ILCA Women’s Networking Group

Yard Crashers: Crashes Gender Worries
July 16, 2010, 11:02 pm
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By: Kathy Wicks
Have you ever seen an episode of Yard Crashers on the DYI Network? If you haven’t, here is a quick run down: The host, Ahmed Hassan, stakes out a home improvement store located anywhere throughout the United States. He finds an unsuspecting homeowner who is trying to improve their back yard. Ahmed follows the person to their home, checks out the backyard and asks the homeowner what they would like to have in their yard. Through the magic of TV the designer and crew show up and poof…. 2 days later the backyard is magically transformed into a paradise worthy of the rich and famous!
Buy The Yard, Inc. was recently given the opportunity to supply gravel, garden soil, mulch and sod to a Yard Crashers’ project in Chicago designed by Michael and Lori Anthony of 1 Design Group. I arrived early at the site on Monday morning. In front of the house there were many contractors from different trades talking to each other and waiting for the “shoot” to begin. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to get out of my truck because I was the only female on site at the time. A few minutes later, I had introduced myself and our company to a fence contractor, an artist, a plumber and an electrician. More women soon arrived and the entire crowd was excited to jump into this project. The women represented areas of design, management, television and landscape specialists.
As the two days of organized chaos unfolded, it soon became clear that gender was not an issue for anyone who was participating in this “crash”. The playing field was equal as we all worked hard to complete the homeowner’s backyard oasis. A cohesive team spirit joined us all together with a vision to make the project a success for the homeowners. As the second day concluded well into late evening hours, the TV crew finished filming and the celebration started! I had a conversation with tile mosaic artist Billy Michaelis from Texas. He commented on his observation that women from Chicago are very confident and secure in who they are. He was so impressed to see women in this industry working as respected equals. We know that women are the minority in the Green Industry. I walked into the task, a bit worried about gender, but I walked away from the entire experience physically exhausted, but emotionally charged and proud to be a woman!

Ahmed Hassan, host of Yard Crashers and Kathy Wicks


January 27, 2010, 1:51 am
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By: Kathy Wicks

The following entry has been “declassified” to enable others a chance to view an industry agent’s assignment into the world known only to a select group:

Listen to Mission Impossible Theme Song


Attend MID-AM on January 20, 2010 @ McCormick Place West


Visit  current vendors and thank them profusely for their tireless work

Look at new products and ideas

Attend  educational events

Support the ILCA, colleagues and the  green industry

Network with new people and connect with established relationships

Get a pulse on the state of our industry

Howl at the Moon


DEBRIEF: See statement below

This mission can be summed up with the following words:

Energizing, vital, refreshing, thoughtful, meaningful, fun, hilarious, insightful, irreplaceable, necessary, WOW, humbling, hopeful, educational, musical, professional, supportive, perspective, worthy, relational, memorable and ENCOURAGING!

December 2, 2009, 5:29 pm
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By Kathy Wicks


  • the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common       sense and insight
  • accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment


  • done by or characteristic of individuals acting together

Last night I had the pleasure of attending an intimate networking gathering of green industry second generation daughters and their first generation fathers. This is the second annual “Daddy/Daughter” event of this nature for the group of women who typically meet four times per year.  Christa Orum-Keller had recently invited my sister/co owner, Laura and I to be a part of this group.  Being a “second generation” woman business owner has its challenges, just like any other business owner faces.  Yet, there are strong bonds that link us as owners to our predecessors; i.e. our fathers (and mothers). It was comforting to be surrounded by a group that not only can share triumphs and challenges of the industry, but to be surrounded by the collective wisdom of the fathers who had built the businesses.  Fathers have a genuine love of their daughters and a drive for being successful business men.  That combination transforms generations. The fathers were inspirational as they spoke to us about being able to dig deep, stand tall, make it through this tough time in our industry and economy.  Strive to look for the possibilities and opportunities and grow from these challenges.  I walked away feeling blessed to be able to listen to the collective wisdom of the fathers involved. I hope that one day; I too will have collective wisdom to share with the next generation!


ILCA :Membership Does Have It’s Privileges….
October 27, 2009, 6:38 pm
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By: Kathy Wicks

Christa had the opportunity to  predict the benefits of the  ICLA 5oth anniversary party in her October 23rd blog.   I have the pleasure of blogging my thoughts post party.  Christa, you hit the nail right on the head, as the saying goes! Attending the event was an impressive history lesson. Watching the photos on the screen as music of the  past 5 decades played brought us all back in time. The past president’s speeches were a true testament to the dedication and committment that each person brought to ILCA as they served their term.  Although each past president had a unique story to tell, there was one underlying theme throughout; FRIENDSHIP. As the speeches ended and all of the members spilled into the adjoining room for delicious food and drinks, this theme of FRIENDSHIP remained at the forefront.  At every table, each corner and at every side of the bar I observed ILCA members enjoying each other.  The room radiated a sense of comfort and warmth.  Old friends and new acquaintances mingled together with laughter and an ease of just being together.  Sharing our triumphs and challenges while genuinely feeling heard and respected.   No one can predict what the future holds within the next 50 years for the members of ILCA.  However, I feel confident in sharing one prediction:  ILCA members will always have a place to feel a sense of belonging,  and friendship.  MEMBERSHIP DOES HAVE IT’S PRIVILEGES!

