State of the Association 2016
The following is the text of the State of the Association
speech presented by Mark Garvin at Winter Management Conference in Grand
Cayman in February.
The State of the Association … is good!
have a shortened program for you this morning, but even less time to
deliver it, so I won’t talk about everything we undertook on your behalf
during 2015. Instead, I’d like to list some of the highlights. If you
have questions about them, feel free to ask me or any of the TCIA staff
for more details.
Having said that, I would like to stress a few of the major successes from last year:
- TCIA membership finished the year solidly with 2,263 members, reflecting a 2.3 percent member gain (51) over the 12 months.
First-Year-Member-Contact program communicates with each new member
monthly in print or electronic form with helpful information. Of the 331
new members, the retention rate averaged 57.7 percent for the year – a
solid 10 percent improvement from 2014.
- Eight regional outreach
coordinators were operational in 2015, bringing the value of association
membership directly to regional meetings, training sessions and
- To date, the Arborist Safety Training Institute
(ASTI) has raised $2.1 million. (Fundraising continues.) At the first
ASTI grant deadline on August 15, we received 40 applications, of which
29 were approved for an estimated $41,000 in grant awards.
is spreading: We now have 414 accredited facilities – an all-time high.
In November, we consulted with New York City elected officials to see
about adding Accreditation to their contractor specs.
- Nine CTSP
workshops in the year attracted 242 total attendees. Presently, 36
percent of current member companies are involved in CTSP.
than 800 arborists were educated in electrical hazards awareness through
a grant in 2015. TCIA received another Susan Harwood Grant for 2016
from OSHA for $125,000.
- Cabo San Lucas in 2015 had the second
highest attendance of any Winter Management Conference and the highest
on the West Coast ever.
- Tree Care Academy total sales in the
fourth quarter grew 38 percent from the same period last year, and
enrollment is up by 34 percent. Programs that have shown the largest
growth are Aerial Lift, Chipper Operator and Ground Operations.
- TCI Magazine revenues for 2015 were $1.255 million, up $165,800 over last year.
signed off on a Settlement Agreement with OSHA in February, culminating
10 years’ work toward a favorable outcome on the federal safety
standard covering line-clearance tree trimming operations.
care is once again on the OSHA docket for long-term regulatory action on
residential/commercial tree care. The issue is at the “pre-rule” stage,
and stakeholder meetings are tentatively slated for June 2016 to start
writing a separate safety standard for arboriculture.
attendance at TCI EXPO 2015 in Pittsburgh was 2,846 attendees – the
highest for a non-East Coast show in our history! TCI EXPO 2015 had 876
booths, up from 779 booths from the previous year in Hartford and up
from 596 booths the last time we were in Pittsburgh.
- Two new
safety programs were created in 2015: Compact Lift Specialist is a new
Tree Care Academy course focusing on the safety, set-up and operation of
tracked lifts. Best Practices for Stump Grinder Operations in
Arboriculture is a resource manual that provides essential information
about stump grinding operations.
- Net income from operations for
the 2015 fiscal year was $618,000, the highest in our history. The
largest contributors in exceeding our budget were TCI EXPO (beat budget
by $182,700), TCI Magazine (beat budget by $272,600), CTSP (beat budget
by $84,100) and Membership (beat budget by $66,000).
The important question to ask is how do all of these numbers translate into a higher level of membership value for you?
answer is that these positive metrics have allowed the Board to make
some long-term strategic investments in areas identified by you, the
membership, as either weaknesses of the association or challenges you
face in running your businesses.
As a result, four years ago we
launched a member engagement initiative whose centerpiece was the hiring
of membership outreach coordinators around the country. In that time,
we expanded our membership services staff from two to 10 to serve you
The eight outreach coordinators, located around the
country, bring the value of association membership directly to you. They
know their regions, they are getting to know the members in those
regions and – most importantly – they report back to New Hampshire on
additional member needs.
Three years ago, we started fundraising
to establish an endowment to provide subsidized safety training to the
industry. The Arborist Safety Training Institute is now up and running –
in no small part aided by TCIA’s financial health.
positive growth not only allowed us to pledge $500,000 to the ASTI
endowment, our continued financial health led your Board to decide last
year to have TCIA and TCIA Foundation fund all grant workshops in 2015
and 2016 ourselves. This way, all contributions received will go
directly to build the endowment, which allowed us to reach our $2
million goal faster.
And now, well, we’re at it again. We’re going
to tackle an issue that has plagued our industry since we became a
recognized industry – the shortage of qualified employees.
I’d like to say we’re going to solve the issue, but I think we’ll begin with a more humble goal.
today, TCIA’s members have an opportunity to work with educators,
policymakers and workforce-development leaders on a plan to expand the
pool of tree care workers. To do that, we must rethink the association’s
and the members’ roles in finding and educating future employees. We
need to stop relying on the temp market or raiding each other’s
workforces to fill employer needs. We need to deepen the pool.
the fact that millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed,
employers in our industry are finding it hard to fill most positions.
The market for jobs that require more education and training than a high
school diploma but less than a four-year college degree continues to
see a shortage of workers.
And our industry is not alone. We’re competing with dozens of similar industries for the same labor pool.
keep hearing that a four-year college education is the only road to the
middle class. That is not true in our industry. While we certainly need
entering employees with four-year and two-year degrees, we also offer a
career for those with skills developed outside the ivy-covered walls of
Does the industry need four-year college graduates?
Two-year graduates? Trained climbers and bucket operators? Ground
workers willing to work, learn and advance? Yes, yes, yes and yes!
the months and years ahead, TCIA will be calling on you to support
existing programs that offer degrees in arboriculture and urban
forestry. As important, we’ll be looking at regions that have the
greatest demand for jobs and we’ll work to establish new programs. We
hope you’ll answer the call for assistance.
TCIA was very
fortunate to find Brigitte Orrick to lead this initiative. She was the
dean of trade, industry, and apprenticeship at Nicolet Technical
College. Now, she is our new director of workforce development. She’s
learning about the colleges in your areas with existing programs and
will work with you to identify schools that could be likely candidates
for new programs.
This workforce development initiative is broader
than selling a job or even a career to high school guidance counselors.
Almost every industry and profession has the same idea ... work with
young people to show them how great a career in my industry can be.
tree care, we can sell a career along with the existential benefit of
enhancing the environment, enjoying teamwork that comes with being part
of a crew, and greening your neighborhood.
There are dynamic
changes afoot in our country. I think it’s important to have a broader
conversation about our future workforce requirements than “we need
climbers and we need them now.”
We need to take a comprehensive
look at the ways urban forestry, commercial arboriculture, horticulture,
and green jobs are evolving … and the implications for the future. We
need to grapple with ethnic and demographic factors. We need to think
about this initiative over the long term. The best investments we make –
as an association or an employer – may take time to realize results.
issues we’re tackling with our workforce-development initiative are
complex. We may look to start a new two-year program in one region and
put certificate level classes at a school in another region.
is an ongoing conversation – labor shortages didn’t start in 2016, and
they won’t end this year either. From our perspective at TCIA, this
conversation will continue to inform our work next year and into the
If there are things we can do in the next 24
months, we will do them. But these issues will continue to be front and
center well beyond that. That’s why it is important that our plans
include engagement with members and other green-industry stakeholders.
can’t be afraid to shrink from difficult questions about our labor
force – how we attract them, how we train them and how we retain them.
future of the tree care industry is ours to shape. The challenges are
formidable, without question. But we can do it … by thinking long-term,
and by prioritizing the next generation. I look forward to continued
dialogue down the road.