Archive for the ‘PLANET’ tag
Here’s our digest of the most interesting stuff for your weekend reading pleasure. Enjoy!
- New research on how plants grow. (via @BatesNursery)
- Success can mean lying to yourself.
- New PLANET safety training you should check out.
- How much we make and what we spend it on.
- Why entrepreneurs (and other creative types) like to hang out together.
- Above: Roger Phelps on how a set of chaps saved his life.
I’ve been traveling to industry and supplier events for the past two years as an associate editor here at Lawn & Landscape. It’s great to see the familiar faces, and spend a minute or two chatting with those I’ve met at different functions. But it’s always more encouraging for me to run into a fresh face who is looking to make positive impact on the industry.
At PLANET’s Renewal & Remembrance, I met Zack Kline, CEO and founder of A.I.R. Lawn Care. I didn’t ask Zack his age, but he didn’t look a day older than 20, although I’m guessing he’s about 23. Zack was sitting a few seats down from me at PLANET meeting discussing Legislative Day on the Hill issues. He was dressed professionally, with his company logo on his shirt, something some veteran companies haven’t figured out (branding, people!).
When I asked for his business card, he whipped out his card holder immediately while I fumbled through my pocket hoping not to bend any corners (maybe a card holder for Christmas for me). But I could pick up that it wasn’t all style with Zack. There was substance and enthusiasm behind his ironed wardrobe and fancy pocket accessory. Now, I’m a pretty even-keeled guy, so I always appreciate someone who is genuinely excited about something, especially something that is going to take a lot of hard work.
Zack’s running a very small company now, but he’s hoping to get financing this summer, hire a crew and then, who knows. But my guess is he’s going somewhere. And that’s a good thing for the industry – an industry that needs more hungry business owners like Zack. – Brian
Brian is in D.C. for the next couple of days covering PLANET’s Legislative Day and Renewal and Remembrance.
When we talk about D.C., it’s difficult to get away from a lot of the hyper-political discussions, especially with the election coming up this fall.
But this should keep it all in perspective.
This park at the corner of Bridge Avenue and West 58th in Cleveland is just a few blocks from our world headquarters. A few years ago, the L&L staff helped to clean up the former gas station site as part of PLANET’s annual Day of Service. We teamed up with a local community organization to weed the beds, plant new shrubs and pull out what felt like a few metric tons of bricks, concrete and other urban landfill.
I drove by to check on it today and am proud to report that it’s grown in nicely.
A few weeks ago, landscapers across the country pitched in around their communities as part of PLANET’s annual Day of Service. It’s a way for companies to give back to the areas where they operate, and help out local organizations.
The Day of Service is just one of many examples of landscapers giving back and participating in community service projects. (In fact, we’ve got an entire department in the magazine dedicated to just these types of projects.)
Last month, Dan Moreland, my former boss and publisher of our sister publication PCT, wrote about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and the correlation between compassion and business success.
For any company operating today, profitability cannot be the sole measure of success,” Schultz said. “Delivering long-term shareholder value is essential. But today’s increasingly complex world requires companies — including Starbucks — to hold ourselves to higher standards. Amidst continued worldwide economic uncertainty, Starbucks has demonstrated that it will continue to build shareholder value, but never before has that value been more closely aligned to our values. Simply put, the value of your company is driven by your company’s values.”
Capitalism, in and of itself, is not bad. It’s what has enabled the United States to become the largest economy in the world. I’ve benefited personally from the fruits of capitalism. Thirty-one years ago, when I joined GIE Media, we were a modest, start-up business employing four people working out of a single-room loft above a local restaurant. Today, we publish more than a dozen magazines and employ more than 80 people, supporting scores of families. Watching those families grow and prosper and contribute to their respective communities has been the single most gratifying professional experience of my life, and it’s all due to the gift — and power — of capitalism.
It’s when we lose our moral compass as companies, or as individuals, when we put profits and personal aggrandizement above all else, that we suffer collectively. The pest management industry understands this basic contract with society, perhaps because pest control companies have such an intimate relationship with their customers and the communities they serve. Paul Jackson, a staff writer for The Northwestern Chronicle, puts it best: “There are good CEOs and good companies, moral corporations; there is moral capitalism because as moral beings even our self-interest is moral in itself, but only if we see ourselves as humans reflecting humanity, one to another. How we function as a society, economy and polity has to do with Us: the market reveals Us and shows what kind of people we are. Indeed, the market is a test, a proving ground for your heart in search of the question — just how moral are you?”
