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FNGLA President Robert Shoelson talks certifications (and how they’ve helped his bottom line)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Article by: Certification News

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Robert Shoelson, FNGLA's 2016-2017 President, and Jamie Hayes of Runway Growers volunteer their time at a 2012 FNGLA certification exam in Broward County. (COURTESY PHOTO) 

Prior to taking the helm as FNGLA’s 2016-2017 president, Robert Shoelson made it clear that promoting FNGLA’s certifications would be on his short list of priorities during his tenure. Half-way into his whirlwind year of heading up the largest state horticultural association in the country, we check in with him on the gains he’s made:

FNGLA: Tell us why it was so important for you to single out FNGLA’s certifications as a top priority during your tenure as president?

Shoelson: Many years ago, a very good customer and friend recommended I get my certifications.  As soon as I took the tests and became certified, I saw how these certifications could change the professionalism of our industry.  Just because a guy can stick a shovel in the ground or because he has a mower in the back of his truck doesn’t make him a landscaper.  The certifications verify that an individual knows what they are doing. Whether it is pruning a tree or running a piece of equipment, there is a sense of satisfaction knowing you are dealing with someone who has gone the extra mile to become educated and certified.  A homeowner would not hire a plumber or electrician who was not certified or licensed to do work in their house, so why would they do the same when hiring a landscape contractor.  This became my passion and my goal is to make it logistically easier for people to get their certifications without having to travel across the state.  Having more access to test sites will encourage more people to earn their certifications. 

F: What successes have you realized, so far, in promoting FNGLA’s certifications?  

S: More than 300 individuals have obtained their certifications through our test sites in Broward County.   It is a great feeling when I see people who have received their certification come back to judge and become involved in the certification process.  Whether they are getting certified to become more educated, or to move up in their company, I feel I am helping this industry become more professional -- one certified person at a time.

F: As the head of two successful South Florida businesses (Shoelson heads up the South Florida-based Betrock Information Systems, and Getting Green Plant Service, Inc.), how has having your people get certified helped your bottom line?

S: I encourage many of my employees to earn their certifications. They immediately get a raise with each certification they acquire. By having certified employees, I believe this sets us apart from our competition as well as gives our customers, and other industry professionals the confidence of knowing they are dealing with a company that knows what they are doing. If an issue arises at a jobsite, it sure is nice to walk up with the credentials of having certifications and the knowledge and education of the industry we work in.

For more information on professional certifications, visit FNGLA’s Certifications page

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