January 15, 2018

By Warren Patterson
LO President

Warren Patterson About 15 years ago, I decided to take a new direction in my career and chose to open a garden centre. I then immediately decided to become a member of Landscape Ontario.

The decision to join LO was simple. Being a new business, I needed to align my products and services with a reputable group. Becoming a member of LO gave me instant credibility (after all, not just anyone can become a member). Being an LO member also gave me access to a group of successful, experienced professionals from whom I could learn. This is very important. Why go through the process of failing and having to learn from your mistakes when somebody, somewhere has already learned that lesson and is willing to help you to avoid making the same mistake? I have received advice from many very successful business owners over the years simply because of my involvement with LO. It really is the “club for mutual improvement” that LO Executive Director Tony DiGiovanni talks about so often.

Over the years, my experience with LO is that the more you give, the more you grow as an individual and better understand how to be a better businesses person. That constant improvement and sharing is what LO is all about. Even though the association represents many different business interests, LO is a highly-functioning association. The volunteer culture is alive and well at LO. We all have a short season in which we must make a decent living and LO is very respectful of its members’ time.

The success of the association is also in part due to its dedicated staff. They are loyal, fully understanding of who they work for and continue to move the association forward. The direction of staff is in large part due to the vision of our founders and the past presidents who continue to provide great leadership and focus on what is important to build a sustainable and relevant association.

Currently, we are at a very fortunate moment in our 45 year history. With the recent land disposition, we are able to invest in the future of our members. We must continue the tradition of being very strategic in what, when and how we invest, as we continue to face new challenges.

The biggest challenges I see for our members are the unprecedented changes with regards to new government regulations, a changing workforce, and the introduction of technology at an ever-increasing rate. Our members must adapt to these changes in order to maintain profitability and growth.

As an association, we must also adapt to these changes — at the same time or even faster than our members, in order to remain relevant and deliver the services our members expect. For this, LO has engaged Nathan Helder to work with members and staff to update LO’s strategic plan. Nathan recently helped the trade show department to create a very successful and detailed 10-year plan.

This plan, together with the plan for the building renewal, will help to steer the association in a position to be able to adapt to the changing needs of our members, now and in the future.
I look forward to leading the association during these exciting times and helping LO to adapt to the changing needs of its members.

Warren Patterson may be reached at warrenpatterson@barriegardencentre.com