TOCA Talk – Summer 2012



Top 6 Reasons TOCA 2012 Hit the Right Notes for Me

(Or, yep, TOCA delivers again.)

By McGavock H. Edwards APR?, Account Director?, IMRE
President, TOCA Board of Directors

Every year, I return home from the TOCA Annual Meeting exhausted and exhilarated. I’m tired from a couple of late nights. Weary from being “on” for three days straight. Yet, I consistently come home energized and excited once again about what I do for a living. This year didn’t disappoint. TOCA Nashville, for sure, “hit the right notes” for me. And here’s why…

1. Getting things done.

Board meetings can sometimes be dry and taxing when there’s a lot of talk and not a lot of action. But this board of directors is all about getting the work done. Execution of our strategic plan is in full swing with people collaborating across the country, adding conference calls to their busy schedules and making things happen. Votes “yes” and offers to lead initiatives is music to my ears.

2. Meeting new friends.

There’s no doubt you’ve heard our growth goals for TOCA and the plan seems to be working (though there’s still a lot to do). Volunteers to help, please. I was surprised this year by the amount of newbies on our list. From a 24-hour marathoner to someone brand new to the industry, a communications manager at a major manufacturer to a wacky guy who turned off email for months ­ the characters I met proved to be a reminder that TOCA’s biggest benefit is connecting to the smart, creative, amazing people we have in this industry.

3. Deepening relationships.

Meeting new TOCA members is always a joy, but one better is getting valuable time with people I’ve respected for years. At trade shows we wave in the aisles. At TOCA we share experiences, we learn together, we create lifelong friendships in the best of circumstances. It’s an organic experience that I hope we never lose.

4. Hearing from end users.

Okay, so why haven’t we done this more? Thanks to our professional development committee we had the opportunity to hear from people who are reading our publications, listening to our messages, and using our products. This session was exceptional and as president, I’m suggesting each year we find a way to spend time with our end users. Den, do we need a vote for that?

5. Time management tips.

My fav session of the conference (and I’m betting yours too) was the led by Nicholas. I LOVE a white PowerPoint slide with one or two words. It means the speaker is going to captivate you with his content and personality. And that he did. Not only did I pick up some great time management tips that I’ve shared with my team, I’ve also employed the use of some fun new apps and technologies. How’s Evernote working for you?

6. Learning from the best.

We don’t say it, but we know it ­ TOCA is small. It’s likely the smallest association you’re involved in. But, it’s powerful. Year after year, I easily make the “ask” to attend because I know the experience will be valuable. The speakers will inspire me to try something new, teach me to think differently, and ultimately make me better at my job. But this value doesn’t just come from communication experts like Ann Wylie and Nicholas Holland. Again and again it comes from our own industry leaders ­ Margaret Bell, Ron Hall, Joel Jackson, and Pat Jones (I could go on and on).

Thanks to all for another great TOCA Annual Meeting. I hope you too went home excited to take on new challenges based on the melodies and harmonies that rang through our time together.

We Hit All The Right Notes In Nashville
By Den Gardner, ?Executive Director

OK, the general consensus? The workshops were great. Blah, blah, blah. OK, so the food was terrific. Blah, blah, blah! The hotel service was splendid, the location convenient. Blah, blah, blah. The exciting plans for moving TOCA to the next level in membership, professional development and other leadership efforts is moving effectively and efficiently. Blah, blah, blah!

But what I want to know is this? On Thursday night at the banquet, while assisting Syngenta’s Margaret Bell with the distribution of the Gardner Awards, somebody stole –or in simple terms — ate my red velvet cake. Yikes, the red velvet cake caper! A reward has been set up to find out who had the unmitigated gall to eat my dessert while I toiled away assisting our award-winning writers, photographers, designers and such.

It’s a sad, sad, sad, sad world. Please let me know if you can help me solve the velvet cake caper.

OK, I feel better. The vent is over. Now, on with the re-cap of our 23rd annual meeting.

First, thanks to the work of the program committee — Lacy Ravencraft, Christina Schave and Chuck Bowen — we were inspired for parts of three days, the singers not withstanding on Thursday evening.

TOCA’s theme — Hit the Right Notes in Nashville — succinctly described the tone of the meeting. There was little that was out of tune in terms of our member needs, as noted by our attendees.

