Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

By Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

GIE+EXPO is the place to be if you’re in the landscape business. As managing partner of the show, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute is proud to be a part of an event of this scope and scale.

Many exhibitors launch their newest and most innovative products in Louisville. You’ll eventually see them at your local OPE dealer, but it’s at GIE+EXPO where you can see them – and test them out – first. In fact, there’s so much to see and do, that this year we added an extra day for landscapers.

This year’s show will be the largest and best attended, the fifth straight year we’ve broken those records. Thanks to our partnership with Hardscape North America, a tradeshow that adds exhibits of pavers, outdoor kitchens, fountains, fire pits, and other products, GIE+EXPO has really evolved into an outdoor living and equipment exposition.

And it’s been a significant year for OPEI as well. We bought a new headquarters building in Alexandria – thanks to record levels of membership and member engagement, we’d outgrown our old space. Our new, state-of-the-art conference center will allow us to host significant gatherings on site.

Our TurfMutt education program and Save Living Landscapes campaign continue to promote and defend the managed landscape in a meaningful way. Our message is that nature starts at your back door. Everyone needs access to the living landscape, and that greenspace should make sense for their lifestyle.

Through our education partnerships – now Scholastic, the world’s largest education provider – TurfMutt has reached more than 68 million students, teachers, and families. This year, TurfMutt curriculum will be taught in middle schools, expanding its reach and education messaging on the importance of our managed landscapes.

And this fall, a brand-new show will debut on the CW, thanks to the support of OPEI’s TurfMutt. The new show, produced with Litton Entertainment and Hearst Television, promotes the living landscape, as well as dog and animal rescue and rehabilitation. Tune in Saturday mornings this fall!

National Association of Landscape Professionals

By Lisa Stryker, director of communications, National Association of Landscape Professionals

Membership in the National Association of Landscape Professionals is at its highest level in more than a decade. Why? New education and training, certification programs and opportunities for companies to set themselves apart from the competition are offering members more value.

In the past year, the association has launched several innovative programs including the Landscape Industry Accredited Company Program which has been received with huge interest from companies who have looked for the ultimate “seal of approval.” It validates a company’s commitment to its clients by employing Landscape Industry Certified staff, conducting its business affairs responsibly and maintaining high standards of workmanship.

Recently, NALP worked with OSHA to approve the first industry-specific 10-Hour Construction Safety Course which includes information specifically geared to the landscape industry. The completion card satisfies the same requirements as the regular construction card and the course can be hosted at your company or elsewhere, making it that much easier to get the most extensive industry safety training.

The association is also using technology to provide more value, including making the certification process easier with online testing for Landscape Industry Certified, launching an association event app, and debuting a new website later this year.

Saving members money is also a priority, so the launch of the Workers Compensation Insurance Program which saves members up to 6 percent, where allowable by state law on insurance rates, has also been a great success and more bundled and discount programs are in the works now and will be rolled out soon.

NALP is also focused on helping to grow the industry and expanding the workforce through its Industry Growth Initiative. This May, new WhyILandscape social channels and digital advertising campaigns were launched to reach a younger audience and help educate them about careers in the industry. They complement the LandscapeIndustryCareers.org website which includes a national job board and a one-stop shop for information.

The focus on growing and promoting the industry is evidenced in the new strategic plan and mission and vision for the association which was reviewed and updated this summer adding two new pillars that include: Advocate Relentlessly, Educate Industry Professionals, Set the Highest Standards, Expand the Workforce, and Promote the Industry.

The focus on education has led NALP to offer many more regional education events and courses over the past year with topics covering sales and account management, building a great team, business development,and workforce development. New online courses and training are also being added.

Advocacy efforts have also never been stronger with the addition in the last year of a Director of State and Local Government Relations to make sure that issues are addressed at every jurisdictional level. The government relations team and its member-led Public Affairs Advisory Council ensure that issues that affect all aspects of members work including H-2B, pesticide regulation, immigration issues and more are given a full court press, but it requires the involvement and action off ALL industry professionals.

With a strong economy and ever-changing political environments, the opportunities for landscape and lawn care companies have never been greater, but so are the challenges, so all landscape companies benefit when the best thought leaders and professionals are brought together by NALP to help every company large or small reach their goals.

Professional Grounds Management Society

By Stephanie Bruno, executive director of PGMS

The Professional Grounds Management Society® continued its growth in 2018 with the addition of a new PGMS Branch, updates to core programs and a look towards the future of digital education opportunities.

