We choose fun

March 16, 2015

Chuck Bowen

My first boss here at GIE Media, the parent company of Lawn & Landscape, was Dan Moreland. He was – and still is – the publisher of PCT magazine, a trade magazine for structural pest control operators. He was my mentor as I tried to figure out what the heck I was doing working at a publishing company writing about bed bugs.

One of the many, many smart things he taught me during my year with PCT was this: You can make any trade magazine interesting, and you can make any trade magazine boring.

You probably get a few other magazines related to landscaping in the mail or your inbox every month. As a kid, I’d sit in my dad’s office and leaf through the trade magazines that he got for companies that manage parking lots. These days, I sit in my office and leaf through trade magazines for publishing (it’s a very weird and meta thing to read a trade magazine about publishing a trade magazine).

One thing that helps us in the trade magazine business is our ability to know and understand the lawn care and landscaping market better than anyone else. The tremendous amount of data we have and the deep reporting we do help us understand on a very granular level what’s happening with contractors in the field.

But there are still lots of things we don’t know, things that I think can help us better understand not just the business you engage in every day, but the type of person you are. What do you do for fun? Do you vote? Did you play sports in high school?

So we built a survey and sent it out, asking those questions and many more. A lot more, in fact – 70 questions in all, which is about twice as many as our annual State of the Industry Report survey. We asked about pets, children and coffee. We asked about divorce, alcoholism and cancer. We asked if you had the chance to do it all over again, would you even want to go into landscaping?

And a ton of you responded. More than 300 LCOs and landscapers took the time to answer, and I thank all of you.

But, will knowing how many landscapers vote in every single election (81%) or how many grow a beard (22%) or when the most popular month is to take a vacation (February) help you make more money tomorrow? Maybe not. But I think it’s very interesting and a lot of fun to know these things, and helps you understand where you fit into the larger universe of 80,000 landscapers across the country. You won’t find a bunch of boring stories in Lawn & Landscape. We choose fun.

– Chuck Bowen