  • How about the end-user panel of lawn, landscape and design contractors? The challenges they face with hiring employees, pricing to value for their customers and the marketing challenges in today’s economic environment was enlightening and educational. Thanks to Lee Scheer, L.N. Scheer and Sons Landscape Management, Adam Linnemann, Linnemann Lawn Care & Landscaping and Rusty Skelley, Samara Farms, for appearing on our panel. Thanks to Chuck Bowen and Lacy Ravencraft for putting together the panel.
  • Ann Wylie of Wylie Communications returned to inform us about how to use online communications to better reach our various audiences. In today’s 24/7 hectic communications lifestyle, we learned how to deliver messages succinctly and with impact!
  • Nicholas Holland, vice president, CentreSource Interactive Agency, gave us a view of literally dozens of time management tools online that can make our jobs more efficient, easier and more manageable.
  • Jim Becker of EPIC Creative, along with colleague Jeff Litrenta, gave an overview of how to select and use video for commercial or media purposes as important marketing tools to get information to the public.
  • The Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art Tour? As one attendee aptly described the visit: “It was terrific. The horticulturalist really knew what we wanted to know. It was an unforgettable experience.”


Media Event for Grasshopper

To open the TOCA meeting on Tuesday evening was an invitation-only media/board of directors’ event hosted by The Grasshopper Company and TOCA member Ray Garvey. TOCA editors and board members were treated to a reception and dinner at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, where lead groundskeeper Hollis Malone recounted the refurbishing of the property following the devastating floods of May 2010.


Golf, Tour Wednesday Morning

Golfers braved the heat and humidity and enjoyed a wonderful round of golf at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links. The links-style course brought us all to our knees (well, maybe just my team — is there a prize for a double bogey on a scramble hole?). Through it all, the team of Jim Becker, Joel Jackson, Jason De Sarle and Kyle Rubeling came in first. Three teams tied for second, but the scorecard tiebreaker was won by the team of Kevin Stoltman, Chuck Bowen and Owen Towne.

Meanwhile, back at Cheekwood, about 15 TOCA members enjoyed the botanical garden and museum, followed by lunch at the Pineapple Room.


Other Wednesday Highlights

Wednesday’s program started with opening remarks from Board President McGavock Edwards and a review of the agenda/program for the two days.

TOCA then named Dr. Frank Rossi of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, as the 2012 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year. Rossi was the 14th recipient of this award, sponsored by Project EverGreen.

The opening night reception featured the naming of Margaret Bell of Syngenta as TOCA’s fourth Distinguished Service Award winner, joining Owen Towne, Bob Tracinski and me in that group. This was Margaret’s last TOCA meeting, as she retired immediately after the meeting. I hope it wasn’t something we said.

Seriously, Margaret’s 12 years on the board as vice president was just one example of her dedication to TOCA and Green Industry communications. She will be sorely missed.

Following the presentation, a “roast” was held, highlighting Margaret’s career with a series of brief speeches and gifts. What some might note as “unflattering photos” from 20 years ago also were part of the “roast.” But most of us have never seen an unflattering photo of Margaret. These would hardly have qualified.

“I love you all,” she said in accepting the accolades from the 60 or so TOCA members in attendance. “You all mean so much to me. I am completely overwhelmed by all this. Thank you for everything we have done for me over the years.”


Thursday Activities

A full day of terrific professional development followed on Thursday, thanks to Wylie, Holland and Becker.

The afternoon program on Thursday concluded with the business meeting and award presentations for our most recent scholarship winner.

Highlighting the business meeting agenda was an update on TOCA’s Strategic Plan.

In the midst of our 23rd year, TOCA plan is moving forward in a systematic manner through its four sections (with board members as the liaison noted):? Membership ­ led by Jason Schmaderer, ?Corporate Sponsorships ­ led by Tom Mentzer?, Professional Development ­ led by Debbie Clayton, and ?Communication and Branding ­ led by Cindy Code.

The major activity by the board this year was around membership. The following goals and tactics have been established for the next year:

  • The goal is 250 members by the end of 2015. We have 167 members now, meaning 80+ net members must join the organization in the next 3-1/2 years.
  • The board approved Dan Gardner to lead the membership drive, allocating $2,500 for one year to work with the membership committee (along with communication and branding) to create a sustainable plan to move the membership up to its goal of 250. Gardner will average about a day a week. He will begin about Aug. 1 for one year.
  • Efforts between May and August will be the creation of positioning and branding statements about TOCA, what it means to be a member and other information to be used internally and externally to promote the organization.

A second area of major discussion was the TOCA web site. It will be revamped this year, thanks to volunteer work offered by Associated Advertising and Brian Schoenthaler. Work will begin soon to update the web site. In addition, a Facebook page was created at the meeting by Jon Kiger of TurfNet and Laura Ory of Ewing. And our twitter account was very active during the meeting by many of our members.

