As the calendar turns from one year to the next, it’s naturally a time for reflection and expectation. For her take on 2023 – and her thoughts on what we can expect in 2024 – we checked in with our own Lyndsi Oestmann, a proven leader in the plant nursery industry. She offers her annual outlook in this last blog of 2023.
What surprised you about our industry’s work in 2023?
There was a lot of uncertainty going into the year, so we were fairly cautious. It seems like, generally, we all had a year similar to 2022, which is amazing and really great to see.
What should we carry forward as key learnings?
The positive year is a sign that people are still interested in investing in their homes and gaining value through plants. Communication with customers and providing the best service possible also shines through as key learnings.
What was Loma Vista Nursery’s most exciting accomplishment in 2023?
There are so many that I am proud of. We were able to fill key roles with excellent new team members, which is good news for our nursery. I’m looking forward to having them on board during the peak spring season and to watching their growth, especially after having several months of experience with us. I’m also proud of the work we are doing to fine-tune our plant health programs and production plans with the goal of offering a more sustainable plant palette in the future. I’m also proud of our safety record – and the really big anniversary milestones for two of our team members. Twenty and 30 years is a long time!
Sprinter® Boxwood (Buxus microphylla)
What challenges do you see facing the industry in 2024?
Our biggest challenge as an industry is still labor. Even though we are using the H2A visa program to fill our labor needs – because of past experience with the program – I know that it doesn’t come without its pain points. Our 2023 workers have returned home and we had a celebration to wish them well. Now, I’m not trying to stress too much about if and when we will see them back at Loma Vista Nursery.
Another challenge facing us in the coming months involves uncertainties, including the way the USDA rezoned its growing areas. While they shouldn’t have too much impact on us directly, new zones could have different impacts on other areas of the Midwest. Spending and development also tend to slow down during an election year – and 2024 is one. I suppose, as with all things that are uncertain, time will tell.
Where do you see our industry’s largest growth opportunity in 2024?
The biggest opportunity facing us is in honing our craft and making strategic decisions and investments that will drive profit to the bottom line. We are done trying to keep up with demand. There is no more urgency to grow as much product as we can because we know someone will buy it, like we all did during COVID – get any low-hanging fruit that hasn’t already been improved, limit shrink, control expenses and focus on communicating value that resonates with customers.
Keep the foot on the pedal to position plants as a key ingredient in the recipe for a better future. I also believe there is a big opportunity to develop interest in the green industry among high school and college students. This will create opportunities to bring more people into the industry, which is very important. Nativars, also, I believe will see an increase. With climate changing and weather inconsistencies, planting for regional viability is going to be something people are more interested in, as well as an increase in edible and fruiting plants.
Brandywine™ Viburnum (Viburnum nudum)
What can customers and end-users expect from Loma Vista Nursery in 2024?
We are entering spring with a strong inventory – even stronger than in 2023. We have some key items that will be in peak stages for spring shipping. These include tree form hydrangea, boxwood, the new First Editions® Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea, Red Pillar® Rose of Sharon, Little Hottie® Panicle Hydrangea, Tuff Stuff Top Fun™ Hydrangea and Pinky Winky Prime® Panicle Hydrangea.
We have updated our fleet of delivery vehicles and trailers, so we expect to make timely deliveries to our local markets. Our partnerships with outside carriers are strong and those partners will help us service the markets that are a little further away. In general, we try to keep our Loma Vista Nursery vehicles and drivers within a day trip of Ottawa, Kansas to limit our company’s exposure over the road and to ensure our team members delivering products are home with family as much as they wish to be.
Our goal is to keep providing excellent service to our customers and strengthen and develop the existing relationships we have while making new ones along the way. Look to our weekly email newsletter to highlight more sales, promotions and events. Plant highlight videos will help inform customers of what we have to offer. Online ordering is a really useful tool for our customers, so we’ll be offering more of that.
Spice Girl® Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) – Proven Winners ColorChoice Photo
What new plants will Loma Vista Nursery be growing in 2024?
We will be growing several new varieties in 2024. These include First Editions® Eclipse® Bigleaf Hydrangea, Midnight Express® Redbud, Sweet Starlight™ Hydrangea, Red Pillar® Rose of Sharon, Tuff Stuff Top Fun™ Hydrangea, Pinky Winky Prime® Panicle Hydrangea, Sonic Bloom® Wine Weigela florida, Grape Crush Aster, Chameleon Little Bluestem, Vulcan Red Lobelia, The Rocket Ligularia, Peachie Keen Agastache, Rosie Posie Agastache and Mango Tango Agastache.
We are also going to be carrying 7-gallon containers of Spice Girl® Korean Spice Viburnum, Sprinter® Boxwood and Brandywine™ Viburnum. These are not new varieties but the sizing is something we haven’t done for these items.
What do you most look forward to in 2024?
Honestly – the day our H2A arrives! Until then, I am nervous.
Fast-forward to Dec. 31, 2024. As an industry, what are we celebrating?
Let’s all hope we are saying, “Wow, we brought on new gardener customers. They are frequenting garden centers and driving plant sales!”
Happy New Year and much success to you in 2024!
Lyndsi Oestmann, President, Loma Vista Nursery
Trade Industry: Wholesale Orders of Loma Vista Nursery-Grown Plants
Loma Vista Nursery is now taking professional trade orders for the spring 2024 growing season. Click here for our container order form. Click here for our in-ground tree order form. Visit our plant catalog for more information about Loma Vista Nursery grown perennial plants, trees and shrubs – all ideal for Midwest landscapes.
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