TRAILBLAZERS ON CALL MEMBER BENEFIT Have a tough business or technical question, but don’t know where to turn? Need advice on how to take your business to the next level? The new Trailblazers on Call program provides PLANET members with up to one hour of phone consultation time with one of more than 30 Trailblazers on Call. These Trailblazers are industry leaders who have volunteered their time and expertise as an additional way to give back to the industry. Members may use the service as many times as they choose.
To participate in the program, PLANET members are asked to submit questions to the PLANET office by phone at (800) 395-2522 and ask for Gail Rogers, the program administrator, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those questions are then directed to the most appropriate Trailblazer on Call, based on his or her experience and/or availability. The member can expect a call from a Trailblazer on Call within 24 hours. After this 24-hour period, the member may also expect to be contacted by PLANET to ensure that he or she was satisfied with the response given.
No question is too big or small and the answer could be right at your fingertips. For more details about the program, e-mail Program Administrator Gail Rogers or call her at (800) 395-2522.
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STUDENT CAREER DAYS RECAP Many of the country’s best and brightest green industry students gathered at Chattahoochee Technical College in Atlanta, Georgia, April 8–11, 2010, to compete in the 34th Annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days (SCD). “This is a great event for our students and they [were] excited,” said Phil Allen, Ph.D., Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Brigham Young University – Provo professor, who brought 37 students to compete and to look for career opportunities. “Even with finals next week, they are focused on competing, opening doors, and talking to as many industry people as possible,” he said.
A total of 883 students from 68 colleges, including a team from Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and one from Bridgwater College, Bridgwater, England (making this year’s event truly international), and two FFA high school teams participated in 28 individual and team competitions. Tree climbing, paver installation, wood construction, plant identification, sales presentation, exterior/interior design, irrigation troubleshooting, skid steer, and the newest events to showcase this year — 3D Exterior Landscape Design, Personnel Management, and Small Engine Repair — were just a few of the events.
“PLANET SCD is all about the future of the green industry and what is really exciting is that these students have the power toliterally transform the environment,” said Roger Phelps, Promotional Communications Manager for STIHL Inc., the event’s Platinum Sponsor. Awards were given to individual winners, called “Superstars,” as well as to winning teams. The individual winners were, in first place, Jessica Logan of Chattahoochee Technical College (Atlanta, Georgia); in second place, Brennan McDuffie of Sandhills Community College (Pinehurst, North Carolina); and in third place, Robert Johnson of Cal Poly – Pomona (Pomona, California).
Chattahoochee Technical College (formerly North Metro Technical College), which previously hosted SCD in 2008, not only took first place in the individual award, but also in overall competitive events. In second place was Brigham Young University - Provo, followed by Brigham Young University - Idaho in third. For a complete list of winners, please visit the Web at StudentCareerDays.org, and click on 2010 Final Results.
Aside from bragging rights, some students also received scholarships and award money at a special reception, sponsored by STIHL Inc. This year, PLANET gave almost $80,000 in scholarships to 73 students through its PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation. Students heeded the words of advice offered by SCD Chair, Brett Lemcke, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, during the Opening Ceremony — “Be professional and network” — and took advantage of the opportunity to meet and interview with green industry companies for full-time positions and internships at the on-site Career Fair.
PLANET thanks event sponsors STIHL Inc., at the Platinum level; Ariens & Gravely at the Gold level; Caterpillar and JOHN DEERE at the Silver level; and BRICKMAN, Husqvarna, Pavestone Company, and Ryan Turf Renovation Equipment at the Bronze level.
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CNA AND PLANET OFFER TOOLS TO KEEP YOU SAFE CNA and PLANET understand the unique types of risks faced by landscape and lawn care contractors. As PLANET’s endorsed insurance carrier since 1983, CNA has gathered and analyzed claim data for customers in its insurance program. Through this analysis, five types of losses have been identified as having the highest percentage of claims for landscape contractors:
It will come as no surprise that quite often these accidents and injuries can easily be prevented. That’s why CNA and PLANET have teamed up to offer a series of safety materials that address common losses for PLANET members on a new CNA/PLANET Risk Control Web page. Each quarter, the spotlight will be on one of these top areas of loss for green industry professionals.
- Injuries to new employees (workers’ compensation)
- Rear-end accidents (automobile)
- Soft tissue injuries – manual materials handling/lifting injuries (workers’ compensation)
- Tractor-trailer accidents (automobile)
- Falls from elevation (workers’ compensation)
Click here to view the risk control safety materials that address each of the leading causes of loss. If you have any questions about this program, contact Cheryl Claborn.