I also wanted to take a minute to give thanks and gratitude to Scott, Michelle,Denise and all the staff at ICLA for planning and executing a fabulous evening!

Mastering The Art of?
September 22, 2009, 2:18 pm
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By: Kathy Wicks

I recently went to the movies with my Mom to see Julie and Julia. If you are not familiar with this film, I will give you a quick summary. The movie is based on the true story of Julie who is bored and frustrated with her job because it is emotionally draining and not her passion. Julie loves to write as well as cook gourmet in her spare time. With the encouragement of her husband, Julie begins a blog about cooking one recipe a day from the famous cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. While the movie follows Julie’s challenges, it also chronicles the biography of Julia Child. In the end, each woman eventually finds her ‘recipe” for success. I was genuinely moved by both stories.

Two themes from the film stand out for me, personally.
1. Do what you love and work won’t feel like work.
2. Have a support person who can cheer you on.

I feel extremely blessed that I can identify with both of these themes in my professional life. I truly enjoy the challenges that owning a business bring, even in this uncertain economy. At this point, if I didn’t love it, I’d be doomed! My support system is top notch. My sister and co-owner, Laura is in the trenches with me every day. We can rely on each other for every business matter. Her sound advice and common sense help me daily. My husband and parents also keep me grounded and steady. I found this quote from Julia Child that keeps me inspired. What will you conquer next? What will you be the Master of?

“The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile. I think of my strawberry soufflé. I did that at least twenty-eight times before I finally conquered it.”
– Julia Child |

August 5, 2009, 7:31 pm
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By: Kathy Wicks

It is what it is. These five simple words have become my mantra lately. This phrase seems to apply to almost any situation (professional or personal) and instantly removes my stress. A cliché that reminds me it is ok to move on, go forward with no need to get stuck in why. For example, this blog had a deadline of last week. Due to unusual circumstances I did not accomplish this task. In the past, I would have completely stressed out about my inability to complete my work. Instead, I said” It is what it is”. I made a plan for how and when I was going to complete the blog.
As it turns out, the popularity of this phrase goes back a few years. USA TODAY awarded the phrase as “Sports Quote of 2004”. Many professional coaches use this phrase with their athletes after a loss as a way for them to compartmentalize what happened, and look to the future. A well known psychologist, Don Powell, sports fan and author of Best Sports Clichés Ever! believes this particular cliché can take a stressful situation and give it instant comfort with a positive affect.
If the business world began using this phrase what might happen? Try saying “It is What It Is” when a vendor increases a price, an employee calls in sick, a truck breaks down
or a client changes an order. Immediately your mind will turn to a mode of problem solving and what can be done to remediate the issue instead of wallowing in why. See if you can use this catchy cliché in your office! What type of culture would that create in your company?

July 2, 2009, 6:56 pm
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By: Kathy Wicks
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Traditionally this has been my favorite holiday. Warm weather, late night sky show, family and food.  I have many  memories of this colorful celebration.  During my childhood every 4th of July my parents, my sister (Laura) and I put our bikes in the back of my Dad’s landscaping truck and drove from our home in Des Plaines to downtown Chicago.  Laura and I would actually be able to sit in the bed of the truck along with the bikes as we drove downtown! We would ride our bikes along the lake front to find a prime spot among thousands of spectators and watch the skyline light up with fireworks. Another great memory includes when my husband and I got engaged on the 4th of July during the fireworks at the Taste of Chicago! More recently since we’ve had our children, the holiday has revolved around getting together with my sister and her family and our parents. We BBQ at my parents house and then watch the fireworks at our local high school .  On the 4th of July we celebrate our country’s INDEPENDENCE. Ironically, my memories of this holiday are weaved with my INTERDEPENDENCE on my family. Our family’s bonds are strong. We depend on each other for love, support, guidance, laughter and to be there for each other through thick and thin. My sister, Laura and I are the second generation owners of Buy The Yard, Inc. We are business women who pride ourselves on our ability to run our company successfully. We learned from our parents who worked in the green industry for many years. They instilled many values such as a tough work ethic, service, communication and determination. Now the tables have turned and our children are willing and able to work with us over the summer. They are learning about business and so much more. There is a feeling of pride and joy as we watch our kids grow in responsibility and gain confidence. Instilling the values our parents gave to us. During this holiday weekend, I will count my many blessings of interdependence as well as our country’s independence! ENJOY!!