By Lyndsi Oestmann
In the plant business good news about the economy is always welcome and those of us who attended Cultivate’23 got it straight from our industry’s authority. During his keynote session, Dr. Charlie Hall, AmericanHort’s chief economist, provided three takeaways that have many of us walking on Cloud Nine.
No. 1 – The majority of U.S. plant growers – 66% – reported an increase in annual gross sales. And most of us – 69% – said our profits were up this year over last.
No. 2 – A few years back, if we thought Millennials might be good for business we were right. Their demographic is now the largest in the country and many are buying houses. This leaves the door open for our industry to walk through with new opportunities.
No. 3 – We’ve heard a lot of talk over the past few months about a full-on recession. But Dr. Hall says nope. He does say we have more than a 50% chance of some kind of economic downturn but it likely won’t be as bad as previously forecasted.
Yours Truly presented on the panel, “Succession or Sell: Taking Over a Horticulture Business.”
My No. 4. – After attending several AmericanHort board meetings, participating and attending mind-blowing conference sessions and walking the show floor I noticed something. Our industry has weathered a lot of storms, but we’ve never let them knock us off our game. We face challenges, we move through difficulties and we stand tall knowing that by doing green, we’re doing good for our communities, our regions and for the country. I saw this at Cultivate’23. Plant people are good people and our industry is one of the best in the country.
Here are a few of my other takeaways:
As an AmericanHort board member, it was a privilege to be part of the audience as the inaugural Horticulture Leadership Academy class presented their capstone presentations. The purpose of the HRI Leadership Academy is to develop the skills of future green industry leaders. It is safe to say the future of our industry is looking bright, especially in the hands of this inaugural class.
Loma Vista Nursery is proudly growing Bailey Nurseries’ new Eclipse Bigleaf Hydrangea. It will be available for the 2024 growing season.
On the trade show floor, new plants and exhibits were creative and fun this year, showcasing healthy, colorful plants, shrubs and trees.
We thought this was fun – the AmericanHort logo in vinyl.
Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s executive vice president of advocacy, research and industry relations, gave an impressive legislative update during Cultivate’s State of the Industry Address. We can be rest assured that our industry is in good hands with expert professionals like Craig representing us at the federal level.
Loma Vista Nursery was in the house! Attending this year with me was, from left, Alfredo Rios, plant health and maintenance manager; Kurt Everett, regional sales manager; and Korey Adwell, section leader/grower.
We hear a lot about AI these days and we heard more during Cultivate. I attended a conference session, which discussed the use of predictive AI for trend analysis to improve forecasting and production planning. It will definitely make our jobs a little easier if we can figure out how to incorporate the emerging technology.
Marlene Eick, motivational speaker
The Women in Horticulture luncheon is always inspirational and this year was no exception. Marlene Eick, a “maximizer” who executes training experiences in our industry, talked about John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership. She gave examples of how to incorporate them in daily life, including in the ways in which we show up for people, from our co-workers and industry peers to our family and communities.
Alfredo Rios, Loma Vista Nursery’s plant health and maintenance manager
I was approached several times by colleagues who interacted with Loma Vista Nursery team members. Their comments and compliments were good to hear and I agree – my team is pretty awesome. I am particularly proud of Alfredo Rios, plant health and maintenance manager. He has been named to the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) Leadership Academy Class of 2024.
With Ed Overdevest, Overdevest Nurseries, LP
And last but certainly not least, life is short so loving the work you do matters. Industry friends like Ed Overdevest, Overdevest Nurseries, LP in Bridgeton, NJ, help remind us to stay humble and have fun. Ed is a fellow AmericanHort board member. Last year, we made a friendly wager on the Super Bowl. Ed lost. But being the stand-up guy he is, Ed obliged to wear a Travis Kelce (#87) Kansas City Chiefs jersey on the Cultivate show floor. Thanks, Ed. All bets are off this year.
Lyndsi Oestmann is president of Loma Vista Nursery and a board member on the AmericanHort leadership team.
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