May 15, 2014
Chris Mace says volunteering at LO pays dividends
Chris Mace, Landscape Operations Manager with Gelderman Landscape Services in Waterdown and chair of the Landscape Designers Sector Group, began his involvement with Landscape Ontario to accelerate his pace to learn about design and to build dream gardens.
“I joined the landscape industry having previously worked in the marketing and advertising industry,” recalls Mace. He studied business administration and marketing at university and did a post grad in business management.
“After university, I was working for a business consulting company and taking my professional certificates in marketing. It’s at this point I had an early ah-ha moment and realized I wasn’t enjoying my work.” Mace says that once he recognized he wanted to design and build dream gardens, “I knew that I needed to learn as much as possible as fast as possible. This was another motivating reason for joining Landscape Ontario. The association offers so many direct and indirect learning opportunities.”
Immediate past president, Phil Charal encouraged Mace to join Landscape Ontario. “My first job in the landscaping industry was with Allweather Landscape (Phil’s company) and both Phil and Brian Clegg, Allweather’s project manager, promoted the benefits of getting involved with Landscape Ontario.”
While serving as current chair of the designers' sector group, Mace also represents the group on the provincial board of directors and is chair of the Landscape Designers Conference Committee.
This year’s designers’ conference supplied Mace with some great memories of his time volunteering for the association. “Being able to bring Irish landscape designer and author Darmuid Gavin as the keynote speaker was a big thrill, especially since he is the person who inspired me to join the landscape industry. I have to give a big thank you to Kristen McIntyre for facilitating this.”
Mace says he has found numerous benefits from volunteering. “The openness of communication and sharing of information is one of the greatest benefits I get.” He recounts that if he ever has an issue with a job, client, employee, etc., he knows that he can reach out to his associates and pick their brains for information and solutions.
“The wealth of knowledge and experience that I have access to is amazing.
Whether my peers realize it or not, I am receiving free mentorship because of them. You can’t put a value on that kind of benefit. It’s industry-specific consulting for free.”
Asked what suggestions he has to improve the association, Mace says, “I genuinely believe that under the stewardship of Tony DiGiovanni and the Landscape Ontario staff, the association is in great hands. I think they have a great vision and leadership for moving the association forward.”
Chris Mace takes his volunteer work outside the association, regularly volunteering at his daughters’ school. “This past year I brought in a big dump truck and power tools to help with a clean-up of the school gardens. It was a great way to give back and to join other parents in rejuvenating the garden beds. The kids got to help with planting new perennials and installing mulch in the front entrance garden beds. The smiles on their faces as they ate popsicles and looked at their hard work, at the end of the day, are what make volunteering in this way worthwhile.”