Mike is well known in the turf and landscape irrigation industry with 34 years of experience in product development, marketing and sales in both residential and light commercial turf and landscape drip markets. As Toro’s National Specifications Manager for Water Management Products, Mike champions Precision™ Irrigation technologies by working with Toro irrigation sales, marketing and engineering. Working with distributors across the U.S., Mike conducts training seminars, does field evaluations of existing systems and stays on top of water legislation in California and the rest of the country.
Prior to coming to Toro in the summer of 2007, Mike spent 20 years at Rain Bird, two years at Weathermatic and five years with the Walla Walla Sprinkler Company – the company that developed and introduced the MP Rotator. His most recent contributions to improving irrigation efficiency include work on the award winning Toro Precision™ Series Spray nozzles and Toro Precision Series Rotating nozzles.
Mike is a member of the Irrigation Association (IA), American Society of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC) and of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) – where he served as Chair of the State Resource Management Committee for three years. He served as the President of the Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley CLCA Chapter from 2004 through 2006. In 2008, Mike was named CLCA’s Associate Member of the Year for his work on water conservation and CLCA’s Water Management Certification Program. From 2008 through 2010, Mike was also trustee for the IA’s Education Foundation – which is now known as the Irrigation Foundation.
Mike earned his undergraduate degree in Economics at Stanford University and his MBA at UCLA’s Graduate School of Management. He resides in Glendora, CA with his wife of 32 years, Sara. They are proud parents of three adult daughters and one very charming 18-month old grandson.
Richard Daigle has been a contributing member to the Irrigation Industry for over 37 years and his background reflects a diverse amount of experience and education. It all started in 1977 while attending Glendora High and participating in the Landscape Department’s ROP Program. Bit by the bug, he went on to own and operate a Landscape Maintenance and Nursery from 1977-1983 before branching out to start Basic Irrigation Parts, a company based on an idea that repair parts were a much needed item in the landscape industry.
Basic Irrigation Parts went on to become a division of Precision Controls, which refurbished brass impact heads for Cal Trans and other government companies. In 1999, Richard acquired the Valcon Valve Company with the goal of restoring and manufacturing the prominent valve that has been used by Cal Trans, private universities, and amusement parks nationwide since 1942. Ten years after the acquisition, Champion Irrigation purchased Valcon and Richard continues to support the company through Daigle & Associates, his sales firm that’s been serving the Irrigation Industry since 1988.
In 2001, Richard had a dream and a goal to start an educational school to teach basic irrigation concepts to all service providers and technicians in the field. It would be designed as a way to give landscape contractors the opportunity to reach their career goals and had a mission statement of, “ Raising the Professionalism in the Green Industry.”
Starting out with basic certification courses, Irrigator Technical Training School taught beginning irrigation, implementing elementary techniques and practices and coupling hands-on instruction with classroom theory. Today, Irrigator Tech has grown to offer a full-range of classes with certification in areas that include Back Flow, Irrigation Auditor, Irrigation Repair, Irrigation Installer and SmartWater. These classes are offered to cities, schools, government agencies, business owners, property managers, municipalities, and maintenance companies.
Richard has served as President of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) Inland Empire Chapter from 2008-2014 and also served on CLCA’s Education Committee at the state level for several years. He founded the Association of Latino Landscape Professionals in 2010, Landscape Certified Contractors Association in 2013 and co-founded the Green Industry Hall of Fame in 2005.
Richard has been married to his wife and company partner, Marcie, for 25 years. He has a daughter, Mckenna and three stepchildren; Megan, Grant, and Drew.
Fred’s college years were spent at the University of Nevada before getting his start in the Green Industry and beginning his now 25 year career with Delta Bluegrass Company.
Being an active and dedicated member of the Green Industry, Fred has served for four years on the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) State Executive Board as representative and Vice President, as well as serving on various other CLCA committees for 25 years. His many years of involvement and support of CLCA has been recognized by his receiving their Associate Member of the Year Award (1992), Knight of the Garter (1995), Allegiance Award (2004) and CLCA Life Member (2013). He also received the Delta Bluegrass Company Employee of the Year (1992).
