The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and PLANET met in December for two and a half days in Baltimore to examine the potential for a merger of the two groups.
Bill Hildebolt, PLANET president, said the merger has been in the works since 2004, when the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) and the Professional Lawn Care Association of America (PLCAA) merged, and continued through informal discussions between the two groups. Talks intensified about a year ago, and have been “serious” since then, he said.
“It just makes a lot of sense if we want to be a pro voice of the green industry that bringing these two top green industry association into one makes sense,” Hildebolt said, adding that a unified association would give members more leverage politically.
TCIA has membership of 2,000 commercial tree care firms; PLANET’s membership is 3,500 landscaping companies.
In the past few years, PLANET has seen other merger activity. In 2006, the GIE and EXPO shows merged to form the annual GIE+EXPO. And the association was in merger talks a few years ago with the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA), but the partnership was voted down by PLANET’s board. Hildebolt said PLANET isn’t currently in merger discussions with any other industry associations.
“We have a historic opportunity to create a future that will redefine the green industry. Our industry sectors are more connected with each other and our customers than ever before. Together, we can lead the way for communities and consumers to protect the health and safety of our environment as the voice of the green industry,” said Terrill Collier, chair of the TCIA board, in a statement. “A unified organization can invest in technology and infrastructure that will allow the continued development of programs that benefit members as they seek to run even more successful companies.”
The proposed merger has not been finalized, Hildebolt said, adding that there is no set timeline. “It’s a process that’s going to happen over the years. It has to gestate,” he said. “This is a big deal, this is a big undertaking. This is going to be even larger (than when ALCA and PLCAA merged). … What you come up with is going to endure for years and years out.”