May 6, 2019
Jason Vettese
Landscape Ontario’s Congress trade show and conference continues to improve year after year. The challenge to constantly improve the event and offer new experiences to both exhibitors and visitors falls largely onto the shoulders of the LO Show Committee. This seasoned group of volunteers bring their own expertise, passion and experience — ranging from veterans to those in the early stages of a career. This issue, we sat down with Show Committee volunteer, Jason Vettese, Sales Manager at Best Way Stone.

Why did you get involved with the LO Show Committee?
I was a director on the LO Hardscape Committee and our key mandate was to promote more hardscape education to the industry. Our primary focus was getting HardscapeLIVE off the ground and onto the stage at Congress. A way to ensure a smooth transition for this initiative, as well as expand the development of hardscape education at Congress, was to get involved with the Show Committee and marry our goals from both sides, making the hardscape industry and Congress more dynamic in the end.

How does your employer support your volunteer time?
For over 50 years, Best Way Stone has been an active member of the landscape industry in Ontario, and specifically supportive of the initiatives of Landscape Ontario. Our company recognizes that volunteer time does not only benefit the hardscape industry and the development of education programs, but also our employees’ personal development. Since joining the Hardscape Committee and more recently, the Show Committee, it has opened my eyes to the great opportunities and thriving industry we have here in Ontario.

How did you get involved in this industry?
I started working in this industry with my current employer, Best Way Stone, as a summer job during school: answering phones, taking orders and building a passion for the hardscape industry. From there, my role grew into developing and managing the marketing department, and now 10+ years later managing the growing sales department.

What do enjoy most about volunteering?
Sometimes your individual way of thinking can get skewed by your specific industry and its challenges. I like the different perspectives that are brought to the table from other facets of the landscape industry. It is valuable to see how different people approach an objective or challenge. It is rewarding to see a group of people that care about growing the industry for all to come together to meet a common goal.

What advice do you have for people who may want to volunteer?
Make sure to go into volunteering with two key ingredients. Firstly, go in with an open mind, willing to learn and work as a team. This will allow for open dialogue which through most situations a solution or common objective is found. Secondly, don’t go into it for yourself. The personal rewards and self-development come through the process of developing something much bigger than you.

How do you want Congress to look 10 years from now?
Whether it’s a new tool, paving stone, installation technique or way of conducting business, visitors want to walk away learning something they didn’t know when they first walked through the door. I would like to see Congress continue to develop into a premier industry education destination for Ontario. As the LIVE features get better each year, and the Show Committee finds new ways to get education into the hands of the visitors, it only benefits the industry as a whole and makes the Congress experience more rewarding. The addition of more education and social features, either in the current building or an expanded version of Congress, would be a great objective for the show.

As an exhibitor and volunteer how do you balance both hats?
Most of my volunteer time is in the planning and lead-up to the show. As a busy exhibitor at the show, the majority of my time is spent at our company’s booth during set-up and show days. I am always willing to lend a hand where needed, but the committee has done a great job of understanding and respecting my other responsibilities once Congress begins.

What is your favourite movie and why?
Dead Poets Society. It is not a film that is cool to admit to loving. It is uncynical, idealistic and hopeful. In other words, “comfort food.” I always thought the theme of enjoying your life to the fullest while you can, is a great way to live your own life by.
For more information about Congress, visit LOcongress.com.

LO members interested in participating on the Show Committee can contact Heather MacRae, Show Manager, at hmacrae@landscapeontario.com