July 15, 2017
The “why” of membership
LO member, Phil Dickie, donated time, equipment and labour to plant memorial trees at LO’s home office.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

A section in this issue of Landscape Ontario magazine is focused on explaining the benefits of membership through the eyes and experiences of members. We want to encourage you to avail yourself of the business and life-enhancing benefits of belonging to a community of caring professionals.

I will attempt to answer the “why” of membership based on years of observation. It’s not always easy to explain the “why,” but it is certainly evident.

The cliché, “you get out what you put in,” has been said in songs, poetry, speeches and books — it is true in the association world as well.

We are fortunate to enjoy a strong, supportive and engaged membership who are very passionate about our profession and are willing to contribute their time, voice, money, vision and energy, to collectively build a prosperous, professional, ethical and valued profession.

It is this contribution and caring ethic, the foundational values of our association, that are the defining characteristic of Landscape Ontario’s culture. Contribution and caring inspires others. Is inspires your home office staff on a daily basis and makes them want to contribute and care too. It acts as a thread between generations, setting the standard for the next generation that follows.

Keep competitors close

One of the benefits of membership is being able to work with competitors on solutions to common issues and to help each other become better people, better business owners and community-builders.

One member told me he loved working with his so-called ‘competition’ because he was inspired by their ideas. The real competition is within; you compete against yourself for constant improvement. Another member told me his ‘competition’ is not with other members, but with all other sectors vying for disposable income. Working together to raise awareness of the benefits of plants and landscapes “increases the size of the pie” so there is more for everyone. Another member said he loved sharing with his competition because the math was in his favour. If he was in a room with 10 ‘competitors’ and each shared one idea, he would leave with nine new ideas. This illustrates another of our core principles: an abundance mentality.

We are not meant to be alone. Operating a business can often be lonely. The burden of responsibility is heavy. You are accountable to find customers and deliver excellent work. Your family, employees and customers depend on you. The country also depends on your success to generate the economic, environmental and social impact that generates taxes and enhances our quality of life. In a business world full of challenge and uncertainty, it is liberating to be in the company of others who have similar goals, values and experiences.

Personal benefits

It is true that membership has many benefits. You will benefit personally, professionally, financially and socially by participating in association activities, engaging with fellow members, and contributing your talents and energy for a common cause. I have observed this value proposition in action over many years with hundreds of members. Even when someone is going through difficult times, the solace and encouragement that comes from the friendships built within the LO community are comforting and uplifting.

On June 21 we celebrated Canada Day by inviting members to LO’s home office. Canada is made up of communities. Communities are made up of families. Landscape Ontario is like a family. We are a family that cares about each other and our customers. We are a family that wants the best for each other, even when we are competing. We are a family with an abundance mentality, a common vision and a contribution ethic. We are also a family that recognizes and honours those who built the foundation of our organization and our profession.

Leaving a legacy

The most difficult membership benefit to explain, but probably the most important, is the concept of “leaving a legacy.” The work done by this generation will benefit others we don’t even know — just as we now benefit from the contributions of those who came before us. The desire to leave a legacy of benefit is a very powerful motivator.

Planting a tree is a perfect metaphor for legacy. What we plant today benefits the future. It was fitting our Canada Day celebration included the planting of three memorial trees. LO pioneers Paul Grobe, Horst Dickert and John Putzer were recognized for their positive legacy that will always be remembered and appreciated. These trees are planted alongside trees for Casey van Maris, Peter Olsen and John Wright.

It is illustrative of the contribution and caring ethic of our LO family that the trees were donated by Bill Putzer and Neil Vanderkruk. They refuse to take payment for memorial trees. Phil Dickie, owner of Fast Forest in Kitchener, Ont., planted most of the trees. Phil is always the first to donate his services whenever we lose a pioneer.

Landscape Ontario is a family. As a member, we urge you to continue to participate and engage in our activities in order to unlock the full benefits of the association you belong to.
Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at  tony@landscapeontario.com.