Why We’re Essential During COVID

by Bruce Dennis, President, Lightcraft Outdoor Environments

The COVID-19 pandemic presented profound challenges to the building trade industry in relation to shelter in place orders. This had a tremendous impact on the landscape and other trade service sectors, effectively grounding the industry for landscape contractors and other trades where they could not work or could work only under emergency circumstances.

This article is to acknowledge the herculean effort put forth by the California Landscape Contractors Association. As a member of CLCA’s Los Angeles/San Gabriel chapter, I am especially thankful that I am part of a group that supported my industry.

“Bottom line: CLCA was essential in helping us continue to work as the country began shutting down in March. With a record number of COVID-19 cases being reported, it raises more questions and doubts about our future. It is clear, now more than ever, that being a member of CLCA can be crucial to our success.”

In early March of 2020, the CLCA worked with Governor Newsom and his team to demonstrate the necessity of designating the landscape and related building trades “essential” to our economy. The impact was not only felt in the landscape industry, but also throughout the general building and construction services. Due to the CLCA, many trades people in our industry were deemed “essential workers” and because of this, our teams have benefited in ways we could not imagine. The “round the clock” effort to mobilize lobbying efforts led the way for other states and countries (i.e. Canada) to also benefit from the many changes coming out of California.

Overview: How This Happened

The CLCA’s advocacy team featuring their legal counsel, legislative advocate and executive director argued that the landscape industry is critical to our infrastructure. Putting the industry together with Agriculture, Vegetation, Water and Waste Water Management, Crops, Fruit Trees, Edible Gardens, Service and Maintenance, as well as the housing crisis and food chain supply issues; were persuasive enough to convince the Governor to allow this mandate to come to fruition so quickly.

Going Forward: How to Manage the New Normal

As we continue to move forward, COVID appears to be staying around for a while. We are continuing to learn how to manage the new normal.

More than ever, communication will be extremely critical in managing changes to our businesses, health, and customer and vendor relationships. All of these things will determine our future success. Use your CLCA benefits like: legal assistance, HR help, insurance specialties, as well as networking with our peers. I urge you to participate. For my company, the cost benefit analysis of membership was obvious.

Who We Are

In 1952, the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) was initially formed to protect the scope of work allowed under the C-27 license. Since then, it has expanded to include: Education and Certification, Business Insurance, Legal Assistance, Human Resources, Legislative and Political Action, Water Management, Peer Group Collaboration and Networking. In addition, the CLCA works closely with other national groups such as the Nursery and Landscape Association Executives (NLAE) which is included in a national platform.

Our members are as diverse as the landscape industry. They include landscape contractors, vendors to the trade, educators, government personnel, consultants, landscape architects, landscape designers, teachers and students.

This network was critical in March of 2020 when the pandemic hit close to home. During these unprecedented times, the CLCA not only protected our members, but also provided guidance to other construction and home improvement businesses, which gave them the opportunity to continue their operations. After a few months, it was clear that shelter in place orders began an unforeseen remodeling, repair and construction boom.

The landscape and construction industry will be one of the many factors that help bring back the economy in a post-COVID world. Sometimes, “In the midst of every crisis, lies a great opportunity” (Albert Einstein).