Business meeting highlights included:

  1. Election and re-election of the board. They include: McGavock Edwards, re-elected board president; Jason Schmaderer, elected vice president; Lacy Ravencraft, re-elected secretary-treasurer; and Jared Bodnar, who remains past president. Those elected new directors are Jeff Cull, Dan Jacobs and Larry Aylward. Those re-elected to the board include Linda Frerichs, Linda Beattie, Scott Hollister, Chuck Bowen, Brian Schoenthaler, Debbie Clayton, Jason Schmaderer, Cindy Code, Felicia Gillham, John Reitman, Christina Schave, and Tom Mentzer.
  2. TOCA’s annual revenue for 2011 will be approximately $111,000, with expenses estimated at about $105,000. In addition, TOCA maintains a healthy investment portfolio of approximately $83,500.
  3. The 2013 meeting will be in Portland, OR, May 7-9, at the Embassy Suites Hotel downtown. TOCA celebrates 25 years in 2014. Our meeting planners are looking at several cities for that meeting: Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Philadelphia or Chicago.
  4. The TOCA writing, photography, design and new media contests had 406 entries, up from 318 entries last year. A record number of entries. The board is also looking at revising some of the categories for the future.
  5. The GCSAA Breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in 2013 will be in San Diego on Feb. 6.
  6. The Green Industry and Equipment Expo breakfast reception is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 26, 7:30 a.m., in Louisville. Bayer is the sponsor of this breakfast.
  7. The board agreed to continue its contribution to Project EverGreen, at the $2,500 level. This national alliance of end-user associations, companies and Green Industry suppliers educates and inform consumers about the benefits of well-maintained green spaces. TOCA publications and agencies donated $150,000 of space and pro bono services to Project EverGreen in 2011.
  8. TOCA moved to an online directory in 2011, thanks to sponsorship from Bobcat. The directory comes out in December of each year. It contains the association’s membership, Bylaws and constitution and other important information about the association. There will be some changes for 2013, with the directory being handled by Randall-Reilly and Jeff Cull through the company’s sponsorship.
  9. The 2012 Publishers’ Scholarship winner is Kari Weis of the University of Missouri. She will graduate in May 2014 with a degree in plant science and ag journalism. Her goal is to combine her plant science and journalism degrees with a job in the media someday.
  10. TOCA is continuing its mentoring program, being led by Debbie Clayton and Felicia Gillham. Thus far, these are the TOCA mentors: Larry Aylward, Dan Jacobs, Billy R. Sims, Steve Trusty, McGavock Edwards, Polly Moter, Jason Schmaderer and Den Gardner. Please contact the TOCA office if you want to become a mentor or want to be mentored by one of these seasoned communicators.


Syngenta Awards Banquet

To close out the 2012 meeting, the Syngenta Awards Banquet was another raucous affair, with excellent food and drink, surrounded by a slide show commemorating this year’s award winners. Thanks to the leadership of Christina Schave of Two Rivers Marketing and McGavock Edwards of IMRE Communications, a masterful job was accomplished on the awards program. Thanks to Barb in the office for publishing the annual meeting program.

The evening’s festivities ended with the annual sing-along, led by guitarist Gregg Wartgow. Thanks to Gregg for not only excellence in his acoustic guitar skills, but listening to a dozen TOCA members attempt to sing hit songs of the ’60s and ’70s ­ sometimes even in key.

So, the 2012 TOCA annual meeting is history. I want to especially thank Barb for her tireless preparation work prior to and during the meeting. I also want to thank my evil twin Dan for assisting with logistics.

TOCA thanks all of its sponsors for making the meeting possible. And remember, TOCA meetings always look to the future. While we enjoy the camaraderie, appreciate the personal networking time you can’t get done at other trade shows, and enhance your professional skills through our workshops and be recognized for your communications skills through our contests, TOCA will always be about our family of editorial and marketing professionals. A little dysfunctional, but isn’t every family?

Click here to see more TOCA 2012 Meeting, Nashville, TN Photos.


Dr. Frank Rossi named 2012 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

Dr. Frank Rossi, associate professor and extension turfgrass specialist at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, has been named the 2012 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year. The program is sponsored by Project EverGreen.

Dr. Rossi also is a contributor to TurfNetTV, providing regular video segments, writes the “Frankly Speaking” blog on He also is a regular speaker at major conferences on environmental issues throughout the year.

