Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Chuck Bowen


Opportunity and obligation

Editor's Insight

February 10, 2015

Chuck Bowen

I was in a rec center in Denver this fall, listening to a panel discussion of some very smart landscapers from Colorado. Dean Murphy, the CEO at Terracare Associates and current president of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, was moderating, and he asked the audience how many of them had talked with their children about a future in the landscaping industry.

Out of about 60 people, four raised their hands. That’s just sad.

The landscape industry as a whole does a pretty bad job of marketing itself to many people – prospective employees, yes, but also to current and future customers, regulators and elected officials and the broader populous at large.

Which brings us to the dog on the cover. TurfMutt is a real dog, and the brainchild of the OPEI, the trade association for equipment makers. It’s a very successful public relations program that educates elementary school kids about the benefits of turfgrass and the managed landscape. Since the be-caped canine flew into the landscape industry in 2009, the program has reached 38 million students, teachers and parents all across the country. This year, OPEI has partnered with Scholastic to expand the program’s reach.

So, OK. Great. But what do you care? It’s been a long time since you or I fit into a first-grader-sized desk. What does TurfMutt have to do with you and your business?

What TurfMutt, and the many other programs we write about in this month’s cover story, does for you is this: He promotes the work that you do. TurfMutt tells people that the work you do impacts the environment in a positive way.

That dog and many other programs illustrate that the work landscapers do every day has a positive impact.

You may already know this. I hope you do – you spend all day running a business that employs people, supports families and enhances the environment. But what I bet you don’t do is tell people about it.

That’s what I realized sitting in that rec center in Denver: If these contractors haven’t even talked to their own kids about the benefits of the industry, how are their customers or elected representatives or propsective employees going to know about it? When you keep silent, you abdicate your responsibility to talk about the impact you make.

You have an opportunity – and an obligation – each day to share that story. If you don’t, who will?

– Chuck Bowen