This was the speech Mark Garvin gave at Winter Management Conference in St. Kitts in February.
We are very pleased to kick off what will be a year of celebration for the association’s 75th anniversary. We’ll be collecting information, pictures, antique equipment and your memories throughout the year for our anniversary display at TCI EXPO in Charlotte.
My State of the Association will include a summary of the year we just closed out and a look ahead at what we plan for the members. The state of your association is strong and thriving – perhaps as healthy as it has ever been in its existence.
I say this as someone who has spent quite a bit of time over the past few months looking at the history of this association. In preparation for our 75th anniversary, I read old Board minutes, newsletters, financial reports, member correspondence and communications with federal regulators.
I can report to you that your association has never been better positioned in Washington. Your association has never been more secure financially. And I believe I can say this with confidence: Your association today understands the very different needs of its members. We have the infrastructure, resources and staff to provide the tools required to help you run a successful tree care business.
I would like to stress a few of the major advancements from last year:
- In 2012, TCIA embarked on a truly new and radical idea to achieve the association’s mission – staff located around the country to enhance member value, recruit new members, introduce programs and encourage volunteer involvement. With the exception of an office in England a decade ago, TCIA has never had local employees to help fulfill its mission. Regional staff will bring the value of association membership directly to local gatherings, regional meetings, training sessions and workshops. Programs and networking opportunities are coming to you – online and in person. We now have four outreach coordinators and are seeking more.
- We were heading for the biggest TCI EXPO ever in 2012, until Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast. Tree crews made heroic efforts – and a lot of money – clearing roads, roofs and power lines instead of coming to Baltimore.
- The storm couldn’t derail the 16th Annual Student Career Days. Kudos go to the SCD sponsors for managing their storm emergencies at home and still making our large student audience feel welcomed and important.
- The CTSP workshop at TCI EXPO in Baltimore saw record enrollment of 71 people. At year’s end, new enrollments in the CTSP program reached 333, surpassing our budget expectation of 300. We passed 1,000 Certified Treecare Safety Professionals last year and today stand at more than 1,200.
- A newly released Single Rope Technique (SRT) Best Practices manual created a buzz – worldwide – unlike any other product produced by TCIA. In August, we facilitated a two-day, hands-on SRT workshop in New Hampshire, generating a small amount of revenue and, more importantly, beginning the training of our future faculty.
- In November, several levels of Tree Care Academy program were approved by New York State for use as certificate programs. Approved were Tree Care Academy Apprentice, Ground Operations Specialist, Tree Climber Specialist, and Tree Care Specialist – Home Study 1.
- TCIA finished the year with a positive net income from operations of $288,442, second highest in the association’s history. Revenues were ahead of last year by $631,000, giving us a consolidated net income for the year of $422,000.
- Peter Gerstenberger worked with Xcel Energy to supply information for a safety video that the power company provided to non-contracting tree companies and consumers in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. It is a very relevant and authoritative video that touts safety awareness, receiving critical praise from many in the industry.
- The membership team beat expectations again by recruiting 357 new members. A focus on recruitment continues to drive growth, building the total number of TCIA members to 2,163 – the highest since 2003. This is up 5.5% for the year and up 15% from the low point of 1,871 in 2010.
- TCIA has published Tree Care Industry Magazine for more than 20 years. This year, the publications and products teams re-purposed selected magazine articles with strong educational content into a series of compendia providing CTSP and ISA CEUs. Pro Arborist Series, Vol. 1 – Climber Safety was first. Also completed and released this year were Vol. 2 - PHC and IPM, Vol. 3 - Crew Safety, and Vol. 4 - Soil Management.
- Three new committees or councils formed this year, with member volunteers stepping up to advance the profession: Safety & Education Committee; Insurance Committee; and Utility Contractor Accreditation Council.
- Accreditation continued to expand in 2012. More and more towns are requiring or recommending it in bid specs, including the City of Chicago in 2012. Today we have 358 facilities accredited around the country.
- TCIA received a $160,000, grant from OSHA’s Susan Harwood Program to conduct EHAP workshops around the country. Almost 2,000 arborists were trained to recognize and avoid electrical hazards in 2012.
- TCIA received a $7,500 contract from the U.S. Forest Service for dissemination of 500 ANSI Standards to the Forest Service, other governmental employees, and approved USFS partners. Expanding access to and awareness of ANSI standards is a primary focus of our credentialing team.
- TCI Magazine department revenues finished the year $47,000 ahead of the prior year – the first growth since 2008.
- The marketing team launched TCIA’s first revamped website in almost a decade. More interactive and easier to navigate, we saw an immediate spike in search engine awareness. New features include an interactive industry calendar, business mentor requests online, and topic-specific blogs.
- The Voice for Trees PAC gala dinner and auction in Curacao, attracted 107 attendees and netted its largest ever total of $117,415.
- The Young Business Leaders Group, launched in 2012, held online and face-face meetings so younger owners can network, share ideas and plan for the future with others at similar stages of their business careers.