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HEALTH CARE REFORM AND SMALL BUSINESS
Over the course of the next several years, the recently passed health care reform law will be implemented. Some of its provisions are not slated to take effect until 2018, but from 2010 to 2013, changes largely will involve new taxes, fees, and mandates on individuals and small business. Most health care system changes begin in 2014 and later. So, what does this all mean for small business, and what exactly constitutes a “small business”? The federal government defines a small business as a company with fewer than 100 employees, but your state may define a small business differently (for example, a company with fewer than 50 employees).
|Tom Delaney |
For a great overview of and timeline for the health care bill and how it relates to small business, check out the March 24, 2010, article in Business Pundit, “What Health Care Reform Means for Business.” Starting in 2010, here are some of the finer points you should know:
Each year after that sees one or more provisions added; for example, in 2011 employers will be required to report health benefits on W-2 forms, and, in 2012, for every business-to-business transaction of $600 or more, businesses will have to complete Form 1099s. This latter provision will result in an increased amount of paperwork for small businesses, but it pales in comparison to the impact of the provisions that are slated to take effect in 2014.
- Very small companies (10 or fewer employees) with low-wage workers (they earn less than $25,000 on average) may be eligible for a 35 percent tax credit for purchasing group health insurance for employees.
- Small companies with 25 or fewer employees whose average annual wage is $50,000 and who contribute at lease 50 percent of total premium costs may qualify for a similar, initially smaller tax credit.
- Companies with more than 25 employees do not get a tax credit. Also, any employee who earns more then $80,000/year will be excluded from the company’s tax credit.
Click here to read the full article on health care reform.
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PLANET LAUNCHES 2010 AWARDS PROGRAMS PLANET members have several opportunities to recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the green industry. Entries are now being accepted for the 2010 awards programs. Entry forms and program requirements are available in the Awards Program section at LandcareNetwork.org, or call the PLANET office at (800) 395-2522.
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PLANET DAY OF SERVICE RECAP On Earth Day, April 22, 2010, PLANET held its 2nd Annual PLANET Day of Service, a grassroots effort that encourages individual members, supplier members, and state associations to create volunteer lawn care, landscape, and interiorscape projects in their own communities. More than 3,000 volunteers from 38 states and Canada participated in a total of 200 projects that included landscaping elementary schools, city parks, court houses, libraries, baseball fields, playgrounds, senior citizen homes, and creating vegetable gardens.
This year’s projects proved to be different from last year’s for some because of budget cutbacks and less staff. Outgoing PLANET PR Committee Chair Richard Heller, Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician, of Greener By Designs in New Rochelle, New York, worked with a local Boys and Girls Club. “Our 2010 annual Day of Service project differed from 2009 in scale and participation. Although this year’s project was smaller, it had more meaning for our crew. Many of them come from similar neighborhoods and backgrounds,” said Heller. “While last year’s project yielded us direct sales in a new market, this year’s project is an investment in the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club organization to which many of our high-end Manhattan clients and designers donate time and money.
“We spent less and invested in an important long-term relationship, but the personal appeal to the crew and all of us was tremendous. To see these kids plant, learn, and enjoy the experience was huge for all of us.”
One of the PLANET Day of Service Supporting Sponsors, Tom Grosh of Grosh’s Lawn Service, said it best when he spoke of his project with a local middle school in Clear Spring, Maryland. “It was one of the most rewarding days of our business. I talked with the students before the project began to let them know that just one person can make a difference in the world, and, when we all come together for a cause, we can change the world to make it even better.”
The PLANET Day of Service helps to raise awareness about the green industry in hundreds of communities around the country. It shows that participating companies not only are stewards of the environment, but also are good citizens and are willing to give back to their communities. Start planning now for next April when the momentum generated by this Day of Service carries over and generates even more enthusiasm and hope.
Lead Sponsors for the 2010 PLANET Day of Service were Agrium Advanced Technologies, American Profit Recovery, Inc., JOHN DEERE, Lawns by Yorkshire Inc, and Shindaiwa.
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SAFETY AWARDS DEADLINE IS EXTENDED If you haven’t already submitted your safety swards entry, great news! The PLANET Safety Recognition Awards Program deadline has just been extended! You now have until May 28, 2010, to enter. Complete the following forms and mail them to the Professional Landcare Network, Attn: Safety Awards, 950 Herndon Parkway, Suite 450, Herndon, VA 20170, or fax them to (703) 736-9668:
The forms don’t take much time at all to complete: the entry form takes a couple of minutes, the OSHA form should already be done, and the loss run report and benchmarking data you can request from your insurance agent. That’s it, and you’re on your way to being considered for one or all of the safety awards.
- The entry form.
- The OSHA Form 300A — Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
- Your year-end vehicle insurance claims summary report (loss run report).
- The safety benchmarking data collection form, which will be used to compile fact-based information to help identify areas for improvement in your safety program.
This safety awards program is about more than winning a plaque to hang on the wall. Use it as a tool to measure your safety progress from year to year. The information you share will also help the safety committee provide you with industry-specific benchmarking data that can be used in many ways; for example, to potentially lower your workers’ compensation rates!
