Writing My First Column and What TOCA Means to Me
By Russell Warner, TOCA Board President
I am not a writer. I have never produced a press release, a marketing piece, an article or a column. I realize that these skills come easily to a majority of the TOCA membership, but my background is in sales. I graduated with a Business Management degree from Kent State University and the extent of my writing experience consists of e-mails – sent to many of you – trying to sell something.
I have worked for GIE Media, Inc. as an account manager since July 2006 and have been a TOCA member a majority of that time. In my earlier membership years, the extent of my participation was waking up at the crack of dawn to attend the yearly TOCA breakfast during the Golf Industry Show. Then, in 2015, my buddy and co-worker, Chuck Bowen, was unable to continue his tenure as a board member. He suggested to the board that I would be a good replacement and… BOOM! I became a TOCA board member. (Not to worry, we have a much better vetting process for board members nowadays.)
I had never attended the TOCA Annual Meeting as a member, so my first experience at this event in 2016 was as a board member. Initially, I worried how I’d be able to contribute in my new role, but I was quickly welcomed and brought up to speed by the rest of the board. I volunteered to be part of the Membership Committee and became the chairman of that group in 2017. I helped in any way I could and quickly fell in love with the organization and the people involved.
Last year, I accepted the position of secretary-treasurer, knowing I would be third in line for the president’s seat. Once I heard the news that TOCA President Lacy Ravencraft and Vice President Marissa Palmieri left the industry. I thought to myself, “Does this make me the president of TOCA?” followed by, “Nah, someone would have called me.” Days later I received that call from Scott Hollister (who stepped back into the presidency until a replacement could be voted in) and he asked if I’d be interested in the new role. I told him it would be my honor to be nominated and I knew he would be a great resource for me if I needed guidance.
So, here I am, the new TOCA president. I have received more out of TOCA than I could have imagined at the time Chuck asked me to take his place on the board. I love the camaraderie… the ability to associate with those who share the same goals in making the green industry a well-educated one. I am honored to be the president and I will do everything I can to pick up where Scott left off and help lead the organization moving forward.
As many of you know, an important member of the TOCA family, Den Gardner, has retired from his role as executive director. Den’s commitment to TOCA is a big reason the organization has thrived over the years. I’m thrilled he’ll continue to contribute in a different capacity, with Kristy Mach taking over the executive director role.
Well, there it is; my first column in the books. How did I do?