Leading by Example: Bob Wade

Features - Leadership Winners

Bob Wade leads the industry by lobbying locally and beyond.

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November 19, 2009
Angela Dyer

Bob Wade doesn’t wait around for something to happen. He leads by example as he takes charge and gets things done in his local association and when lobbying in Washington, D.C.

As director of legislation for the California Landscape Contractors Association, he lobbies in Sacramento as well as the nation’s capital. Wade has worked extensively on immigration, where he lobbies for comprehensive reform and legalization.

And he doesn’t stop there. He is also the chairman of a government affairs committee for the Irrigation Association. He is working toward state-level conservation of water and efficient water use. His work with water efficiency even reaches to the EPA where he is also an EPA WaterSense partner, meaning he will be qualified to install WaterSense-approved items.

While this sounds like enough to keep an entire company busy, Wade still finds time to run his own contracting firm – Wade Landscape in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Wade received a degree in political science from the University of California Santa Barbara. But, after developing other interests, he went back to school for a horticulture degree at Cal Poly Pomona and then began building his own business. He continued learning by watching how other local companies ran their businesses. He saw other contractors’ approaches and attention to detail, and he mirrored some of these ideas.

From there he became involved with the CLCA, which he credits for his leadership skills.

“Get involved and don’t wait to be asked,” Wade says. “Find something you have an interest in. You need to put yourself out there and stay involved. Then, as you get more knowledgeable, do not be afraid to step up. Individuals make a difference.”

He wants future leaders in the industry and in various associations to remember that when in a leadership capacity, “Your opinion is not always the most valuable one in the room.”

Wade explains that the path to a true consensus and the best outcome is to let everyone else voice their opinions first.

“I let others speak first and encourage people (to speak) before they know my opinion on things,” he says. “I think it’s important to encourage your committee members to come forward and give their opinions.”

About being an effective leader, he adds: “The more power you give away, the more you get.”

The time he gives up to spend on association business and lobbying for various causes impresses many in the industry, including past CLCA president Barbara Alvarez, president of Alvarez Landscape in San Dimas, Calif.
“I admire the fact that he puts his volunteer time into the CLCA, and he also saw the importance of getting on the Irrigation Association board,” she says. “I have to admire that.”

It was also the CLCA that awarded him one of his biggest honors, its Regular Member of the Year Award in 2005.
Wade credits the association as a major influence on his career. He explains that he originally joined the group only because he needed more insurance for his business, but then decided to check out the organization to see what else it offered.

“I started looking at it, and the more I got involved, the more my business grew and the more professional I became,” he says. “I would credit the organization for that.”

He also credits his family with influencing his career. Wade says his son-in-law works for his business and can fill in when Wade is not available while doing association work.

“You can’t do this alone,” he says. “My family is very important – my wife and daughter are involved in the business, too. They are integral in the whole process.”