Trade Associations – How do they help the Landscape Industry?

trade associations handshake

Harrowden Turf Ltd are members of three trade associations: the Turfgrass Growers Association, the Association of European Turfgrass Producers and BALI, the British Association for Landscape Industry.  But why? What’s in it for us?

Networking and Sharing Information

It’s that buzzword again “networking”.  What’s that all about?  Well, it’s not just a jolly boys’ beer club.  It’s about finding out who does what.  Where to go if we need a copywriter, a new website, a printer, better quality grass seed, really good tractors, staff etc.

trade associations go-karting

BALI East Anglia’s annual “Beast in the East” Go-Karting Event. BALI members from several different organisations compete in a go-karting challenge.

Being part of  trade associations is also about having an ear to the ground.  Who’s doing well? who’s up against a challenge?  Plus, knowing if a Company is over trading and need their terms reviewed.

Harrowden Turf staff enjoy their membership of trade associations

Chris Carr and Kevin Harden are both real advocates of BALI.  Chris has been National Chairman of BALI and Kevin is currently East Anglian Chairman.

“Being Chairman is great” says Kevin “but it can be challenging.  No-one can deny the benefits of meeting up every so often to swap stories but landscapers are such busy people that they often think they can’t spare the time.  Speaking as one who knows, they could benefit so much if they were to  make time.  I have learnt so much from BALI East Anglia meetings.  I’ve learned about other suppliers and what they offer; Also, I now have a much deeper understanding of how landscapers organise their work and why they need timely deliveries; I have learnt the different ways in which individual companies work and who their customers are. That means I can recommend them to others.”

“Most of all,” Kevin adds, “Being a member of  trade associations is an ice-breaker.  When I go to see a potential customer who happens to be a BALI member we instantly have something in common.  And the chances are we already know a bit about each other.  It makes doing business so much easier.”

Industry knowledge

For Harrowden Turf, the main reason for being a part of trade associations is the sharing of information.  For example, what are the latest machinery innovations in our industry?  How do other growers tackle challenges?  What doesn’t work?  How do we meet customers needs?

Some of these questions can indeed be answered by reading trade magazines.  And that’s what we do.  However, magazine articles are no substitute for real life experience.  That new mower for example? Has anyone actually used it and does it measure up to the manufacturers claims?

Raising Quality Standards

Quality is paramount in any industry.  Not just product quality, but service too.  For our landscapers, quality extends to workmanship.  Product + Quality + Workmanship = recommendations.

At a time when advertising is so abundant that it becomes ignored having word of mouth recommendation and testimonials is what sets a Company apart from its competitors.

By working together with industry partners, Harrowden Turf can constantly strive to improve the quality of our products.  And try to keep prices down.

Turf Quality

The Turfgrass Growers Association devised a standard for turf some years ago.  This is what Harrowden Turf use to benchmark the quality of our turf.  The standard talks about seedmixes, handling qualities and freshness.  It’s something that a specifier can rely upon.  It’s also something that rogue traders cannot offer.

By being a member of TGA,  Harrowden Turf can offer products grown to a measurable industry standard.  It really does help specifiers in their work.

Promoting the Industry

The landscape industry is really not very good at promoting itself.   Sadly, a proportion of high standard, high budget, high end gardens are kept private.  The public get occasional reminders of our industry when workings are whizzing about with mowers on road verges and open spaces.  We all recognise the smell of fresh cut grass, but do we remember how important the landscape industry is to our wellbeing?  I suppose landscapers are like cleaners.  Their work is taken for granted.  It’s not even noticed.

Associations like BALI and the SGD do what they can to bring good landscape design and maintenance to the forefront of people’s minds.  If nobody ever thought about landscaping, Harrowden Turf Ltd would struggle to sell any of the things we grow.

It takes big budgets to raise public awareness.  No one Company in the Landscape sector could afford to do that alone.  So we pool our money and ask BALI or TGA or SGD or whoever to spend it wisely in promoting our industry.  If more people joined in we could be even more effective.

Lobbying Parliament

We as a nation don’t necessarily think of landscaping as political.  In fact, the availability and the condition of our public open spaces make a huge contribution to National health and wellbeing.

Think school playing fields, parks in urban areas, the tourist trade.  Green spaces indirectly affect the economy.  Not just in terms of tourists visiting our green and pleasant land.  But in better mental and physical health and less demand on the NHS.

Big issues such as water management, hosepipe bans, town planning guidelines are all classed as political.  Without trade associations to put forward the landscape industry’s point of view our country might not look as good as it does.

Conflict Resolution

Oh yuk! Nobody likes an argument.  But they happen.  And sometimes they’re not easy to resolve.  BALI members and their customers can make use of BALI’s dispute resolution service.   I don’t think Harrowden have ever had to use it, not in their 20 years of BALI membership.  But It’s good to know there’s someone to help if needed.


Knowing that a supplier (or a customer) is a member of a trade association that “vets” their members is incredibly reassuring.  It’s a measure of integrity, of consistently high standards and respect for the customer.  That’s awesome.  Putting all the other benefits aside, it feels good to be a part of that.