January 1, 2012

Invest in your future:
Executive training for the green industry

LIEP is the Landscape Industry Executive Program, a professional business management program developed specifically for executives, managers and owner-operators in the landscape, nursery, and retail garden centre sectors.


In June 2010, an industry steering committee comprised of members of all three commodity groups began discussions regarding LIEP. The end result: a collaborative effort between the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association and the George Morris Centre, an agricultural think tank based in Guelph, Ont., to advance professional development to benefit our industry.

LIEP was launched in August 2011 and incorporates the following key learning features:
  • Strategic planning
    Do you spend too much time putting out fires and running the day-to-day activities in your business to take the time to work on your strategic business plan? Are you taking over a business or creating a new sideline in your existing business and need help creating a business plan?
  • Succession planning
    Have you been thinking about your succession plan but are not sure where to start? Are you positioning your business to sell, or looking at a business to buy?
  • Operations Planning
    Do you have challenges in recruiting and retaining good people? Do you face challenges with competition from big box stores? Is your competition price-cutting on landscape installation jobs?
  • Information systems management
    Does your business need to develop methods to increase profitability, improve organization and promote communication?
LIEP for 2011 was postponed, as the number of registrations received was not sufficient to warrant running the program. A survey was sent through association communication bulletins requesting member input on a few brief questions. Most of those who completed the survey agreed with the curriculum content, need and merit of this type of management program. The amount of time away from the business and cost were identified as issues for some respondents. The key highlights follow:

Survey question               Response
Does the content                88 per cent strongly
cover what you expect        agree or agree
in an executive    
development program?    
                                        12 per cent disagree
                                        or strongly disagree

I don't need this kind          28 per cent strongly agree
of management training      or agree
                                        71 per cent disagree
                                        or strongly disagree

I can't devote this much      44 per cent strongly agree
time to management          or agree
                                        55 per cent disagree
                                        or strongly disagree

It's too expensive for           56 per cent strongly agree
the value I'd receive            or agree
($5,900 +HST)   
                                        45 per cent disagree
                                        or strongly disagree
Many thanks to those who responded, providing additional perspective, constructive feedback and support to continue to develop the program. All input will be taken into consideration in the coming weeks as we investigate ways of improving delivery.

Why partner with the Morris Centre?
The George Morris Centre, www.georgemorris.org, is a leader in the agriculture sector for executive professional development, and has championed several research projects for our industry, including a stakeholder survey on labour issues and a literature review of the benefits of green spaces. In January 2010, the Centre prepared a report, Labour Issues in the Horticulture Sector, prepared for the Horticulture Value Chain Roundtable Labour Working Group, to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the current infrastructure in addressing key labour issues, and to categorize the challenges and gaps that will affect a new long-term strategy.

The George Morris Centre knows the foundation of our industry. Combined with its 20 years of executive management training expertise and the collaboration with CNLA on industry stats and trends, the partnership remains focused to deliver a stellar experiential program to fill a gap in our human resources development training options.

Tuition funding available
LIEP is an investment in you and your business. Based on other successful programs delivered by the George Morris Centre, such as EDP and CTEAM, most program registrants recoup their training investment within one year. In addition, most financial institutions provide reduced lending rates for business owners showing due diligence in this type of training. Funding research revealed that some cost-sharing grants were available, however, each province has different eligibility requirements for the Growing Forward program, which seems to be the best aligned funding source for members with a Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN). There are funding opportunities for other commodity groups as well.  Check with your provincial association for information on this and other potential funding sources. In Alberta, landscapers qualify for the Growing Forward Leadership Development Program.

Watch www.canadanursery.com for LIEP details and updates as they become available, or contact Karen Bilton, education coordinator, George Morris Centre, phone 519-822-3929 ext. 205, email karen@georgemorris.org.
Liz Klose is landscape priorities manager with the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. She can be reached at liz@canadanursery.com.