In January, PGMS added its newest branch, Western Washington, comprised of members in the Northwest United States, Canada, and even an “adopted” Australian member. The broad spectrum of growth climates, from the high deserts of central Oregon to the cool and lush areas of Western Washington make for a diverse membership, which includes education institutions, landscape professionals, sports complexes and other organizations from the green industry. The branch will play host to the 2019 School of Grounds Management Summer Conference, to be held in Tacoma, Washington, July 22 and 23.

In its 46th year, the PGMS Green Star Awards® unveiled its newest submission process offering; increased ease for applicants, the ability to upload higher resolution photos, a reduced judging window and results in a more timely manner. The 2018 Green Star Awards recipients will be released in conjunction with the Society’s Annual Awards Dinner, held at the Galt House Hotel on Oct. 18, 2018.

Developed in the early 1980s, one of the industry’s leading certifications, Certified Grounds Manager® also saw updates in 2018. Long known as the Open Book examination, this portion of the CGM program has been renamed the Professional Grounds Manager Evaluation, a portfolio that comprises of nine areas essential to grounds management based on a candidate’s personal experience and local situation. The change came to better reflect the rigorous nature and expectations of the portfolio. As of Aug. 1, three candidates have successfully completed the CGM program.

Looking toward the future, PGMS is embracing technological opportunities that can allow members the ability to view leading education topics at their leisure. This may be through webinars, YouTube videos or member-only content. Educational content is based on the four core competencies of PGMS’ School of Grounds Management: Human Resources Management, Business and Financial Management, Technical Management – Horticulture, and Technical Management – Non-Horticulture.

2019 promises to see PGMS reach new heights by building upon the strengths of their traditions while expanding on many fronts: membership, technology and communication.

Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute

By Charles McGrath, ICPI Executive Director

The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) has begun an industry workforce development effort to recruit, train, and retain talented young people into the installation and contracting business.

At the 2018 Hardscape North America trade show (an ICPI event), the Institute launches two important initiatives:

  • The ICPI Workforce Development program that will attract more young people into the industry and help them build lasting careers in the segmental concrete pavement industry, including beginner boot camps and certification.
  • The Concrete Paver Education Center, a new online learning management system for in-service installers and contractors.

Last year brought the seventh consecutive growth year for concrete paver sales in the U.S. and Canada, reaching a post-Recession high of 750 million square feet, according to the 2018 ICPI Industry Sales Report. In addition, the report found installation sales by concrete paver contractors increased by 7.7 percent last year. Of particular note, ICPI-member contractors experienced 15 percent higher sales growth than non-members contractors.

Yet continued industry prosperity remains limited by a severe skilled workforce shortage. Four of every five contractors who participated said recruiting and hiring qualified employees was their biggest challenge.

“While ICPI continues emphasizing programs that will spark sales, we are also focused on the workforce challenge our industry faces,” said Kendall Anderegg, ICPI chair. “We are creating a program to attract young people into the installation/contracting business and teach them the skills they need to succeed in installation and eventually manage a contracting business.”

In addition to the successful contractor training programs currently offered by ICPI, the ICPI Workforce Development program adds three key components:

  1. A marketing campaign that ICPI members can use to demonstrate to young people the excellent opportunities in the business.
  2. An entry-level boot camp program with one day of hands-on training and one day of classroom education for beginners in various locations.
  3. An education program for integration into high schools and post-secondary schools that leads to certification credentials.

ICPI is making it easier to participate in these opportunities by introducing the Concrete Paver Education Center, its online learning management system. Installers can:

  • Register for in-person ICPI Concrete Paver Installer courses held throughout the U.S. and Canada, a requirement for achieving ICPI certification
  • Take online installer specialist courses
  • Participate in live or on-demand webinars and online learning modules that meet continuing education requirements for installers to renew their ICPI certification.

“Contractor sales are increasing, and installer salaries have grown accordingly,” Anderegg said. “Young people now have the opportunity to build careers that will last. They can be outside, experience the pride of building projects of real value, use cool tools, and ultimately establish a successful career path that can lead to owning a successful contracting business. At ICPI, we are very excited to build a strong and successful workforce that will drive the industry forward for years to come.”

For more information, visit Booth #27016 at Hardscape North America or visit www.icpi.org.