to give back to the environment and community. For the Green Industry, there’s an added layer with the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Day of Service being held that same day, compelling companies to dedicate one workday to charitable giving.

This year, 2,200 Day of Service volunteers completed around 90 projects in 24 states—all in a single day’s work.

The admiration of it can’t be underscored, but there still is room for companies to magnify their philanthropy, according the cover story from the June 1998 issue of Landscape Management.

Titled “Community heroes, how you can qualify,” the story brings to point that community giving is something the Green Industry should dedicate itself to year-round.

Then-Managing Editor Ron Hall, who authored the article, was straight up about why, writing:

“Surprise, Mr. Green Industry Pro, the public doesn’t seem to know how important you are. … If you’ve been letting others be the business or environmental heroes in your community, get off your duff. You’ll discover that the rewards for participating in your community (apart from just doing business in it) are enormous.”

For further leverage, Hall turned to companies who had seen success from this approach.

Ron Keefer was one of them. Every Halloween the owner of Clean Lawn converted his yellow tanker work truck into a hay wagon to take children trick-or-treating around his Pennsylvania neighborhood.

Keefer would lend the same truck to the American Red Cross for it to use as a billboard on wheels at local blood drives. While it’s sincere giving, Keefer noted the business benefits, “When you have a lawn care truck parked inside a mall or in front of a church, people are going to notice it.”

Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care uses a vehicle for its community outreach efforts as well: A Volkswagen Beetle painted in a ladybug pattern that the firm called the “Good Bug.” The idea is to “highlight the need for beneficial insects,” said President Laurie Broccolo, touting the company’s commitment to integrated pest management (IPM).

The company also conducted a traveling puppet show for children, held GardenScape Seminars and put on an annual field day.

At Lied’s Landscape Design & Development, employees must be active in the community to qualify for a promotion. Most commonly, employees would do so through speaking to service groups or garden clubs, participating in high school career days or helping organization like March of Dimes or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said Judson Griggs, company spokesman.

Ruppert Landscape dubbed itself a “resource” to the public, actively participating in nonprofit organizations, taking on speaking engagements and, its biggest annual undertaking, doing a community project for the company’s annual training day—in 1992, 300 Ruppert employees renovated and resodded a soccer field, for example.

“The company does benefit from the visibility provided by the publicity, but, ultimately, the benefits to Ruppert are in the building of relationships in the community, with clients and among our own employees,” said Kathleen Sheetz of Ruppert.

About the Author:

Former Associate Editor Sarah Pfledderer is a West Coast-based contributing editor for Landscape Management.

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