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Publisher's Note: Listening and Learning

Departments - Business Management

Kevin Gilbride | January 9, 2009

Last month, I made my way to the Ohio Turf Foundation’s annual conference and show in Columbus. I love this event because it has historically been one of the strongest regional expos in our industry. And because it’s an easy two-hour drive from our Cleveland office.

But, in recent years, OTF – like many regional shows – has not been what it used to be from a company participation standpoint. Some small and regional suppliers that always exhibited in Columbus are now focusing their interests and trade show dollars elsewhere. Other companies are simply asking local distributors to represent them at events. And a lot of businesses have dialed back their travel and show budgets. Frankly, that’s a shame, since gatherings like these are the heart and soul of our industry.

I guess that’s why my expectations were relatively modest as I motored toward the Greater Columbus Convention Center. After all, my goal in going to shows is different than attendees (education, networking and shopping) or exhibitors (selling). My purpose is to meet decision-makers and convince them that they should support Lawn & Landscape with their advertising.

In short, I’m there to sell to the people who are selling to you. If key folks are back in their corporate headquarters crunching numbers, I can’t do my job.

Thankfully, I was immediately and pleasantly surprised as I traversed the OTF show floor. I spotted corporate leaders like Dr. Toni Bucci of BASF, Bayer’s Neil Cleveland, Turfco’s Scott Kinkead, Mary Ellen Cleary of Cleary Chemical and many more.

Still, considering everything, why were all these “big guys” there?

For two reasons, it turns out. First, they wanted to show their support for Ohio’s green industry. And second, they wanted to meet customers, listen to what they had to say and learn.

Listening and learning. What a concept, huh?

Well, we learned from that experience too. That’s why, next month, you’ll see something different in Lawn & Landscape. We’ve assembled a new and engaged Market Insight Council to help us keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and to guide our editorial decisions for years to come. We selected a diverse group of contractors, LCOs, consultants and others from all parts of the market (and all parts of the country) to critique the magazine each month, suggest story ideas and help shape our editorial plans for the year.

We have representatives from big companies and small companies, lawn care and landscaping, and education and industry. Lawn & Landscape’s Market Insight Council mirrors the market, and we’ll take what the council tells us very seriously.

Seems like common sense, right?

Well, we think that having readers drive the editorial content of a magazine is the best kind of common sense – a common-sense commitment to publishing a magazine that meets your real, day-to-day business needs when you need it the most.

And, just because you’re not officially on the Market Insight Council doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from you. My door is always open, so to speak. Feel free to call or e-mail anytime you have ideas – both critical or positive – about Lawn & Landscape. I’m at 800-456-0707 or

That’s how we listen, and that’s how we’ll learn.