Step outside your comfort zone and feel the support Email
Written by Mike Ransom   
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 02:00 AM

“OK, I can do this. I can do this.”  I was sitting in a hallway outside of one of the lecture halls at the [Colorado] Convention Center trying to calm myself down. Kristen Fefes (former executive director of ALCC) had asked if I would work with Martin Mosko (Marpa Design Studio) to talk about water features at ProGreen. I was to handle the technical side while Martin showed the beauty and art of water features. When I showed up at ProGreen that morning I learned Martin had woken up sick. I peeked into the lecture hall and figured about 300 people were already waiting.

“How did I get here?” I thought. I had met Diane Matt (executive director of ALCC prior to Kristen) while I was at CSU. I was invited to be on a couple committees that worked to connect students with the industry. Later, Kristen said hey, “We could use your help with….” I had never done these things. I had no training. I just wanted to be involved. I took the first step and said, “Hi, I’m Mike and…”

Of course there were audio difficulties and other hurdles, but the ProGreen water feature presentation ended up working out pretty well. Next thing I knew I was sitting in the ProGreen boardroom.

I am fortunate to have the success in our industry that I have. Setting goals and figuring out a path to achieve them has worked well for me. I have learned more from my failures than the victories; I think they come as a package deal.

None of that would be possible though, if it weren’t for the people who came before me. Turns out that if you have a question, need some help, generally want to learn – you are part of a great industry and all you have to do is ask! People are the secret sauce to our industry. All of our skill and technical knowledge doesn’t get the job done at the end of the day, people do. I am fortunate to have many good mentors and friends who want to make us all better: Eldon Dyk, Rich Wilbert, Tom Trench, “Chuy” from CoCal, Kristen Fefes and many others. I met Eldon over 20 years ago and we still work together today. Many of these folks helped define shape our industry years ago when NALP was ALCA.

Green industry friends are awesome because you start with a lot in common and learn a bunch more as you get to know each other. We check in on each other to make sure we are doing OK and can ask for help with a challenging client, employee or just call to celebrate that we won the bid.

Without our vendors and suppliers where would we be? I don’t mean getting a good deal on equipment purchases or purchasing premium quality plant materials. I mean, people you can call when you are stuck, the things you hate to ask for but need to get it done. There are endless stories of suppliers saving the day: delivering equipment after hours; finding materials in a different store; materials magically appearing on the job site; overnight shipping for that crucial irrigation part. Yes, its smart business, but they do it because you have worked together, you’ve had lunch or beers together and know about what they do outside of work, and you need help.

I personally know of competing snow service companies that have helped each other at 2 a.m. during a storm. Stuck? We pulled you out. Battery dead? They gave us a jump-start. Many industries would just bury the other in snow and not look back to help. I am proud of who we are and what we can accomplish together.

Whether you want to be part of ALCC and volunteer or work toward board service or make the most out of events like ProGreen, the summer picnic, golf tournament or go to a few Chapter meetings and events—be bold. Take that first step, to go introduce yourself, listen, learn and have fun with the people in and out of your circle. You will be surprised how far that one step will take you.

Mike Ransom is operations director of pre-construction services at Lifescape Colorado. He received his degree in landscape design and construction at CSU and is a past president of the ALCC board of directors.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Front Range students ready for landscape jobs
Suppliers offer more than just products
Support and collaboration make the industry stronger