Fred is a founding member of the Landscape Advisory Committee of EBMUD service area. Over the years, the group has been successful in educating the board of directors about the economic value of the Green Industry to the economy of our state. Fred is proud to be part of a winning team, on the cutting edge of the Green Industry, working with Delta Bluegrass Company – a sod company that eight years ago was the first to introduce California native sod blends, in sod form, to the industry after seeing the need for more drought tolerant sod blends.
Today, working three days a week because he is still not “mentally and physically” ready to retire, Fred is proud to be part of a successful industry, working with Delta Bluegrass Company to educate Californians on the benefits of turf to our environment and saving water during this drought. He has had many rewarding and hard working days, as well as shared outstanding relationships and memories to last a lifetime.
Fred has been married to his lovely wife Lani for 48 years and has three grown children and seven bustling grandchildren who keep he and Lani quite busy and on the move.
Gary Hayakawa, a long time resident of Orange County, was born April 23, 1945 in the Crystal City, Texas Internment Camp. His family moved back to California the following year. Gary’s horticulture career began when he was just 10 years old and was paid to pick weeds at his father’s nursery. He graduated from North High in Torrance and went on to earn his degree in business management from California State University Long Beach.
Gary served in Vietnam from 1967-68 with E Troop, 17th Cavalry, 173rd Airborne Brigade as an RTO (Radio Trained Operator). After returning from Vietnam, Gary resumed working for the family nursery business. In his late 20’s, Gary moved the family business to Fountain Valley and founded the wholesale nursery company Three Star Nursery, Inc. where he remained President for 20 years until its closing in 2007.
Over the years, Gary has generously given of his time, talents, and resources to the nursery and agricultural industries. He has been an active participant in numerous industry organizations having held leadership positions in many associations and boards.
Gary has served as President of the Nursery Growers Association, President of the Centennial Farm Foundation, President of the Orange County Friends of UC Cooperative Extension, President and Chapter Leader of the Orange County Chapter of the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Vice President of the Orange County Farm Bureau, and Co-Chair of the All Green Trade Show.
Gary’s involvement in the nursery and agricultural industries is marked by many accomplishments. His strong commitment and ability were instrumental to the many successes and milestones that he has achieved. His success and respectability in the nursery industry is evidenced by the many awards he has received including the 1989 CANERS Hall of Fame Individual Award, the 1999 Pacific Coast Nurseryman Award, and 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000 CANGC President’s Awards.
In addition to his industry involvement, Gary has been involved in a variety of community and civic organizations. He is a member of the Great Park Conservancy, Past President of the Japanese American Republicans, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans, the Alliance for Community Education, and has served multiple terms as a Governor’s appointee to the Orange County Fair and Exposition Center Board of Directors.
In his free time…Gary is the father of 7 children (5 of whom were adopted). He currently has 5 grandchildren with a 6th due this summer. He enjoys spending his time visiting with friends and family and watching whatever game is on T.V.
Gary is a highly personable, genuine, and involved individual. His concern for others and dedication to the Orange County community have earned him the affection of area residents, business leaders, and public officials alike. He has made a positive and far-reaching impact in the nursery and agricultural industries.
John Kabashima is a native southern Californian, born in Los Angeles a few years after his family returned from Rohwer Internment Camp in Arkansas (where they had been sent during World War II). John started working in the family nursery business as soon as he was tall enough to over and under water 1 gallon nursery plants. After killing thousands of plants, he was finally allowed to manage the family business from 1970 to 1976. During this time he met one of his early mentors, Kai Kawanami, who urged him to become a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pest Control Advisor in 1971. This was his introduction to the discipline of Pest Management. After finishing basic and advanced training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in 1969, he returned to serve with the 222nd Mobile Communications Squadron in Costa Mesa, California and work at the family business. There, he met a newly returned Vietnam veteran who was delivering bedding plants to John’s family nursery. That young vet was Gary Hayakawa, who would become a lifelong friend, colleague, and fellow inductee into the Green Industry Hall of Fame.
