By Jacki Hart CLP Prosperity Partners program manager

It can be frustrating at times living in the shadow of the American Dream. To be blunt, in this instance, whenever major economic changes are afoot south of the border, we are engulfed by the same cloud. On the other hand, it is at a time of great change, like now, that can also be a blessing.

If you listened to Barack Obama’s inaugural speech, you may have noticed that he is aligned with the strong leadership initiatives that we share here at home, especially in the Prosperity Partnership program. While President Obama is busy mending the fabric of American society – interweaving the threads of co-operation, support and common benefit into everyday lives, so are we.

In his speech, President Obama talked about the shift that is taking place and the transfer of power from the old generation to the new generation. He is right. As we near 2012, and the Mayan calendar predictions for polarity alignment, and readiness for change, we are riding an ever steeper curve of change. Relevant to the past several thousand, even hundred years, change in the next five to ten years will be at lightning speed. It will include ideologies, methodologies, balances of power and influence, infrastructure, attitudes, preferences and opinions. We are all in an incredible era – and we are in it TOGETHER as Prosperity Partners. According to Obama: “The nation cannot prosper when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity. On the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart……not out of charity but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

The Prosperity Partnership program was founded on these principles. And we are walking our talk. This month’s feature is on owner Mark Fisher. The Escarpment Company was founded in 2006 by Mark Fisher. Along with his brother Todd, he operated a lawn maintenance and pruning company for six years. Mark then spent several years as an account manager in corporate sales and marketing roles in Toronto. He has attended 20 professional development courses at Landscape Ontario and plans to begin his CLP studies this fall. He has taken both Prosperity Partnership seminars, and isn’t at all nervous about this year in his business.

Services offered: landscape design build and organic lawn care in Milton and surrounding area. The company has eight employees at peak season.

Q. What is your company vision ultimately creating?

A. Last year, after taking the first Prosperity Partnership, we incorporated the five pillars into our mission statement and company vision: “To lead conservation through green landscaping and to provide high quality and highly detailed work. The team has a common goal working with regular and new customers who notice the details and can appreciate the value in what is being created. The Escarpment Company must be financially responsible to remain profitable in order to provide sustainability. Ecologically friendly products are selected that aid in the balance, restoration and conservation of Milton's Niagara Escarpment and the surrounding area."

Q. What are the core values that are non-negotiable in your everyday business dealings? Customer service, professionalism, respect, communication, quality, being our best and hard work. What keeps you awake at night most often?

A. Competing against companies that don’t follow proper business practices. Often companies engage in destructive business practices, unbeknownst to them. They are simply doing things the way they have always been done, because that is how they were taught. Times have changed and business has changed with it. In order to stay ahead of the curve (or above water for that matter), it is better for everybody, if able to make the commitment, to really step back, take a look at your business and raise the level of your business with direction through Prosperity Partnerships. What stuck with you the most from the Prosperity Partners introductory seminar?

There are five pillars that we can use to help navigate our way through our businesses’ growth and development. There are common factors (Best Practices) that the most successful landscape companies in Ontario have implemented across the five pillars. This allows for profitable and sustainable growth, which ultimately benefits your company, clients and the horticultural community.

Q. How have you been able to apply what you learned to improve your business?

A. The most valuable lesson that I learned was the idea of stages of a business. Understanding that businesses are dynamic and that the amount of time that is devoted to each of the five pillars is related to where the company is in the business cycle. For example, a start-up will have an owner/operator performing many hands-on roles, while a company that is in a profitable growth stage will have the owner focusing on strategic initiatives of the business rather than performing daily tasks in the business. This has helped me manage my time better and become more efficient and productive by focusing on what is most important for our business, as we grow and develop. Prosperity Partnership helps us focus on the areas that we need to develop and more importantly provides a proven road map with Best Practices and resources to help us achieve our goals. Prosperity Partnerships allow The Escarpment Company to get a clear view of where we are in relation to the five pillars. It has helped us prioritize our goals and served as a roadmap for our business development. Our success as a company is greatly attributed to the direction of Landscape Ontario’s professional development program. I found that the Prosperity Partnership program helps identify areas of development that will benefit your company and then provides the courses to achieve those goals.

Q. What are your next steps to improve your business, and did the program help you to clarify what they are?

A. I will put together process maps for our operations and determine where there are areas to reduce waste, and create a strategic plan and job descriptions for members of team I will continue to quote realistically, using quality materials and skilled employees to provide a benchmark for detail and customer service in the industry.

After taking the Best Practices workshop, I am just now beginning to recognize that my strength is in sales and marketing, as well as my corporate background. The Prosperity Partners seminar taught me how to leverage my background training in this prosperity pillar, as my first priority this winter was to help develop my business. It is going really well……..

To find out about the next Prosperity Partners seminars near you, go to, or e-mail Jacki at