Kris Kiser

President and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

The managed landscape has become the scapegoat for drought and unwise water use. Specifically, the media, government officials and some policy-makers are asking the question: what’s a lawn good for anyway, besides taking water? So now there’s a bounty out for grass.

While on a trip to California, I met a family that had taken a government conversion and put in a yard considered “drought friendly.” They regret their decision. Their yard is now covered in a mulch-like substance that sadly looks like compact dirt with no place for their kids to play – and certainly no wildlife habitat or the environmental benefits you get from a breathing, living landscape.

Photo courtesy of GIE+EXPO

Throughout the United States, in places like New England and the Atlanta area, drought and lack of information are making communities unfairly label grass a water-guzzling “luxury.”

The association’s Living Landscapes campaign shares with drought-stressed communities the perils of knee-jerk responses to water restrictions and shares the environmental and societal benefits of maintaining water-wise, living landscapes. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach regarding landscaping just doesn’t work. And as an ambassador for green spaces, you can find no truer hero, than the caped crusader, Lucky the TurfMutt. Learn more at #LivingLandscapes and LivingLandscapesMatter.com.

Speaking of TurfMutt, this year, TurfMutt is bounding out of his doghouse and onto a second season of network TV through Lucky Dog on CBS. TurfMutt carries the message about the value and benefits of our living landscapes and helps “convert the converted” from a deadened landscape back to a living, breathing green space with drought-friendly grasses and other plants. Join TurfMutt’s crusade on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on www.TurfMutt.com.

The first-ever TurfMutt Teacher Award also debuts in 2017, and will send one outstanding teacher to the National Science Teachers Association annual conference in Los Angeles in May 2017 to share how they inspire students to care for green spaces. This fall, TurfMutt’s expanded annual “Be a Backyard Superhero” essay contest with Scholastic launches, which will award a $10,000 grant to one school.

And finally, OPEI’s Look Before You Pump campaign has been educating consumers about proper fueling for outdoor power equipment since 2013, and is even more relevant today. Nationwide, more stations are offering 15 percent ethanol fuel. In August, 450,000 gallons of gasoline with excessive levels of ethanol was recalled and wreaked havoc in Oklahoma when it was mistakenly distributed.

A refreshed, animated campaign “look” will debut at GIE+EXPO, and new resources will be available for dealers to join the effort. Visit LookBeforeYouPump.com and download resources at TinyURL.com/EthanolEducation.

Sabeena Hickman

CEO, National Association of Landscape Professionals

There are so many positive things going on at the National Association of Landscape Professionals and LANDSCAPES – and GIE+EXPO are at the epicenter of it all.

In addition to LANDSCAPES, we are excited about some new education events. In August, we held the first NALP Field Trip with Marty Grunder, a two-day education event and facility tour at Mariani Landscape, which was a sell-out success with a tremendous response from attendees.

We also have two more regional education events, coming soon, that are focused on human resource issues and employee recruitment and retention tactics to help landscape contractors find solutions to the problem of finding enough qualified employees.

We are also focused on leadership development with our newly launched Young Professionals group, that is debuting at LANDSCAPES with a networking reception on Wednesday night, as well as a robust program for this year’s Leaders Forum, taking place in St. Thomas, in January.

In addition to education, we have been strengthening our government relations and public relations outreach. We added staff to our advocacy program and created a new strategic plan for government relations led by NALP’s Public Affairs Advisory Council, partnering with national coalitions like the H-2B coalition to lead the way on that are important to members.

We are also involved in many state and local grassroots campaigns to stop pesticide and other bans at the local level.

We made a splash this year on Capitol Hill during our Legislative Day on the Hill, when we brought the landscape industry’s issues to life, literally, by showcasing the benefits of landscapes using live plants and demonstrations to during our Landscape Learning Lab.

We are also adding to our long history of community service with the launch of Landscape Professionals Advance America, which is a flexible community service platform that allows NALP members to showcase the public service projects that they do in their own communities and gives them a platform to educate the public about the benefits of managed landscapes.

