January 15, 2013
Governance meeting  sets goals to improve LO
Chapter and Sector board members gathered at the LO home office to create a plan to improve the relevancy of the association.
LO members serving on Chapter boards and Sector Groups gathered at the Association’s home office on Dec. 6, to discuss ways to improve the nine Chapters and ten Sector Groups under the Landscape Ontario umbrella.

The annual event saw 38 board members examine three priorities, networking with industry (both member and non-member), networking with government and meaning something to the public.

The day began with a history lesson on the chapter relevancy initiative. Presented by Warren Patterson of Botanix — Barrie’s Garden Centre, he told the gathering that in the fall, the provincial board focused on the ‘what’ not the ‘how.’ “Now we want to go over the ‘how.’ ”

Patterson shared the MC duties during the day with Paul Doornbos CLT, CLP, of Thornbusch Landscaping Company in Lansdowne. He asked the members to not limit the dream based on our current resources. “Come up with ideas based on an unlimited amount of money.”

Following the opening presentations, the morning session was spent brainstorming in groups of four to five members, with discussions centring around the three priorities.

In the afternoon everyone in the room reviewed the ideas discussed in the morning session. The following is the list of ideas recorded for each of the three the priorities.

Networking with the industry

Suppliers: be involved at a board level, prizes, discounts, benefits for suppliers, invite them to our chapter function, build industry lists and invite to chapter/network.

Personal benefit: non-business, food/drink, fun, activities, prizes – grand prizes, i.e. trip, and try different activities such as baseball, ski, fishing, squash and bowling.

Promotion: paid position, one to one, create an exclusive event for suppliers; proper contact lists (member/non-member), carry-over incentive for things, such as attending multiple meetings and supplier-held events.

Refocus/rename chapter meetings: fun, personal relationship benefits and activity. One member suggested that content is always there, but  the presence and networking are the bigger benefits. “Having the golden nugget of business might get them in the door, but the converted might realize just being there is the benefit.”

Government relations

The levels of government discussed included federal, provincial and municipal, as well as schools and colleges and other associations (local board of trade, construction association, underground alliance).

Relationship building: Understand future policy changes, influence potential change, teach members about government staff and assist members with introductions, identify project opportunities for LO members and chapters, inform who LO is, what LO does, how we can help; have a member-only bias.

Frequency: maintain relationship for quarter of year and have a consistent focus Paul Doornbos felt that it is important to develop consistent and clear written policies on the association’s stance. “Unless there is consistent speech that we all agree on, then how do we know our policy?” he asked.

Meaning something to the public

Should it be done by the chapter? Response typically focused on what/how LO head office should do to achieve this.

Leverage relationships in the government relations section to build a brand: Community projects and tree day.

Chapter becomes a local media contact expert: Self promote and LO promote.

Warren Patterson said, “From a chapter perspective, there seems to be only a few things we can do to make ourselves mean something to the public.”

Paul Doornbos asked the group, “Now that we’ve looked at some solutions, how are we going to measure it? How do we decide if we were successful with this? How do we go from this room today and leave with something that will hold us accountable? How do we decide if what we’re doing is successful?”

LO executive director Tony DiGiovanni addressed the gathering, outlining what is taking place in the world of associations. “We are a part of the Great Lakes Association, as well as the nursery association in the States. We are the largest, most active, most successful in the world, and the only one that is focused on local relevancy.”

DiGiovanni explained that other associations are starting to get rid of chapters. “We are the only one not viewing it that way. We aren’t looking at this as a business. The local relevancy is the strength of LO, and this is unique in the world. We are who we are because you all care and took the time to be here. I want to thank everyone for their contribution; this contribution has carried forward and it’s infectious.

It is expected the planning committee will present its conclusion to the provincial board at its February meeting.

Helen Hassard, membership coordinator at LO, who helped to organize the meeting, said, “I find this annual meeting to be very inspiring. The enthusiasm from the volunteer board members across the province is contagious.”