August 31, 2019
Seasoned or aspiring, Congress is for you

Seasoned or aspiring, Congress is for you

Who is the typical Congress delegate?

Successful business owners in the green profession, for certain, but typical goes way beyond that. A hallmark of successful business owners: they bring staff to the show, even staff spouses. Attending Landscape Ontario’s Congress is a tremendous morale boost, and a real-life illustration of the profession’s vast size and importance. Add in the Awards of Excellence ceremony, a special dinner out or the Tailgate Party, and staff members feel appreciated, informed and inspired.

Another type of visitor is the aspiring landscape entrepreneur. This visitor comes to look at equipment, attend sessions and soak up the atmosphere. The goal is a new company, and Congress is the perfect shopping venue. This visitor feels inspired, because everybody at Congress is friendly. Aspiring landscapers find they can strike up a conversation with anyone, and leave with new, valuable information. Ours is a generous profession that wants new talent to succeed.

Students are another important component of Congress delegates. Their faces reflect excitement; Congress is a very big deal. Attending the show marks students as professionals, and landscape veterans regard students as VIPs, as the future. These men and women, some not-so-young, look to make a difference for nature and the environment. They are full of hope and enthusiasm for a better world.

Opportunity for all

No matter what type of delegate you are, Congress is THE theme park for the green profession. This year’s event features over 600 exhibitors, all there to improve your business’s efficiency and profitability. Use the free Congress app to organize your time and connect with others socially.

Surveys indicate keen interest in new products, and Congress brings them all together in the New Product Showcase, located in the South hall. If any product catches your interest, more information is available right at the show from an exhibitor.

Don’t miss the DriveLive stage in the North hall. Toronto and York Region police officers will advise landscapers on inspection rules and reports, compliance strategies and how to operate vehicles safely.

Drill down to your specialty

The number of sector-specific events at Congress is truly impressive. If you operate a garden centre, the half-day Garden Centre Symposium offers education and networking geared to your challenges. Get the latest in turf management at the IPM Symposium. The full-day Designers Conference gives landscape designers a unique forum for professional growth.

Even more extensive is HardscapeLive, where suppliers have joined together to provide pro-level, live demos on the show floor. Speaker Frank Bourque returns for a second year; his credentials are impressive, and he is a favourite educator at the big U.S. shows, as well. This is Year Four for HardscapeLive, one of the most popular Congress features.

To balance off, demos on trees and arboriculture take place at the GreenLive stage, located in the South hall. Hear top experts talk about soils, planting and care for trees — increasingly valued as investments in the future.

Number One for education

The Congress Conference is Canada’s top professional development venue for horticulture. Choose from over 20 sessions on business management, plants, technology, sales, productivity, law and more — all specifically geared to your vocation. This year’s keynote speaker is George Kourounis of Angry Planet, sharing his experience on overcoming tough challenges. Thomas Rainer, Bill Hogg, Mark Bradley, Christina Salwitz, Robert Kennaley, Niki Jabbour and Bobbie Schwartz are just a few of this year’s scheduled, big-name speakers.

The pre-show Peer-to-Peer Workshop uses an interactive structure to help business owners implement positive changes in their organizations.

Taking education one step further, this year’s Thursday sessions feature Education Partners from the supplier community. Take advantage of in-depth training from LMN, Load Army, Jim Pattison Lease, Lawn Life, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Techo-Bloc, TradeWinds International, SiteOne and Unilock.

Getting to Congress

Congress is held at the Toronto Congress Centre, just east of Toronto Pearson airport. A free shuttle service stops at many area hotels, and parking is free. Many visitors do not know that Conference passes include buffet lunch, a delicious networking opportunity.

Even though Congress is a well-oiled machine, attendance is affected if snow falls, when contractors are obligated to service snow-removal sites. If you are not in the snow sector, keep in mind that a snow shower might be your chance to park closer to the entrance, and spend extra time with exhibitors.

Party time

Newcomers are blown away by Landscape Ontario’s Awards of Excellence ceremony. Expect a crowd of over 500, a first-rate wine and cheese reception, and an evening with top-flight production values and inspiring entries at this year’s Jan. 8 event. On the next evening, Jan. 9, every Congress badge holder is invited to the show’s traditional Tailgate Party. A massive free buffet greets guests. Tailgate is hosted by the dedicated group of volunteers in Landscape Ontario’s Tradeshow Committee.

Remember to slow down

After all that, Congress even offers a quiet spot for reflection. The Canada Blooms Student Campus is a 5,000-sq. ft. area in the North building, donated for student-built gardens. Participating this year are Fanshawe, Durham and Humber Colleges, and the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture. Enjoy the students’ creativity and skill, as you take a minute to recharge.

If you are a student, the gardens will make you proud. If you aspire to launch a landscape company, the gardens represent horticulture’s huge potential. If you a staff member, you can observe and evaluate levels of craftsmanship. And you can appreciate the work and talent of young people if you are a business owner. All are VIPs at Congress.