More than 2,100 attendees gathered this month at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, TX, for the ELEVATE event, held by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). In its second year since diverging from the former GIE + EXPO, ELEVATE attendance grew by 37% over its inaugural year.
“This show is gaining traction at the rate it is because it’s delivering on the value,” says Brandon Sheppard, NALP president and a Weed Man franchisor in the Mid-Atlantic. “People come here and they learn. They network. They meet other people. They meet up with old friends, and they have a good time. So it really is a marriage of skills and an experience. I think that’s really the formula. We’ve dialed in on a people-centric event.”
During the main stage leadership panel, Pam Dooley, owner of Plants Creative Landscape, Phil Key, CEO of Ruppert Landscape, and Tony Massey, president & CEO of Massey Services, Inc. reflected on their leadership styles. For Massey, he adopts the mindset that they’re doing 98% of things right and focuses on the 2% that can still be improved. Dooley’s advice for others is to know yourself and your non-negotiables. She says you need to know and honor your core values.
This year featured 39 education sessions with four tracks: business excellence, customer experience, operational excellence, and team member experience. Panelists discussed relevant industry topics such as how to absorb a company into your own and the importance of mental health. Presenters from companies like Blades of Green and Mullin covered their best practices regarding retention and recruiting strategies. Angela Hieronimus, director of engagement and success for Blades of Green, shared the number of ways they seek employee feedback, including leadership 360 surveys, which looks at a leader from their peers, subordinates and supervisors’ perspective.
“For us, it’s specifically beneficial for our leadership team,” says Darby Gilbert, manager of corporate and talent acquisition for Landscape Workshop, based in Birmingham, AL. “It gives them the ability to choose what they want to participate in and to build the skills that they feel like they need as a leader.”
On the ELEVATE Expo floor, there were 171 exhibitors as well as 18 “Campfire Sessions” designed for discussions. Landscape professionals delved into topics of how to utilize AI and engage the next generation of workers.
Social and networking opportunities included the NALP Networks Social, the Welcome Reception, the PAC reception, and more. At the NALP-PAC Reception, more than $60,000 was raised for advocacy efforts. Another event, the Ultimate Green Battle, raised nearly $180,000 for the NALP Foundation.
NALP also presented its annual leadership and landscape project awards at ELEVATE.
Mike Rorie, founder of GroundSystems, was honored with the Lifetime Leadership Award for his years of service to the industry as a consultant, entrepreneur and mentor.
LeAnn Ostheimer, COO of Lifescape Colorado, was honored with the Women Leader of the Year Award for her dedication to the industry, serving on many industry boards and committees, seeing her company through 10-fold revenue growth, and crafting award-winning landscape designs.
Jenny Girard, area manager at R.M. Landscape, was honored with the Young Professional of the Year Award for her work mentoring women and young people in the industry, building company training programs and creating a culture of inclusion.
Chris Senske, Founder, Senske Services, LLC, was honored with the Advocate of the Year award for his dedication to lobbying for the lawn care industry at the state and national levels.
And, this year, 194 projects received an Award of Excellence from NALP. The awards honor outstanding landscape management, landscape contracting, design-build, lawn care, and interiorscape projects. View a list of winners.
In addition, each year, one or more outstanding projects receive a prestigious Judges’ Award. This year, Mariani Landscape received a Judges’ Award for their “Multi Level Living” project located in Chicago.
ELEVATE received support from top partners John Deere (Platinum), Caterpillar (Silver), and Envu (Silver).
Next year’s ELEVATE will be held November 3-6, 2024, in Charlotte, NC.
For product introductions from the ELEVATE show, see:
For more from NALP, read: