Message from the President - A Unique Conference Season

This winter will be a unique conference season for the turfgrass industry.  With multiple associations producing their own events from November through February, delegates and exhibitors must choose carefully where to spend their education and marketing dollars.  We’ve fielded many questions as to why the two (most recently three) events will occur this year, so let me briefly summarize the history and impact.

The History
When the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association began its “Big Three” conference model, they would host a conference and trade show in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver in a three-year rotation. Each time partnering with the regional association, when they came to Vancouver, the WCTA and CGSA partnered and shared the responsibility of production.  Each province’s “turn” on the rotation, would concede its own event and promote the national (except Alberta where the event does not include a trade show).  With modest returns for each association, this partnership seemed to work well, and we believed it would continue.    

The Split
However, the CGSA having struggled to make ends meet, were forced into redefining themselves in 2015. Among the many operational changes, they would renew their focus on the golf superintendent.  This more deliberate vision would steer their conferences away from non-golf educational topics and distance associations like our own who support non-golf superintendent members.  Through this streamlining, the turfgrass/sportsturf/sod grower/ parks and recreation sectors became a lessor priority and those multi-track sector offerings more commonly provided at our WCTA show, could no longer be negotiated in the partnered conference model. So, while it was disappointing, we respect and support the CGSA membership, its Board, and support their direction  While this shift wasn’t entirely unexpected, we must commend their efforts and decisions behind getting their house in order. 

The Outcome
With a more encompassing view and diversified outlook for the membership in our association, the WCTA aspires to promote the benefits of turf and all its associated professionals.  With approximately 30% of our membership in the Athletic field, sportsturf, sod, parks and recreation sectors, and 41% in the golf sector, a golf only event could not meet the needs of our entire membership.

We pride ourselves on our salad bowl, celebrating that model which continues to connect all the sectors of our turfgrass industry.  We also have a great responsibility to our distributors and suppliers who deserve exposure to new faces of this diverse and growing membership.  With consistent growth since these partnerships began, our diversification is recognized as our greatest strength. While our first choice was to partner with the CGSA, we could never ignore the interests of other sectors with a “golf only” show, and decided that an affordable, regionally focused event to benefit all WCTA members was absolutely necessary. 

Goal setting or Growth setting?
Recently I heard Simon Sinek, a leadership speaker who propositioned goal setting as “an endless game”.  Reflecting upon his endless game perspective, I considered it alongside our Association's strategic planning efforts, and think I understood what he meant.

Staring blankly at the stage deep in thought, I asked myself, “How do we “compete”?  We try to predict the future, establish goals to guide us to the future, creating milestones to quantify we are progressing on the right path.

As a visual learner, I attempted to visualize the statement - and found myself in the middle of a foggy football field, all alone with the ball. In the context of strategic planning, I had no opposition - but no goal posts either.  How are we supposed to know when to run, or where to kick, if we don’t know which way we should be heading? Then Sinek’s “endless game” started making sense. 

The WCTA has been setting goals and milestones for many years. It has a vision for your investment, which is why we have focused on our industry’s long term growth - our growth, in all its sectors. Although the road is often foggy, the uprights are clear in the distance. That advantage helps us set those milestones, each time clearing another section of that foggy field to see our next obstacle.

To grow our field, we’ve got to stop competing, and visualize every day as the game - our goal is not to win, but to keep the game going. We must respect those other associations who are on the field with us, without them we’d never get the opportunity to play!