In the next year, we have even more new initiatives that will be launching that support the goals of NALP members and advance professionalism in the industry.

Thomas C. Shaner

CAE, Executive Director, The Professional Grounds Management Society

It’s been another banner year for the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS). From the continued growth in membership to an expansion in the number of candidates for the coveted status as a Certified Grounds Manager (CGM) to PGMS Green Star Award recognitions; the year 2016 for this dynamic group was a resounding success.

PGMS membership now tops 1,000 individuals. Helping to drive this increase has been the introduction of both our corporate (mostly for national out-sourcing teams) and institutional member categories (four or more professionals from same campus). Of course, with this growth has come pressure to expand the services provided such as the new PGMS Best Practices guidelines which will be issued either late in 2016 or early in 2017.

Another great driver of membership growth has been the desire to achieve the professional stature given to individuals who successfully demonstrate their competencies through the PGMS CGM program. A vigorous two-part process that not only tests an individual’s general knowledge of landscaping and management but also requires a detailed presentation of the management of their campus, the CGM designation is rapidly becoming a “preferred” item on a resume.

The PGMS Landscape Management and Operations Accreditation program is rapidly garnering support from facilities directors and ecologically (sustainability) oriented campus leaders. PGMS institutional members enjoy a sizable accreditation fee discount in this program. Over a dozen other large campuses are in various stages of the evaluation process which includes PGMS sending a team of Certified Evaluators to provide an in-depth peer review of landscape management programs including an arduous review of social and sustainability practices.

Also in the mix for PGMS growth is its SGM (School of Grounds Management), which demonstrates a professional’s achievement of continuing education. Earned by attending various education programs in four core competencies, this unique program has helped PGMS increase the number of members and others who are attending the twice annual PGMS Schools of Ground Management.

Attended by 125-150 professionals each year in various cities offering exceptional campuses to study, the 2016 program was held in San Antonio. The 2017 summer program is in its final planning stages and will take place in the Charlotte, N.C., area.

Charles McGrath

CAE, Executive Director, Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Hardscape North America, an ICPI event. Each year, HNA gets bigger and better, reflecting ICPI’s industry achievements and the growing demand for segmental concrete pavement systems.

As the trade association for the segmental concrete pavement industry in the United States and Canada, ICPI membership unites a unique blend of producers, dealers, contractors, designers, and suppliers of materials, equipment and services.

ICPI’s straightforward mission is to deliver education and technical guidance leading to awareness, acceptance, and use of segmental concrete pavement systems.

First let’s review industry progress, then examine how we got there. Concrete paver sales increased by 14.5 percent in the U.S. and Canada during 2015 to an estimated 690 million square feet, according to ICPI’s annual industry sales survey. Permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) sales grew by 36.2 percent and concrete paving slabs continued at a steady pace. Residential sales once again drove the market, but commercial projects, which include municipal and industrial, increased as well.

Here are some of ICPI’s efforts that contributed to the industry’s success:

  • HNA – In 2016, attendance and exhibits have reached record levels. In fact, HNA moved to a larger exhibit hall at the Kentucky Exposition Center this year to accommodate this growth. We also added a number of educational opportunities for contractors and dealers.
  • Contractor Education Courses – In the past year, ICPI and its members conducted 82 courses throughout the country that were attended by 1,730 participants. More than 30,000 design professionals, contractors, and industry sales professionals have participated in ICPI Education Courses in the past 20 years.
  • ICPI Certification – More than 2,300 installers are now ICPI Certified Concrete Paver Installers. Many installer courses are offered throughout 2016 and 2017 at various locations. Check www.icpi.org for a list of courses.
  • Technical Guidance and Construction Best Practices – ICPI provides guidance on practically every aspect of design, construction, and maintenance of segmental concrete pavements through ICPI Tech Specs, construction best practices, guide specifications, and detail drawings. ICPI’s technical staff is just a phone call away to answer questions for members.

We invite all HNA and GIE+EXPO attendees to visit ICPI at Booth 20010 in the HNA exhibit hall to learn more about the ICPI offerings for the industry and its members. You can also visit www.icpi.org. Enjoy the show!