Focal Point exhibits at the GIE+EXPO every year, and every year as I stand in our booth and watch the crowd, it's impossible to not notice that this is a male-dominated industry. I don't know any official statistics, but it seems like there are at least 5-6 times more men than women, at least at trade shows and conventions like this GIE.

This year, though, I really took notice of how many awesome women are involved in this industry in one capacity or another. In a 24-hour period, I had great conversations with Kelly Dowell and Clare Munie, two bright and energetic women who are involved as the second generation in their families' landscaping businesses in the St. Louis area. I spoke to Chris Conrad from Mean Green Mowers and learned more about electric mowers and the future of sound and emissions restrictions in 5 minutes than I knew up to last week. And in one evening I got to visit with three incredible women on the NALP staff; Cheryl Claborn, who manages to make everyone feel like family, Shaine Anderson, who manages events for the association and somehow makes juggling balls of burning napalm seem easy, and Sabeena Hickman, the CEO of NALP, who was perfectly willing to chat with me, even though an event like the GIE must make her feel like Don Corleone in the first Godfather movie, unable to really enjoy his daughter's wedding because he can't turn down any request, suggestion or complaint. Each of these women, and all those I haven't met, make our industry better for all of us.

And it occurs to me: for every new female face I see at a trade show or conference, I am sure there are many, many more, working every day in landscape operations, calmly getting things done and keeping things running smoothly. If you're a woman in this industry and you're reading this - you're awesome, and I'm glad you are doing what you do. If you're a guy, maybe an owner or a manager, I bet that somewhere in your organization there's an amazing woman doing a lot of big and small things to support your operation, every day. I encourage you to be grateful for them. Recognize that, especially if you have any female staff that support you from an admin standpoint, saving you from a lot of mundane but incredibly important little tasks..recognize that those women are important to your company and realize that, you know, they could probably work somewhere else. They could go work in an orthodontist's office, where the customers are nice and their coworkers aren't smelly, dirty guys. Where the boss has something like a predictable set of office hours, and he doesn't buy new $50,000 pieces of equipment without consulting the balance sheet. Places where there aren't boats taking up parking spots, and the paperwork isn't covered in mulch juice. I'm not telling you to change those things, but I am urging you to recognize what these ladies do for your company and show them some gratitude. At a breakfast round table last week, one of the attendees was telling us how in his business, they try to show simple recognition for things that their employees do to help the company, and this is the same thing. Just say thanks, and let them know you appreciate what they do. If you aren't good at thinking of what to say, use this:
"Hey, Karen - thanks for everything you do around here. I know it can be a crazy business and you probably don't get recognized for all the things you do to keep us running smoothly. So I just wanted to say I appreciate it. We couldn't do it without you."
Go ahead, give it a try. It will take you 2 minutes.