In 1976, his family sold the business because John wanted to attend California Polytechnic University, Pomona and pursue Janet Nakai, an alluring young nursery woman who would later become his wife. He earned a B.S. in Agricultural Biology from Cal Poly in 1979, was quickly hired by the LA County Agricultural Commissioners Office, and, after one day on the job, was one of the first “Prop 13” layoffs in LA County. This was a blessing in disguise: well-known horticulture entomologist, Pat Morishita (another mentor), then recruited him to work as his lab technician and enroll in the Pest Management Masters program at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). During this time, John ran into Gary again, who was now the owner of Three Star Nursery, one of the program’s prime research sites due to its abundance of pests. In 1980, John earned his Masters of Science in Pest Management from UCR.
Pat encouraged John to try his hand in private enterprise at Target Specialty Products. At Target, John managed the Ornamental Horticulture Division and earned his MBA at Pepperdine University in 1986. In 1987, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) recruited John to become the Environmental Horticulture Advisor in Orange and LA County, the position he still toils at to this day. In 1995, John took a sabbatical leave to pursue a Ph.D. in Entomology at UCR. As a full time Environmental Horticulture Advisor, he chose the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA), a newly arrived exotic and invasive pest, as his dissertation topic. He collected 55 RIFA colonies from throughout California and housed them at the RIFA lab located at the South Coast Research and Extension Center (South Coast REC) in Irvine, California, where he conducted much of his research. After much nagging from friends, family, and colleagues, he finished his dissertation in 2005 and was awarded a Ph.D. in Entomology from UCR.
UCCE Environmental Horticulture Advisors work with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers, conduct their own applied research, and deliver science-based solutions to the nursery and landscape industry and home owners. John’s varied research and extension programs include the management of insects, diseases, and weeds in horticulture production systems, biological control of exotic pests, water use, water use related problems, and US EPA Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of landscapes, golf courses, nurseries, municipalities, and Watersheds. He also manages the over 300 strong UCCE Master Gardener volunteer program in Orange County, which uses formally trained UC ANR volunteers to extend university-based information on gardening and horticulture to the public.
In addition to his position as Environmental Horticulture Advisor, John has served as Interim Center Director of the UC ANR South Coast REC and County Director of UCCE in Orange County. In 1991, John once again worked with Gary Hayakawa to keep UCCE in Orange County after the OC Board of Supervisors voted to discontinue funding and housing of its office. Gary became a master of the political process after his family lost their nursery land to the imminent domain process, which built a park where their nursery had once been. Gary promised himself that he would learn the political process and develop political relationships to ensure that his new nursery, and anyone else he cared about in Orange County, would not easily fall prey to the same process. Gary used that political knowledge, skill, and relationships to lead the successful restoration of funding to UCCE, and in his capacity as a Board Member of the OC Fair, found housing for UCCE on the OC Fairgrounds.
John belongs to many organizations and societies such as the Entomological Society of America, California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Nursery Growers Association, Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, United Agribusiness League, and San Diego Flower and Plant Association. He is the official lecturer for the Southern California Gardeners Federation and has served on numerous committees, including the SCREC Research Advisory Committee, CDFA Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Science Advisory Panel, GWSS Nursery Task Force, CDFA Diaprepes Advisory Committee, Orange County/CDFA RIFA Oversight Committee, Nursery Growers Leadership Board, NRCS/USDA Local Work Group, CDFA Nursery Advisory Board, UC IPM Exotic/Invasive Pests and Diseases, Urban System and Technical Review Panel, CANGC Research Committee, Advisor to the OC Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Great Park Agriculture Advisory Committee, Orange Coast College Horticulture Advisory Committee, UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance Executive Committee, and United Agribusiness League Scholarship Committee.
John’s efforts to conduct an Extension program of education and research in Environmental Horticulture has been recognized by the nursery, agricultural, and landscape industries, a recognition evidenced by his many awards. He received the 1987 Education and Research Award from the OC Chapter of CANGC, 1993 CANERS Research Award from CANGC, 1996 Education and Research Award from the Centinela Chapter of CANGC, 1998 Outstanding Educator Award for the L.A. Southwest Gardeners Association, 1999 Education and Research Award from the OC Chapter of CANGC, 2002 Nursery Extension Agent Award from the American Nursery and Landscape Association, 2003 Resolution of Appreciation from the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, 2006 UC ANR Outstanding Teamwork Award, 2008 Western Extension Directors Award of Excellence, 2008 Resolution of Appreciation for Stakeholder Participation in Basin Planning and Regulatory Activities, 2010 Entomological Society of America-Pacific Branch IPM Team Award, 2010 Entomological Society of America National IPM Team Award, and the 2011 California Agriculture Pest Control Advisors Association Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award.