Dr. Rossi is the 14th recipient of this award, which selects a Green Industry communicator for “outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular audience within the turf and ornamental industry.”

“Dr. Rossi exemplifies the type of environmental communicator we recognize with this award,” said Den Gardner, TOCA executive director. “His writing, video work, ongoing research at Bethpage State Park golf courses and his speaking engagements at turf conferences across the country are a testament to his concern for stewardship of turfgrass and speak to his dedication to the industry and the environment.”

Rossi acknowledged the honor to be chosen as the TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year and join such an accomplished group of previous winners. “I have spent the last 22 years of my career committed to a singular purpose: preserving the environment,” he said. “All my presentations and hundreds of articles are designed to challenge, motivate and encourage change in management based on scientific research that will preserve and protect environmental quality.”

Previous winners, from year one to present, include:? Mark Welterlen, former Grounds Maintenance magazine publisher?; Bill Love, W.R. Love Golf Architecture; ?Tim Doppel, Atwood Lawncare, Inc.?; Doug Fender, former Executive Director, Turfgrass Producers International?; Allen James, RISE CEO; ?Rod Dodson, Audubon International?; Jeff Gullickson, Spokane Country Club?; Kevin Trotta, Grounds Manager, IPM Specialist, Cornwall, NY; ?Helen Stone, publisher, Southwest Trees & Turf magazine, ?Allied Golf Associations of Colorado; ?Drs. Larry Stowell and Wendy Gelernter, PACE Turf?; Christopher Gray, Precise Path Robotics (formerly Marvel Golf Club in Kentucky)?; Anthony Williams, director of grounds for Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, GA.

Dr. Rossi was honored at the 23nd annual TOCA meeting in Nashville, TN, May 2-4.


Weis Selected as 2012 TOCA Scholarship Winner

Kari Lynn Weis, a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the 2012 recipient of the TOCA Scholarship Program. The program is supported by GIE Media, Inc., Golf Course Management, Green Media, Moose River Media and Total Landscape Care.

Weis is majoring in Science and Agricultural Journalism and Plant Science. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2014. Although unable to attend the TOCA meeting to receive her scholarship in person, Weis sent the following message to TOCA members attending the meeting:

“To begin with I would like to apologize for not being able to attend the TOCA conference. Originally, I had made arrangements to be with you all, unfortunately there was a change in my academic schedule. As a junior student I am working on a dual major of science and agricultural journalism and plant science. This week wraps up yet another exciting semester at the University of Missouri.

At this time, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the generous financial scholarship sponsored by TOCA. It is truly appreciated and will be put towards furthering my education my senior year. Following graduation from Mizzou I am looking forward to grad school, and am currently investigating a variety of options.

I would again like to thank TOCA for this wonderful opportunity and I hope that you all have had a successful conference. Thank You.”

Marilyn Cummins, president of Cummins Consulting, had this to say about Weis: “She is a bright, hard-working young woman who has made and will make major contributions to the future of communications. I’m excited she has decided to pursue a dual major with the addition of plant science ­ so that she will have the education she needs to explore her deep passion for both media technology/communications and plant science/agronomy.”

Added University of Missouri Assistant Professor Sharon Wood-Turley: “She is mature, reliable and always ready to lend a helping hand. This scholarship will help move her further down the path to what I know will be a wonderful career.”

The selection is done by the Scholarship Committee of TOCA members — Cindy Code, Felicia Gillham and Steve Trusty. There were eight candidates this year.


Success Doesn’t Require Weekend Work This Year
By Polly Moter,?GIE+EXPO and HNA

Wow. No weekend work! That’s great news, but it might only apply to the new Wednesday-Friday format for GIE+EXPO (the Green Industry & Equipment Expo) and Hardscape North America in Louisville, October 24-26.


The Basics of the New Format

The indoor exhibits at the Ky. Exposition Center (KEC) will be open Wednesday, October 24, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. exclusively for dealers, distributors, retailers, media and exhibitors. Dealer education and technician certification classes will begin Wednesday morning.

Press conferences will be held Wednesday morning through Friday morning (our TOCA breakfast will be Friday, 7 a.m.) and will be open only to media and exhibitors’ invited guests. They will not be on the show floor this year.

On Thursday and Friday, October 25-26, the Outdoor Demo Area and the indoor exhibits will be open to everyone in the industry.

How It Impacts TOCA Members

The TOCA Annual New Member Breakfast. TOCA members and prospects will see no changes in its annual new member breakfast, sponsored by Bayer. The breakfast is all set for Room C105 at the KEC at 7 a.m., Friday, Oct. 26.

