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Like many industry professionals, Christopher Pine took a summer job and turned it into a career through hard work and education.
Christopher Pine

It probably isn’t a shocker that most of us involved in the landscape irrigation industry hadn’t planned this career from day one, yet we all realize once we got here, it is probably where we will be (or return) for much of our careers.

Thinking back to being a kid and the hundreds, if not thousands, of times I had to recite “what I want to be when I grow up,” I think the closest I got to imagining a career in the irrigation industry at the time might have been “landscape architect.” My college career started on the road to engineering and quickly detoured into business management and economics, but it was ultimately my entrepreneurship and summer employment that got me on the pathway here. Like many, my newspaper route blossomed into mowing lawns and yardwork for neighbors and eventually a summer job with the local department of public works became an opportunity to bid on some contract mowing. A landscape contractor was born and eventually the need for irrigation became obvious and a natural fit. Pretty quickly, irrigation services became almost half of my company’s service offerings and represented almost 3/4 of the value of the business when it sold in 2000.

My industry training began in a smoke-filled office/training room of a local distributor learning how to design and install irrigation systems. This quickly blossomed into a quest for more knowledge, and I started down the path of Irrigation Association certification, something that has been extremely important to my career even today. I attended my first Irrigation Show in Nashville in the mid-1990s with the plan of taking the certified irrigation contractor examination and enjoying the show and Opryland. The reality was that I spent three days studying and preparing to pass the CIC and only a half day at the show. But the passion was fueled with the amount of information I was exposed to for the exam and absolute scale of our industry with everything I saw on the show floor that I had no idea even existed.

After the sale of the contracting business, I spent several years working in sales management with manufacturers learning about the material supply and product distribution side of the industry, which led me to an invitation to join the corps of instructors with the IA. After reconnecting to my entrepreneurial roots and turning my experience with corporate America into an independent manufacturer’s rep agency, my passion for this industry coupled with many years of developing my skills as a trainer led to the launch of another business. This new venture focused on providing training to the landscape irrigation industry both in person and online, partnering with an industry associate and friend from my first years in the industry.

When I look back over the years in this industry, I find it difficult to point to any one event, person or thing that brought me to my acceptance that I wasn’t going to get too far from this industry. Most likely, it is the total experience that keeps all of us here. Sure, my days of operating a trenching shovel are fewer than they were, but I still appreciate it for what it is.

The people I have met in the industry and the lifelong friendships are priceless. The value of the information and ideas I have experienced is immense. And probably the most interesting piece of all is the amount of change and relevance of the landscape industry in the past 30 years. It’s amazing to think back and compare the products, tools, resources and market demand for the services we provided then to the services we provide today.

While my journey through our industry is unique to me, it is similar to the unexpected paths many others took to arrive where they are today.

While my journey through our industry is unique to me, it is similar to the unexpected paths many others took to arrive where they are today. There are a lot of people in our industry who are here doing what we do every day because of a shared passion, whether because of enjoyment of the job, the financial reward of our businesses, the commitment to managing water as one of if not the most important resources or a host of other important reasons.

As I look back to where I was 30 years ago, I never would have considered the possibility I would be writing a monthly column for our primary industry publication. I consider myself pretty lucky to be offered this opportunity and am looking forward to sharing my years of experience, knowledge and information I have collected and my insight into the industry changes and opportunities that lie ahead.

Christopher Pine, CLWM, CID, CIC, CLIA, CIT, MCLP, is a principal of IrriTech Training and the president of BluGreen Solutions in Pocasset, Massachusetts. He can be reached at

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