Turf & Rec

Features Profiles
WCTA realized significant growth during Wick’s tenure


January 5, 2010
By Mike Jiggens


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By Mike Jiggens

DURING his 19 years as executive director of the Western Canada
Turfgrass Association, Bob Wick witnessed significant growth within the
organization and had a direct hand in both the success of its annual
conferences and its “traveling road show” program.

thumb_wickwebEarlier this fall, Wick stepped away from the WCTA following a career
which began in 1991. Officially, he passed his office over to Jerry
Rousseau in January, but remained on full time until the end of
September, helping his successor comfortably ease his way into the
position.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to do it (serve as executive
director),” Wick said. “It’s been very good for me. I’ve been very
fortunate to have worked with a lot of good presidents.”

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Wick landed the position in November 1991 after having left Richardson Seed in Burnaby, B.C. where he had been employed for four years in sales and technical services. Two days after leaving his position at Richardson to concentrate on some consulting work and continue teaching turf management during the evenings at Kwantlen Polytechnic Institute, he learned that Ken Warner had resigned as the association’s executive director.

“I thought that’s something I’d like to do.”

Wick brought with him a wealth of experience in both golf course management and resort marketing. His foray into working on golf courses began when he was 15 years old in his native Washington state.

After abandoning plans to teach school and following a brief stint in the U.S. Coast Guard, Wick returned to the golf industry, working at courses in both Washington and British Columbia before settling in with Richardson Seed.

For Wick, the biggest highlight of his WCTA career has come from organizing the annual winter conferences.

“They’ve been very successful,” he said, noting average attendance at each one has been about 900 with one topping the 1,000 mark. “Putting on the conferences is something I really enjoyed.”

The traveling road shows, in which the WCTA brings educational presentations to five geographic regions in British Columbia, began about 10 years ago. Benefiting from the program over the years have been association members from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, northern British Columbia, the interior and the Kootenay Region.

Wick saw the association grow in numbers from about 350 members to approximately 900 over the course of his 19 years with the WCTA.

“We worked really hard at it (boosting membership), getting more golf and focusing on getting non-golf members from parks and schools, sports fields, landscapers, etc.”

Although the WCTA has members outside of British Columbia, including about 100 from Alberta, it does not market itself outside of British Columbia.

“We’ve specifically stayed away from marketing outside of B.C. We don’t market into Alberta. We accept them as members, and they want to be members because the magazine (TurfLine News) is coming to the conference, so that’s why we have so many members from there. We didn’t think it was fair to the Alberta superintendents or Alberta Turf Association to infringe on their areas, but we’ll take members if they want to join.”
Going hand in hand with the WCTA’s growth during Wick’s tenure was the association’s securing of continuing education credits for the B.C. pesticide applicator’s certificate, an initiative which began in 2002.

“That has been very, very successful. It’s produced a lot of members because we only do it for our members.”

The WCTA facilitates a recertification program which is beneficial to pesticide applicator certificate holders in British Columbia, and it was Wick’s goal before he retired to see the program gain acceptance by the industry.

“When I took that over, I wanted it running smoothly and doing well before I retired, and I feel we accomplished that goal.”

Wick also considers his involvement with the WCTA bi-monthly publication, TurfLine News, to be among the highlights of his career with the association. He was in charge of gathering both the editorial and advertising material for the publication and getting it out on time to members. The magazine realized substantial growth during his 19 years, and he personally oversaw the publishing of 112 issues.

Wick paid tribute to his wife Charlotte who provided valuable assistance to him during his entire run as executive director. She answered the telephone for all WCTA-related inquiries, was active taking registrations for the association conferences, and coordinated the conferences’ companions program.

Winning the John B. Steel Award from the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association in 2003 remains one of Wick’s most treasured moments from his career. The award, named for the CGSA’s first president and former superintendent at the St. Charles Golf & Country Club in Winnipeg, recognizes an individual who has promoted the position of golf course superintendent and the turfgrass industry as a whole.

Wick got to know Steel in the late 1970s when both were involved with the Canadian Turfgrass Research Foundation. Wick was serving on the CGSA board at the time and considered Steel a mentor.

He also won the British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association’s Pinnacle Award in 1998 which recognized his efforts in advancing the position of golf course superintendent in B.C.

If Wick has any advice to offer his successor, it’s to keep good records.

“It’s a big job keeping the records.”

As for his retirement plans, Wick said he’s going to hold off an any elaborate travel plans for now. He and Charlotte are raising two grandsons, one of whom is in high school and the other in Grade 1.

“Now I can spend a lot of time with them and not be so tired.”

Wick also volunteers much of his time at his church and at a local seniors home, but said he’s being careful not to take on any new tasks for the time being.

“I have a weakness for being a workaholic.”