The Landscape Industries Association of WA (LIAWA) is forty-three years old and from its humble beginnings back in 1978, with a member base of just a handful of local contractors, it has seen the highs and lows, in its turbulent journey to say the least, but is now on the rise after being resurrected to becoming a successful association that represents landscapers along with being recognised by government in Western Australia.
A few years earlier in 2018, LIAWA was struggling with low member numbers and small executive however with a final last-ditch attempt to save LIAWA, the then President, Jenny Revell met with Matthew Lunn, who at the time was overseeing the Nursery and Garden Industry of WA, as their CEO, for his thoughts on how to resurrect LIAWA.
Matthew was quite clear that LIAWA was a sleeping giant and that it had never reached its full potential. With strong mining, housing and a raft of government infrastructure programs popping up across the state, there was a vast amount of work and money floating around the WA economy, which in turn the landscape industry could gain benefit from.
By October 2018, Matthew agreed to join LIAWA in a part-time capacity as their new Executive Officer and immediately set about rebuilding and recruiting the admin, marketing, and financial support staff as well as new committee members to be part of the new look team.
“I knew from the outset this was going to be a tough road ahead but if we could keep ourselves intact by the new financial year, we would then have some new revenue coming in to kick start rebuilding LIAWA,” said Matthew. “With the association having little money in the bank and a disengaged membership meant the focus immediately had to be on membership and raising revenue quickly so that impactful changes could be made,” commented Matthew.
Some three years on LIAWA is not just surviving, but thriving, with membership rapidly growing and a list of sponsors who are supporting the new look LIAWA.
Matthew explained, “It’s been a remarkable turnaround and with the association now making a yearly profit, we are able to plough these funds back into the organisation and its members,
so that the organisation can grow.
“Our vision is now to finalise a threeyear strategic plan that will encompass creating a self-regulating program known as the Master Landscapers program. This program will then aide our long-term goal to gain government recognition in an industry, that still continues to get bad press over poorly constructed landscapes by a handful of inexperienced operators.”
LIAWA delivers a range of member benefits, and it has been the delivery of these that has got LIAWA back on its feet and has the industry talking.
“Our first job was to rebuild our web page and make this available to the public so that they could find a professional. For our members, we created a hub of information including the launch of the Rates Book along with four industry nights a year including guest speakers from key notable businesses adding a strong return of investment for a member and their staff. Trade nights support our key trade suppliers and sponsors. A show garden at the Perth Garden Festival created public awareness. Finally, an annual contractor’s forum provides vital support to our commercial group,” explained Matthew.
More recently LIAWA has launched its own podcast, ‘The Green Thumbs Up’, to build its profile with the public and other landscapers not yet involved in LIAWA.
Matthew continued, “It’s been a great project and my hat goes off to our Board members who have driven this. We are already seeing some traction with the public along with those who had never heard of LIAWA before from within the industry. Through this, our aim is to galvanise our industry, make it far more appealing as a career and assist new landscapers in understanding what it takes to ‘make it’ as a business and importantly why the public should choose a LIAWA member.”
At this year’s LIAWA Awards of Excellence, the hard groundwork Matthew, and his now well-established board of ten, showed how far they have come in such a very short period of time.
Despite Covid-19 event restrictions, in March, the association was able to honour and acknowledge their members for their outstanding work and contribution to the industry in front of guests, sponsors and members at the Fremantle Maritime Museum. The highlight of the night was the announcement of the ‘Landscape of The Year’, which was won by Julian Rose from Deep Green Landscaping acknowledging their inspiring work at the Westfield Carousel in Perth.
Thankfully, LIAWA is here to stay and there is no doubt that as it continues to grow and provide value to its members, it will achieve its ultimate goal of government recognition and becoming the true peak body that represents landscapers in Western Australia.