April 21 2008 12:00 AM



One year out of high school, Michael Byrne made the decision to get into the landscaping business. He held a summer job at that time, repairing lawn care equipment at a mower repair shop. While he had always enjoyed the type of work that the green industry entails, this was the point where he decided to put things in motion. It was in 1983 that he enlisted his brother, John, to help him start the Massachusetts-based Byrne Brothers Landscaping. Michael later earned a degree in horticulture, and carried the company's operations to Florida. When John opted to take a different path, Michael bought him out and kept moving forward.

Today, Byrne and his two partners own ELM Landscape & Golf in Danvers, Massachusetts. The company's repertoire includes the management of sports turf for municipalities, as well as snow removal and irrigation installation and management for corporate clientele in the suburban areas north of Boston.

Byrne has seen some major developments in the green industry in his career, but he believes the most notable are the big consolidations he has witnessed.

"It had a lot of positive affects on the industry, and it had some negatives," he says. "It allowed a lot of people to get a return on the investments they had made in their businesses, but I think a fair number of good people are no longer active in the industry as a result of the consolidation."

In February of this year -- on Valentine's Day to be exact -- Byrne earned a chance to build more of the kind of good people he mentioned, when he brought his impressive list of credentials to the presidency of ALCA. This organization has long been near and dear to Byrne's heart, and he's quick to speak of the benefits of membership. Three years after the birth of Byrne Brothers Landscaping, he was introduced to ALCA, and in his long relationship with the Association, he has chaired the exterior board and the membership board.

While it's always a good thing when an organization's leadership is comprised of folks with experience in the field, Byrne says the knowledge flows in the other direction, too. He explains that he's learned as much -- if not more -- about leadership from ALCA that has helped him in his business, as he's learned in his business that he'll carry to his new role as president.

As the organization's new leader, Byrne's philosophy could be summarized as, "You get out of it what you put into it."

"I would like to see companies realize that there are people in ALCA who've been through the challenges that they're facing," he states. "As an ALCA member, they have access to professionals who can help them overcome the hurdles. There are people willing to share their information with new people who come into ALCA, as long as whomever comes in makes the effort to participate."

Byrne hopes to emphasize to other professionals out there that, in this challenging business climate, they have a tremendous opportunity to use ALCA, but in order to get the return, they have to make the effort.

And if anybody deserves an A for the amount of effort they've put into the profession, it's Byrne.

"Michael is great to work with," says Debra Holder, ALCA's executive vice president. "He's a team player and has a great sense of humor, which makes it a lot of fun for both staff and leadership."

When he's not deeply involved in shaping ALCA's future or serving customers through his company, Byrne -- who makes his home in Hamilton, Massachusetts -- enjoys fishing, golfing and snow skiing. And he's a family man who's fond of spending time with his wife Claire, and his three children: the girls, Michaela, 8, and Olivia, 7, and his son Jackson, 2.

As is common with those who have such a passion for the profession, Byrne admits that, early on, he faced some challenges in regards to balancing things at the office with things at home.

"I just turned 40 this year, and my focus has really changed," he explains. "I've really worked hard balancing my family life and my career. Like many others in our industry, I was out of balance for a while and spent all my time working, and I traveled a lot. Now I want to try to spend more time with my family and see if I can delegate more of my responsibilities at work."

One of the ways he's been able to achieve this is through his kids? soccer team. Byrne played soccer in high school and really wanted to be involved in the sport with his daughters, too. So, he volunteered to become their coach, perhaps translating all that leadership ability he?s acquired through an unexpected outlet.