John has truly been able to unite his avocation with his vocation. An avid photographer, his photographs can be found in numerous textbooks, websites, news articles, and non-peer reviewed and peer reviewed papers locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. His true passion is seeking new culinary experiences with his wife Janet and daughter Misa, at home and in their travels together. Old age has finally affected his knees, turning him from an avid martial artist into a couch potato martial artist who either watches or reads about martial arts, often with his eyes closed. He loves learning new things, sharing that information with others, and using his knowledge and skills to solve problems facing the urban, agricultural, and natural resources of California, such as the ever increasing arrivals of exotic and invasive pests. Success in one’s field is often a combination of natural ability, informal and formal training and education, being mentored, networking with collaborators, and colleagues, all sprinkled with a little bit of luck and support from one’s family and friends. Because of the many mentors who have provided much needed advice and guidance, John believes in mentoring others and can often be observed giving young and old advice and guidance, whether they want it or not.
George Schmok graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in communication theory from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.
After applying and being interviewed seven times by Hester Communications, George was asked if he played golf. When he replied, “Yes,” he was told he’d be put on the landscape magazine, Western Landscaping News (WLN). From February 1982 to December 1984, he rose to the position of National Sales Manager.
At the end of 1984, WLN was sold to Denne Goldstein. However, George and Bob Stover had been working on approaching the then untapped landscape architectural market. While working as the advertising agency for SeaTrees Nursery of Laguna Hills, George was approached by about a dozen vendors at the CLCA Show in 1985. They said if he started a magazine for landscape architects they would support it. And so, George, with the help of Marty Smith and the first generation Macintosh (400k disk drive and 128K of internal ram), launched in July of 1985 his first publication, Landscape Architect and Specifier News (LASN). The new magazine began with a California only circulation of a little more than 2,000.
There were some in the publishing industry who told George that they did not believe LASN would be successful. If you know George, and want him to do something, tell him he can’t. Today, LASN is the industry’s leading publication, with a circulation of more than 32,000, and is received by virtually every licensed landscape architect in the nation.
In 1987, following in the footsteps of Hester Communications, Landscape Publishing launched the Landscape Architectural Technical Exposition (the L.A.T.E. Show) in Las Vegas, followed up in 1989 in Irvine, Calif. The first show lost $60,000. The ’89 show made it back, but put such a drain on the little company of four employees that events were put on hold. The focus was shifted back to the magazine, and the launch of Landscape Construction and Maintenance magazine. That, though, only lasted a few years and was replaced by a new invention . . . the Internet.
In the early ’90s, LASN hooked up six phone-line modem ports to the back of a state-of-the-art Apple-II computer and LandscapeOnline.com was successfully added to the Worldwide Web. At that time, if someone was around to hear the phone ring, they would answer it by moving the receiver to the modem port, then typing, “Welcome to LandscapeOnline.com. How can we help you today?”
Today, LandscapeOnline.com is the largest landscape-oriented database on the Internet.
In 1998, Landscape Communications, Inc. (LCI) launched Landscape Contractor/Design Build Maintain (LCDBM) magazine. That magazine also started as a California-based publication, but today is sent to more than 45,000 landscape contractors across the nation.
The next step for George was creating an e-newsletter, LandscapeOnline Weekly, which encompassed the goings-on of LASN and LC/DBM. By 2004, LandscapeOnline Weekly was a reality. Today, it is received by almost 50,000 landscape professionals every Tuesday.
