I recently had the privilege of organizing a local charitable event to convert a patch of mud, grass and gravel, which served as an overflow parking area and bus turnaround, into a little raised bed garden where clients of the United Cerebral Palsy Center of West Alabama (UCP) can grow veggies. We played a small role in the nationwide event organized by PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) to encourage members across the country to organize local beautification projects on April 22, or Earth Day.
In my quest for donations of labor and landscape supplies, I did hear “no” a few times. A few businesses turned me down citing poor profits as the reason to “tighten our belts lately.” But out of about 15 requests for donations, two or three rejections is a pretty good rate of return. For the most part, I was incredibly surprised at how many times I heard “yes.” Even in these difficult economic times, it was encouraging to see these company owners, who have their own set of economic hardships to deal with, give so freely of their products and services. Just for our little project we needed donations for gravel for the paths; lumber to construct the raised beds; compost, plants, seeds and fertilizer to fill the beds; and labor to grade and do some site prep.
We really could not have made it happen without the generous assistance of three Tuscaloosa-area landscape contractors: Joe Tinsley, owner of Tinco Landscaping and Lawn Care; Cole Deason, owner of Cut-N-Edge Unlimited; and Buzz Barton, of Barton’s Nursery. It’s guys like Joe, Cole and Buzz who give landscape contractors a good name, and it’s these companies providing service beyond the call of duty that are going to survive the current recession. And this great service isn’t something they just started in response to the economy. They’ve been succeeding through word-of-mouth advertising for years, and will continue to do so.
I don’t want to be accused of painting a false, overly optimistic picture of the future, but neither do I want to be part of the media that is often chastised for focusing on and sensationalizing the negative. In this issue, we spotlight the economy of the landscape industry, looking at some formal research, some informal surveys and some anecdotal accounts. We’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions, but I hope you will take note of a few economic indicators that might subtly point toward signs of a recovery from these stormy times. Like Joe, Cole, and Buzz, look for a silver lining in the gloomy economic clouds – then become a part of it.