When Daniel van Starrenburg meets with a client, and gets a sense the client’s son or daughter has interest in the meeting, he takes the opportunity to promote the industry. L&L caught up with him to find out what he says at those meetings and how to change potentially negative perceptions about the industry.
L&L: What’s one thing you would like to see changed in the green industry?
DvS: Parents don’t normally think of careers that are available in the green industry when they think about directing, orienting or coaching their kids in terms of future possibilities. And that’s really a shame, because the green industry has absolutely fabulous jobs available. It’s incredible how successful you can be in the green industry. And parents don’t know that.
There are two issues. One is people don’t even think about it, don’t even think about what career opportunities there are in the green industry. And then two, some people that think about it don’t have an understanding of exactly what those career opportunities are, and look at the industry and say, “Hmm. I’m not sure that that’s an area where my son or daughter is going to be successful.”
L&L: How can the industry change that perception?
DvS: I think that absolutely, going to the high school and being part of the career days – you always have the fireman and the policeman, and you have a lawyer and a doctor, why not add a horticulturist or an arborist, an agronomist, a plant pathologist or something from the green industry? Because otherwise, the kid’s not even thinking about it as a possibility.
I’ll even go as far as when I meet with residential clients, when it’s appropriate, to ask them, “Have you thought about suggesting to your son or daughter to consider a career in horticulture?” Let’s say that the kid is there and is part of the meeting somehow, directly or indirectly, and is showing an interest in what’s happening or what’s being discussed.
L&L: What is your pitch when you are with a client and their son or daughter?
DvS: My pitch is, did you know that, and usually I’m talking in the context of arboriculture, in arboriculture you can have a very successful career? You can work your way up. And it’s incredibly interesting. You’re not sitting in a cubicle. You’re out in the landscape, creating value for clients.
L&L: When you’re talking about arboriculture, I’m sure the first thing they think of is that their son or daughter is going be up in a tree, and the parents get a little scared.
DvS: Yeah, but not everybody needs to climb a tree. But I also would say, “Well, don’t be afraid of climbing a tree. This can be done safely, and the equipment that’s available today is so incredibly good, and we have all these protocols in place to make sure that that work is done in a way that’s compliant with the ANSI standards and with rigorous safety protocols.” And, statistically, it’s probably safer than driving a car to work.
Interviewed by Brian Horn