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FNGLA’s Programs Pair Well with Your Thriving Business

Monday, April 10, 2017
Article by: Greenline

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Spring has sprung. At least, that’s what the calendar shows. The reality is it seems winter never really showed up. Of course, we really don’t ever get too much cold weather in South Florida. This particular winter only gave us perhaps three or four days of cold weather. Repercussions occur when winter doesn’t. Trees have growing cycles which require cold months to bud and grow. When there is an absence of winter, trees get confused and sometimes flower too early messing up the growing cycle. The cold also helps control pests by sometimes killing them with the low temperatures. 

Our industry doesn’t need any other factors impeding tree production. I’ve been brokering trees for close to 25 years and, during that time, I’ve seen availability and shortages come and go. The current tree shortage is far worse than I’ve ever seen. Whether you are looking for live oaks, tall Veitchia Montgomery palms, or a substitute for either which will meet a 16’ height and a particular caliper, you understand what I am talking about. It’s very difficult to find many trees and palms meeting the larger height requirements which many current projects require. There are several factors contributing to these shortages. We have fewer growers now than we did several years ago. During the Great Recession, growers put fewer trees and palms in the ground obviously not wanting to be stuck with material or not having the funds to plant more trees. There has also been a tremendous growth in the construction market and renovations have depleted much of the available supply. Many farms have also succumbed to this construction growth as they have given way to houses or shopping centers.  

So now what? Our industry is unlike most others. A factory machine cannot be turned on to pump out more trees as can a factory producing steel or concrete. Trees need time to grow. Many nursery farms are ramping up on production and trees will be available within the next year or two. Most landscape architects and inspectors are reasonable and will allow substitutes if some things are not available. If a tree is unavailable at a certain specification, an alternative may be suggested, the spec may be adjusted, or adding numbers of smaller trees may be another. 

There is another large factor to contend with…price. The price for a tree remained stagnant for many years. Now, due to supply and demand, prices have been going up. Some projects are bid out six months to one year prior… or possibly even longer. Contractors are expected to hold to their prices even though the price for a tree may have increased significantly. Many contractors are now putting a clause in their bids which protect them from such instances. Knowing how to bid, and being aware of what’s happening in the industry, is critical for a landscape contractor’s survival. It is this professionalism which ties in with certification.

Dealing with FNGLA certified landscape contractors (FCLC) is vital to ensuring you are working with a professional company which knows what they are doing. The FCLC is the only standard for measuring the knowledge of practicing landscape contractors in Florida. In a state which does not require licensing to practice landscape, this is the certification which raises the Florida landscape industry’s professionalism and standards. These credentials have become so important that many governmental agencies and municipalities now require landscape contractors hold this particular designation to bid on certain projects.  

I’ve been a huge proponent of FNGLA’s certifications over the past 10 years. I am not a landscape contractor, yet I’ve seen the importance of these certifications and decided they were necessary as I believe anyone doing business in a particular industry should become as knowledgeable and professional as possible. After I obtained my FNGLA certifications, I decided to go a step further and help others achieve their certifications. The more individuals who become certified, the more professional an industry becomes. 

On a separate note, as my term as FNGLA President draws to a close in three short months, preparations are in full swing for the annual convention. This year’s convention will be held in Fort Lauderdale on June 23 & 24 at the B Ocean Resort in Ft. Lauderdale which sits directly on the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale. This annual convention would be impossible without the support and contributions of many FNGLA members. I personally wish to extend a huge thank you to the individuals and companies who have donated their time and money to help make this upcoming convention be a great time for all.  I have attended every convention since I’ve been a member of FNGLA except for one and I will continue to do so long after I step down as president. I hope many of you will take the opportunity to join us this year as I promise this FNGLA convention will be one to remember!

Robert Shoelson, 
FCLC Getting Green Plant Service, Inc. (Davie) & Betrock Information Systems, Inc. (Hollywood) 

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