February 15, 2013
Congress theme looks at past, while revealing positive future
Lots of positive energy could be found at Congress 2013. This was a typical scene as attendees kept those tending exhibits busy with inquiries.
If the rest of 2013 follows the pattern set by Congress, then the landscape industry is in for a very good year.

The annual trade show took place at the Toronto Congress Centre from Jan. 8 to 10 with great attendance. Throughout the three days there was positive energy on the trade show floor and conference areas and enthusiastic celebration of Landscape Ontario’s 40th anniversary.

“What a wonderful way to start 2013! In my 23 years I can’t think of a Congress event that was as positive, energetic, inspiring and fun!” stated LO executive director Tony DiGiovanni.   
Social media was filled with positive comments from attendees and exhibitors.

Some of the tweets sent out about the Congress stated, “A big THANK YOU for an outstanding night at this year’s Congress. We’re still talking about it,” Garden Grove Group, Waterdown. “Thank you LO for another amazing year at Congress! We are looking forward to great year,” wrote Upper Canada Stone of Shanty Bay. “Landscape Ontario Congress 2013 is once again proving to be an invaluable resource for building excitement,” wrote Picture Perfect Landscaping — Quinte in Belleville.

Coming off her first year as show manager, LO’s Heather MacRae said, “Congress 2013 was in many ways the perfect storm, a sold-out show. Supportive sponsors, a top notch education line-up and great attendance all made for a a successful event.  Celebrating the 40th anniversary in such a positive manner has set a great tone for the start of 2013.”

Executive director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, Jody Shilan, who also served as the association’s president, had some positive comments in his blog. “If you have never been to this show (Congress), you really need to go next year. The trade show itself is ginormous, with literally something for everyone and the people that manage the show, speak at the show and attend the show couldn’t be any nicer. Who knows? Maybe everyone in Canada is just nicer than the people in “the states” or maybe they were treating me like a real rockstar. Either way, I may take Sally Harvey’s advice and move up there, eh?”

man in a construction hat on stage performingJoe Vander Something made a return visit to Congress with his reprise of the 2005 I am a Landscape Professional. Both rants can be found online at www.horttrades.com/landscaper-rant.

Conferences begin week

The trend of good attendance and high energy began the week with the two conferences on Jan. 7. The 48th annual IPM Symposium and the Landscape Designers Conference each received high marks.

The IPM Conference continues to grow. This year saw 340 attendees, which compares to 325 last year.

New chair of the IPM Symposium Committee, Kyle Tobin of LawnSavers Plant Health Care, hosted the day and kept the sessions on schedule. Each session is timed to qualify for IPM Council of Canada Continuing Education Credits. Attendees at this event qualified for eight credits as certified applicators.

One of the highlights at this year’s IPM Symposium was the announcement of the 2nd Annual IPM Leadership Award. It was a special presentation for Kyle Tobin, who handed the award to his friend Alan White of Turf Systems of Burlington. Tobin and White were two of the driving forces behind the St. James Park project.

The award recognizes leadership and contributing to the healthy growth of the industries represented in the IPM symposium. This winner of the award is nominated by peers, and the IPM Symposium Committee determines the recipient. Alan White is a member of Landscape Ontario’s Lawn Care Sector Group, representing it on the LO board of directors.

Speakers at the conference included Scott Olan of the Ministry of the Environment, Dr. Michael Brownbridge of Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Dr. Hannah Mathers of Ohio State University, Pam Charbonneau, turfgrass specialist with OMAFRA; Dr. Christopher Murray of Lakehead University, Dr. Katerina Jordan of the University of Guelph and keynote speaker was Tony Bass, co-author of The E-Myth Landscape Contractor.

Designers Conference

New chair of Landscape Designer Group, Chris Mace was the MC for its annual conference at the Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel. The event attracted 130 attendees.

Speakers at the conference included Dave Maciulis of Natural Landscape, who spoke about what new products and styles are being talked about and what will be popular next season; Carl Hastings of Moonstruck Landscape Lighting; Caroline de Vries of TradeWinds International; Rob Vogel, Vogel Landscape Design and Consulting Group; Daniel Tal, Ambit 3D; Jean-Marc Daigle, Genus Loci Ecological Landscapes; and Paul Zammit of Toronto Botanical Garden.  

Just before Congress, the Landscape Designers Group received 200 copies of the brand new, hot off the press Landscape Designer Manual. The Group offered a special Congress discount, resulting in sales of more than 150 copies. The new publication will assist those challenging the new Certified Landscape Designer program.

two men holding an awardNew chair of the IPM Symposium Committee, Kyle Tobin of LawnSavers Plant Health Care, left, presented Alan White of Turf Systems of Burlington the 2nd Annual IPM Leadership Award.

New Product Showcase

The New Product Showcase has become one of the most popular attractions at Congress. Attendees were greeted by the area when they first entered the show. Each visitor had the opportunity to vote on his favourite new product.

The product that garnered the most votes for best new product was the Zrator, from Pro-Power Canada of Meaford. The Zrator is a 26 in. steerable front mount aerator, suitable for most zero turn mowers. The winner of the draw for $250 was John Gibson of Farmgate Gardens, Foxboro.

Anniversary festivities

Congress reflected Landscape Ontario’s 40th anniversary. Attendees had an opportunity to view all the past presidents of the association through the Walk of Fame, which featured each president over the past 40 years. The anniversary theme was organized by a committee chaired by Monica van Maris.

As well, displays of vintage photographs graced the LO resource booth and the red colour theme marking the ruby anniversary could be seen throughout the Toronto Congress Centre.

The Awards of Excellence ceremony also had an anniversary theme with photos displayed on the large screen, with the evening ending with a cake to celebrate the anniversary.

Also celebrating an anniversary at Congress was Sheridan Nurseries. This year marks the company’s 100th year. In a popular attraction at Congress, 40 Shades of Green, Sheridan supplied unique displays that featured plants available to landscape contractors and garden centres this spring.

student looking at various types of plantsThe Plant ID challenge proved a popular attraction to those attending Congress. The challenge reflected a component of the CLT certification test. Connon Nurseries NVK supplied all the plants used in the challenge.

Plant ID

The Plant Identification Challenge booth was a huge success. It was developed to heighten the awareness of the Landscape Industry Certified Program, and its popularity throughout the show with both industry members and students, achieved that goal.

The booth simulated a plant identification test station at a sanctioned certification test. Many visitors took on the challenge and prodded co-workers see if they could better their score.  
“It was a success, because it was a fun activity, while opening up dialogue about certification with a lot of members,” says Laura Brinton, LO’s certification coordinator.

Irrigation conference

The irrigation conference attracted 55 contractors and suppliers. The keynote address by Phil Harwood received high marks. The theme of the talk was creating a winning approach to recruiting and managing people.

Chair of the Irrigation Group, John Lamberink, hosted the event.

Effective Management Short Course

A new event added to the Monday Warm-up line-up was the Effective Management Short Course. Attended by 42 people, the course was led by Jacki Hart CLP and Tim Kearney CLP.
Dates have already been booked for next year’s Congress, Jan. 7 to 9, at the Toronto Congress Centre.