If you’re in business just to make money, you’ll probably do OK. But if you make your goal the improvement of those around you and your community, you’ll do great.
The best session at PLANET’s Green Industry Great Escape was the discussion on social media and how businesses operate online. Led by Roger, Phelps, Stihl, Bruce Robert, Red Letter Corp., and Pat Schunk, PowerCloud, the talk touched on how consumers find companies online, the impact of mobile devices and how social media can improve not only your firm’s visibility but its reputation as well.
Here’s a quick re-cap of the talk. Look for more in an upcoming issue of Lawn & Landscape.
- Allow negative comments live on your site, blog or Facebook page. It shows that you’re a real company. The key is that you respond to it, and diffuse any bad situations.
- Good content pushes out bad. The more you publish about your company, whether it’s blog posts, Facebook updates or other content, the more you show up in search results (not rogue negative commenters).
- Use online tools to monitor what people say about you and your industry. Roger uses Kurrently to keep tabs on Stihl.
- Think about how social media can be used to highlight your employees, and how that attention can improve morale.
- Consider how your employees use social networks on (and off) the clock. The same goes for your family members – whether they work in the business or not.
- Social media takes time. If you’ve already got a packed schedule, you honestly might not have enough attention left to focus on updating these platforms. If that’s the case, don’t do it.
I spent a few days last week at the Green Industry Great Escape, PLANET’s revamped Executive Forum meeting. The idea was to get top industry leaders out of their offices and away at a nice location so they could network and think about the future of their businesses.
By all accounts, it worked. Whether it’s at big events organized by an association, a peer group or just you heading off to be alone for a day or two, any business owner has to spend some of his or her time focused on developing new ideas and planning for the future.
So what does this have to do with index cards? I have three small kids, and I don’t get a lot of time to spend by myself (except on planes), so I have to catch any ideas as they flit through my brain on the go. To do that, I use this low-tech PDA. It’s just index cards and a butterfly clip. It fits in my shirt pocket, and when paired with a pen, it’s the perfect way for me to brainstorm plans, capture a quick to-do list or outline my schedule for the day.
You can do this with anything – a legal pad, your phone or any number of web applications. But the important thing is that you do it. You have to capture these ideas in one place, so you can find them again, think about them and develop them into concrete plans for the future.
Otherwise, you just spent a bunch of money and a few days on the beach to end up in the same place you were last year.
Part of the Lawn & Landscape team (me and our videographer) is on the road this week in Maryland, where we’re filming the first part of a special video project in partnership with PLANET for the GIC this fall.
Today we visited with Landon and James Reeve at Chapel Valley Landscape.
James, who took over as CEO in 2003, has moved the company away from the design/build work that it thrived on for years to a more maintenance-based operation.
“You can’t not cut the grass, but you can not plant the tree,” James told me. “So we’re cutting the grass.”
Stay tuned for more details on our project, and watch for information on the GIC.
I know it’s only April, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the fall lately, especially this year’s GIE+EXPO and GIC in Louisville.
Registration for the EXPO is open, and you can book your rooms for the GIC already, too. We’re working with both groups on developing some of the programming for the show and conference this year, and they should be great events.
(Register by May 31 and you could win tickets to the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Ky.)
One thing I hear from a lot of contractors and suppliers is that the show has been in Louisville for so long, they’re tired of going. I can understand that — it’s tough to head to the same city and the same hotel and the same bars and restaurants to see (pretty much) the same people every year.
But, if you look a little beyond Fourth Street, there’s a whole lot of cool stuff to see.
Like fast horses? Lay a few two-dollar bets at the Fall Meet, which opens Oct. 30. Like fried chicken? Visit Col. Sanders grave and leave a spork. Like really good meat? Book a table at Proof on Main.
Coming down to the show in the fal is a great way to learn more about what’s new in the industry, network with your colleagues and develop your skills. Don’t think you’ve seen everything the show – or Louisville – has to offer.
(image courtesy the Big Map Blog)