June 15, 2016
Paul Brydges
LO President

Paul BrydgesYears ago, leaders and owners of companies would never speak to competitors for fear of losing staff or giving away ideas. Today, sharing virtually all aspects of our business with colleagues is the norm. We have come full circle.

With today’s complex projects, we as designers are bringing in larger and larger teams of contractors and allied professionals to put jobs together. We are also seeing our clients have less knowledge of construction elements than ever before. They want to write one cheque to one point of contact to bring their dreams to life.

Our society has largely become that of specialty careers. Lawyers don’t do their own plumbing, plumbers don’t do their own wiring, and fewer people can or want to build their own landscapes. I think this is a significant reason why we are seeing such exceptional growth in our green professions. People are getting further away from the land and we (the green professionals) are the conduit that brings them back to the landscape.

As a result of these trends, our contractor network is specializing in varied aspects of landscape construction. One example is Phil Jackson of Jackson Pond Management. Jackson only builds and maintains water features. This allows them to stick to their specialty. By bringing in a specialty like Jackson, the general contractor, who may not be confident in his ability to build that specific element, also has less stress and less workload. This method is much more efficient.

Why struggle through building something for the first time and not making the required margins when someone else can do the work more efficiently and you still manage the project and make the same margins? We can even sell this concept to clients because they are the benefactors of using a specialist on specific elements to create the best-built and most unique elements possible.

Smaller companies are seeing the advantages of this collaboration two-fold. They are able to bring professionals to the projects they otherwise could not have completed (or lost money completing), and they now have the time to learn new skills while concentrating on their core competencies.

This somewhat new era of cooperation — or co-opetition — is where some of the greatest strengths of our members show through at Landscape Ontario. If we can all take time to work together for mutual benefit we will continue to succeed and create better results for our clients.

Congratulations to Sally Harvey

Our own Sally Harvey has taught us all how we can generate such positive energy between our firms as well as within our youth. As of the writing of this article, Sally has accepted a new role as Executive Director of Landscape Nova Scotia and Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador. Congratulations to Sally in this new role! Eastern Canada will now see the benefits of an inspirational leader who will foster a new era of prosperity in that region. We at LO will find it hard to find someone to do what Sally has done so well. She cannot be replaced, but we will find people to continue her incredible legacy of inspiring students and connecting professionals to make our profession one of incredible relevance and diversity.
Paul Brydges may be reached at paulbrydges.la@sympatico.ca.