Industry Voice Needs a Much Bigger Choir

NALP needs more landscape contractor members to effect the change we've been asking for.

NALP Logo 2015 54d4c8c54120b

It's official. The association known as PLANET for the past decade will now go by a new name: the National Association of Landscape Professionals. It's a solid name, seeing as how NALP is a national association made up of landscape industry professionals. Hats off to the New York marketing agency for coming up with it.

So mission #1 of the rebranding effort has been accomplished: Establish a name that makes it crystal clear to the general public what the association is. Now onto mission #2: Make it clearer to landscape professionals why they should join.

As you'll read in the feature story, NALP officials claim to now have a better understanding of what its members really want from the association: Education, Advocacy and Professionalism. "We have a laser focus" on these three pillars, says NALP CEO Sabeena Hickman. The thing is, at least as I see it, this is what PLANET had been laser focused on for the past 10 years. This is what ALCA (PLANET before it was PLANET) was laser focused on during the decade preceding that. So while this newfound laser focus is important, what will really matter is the execution. This is what we're anxious to see develop over the next several months.

With respect to the Education pillar, this is far and away the most influential reason why contractors join the association. Most of the member contractors I talk to say the educational offering has been wonderful. What NALP can now do is make education—be it research, training aids, management tools, webinars, conferences or networking events—more accessible, relevant and financially justifiable to more types of contractors. Doing so should help encourage more contractors to become members, which is necessary in order for NALP to address its two other pillars, Advocacy and Professionalism.

In a three-minute NALP "commercial" you can watch on our website at, current and incoming presidents Jim McCutcheon and Scott Jamieson talk about how grass, plants and overall outdoor spaces play an important biological, social and economic role in people's lives. Again, this has been the message for years. How will the execution be different now?

The only way the execution will be different is if NALP has more members assisting it. With less than 5% of landscape companies currently in its membership, the choir is too small, the message too faint, and standards adoption too intermittent.

As Jamieson says in the video, NALP "really is the voice of the industry." But it needs more voices in its choir for the public to truly recognize what professional landscaping is, along with its benefits. If that doesn't happen, all we have is a new association name.