Please send an e-mail to Brittany Larkin or call (800) 395-2522 if you have any questions.
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JUNE IS NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH Each June, the National Safety Council (NSC) encourages businesses to participate in National Safety Month. The goal of this national campaign is to help reduce employee injuries on and of the job. Working safer is a simple, easy way to immediately impact your bottom line. So, begin planning now to get involved in National Safety Month.
Each week of the month has a theme that brings attention to critical safety issues and the NSC has provided posters, tip sheets, and suggestions for activities to accompany each issue. For more information about the themes and for access to different safety information and materials, visit the National Safety Month Web site at nsc.org/nsc_events/Nat_Safe_Month/Pages/home.aspx. And remember, think safety always, but particularly during the month of June.
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THE INSIDE TRACK ON GREEN ROOFS & WALLS
As a result of the high standards called for by congressional action and presidential executive orders in just the last few weeks with regards to the environmental performance for federal buildings, green roofs and green walls on federal buildings may be the next big market for green industry companies. Find out from leading policy makers at the General Services Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, portfolio managers in the District of Columbia, and other agencies how they plan to make their buildings greener and meet the requirements to manage their stormwater by attending the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Washington Regional Green Roofs & Walls Conference and Training at the Ronald Reagan Conference Center in Washington, D.C., June 1–2, 2010.
|Courtesy: Barrett Company |
Learn how your company can become a competitive bidder for providing green roof and green wall products, and design, engineering, and installation services for the federal buildings in your markets. Be part of the discussions on how the leading example of green roofs on federal buildings may change local market conditions for other public and private sector buildings.
Attendees of this regional conference will:
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get an inside track on what could be billions of dollars of federal investment in green roofs and green walls. For more information about the program, check out the agenda and click here to register for this event.
- Learn the latest regulations and how green roofs and walls can help meet them.
- Meet green roof system manufacturers and installers.
- Discover sources of funding.
- Learn leading design principles and techniques to maximize the value of green roofs.
- Have the opportunity to tour a variety of different projects and learn directly from the field ... and more!
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PLANET AEF NAMES OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR At last month’s 34th Annual PLANET Student Career Day event, hosted by Chattahoochee Technical College in Atlanta, Georgia, the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation (AEF) announced the recipient of its 2010 Outstanding Educator of the Year Award — Harry Ponder, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Horticulture at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. In his more than 30 years at Auburn University, Dr. Ponder has dedicated himself to educating students for the green industry and has helped develop the Auburn University Department of Horticulture into one of the most respected programs in the United States. This award, developed by the PLANET AEF in cooperation with the PLANET Accreditation Committee, was created to recognize professors who have made significant contributions to green industry education.
Click here to read more about Dr. Ponder and his contributions to the future of the green industry.
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2010 PLANET AEF SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS The PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation (PLANET AEF), created to help the future leaders of the green industry fund their education, presented 73 scholarships, totaling almost $80,000, to students at the Professional Landcare Network’s (PLANET’s) 34th Annual Student Career Days event, which took place in April at Chattahoochee Technical College, North Metro Campus, in Atlanta, Georgia. The scholarships were distributed at a special reception, sponsored by STIHL Inc., at the start of the event.
In the history of the Foundation, which was created in 1998, this year marks the highest number of scholarships it has awarded. The Foundation is committed to the advancement of landscape professionalism, and believes these students, the leaders of tomorrow, will define the standards of professionalism and use their education to meet the challenges of the future.
The PLANET AEF Board of Directors is proud to announce the 2010 scholarship recipients.
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SNEAK PEEK AT JULY ISSUE OF PLANET NEWS Be on the lookout for your July issue of PLANET News with lots of information to help you get the most mileage from the various PLANET awards programs, such as the Safety Recognition Awards Program and the Environmental Improvement Awards Program. Some of the featured topics are:
Don’t miss this issue, coming to your mailbox this July!
- Low-cost marketing tips from the experts.
- How to leverage your award-winning status to get more bids.
- How to optimize your Web site.
MESSAGE FROM YOUR PLANET PRESIDENT
With years of business and leadership experience, PLANET President Bill Hildebolt, Ph.D., Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician, shares his wisdom and insights in a monthly message to members.
Available in both English and Spanish, Safety $ense offers tips on safe workplace practices on a monthly basis.
The popular monthly Personnel Notebook gives green industry companies a wealth of information on a variety of human resource topics.
QUARTERLY LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
This publication contains a recap of relevant legislative and regulatory activity important to members of the green industry.
Online editions of the monthly official newsmagazine of the association — PLANET News — are archived for your convenience.
PLANET NEWS INTERIOR
For the interior plantscaper, PLANET News Interior captures interior-specific topics of interest and more.