Agencies and Suppliers

GIE+EXPO is making it extremely attractive this year for suppliers to “Re-Think Dealer Meetings.” Schedule your annual product introductions at KEC during the days prior to the show and meeting space will be complimentary. Catering discounts will be available, PLUS show management has set aside some areas at KEC for controlled outdoor demos, reserved room blocks for your customers at quality hotels and created a “hosted buyer program,” which will allow exhibitors to register their customers directly. “Re-Think Dealer Meetings” and call Sellers Expositions for details — 800-558-8767.


ICPI will offer hardscape installer and technician training at the Hyatt Regency starting Tuesday. PLANET’s and PGMS’ education program will begin downtown on Wednesday and move to KEC on Thursday. I will send you instructions for obtaining your media credentials for the show. If you want to attend the education programs, please contact the appropriate associations.

What You Can Do Now

  • “Like” the GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America Facebook pages from your company page.
  • Plan your travel days to arrive prior to Wednesday and be home for the weekend.
  • Remember to banner ads with “See us at GIE+EXPO and HNA in October.”
  • Double check the show dates in your information that goes to dealers and commercial end-users.
  • Let me know you would be willing to send your readers/customers a link to a digitized attendee brochure.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Louisville in the fall. If you have any questions about how you can get the most out of this new format, feel free to contact me at or 502-562-1969.


North Coast Media launches as largest B2B publishing company headquartered in Cleveland

Six market-leading B2B media brands spin off from Questex Media Group

The launch of North Coast Media, LLC (NCM) — a spinoff of Questex Media Group’s Industrial & Specialty Group — creates the largest B2B publishing company headquartered in Cleveland, says the company. NCM comprises media brands Pit & Quarry, LP Gas, Pest Management Professional (PMP), Landscape Management (LM), Golfdom and GPS World — along with their websites, enewsletters, social media and ancillary brands such as Portable Plants & Equipment (PP&E), Geospatial Solutions, Athletic Turf News and Truman’s Scientific Guide.

NCM’s acquisition of the media properties includes a transition services agreement with Questex to ensure a seamless launch. The upstart will move one block, in June, to its new headquarters:?North Coast Media?IMG Center?1360 East 9th Street, 10th Floor?Cleveland, OH 44114

Subsequent announcements will detail NCM’s website launch and staff members’ new emails, and phone and fax numbers, as well as immediate investments in people and products. All editorial and sales team members and key support staff involved with each of the acquired media brands joined NCM. “Our team possesses hundreds of years of B2B media experience,” says NCM President & Owner Kevin Stoltman.

On Day One, NCM expanded its team of more than 30 B2B media professionals with the addition of four people; three more will join NCM by July 1. NCM pledges similar investments across all information platforms.

“North Coast Media’s brands, on average, have been serving their respective markets for 67 years,” Stoltman says. “Most of these media properties were around long before we were born. Our entire NCM team recognizes this and truly reveres our role as trustees of these industry treasures. We pledge to do our best to continually advance these B2B media gems, as well as each of the industries, readers and marketing partners we serve.”


About North Coast Media, LLC (NCM)

North Coast Media, LLC (NCM) is the largest B2B publishing company headquartered in Cleveland, it says. The company employs 35 professionals who collectively possess hundreds of years of experience creating and delivering unparalleled media – from industry-leading print magazines, to websites and enewsletters, to social media and mobile solutions, to exclusive industry research, custom products and one-on-one buyer-seller networking events. NCM’s flagship brands include LP Gas, Pit & Quarry, GPS World, Pest Management Professional (PMP), Landscape Management (LM) and Golfdom. Ancillary brands include Portable Plants & Equipment (PP&E), Geospatial Solutions, Athletic Turf News and Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations.


Two Scholarship Opportunities Offered

Two scholarship opportunities are available for communicators from the Society of Professional Journalists. The programs are available to outstanding journalists and writers.

The Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing awards $75,000 to an editorial writer to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. The cash award can be used to cover the cost of study, research and/or travel in any field. Read about last year’s Pulliam Fellow, Mark Woods, a columnist at the Florida Times-Union.

The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award is presented to honor a person or persons who have fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. An individual, group of individuals or organization will be awarded $10,000 cash and an engraved crystal to honor those committed to the same goals and as a tribute to the professional contributions Pulliam made to journalism. Read about last year’s honoree, the Associated Press staff.

For more information, including application requirements and information about these awards, click here.

Applications for both awards are due June 22. For questions, please contact SPJ Awards Coordinator Lauren Rochester at