ABC Leadership Development Program 2017 Graduates

We stand by our recruiting motto that when we hire, we want to hire for life. This means that we want to provide people with not just a job, but the opportunity to develop a career with Ruppert through ongoing training, professional development, and advancement opportunities. To that end, we encourage our team members to work to continuously improve through learning and skills building. One example of that learning is in the area of certifications like the Certified Landscape Technician (CLT) and Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH) and taking part in programs like the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Metro Washington’s Leadership Development Program (LDP). This year, we had two Ruppert team members graduate from ABC’s LDP: Adam Bennett, branch manager in our Georgia landscape construction branch, and Kelly McGuire, business developer in our Virginia landscape construction branch. They join several other Ruppert graduates from past years including Shane Carmadella, Mike Felts, Jim Tuzzolino, Sean Davitt, Charlotte McGehee and April Rose.

The 17 students from the 2016-2017 cycle of ABC’s Leadership Development Program were presented with their certificate of program completion in a graduation ceremony held on June 7th.

ABC’s Leadership Development Program was first offered in 2008 for ABC members who were looking to further their leadership skills and professional development, learn more about and become more involved with ABC, and demonstrate their desire and ability to serve as future industry leaders. Students undergo a rigorous application and interview process to be accepted into the 16-month program and from there are expected to participate in monthly class sessions, as well as elective activities through the chapter to earn credits towards graduation. Class meetings cover topics such as leadership styles, team building, negotiation skills, legislative issues, public speaking and research presentation. And while learning about those topics, students are also expected to participate in elective activities such as attending the chapter’s monthly meetings, joining committees and assisting with the chapter’s legislative activities. Students earn credits to graduate at three different levels: silver, gold and platinum. Platinum level graduates are awarded a tuition scholarship to attend Grinnell Leadership’s “Leadership Jumpstart®” Program in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

On May 19th, LDP students visited the Ruppert Landscape headquarters in Laytonsville, MD for a campus tour and discussion on entrepreneurship. Craig Ruppert spoke to the group about the company’s history and values and the importance of industry relationships, like those formed within ABC, that have helped grow the business.

“The program’s credit structure is set up to include a combination of both classes and networking, which allowed us to learn leadership skills as well as increase our exposure to various aspects of the industry,” said Kelly. “It was a great way to connect with other young industry professionals and gave me the opportunity to encourage more women to pursue careers in construction.”

Kelly and Adam graduated from the program at the platinum and gold level, respectively, on June 7th along with 15 of their fellow students. Kelly was asked to speak at the graduation ceremony on behalf of the class about what the program meant to them and what they gained from the experience. In part, she said, “I look around the room at my classmates and see their drive and ambition and I know that, years from now, they will be the leaders of their organizations, the advisors and mentors of LDP, ABC board members…and we’ll have to credit LDP for giving us the confidence and the leadership skills required to reach that level in our professional lives.”

Kelly was also awarded the prestigious J.P. Blase Cooke Leadership Achievement Award, presented in memory of Blase Cooke, the President of Harkins Builders and former Chairman of the Board for ABC Metro Washington (1984), who passed away in 2007. Blase was not only known for his legacy of community involvement, charitable giving and caring for the people around him, but for his own tremendous leadership abilities and his passion for helping those around him develop the leader within themselves. The award is presented to one outstanding student from each program cycle and is the winner is selected by the LDP participants and the Advisory Council on the merits of credits earned, activities completed, and student and mentor votes.

“This was a great experience that I know will be an integral part of my professional growth,” said Kelly. “The program taught me how to be a leader amongst various teams and generations in the workplace and has helped me build stronger relationships with our clients. I hope to take the skills that I’ve learned throughout the program and use them to cultivate new relationships within the industry and help build my career at Ruppert.”

“I’ve learned a lot during my time in the LDP and was able to cultivate many rewarding relationships that I hope to continue to build upon throughout my career,” said Adam. “During my time in the program, I was promoted from production manager in Ruppert’s Maryland landscape construction branch to branch manager of our Georgia landscape construction team, so I have an immediate opportunity to use the knowledge and skills I’ve gained and I’m looking forward to applying them to my new role.”

Applications for the 2018-2019 cycle of the Leadership Development Program open this fall, and anyone employed by an ABC member organization is eligible to apply. Ruppert team members interested in applying for the program should speak to their branch manager about coordinating with their work schedule.