September 15, 2010
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Last month I reported on the state of the economy survey which was sent out to members in the Garden Centre Sector Group. This month we include the rest of the sectors. Reporting on survey details takes a lot of space and analysis. It is better to give you direct access to this information. You can analyze it based on your own perspective and unique requirements. Please enter the following links to your web browser.    

Landscape construction —

General notes: A total of 75 per cent of the members report a good year, although their margins are down. Job values are lower. The survey shows that 70 per cent are optimistic about the future. The same percentage of members made no extra concessions to customers, based on the economy. A perennial concern is pricing. There are many contractors working for what they term little money.    

Landscape Maintenance —

General notes: The survey revealed that 78 per cent of maintenance contractors report a good year, while 80 per cent are optimistic about the future. A total of 40 per cent made pricing concessions to their clients. This perhaps reflects greater competition, or insecurity on the part of the maintenance contractors. Pricing is a huge issue for the sector.

General notes: After the last two years of wet weather, it is not surprising to see that the irrigation sector is up. Only 10 per cent said that they were down from last year. A total of 80 per cent of respondents reported increased margins. What a difference the weather makes. The vast majority are satisfied with the year, so far.   

Nursery —

General notes: For 68 per cent of those who answered the survey, sales are down this year. What is interesting about this survey is that more plants were sold, yet sales were down. This speaks to the perennial issue of over-production in the sector. The majority said they would reduce their production for next year. A total of 67 per cent reported reduced profits, with 33 per cent believing next year will be the same and they feel that next year will be worse. The other third of the respondents marked they are optimistic about next year’s sales.   

Lawn care —

General notes: This sector was the hardest hit, because of the pesticide ban. Only 10 per cent report increased sales. The rest have experienced declines, with 35 per cent down by as much as 10 per cent of their business, while five per cent have had very serious declines up to 50 per cent over last year. Some reported up to a 70 per cent decline in weed control revenues. A huge 89 per cent of the sector has experienced a decline in margins. Even with this serious setback, it was interesting to note that 65 per cent of those who responded to the survey indicated they were moderately satisfied or satisfied with their year so far.  

Interior landscaping —

General notes: Only four companies responded to the interior landscape survey, so these comments are not statistically relevant, however, they still may be helpful. Two companies said they experienced significant growth and that margins have not been eroded. All of them indicated they are satisfied with the way the year has gone. A couple of companies are concerned about the negative effect of the HST, but most are optimistic about the future.   

Garden centre —

The full report can be found in last month’s Horticulture Review or at the link above.   

And, now for something completely different

I am frequently inspired by the contribution ethic within our membership. In many respects the association is like a church or family. One of the most common motivations for member activity is the desire to make a positive difference and to leave a legacy of benefit. President Tom Intven refers to this as the ‘LO gene.’  I think of it as the LO disease, because it spreads and infects a lot of members.   

Recently I received an email from Mark Cullen, highlighting once more the legacy ethic of many of our members. Mark asked what I thought of his whacky idea.      

Mark is offering a wonderful life-changing opportunity for a select group of young people (under 30) to discuss and learn about the future of farm, garden and environmental communications in Canada.
He is looking for 10 future leaders, broadcasters and communicators. This think-tank will meet in Unionville on Saturday mornings, from 9 to 11 a.m., once per month for six months, beginning in September.

Participants will explore the future of mass communications, as it relates to the farm, environment and home garden. They will also stretch and extend the imagination to help shape the future of our industry.    

This will be an amazing opportunity for 10 young people. If you know anyone who might be interested, please contact Brenda Hensley at 905-655-0820 for more information.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at