The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) held its Green Industry Great Escape (formerly known as the Executive Forum) March 1–4, 2012, at the Atlantis Resort & Casino, Paradise Island, Bahamas.

The Green Industry Great Escape (GIGE) is an annual destination meeting for green industry professionals. Since, some of the best educational experiences take place in very informal settings, GIGE is focused on providing a better balance of informal education and fun, with more peer-to-peer discussions, networking opportunities, and enticing recreational activities.

In the opening session, titled “Who’s on Point,” Tom Oyler of the Wilson Oyler Group spoke about some of the problem areas for green industry companies and the industry as a whole: lack of clout with related industries such as finance and real estate industries; not effectively pooling resources, and focusing too much on what the competition is doing, to name a few. Educational opportunities throught out the week included a workshop facilitated by Kevin Kehoe of the Three Point Group, on the key areas of managing ones business; and one facilitated by Roger Phelps, Landscape Industry Certified, of Stihl Inc., Bruce Robert of Red Letter Corp., and Pat Schunk of PowerChord, Inc., titled “The Digital Frontier”, on how new media resources and trends are making up the new normal of marketing, advertising, and sales.

“I personally loved the networking and the ability to meet others with the same interests as me,” said Gerry Bower, president of TLC Total Lawn Care, LLC. “Listening to great speakers that challenge the way I think — pays for my trip.  The balance of networking and play was awesome. Sign me up for next year.”

In addition to the education and fun that took place at The Atlantis, PLANET member John Gibson, Landscape Industry Certified, received PLANET’s Lifetime Leadership Award at the Lawn & Landscape Leadership Awards reception and dinner. PLANET’s Lifetime Leadership Award is presented annually to a member of the association who has demonstrated leadership, service, and commitment to both PLANET and the green industry. It honors individuals who have improved the green industry and inspired others throughout their careers with their pioneering spirit and demonstrated inventiveness. Gibson was praised for his contributions to the association and the green industry.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized with the Lifetime Leadership Award by the PLANET board of directors,” he said. “As my Grandma Betty has always told me, ‘success in life is not a destination, it’s a journey. Today, I truly appreciate the people in my life that have been and will be part of my lifelong journey.”

The lineup of speakers and educational workshops at this year’s Green Industry Great Escape was made possible by the generous support of sponsors that included Caterpillar Inc., at the Platinum level, Bayer at the Gold level, and John Deere at the Silver level.