April 15, 2013
phil charalBy Phil Charal
LO president

Smart business owners understand the importance of knowing and understanding their business vision. Do you want to grow into a larger company with offices across the country, or focus on a specific target market? What do you envision your target market to be? Who are you? What is your brand?

When business owners overlook the importance of having a vision, they allow outside factors to influence their company’s success. By establishing a vision, you create a business path to follow and this avoids the problem of outside factors influencing your ultimate goals.

Many years ago, my father said to me “not to worry about investments or get-rich-quick schemes. Find something you like doing, stick with it, work hard and get really proficient. Be the best. Buy your home and place of business in the best possible location, and pay it off as quickly as possible. If you can do that, the rest of your financial success will follow.”

I do my best to follow this advice and will hopefully achieve this important vision.

When it comes to the importance of vision, one only needs to look at the latest development at Landscape Ontario. The association has sold 23 acres of our 48-acre property for $9-million. Back in 1990, the LO board of directors asked the past presidents to develop a long-term plan for the association. When discussing future head office requirements, a clear set of criteria was agreed to. It had to be on at least ten acres of land, visible from a major highway in order to showcase members’ talents, have a good water supply, be no more than one-half hour from the airport, able to house staff, education, professional development and research facilities and other LO functions.

The plan proved prophetic. At the time the LO office was housed in a modest industrial building in Mississauga. A few years later, the late John Van Wissen phoned the office to tell us that he had read the vision report and had found the ideal property to buy. It was the former Shemin Nurseries site on 46 acres, beside the 401, with 5,600 sq. ft. of office space, 20,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse and 15,000 sq. ft. of warehouse.

A committee, chaired by the late Casey van Maris, was formed to negotiate the deal. After unanimous approval at the January AGM, the property was purchased on June 30, 1994. An official opening and celebration took place on Sept. 21, 1994 with over 500 members in attendance at LO’s new home. Outside of Congress, it was one of the largest gatherings in the history of LO.

The Mississauga office sold for $120,000. The Milton property was purchased for $1.23 million and proved less expensive to operate, due to rental income. It took less than ten years to pay down the $730,000 mortgage.

Now with the sale of 23 surplus acres for $8,700,000, we will now enter into another chapter of increased capacity. If all goes smoothly, the deal will close in August, and we will have the ability to transform the LO home, so it will reflect the best that the industry members have to offer. We will also have significant funds left over to advance the industry.

The board, building committee and I are proud that the sale of the surplus land happened on our watch. We feel connected to the vision, stewardship ethic and core values propagated by our pioneers.

We are enthusiastic and excited about accelerating the development of our members as we pursue the vision of a prosperous, professional, ethical, recognized, valued and contribution-oriented industry.

I look forward to your guidance, support and comments as we continue our association’s journey. I hope you never lose sight of your vision.