- Federal OSHA stayed quiet with respect to arboriculture in 2012, as the real action moved to the states. Maryland OSHA finished a comprehensive arborist standard, written with much input from Peter Gerstenberger and TCIA members. Also in 2012, TCIA participated in a lengthy process to revise all the California OSHA’s regulatory titles relating to general tree work. New rules went into effect in October.
- TCIA staff helped a growing list of members navigate OSHA enforcement proceedings successfully, establishing favorable precedent for other companies in the process. Several new cases have only recently emerged.
- TCIA approved a new three-year agreement with ArborMAX. The program continues to beat growth projections, providing revenue and vital safety information to the association. Onsite loss control audits of companies are building a comprehensive picture of what works best and what is needed most to advance safety.
- All PACT Partners renewed for 2012, and Terex joined as a new Crown Partner.
- With the support and at the urging of the manufacturers of brush chippers, TCIA created a Chipper Operator Specialist program. The first workshop was held at TCI EXPO and we’ll roll free or almost free workshops around the country in 2013.
- At the request of our utility line clearance members, TCIA launched Utility Contractor Accreditation, so utilities can have confidence that the companies they hire meet TCIA safety performance and best business practices standards. The pilot program ended in January 2013, with our first accredited company approved – Townsend Tree Service – with several more companies in the process.
- Almost record attendance at WMC this year, thanks to hard work and good decision made by all last year!
Those were just a few of the highlights from 2012. Before I look forward to 2013 and beyond, I’d like to take a step back and look at the journey we’ve taken together to arrive at this time and this place.
Seventy-five years ago a small group of pioneers decided that a new organization was needed to address the business concerns of commercial arborists. And so the National Arborist Association was formed in 1938. Its first annual meeting, held in 1939 at the Hotel Astor in New York City, boasted a roster of 42 distinguished members.
In preparing for our 75th anniversary celebration, I’ve wandered through the NAA archives, learning about our founders, the visionaries who are no longer with us, and the leaders from 10, 20, 30 years ago who still offer their experience and wisdom to the profession. Some of them are here today.
The one thing that stands out about the association and the people who led it over the decades -- through wars and recessions, through scientific advancements, demographic changes and government turnover --is the consistency of this association’s mission.
Entities don’t normally last this long unless they are generating results for their members. In fact, many of our founding members and those who joined them in the early years are still investing their dues with TCIA. We are grateful for their loyal commitment.
How, specifically, does TCIA help members advance their businesses? By providing a network of resources
It can be lonely out there running a business by yourself with competitors, regulators, and employees posing challenges daily. TCIA’s hotlines, business mentors program, member-to-member storm assistance network, and ongoing information sharing provide members with ways to reach out and communicate with other tree care professionals. When members need industry-related information or assistance, they call on TCIA – and each other – for answers. TCIA's network of companies, industry resources, business advisors, staff arborists and regulatory experts will find the answers to members’ questions.
How else does TCIA help members advance their businesses? By making the industry safer
Since its inception, association staff, members and volunteers have dedicated themselves to improving safety for those in this industry who are open to change and improvement. TCIA works with government agencies to write understandable and enforceable rules to improve safety in the industry. The association creates safety training programs to help make sure this happens – programs available to members for free or at steep discounts. Safety professionals certified by TCIA serve as training and innovation leaders in companies, municipalities and utilities large and small.
How else does TCIA help members advance their businesses? By advancing professionalism and public recognition
The world has changed significantly since the NAA first opened its doors. The sheer volume of information that is always available electronically gives everyone a voice, an opinion and a platform. Slicing through the clutter to define professional practices and ethical conduct has always been an integral part of TCIA’s mission.
There’s a reason why many of TCIA’s founding companies started out as one- or two-man operations and decades later are multi-million dollar businesses. Through hard work and a partnership with TCIA, they have stayed plugged into an industry that is constantly evolving.
The business challenges faced by owners 70, 50 or 30 years ago are remarkably similar to the ones faced today. TCIA members know they are better off working in association with others in such a competitive and hazardous industry than trying to advance in isolation.
A cynic might say, “You’ve faced the same problems for 75 years and you haven’t solved any of them yet.”
Well, that’s true. But there’s never an end to the process of improving safety, never a conclusion to the effort to enhance the profession’s image, never a time when we won’t need to attract new employees to the profession, never a point where you can’t learn more about how to make your company more efficient and more profitable, and never, ever, will there be a year when the government runs out of bad ideas on how you should run your businesses.
So our plans for 2013 to advance commercial tree care business aren’t designed to discover new challenges or take on new battles. Instead, we’re looking at new ways to tackle the same issues. We’re looking to speed the process of achievement, elevate the pace of safety improvement, ease the burdens of regulatory compliance, increase the separation between professional tree care companies and the rest, most importantly, fulfill these goals in a way that delivers more value to you as members.
In 2013, we’ll be making networking easier and more affordable, we’ll be bringing training closer to you for free or almost free, we’ll be headed to Washington to see if we can find successful conclusions to several issues that have been stalled for years.
TCIA’s mission is to advance tree care businesses … since 1938. In 2013, our 75th anniversary year, we hope you’ll come along and celebrate with us.