In 2006, just before the recession, Landscape Communications, fulfilling a long-term plan, purchased the Turfgrass and Landscape Expo from the SCTC. At that time, the trade show had no exhibitors, no attendees, no educational program and not even a contract to continue holding the event at the Pomona Fairplex. By 2009, the show had grown exponentially and was relocated to the Long Beach Convention Center, a venue that more adequately suited the needs of the trade show. At that time, the trade show was rebranded as The Landscape Expo (TLE). Last year, TLE drew attendance of more than 2,500 professionals, had 240 plus exhibitors and one of the most complete educational programs in the nation.
In 2011, TLE was thriving and attended by thousands of landscape contractors and maintenance professionals, as well as landscape design professionals and landscape architects. Landscape Communications decided it was time to expand once again, and launched The Landscape Architects’ Expo (LA Expo) in early 2012, a show geared to landscape architects and specifiers. This year, the Landscape Expo-San Mateo is also being launched, bringing three annual trade shows to the now officially named “Events Division” of LCI.
After more than 32 years in the landscape industry, George oversees two industry-leading print publications, a Weekly E-Newsletter, the largest landscape website, and three trade shows. In all, the publications, e-newsletter, website and events reach some 300,000 landscape professionals throughout the year.
George has been happily married to his wife, Kim, since 1988. They have three children, two in high school and one attending college. Mr. Schmok resides in Orange County, with his family. He enjoys golfing, skiing, biking, fishing, hiking, waterskiing, music producing and boating around Newport Harbor in their 40-ft. Jersey Sportfisher.
Leslee is currently President and majority stockholder of NUVIS, a WBE/DBE landscape architecture and site planning firm founded in 1971 and based in Costa Mesa, CA. Leslee joined the firm in 1978, and served in a number of positions at NUVIS as she rose through its corporate structure, becoming President in 2011.
NUVIS influences design solutions for people, environments, and experiences with the goal to create inspired outdoor venues that exhibit a sense of place/space, opportunity for interaction, and dramatic results from texture, form, color, and pattern. NUVIS markets include residential community living, public spaces, natural/environmental experiences, image infrastructure, urban design, transportation corridors, and retail/entertainment/mixed use lifestyle strategies. Other offices include San Ramon, CA; Las Vegas, NV; and Scottsdale, AZ.
Before becoming President of the firm, Leslee managed clients and select projects while being accountable for the operational, strategic planning, marketing, and financial aspects of the firm, including its investment and 401k portfolios. She is now responsible for integrated solution management, the firm’s long-term sustainability agenda, expanded market business development, and financial/administrative/operation oversight.
She holds professional licensure in seven states (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, and North Carolina) in addition to national certification/reciprocity with the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Leslee holds a BSLA degree from Cal Poly, Pomona, and participated in several continuing education programs, including Universal Design, Fair Housing, and the New ADA/ABA Guidelines Executive Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD).
Leslee’s distinctive skills in consensus fostering and resolution facilitation, along with multi-subconsultant management and multi-agency coordination have been invaluable for the array of projects under her direction over her more than 40 years in the industry. She has been honored numerous times by the industry and her peers, including the 2003 & 1984 ASLA/SCC Professional Design Merit Award, awards from CLASS, AILA and others; and was named Outstanding Young Woman of America in 1982.
Throughout her professional career, Leslee has served on a number of industry related governing boards and financial committees, including serving as CLASS Fund Financial Director & $1M+ Endowment Investment Administrator. And for years, she has been active and a strong supporter of the Girl Scouts Growing Up Green program.
Her personal recognition includes: CLASS Life Member Award, 2009; Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA), 1992; and Women in Leisure Services Gamma Chapter Helen Green Memorial Citation Award,1991; ASLA National Largest Chapter President’s Cup, 1983, 1984, and 1985; and AILA Outstanding Service Award, 1981.
Leslee has served as a guest speaker or instructor at many colleges and universities, including Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Irvine and UCLA. She is a regular keynoter for a variety of organizations, including: Panelist, “Water Conservation to the Max,” PCBC (Pacific Coast Builders Conference), 2008; Panelist, “Great First Impressions: Exterior Design,” IBS (International Builders Show) Orlando, FL, 2008; Guest Lecturer, “Demystifying Those Mysterious Fellows,” Redlands (CA) Horticultural Society Speaker, 1975, and many more.
Showing a real strength in the sports world as well as in the board room, Leslee was a Finisher in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in 1985