June 15, 2010
Tom Intven
LO President

tom intven Just think for a moment about the changes that your grandmother would have witnessed in her lifetime: the combustion engine and the modern automotive world, airplanes and jets, space travel, a man on the moon, nuclear energy, modern health care and all its advancements, electricity, modern appliances and plumbing, television, computers, the Internet, and the list goes on.

At no time in the history of mankind is the world so quickly changing, as it is right now. Our green industry also experienced tremendous change during our grandmother’s lifetime. We have been blessed with some incredibly gifted, hardworking, visionary people who founded and shaped our industry from the formative years to today.

Significant contributions were made by these pioneers in our industry:

Growers and Garden Centres
Hugh McCracken, Dave and John Bakker, Howard Stennson, Len Cullen, the Vanderkruks, Leno Mori, Frans L. Peters, Frank Fiddler, Hank Kobes, George Leiss, Manuel Sobrinho, Ted Shuttleworth.

Glen Peister, Horst Dickert, John Putzer, Leslie Solty, Frank Braun (Frank Braun and John Putzer started as contractors), Willy Huber, John Northwood, Joe Deluca, Bill Deluca.

Tony DeGroot, Casey van Maris, Jack Kroon, Syd Queripel, Marc Thiebaud, Don Salivan, Bruno Mettel, John Cameron.

Please forgive me if I unintentionally omitted any significant forefathers.   

Monumental contributions

What these pioneers contributed is monumental. Establishing our industry as a recognized trade, building the technical skills, developing standards for everything we do, introducing technologies — both low and high — to every aspect of our activities, writing the manuals on how to do everything we do well, and the list goes on.

These visionaries, and many more too numerous to mention, helped develop our industry from nothing to a $13-billion sector that employs over 150,000 people.

Their hard work, advocacy, government relations, promotion, standard setting, education support, public relations and research continues to provide the foundation for our continued collective goal to grow a prosperous, professional, ethical, recognized and valued industry.  

The original pioneers realized the huge benefits of working together to advance the horticulture industry and organized themselves into three organizations: Ontario Garden Maintenance and Landscape Association, Ontario Landscape Contractors Association and Ontario Nurseryman’s Association.

In 1973, these three separate groups came together to form Landscape Ontario. They understood that a unified horticultural community that was focused on common benefit and improvement would strengthen the industry for all. The legacy of goodwill left by our pioneers infected another generation of leaders.    

The names are different. Their ethic is the same. People like Paul Olsen, Neil Vanderkruk, Hank Gelderman, Harold Deenen, Marc Thiebaud, Karl Stensson, Monica van Maris, John Wright and many of the amazing members, who currently sit on our boards, committees, chapters and sector groups, continue to propagate an ethic of service, responsibility and leadership that spreads value and benefit.  
Today, LO has grown to 10 sectors. When I first came onto the board, I wondered if we were too unwieldy, too disconnected. Any sector might ask what it has in common with another. How do we all relate to each other? What are our common grounds and the threads that unite us all? A grower, for example, might ask, “What do I have in common with a lighting contractor?”

The best way to answer this question is to look at it from the consumer perspective. To the average homeowner, all of our sectors together form the Green for Life industry. Our activities enhance their outdoor and indoor lives. Their outdoor life is improved by hardscapes: walks, patios, decks, pools, ponds and waterfalls, lighting, and softscapes; well designed and installed landscapes of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, tropicals, healthy well maintained lawns and green spaces.

Our association’s pioneers demonstrated that hard work and a will to work collectively are the way to build a successful industry and association. They demonstrated the power of aligned goals and clear vision.  
Looking into the future, I would argue that the world will be more complex than the world of our grandmothers. The good news is that at the same time, our association of ten sectors is becoming more integrated, operating more synergistically and more united than ever towards the same direction. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well and modelled by so many. The qualities of our forefathers that established the green industry in Ontario, continue to be exemplified by so many of our outstanding members, in and out of governance. With our association operating so well today, I am confident that we will continue to demonstrate the success that our pioneers achieved, well into the future. We definitely will build a relevant, strong green industry because of incredibly talented, dedicated and engaged volunteer governance and staff. Working together, we can only achieve success.  

Go to this site to see the history of leaders: www.horttrades.com/lo-pioneers.
Tom Intven may be reached at 519-631-1008, or tintven@landscapeontario.com