The American Nursery & Landscape Association’s (ANLA) 33rd annual Management Clinic attracted nearly 1,000 green industry professionals to Louisville, Ky., Feb. 2-5, 2005. The Clinic is recognized as the most valuable event for owners and managers to hone their business skills and bring home ideas that they can put to use immediately to beat competition, according to ANLA.
Bordine Nursery, with several locations in the Detroit, Mich., area, consistently brings a large contingency to the Management Clinic - this year they brought eight members of their staff. As Corey Bordine said, “It’s the best place to energize our team for spring and the only place to get unique outside-the-industry learning and motivation!”
This year’s speaker line up included marketing guru Jonathan Pontell who coined the name “Generation Jones” to describe the 39- to 50-year-old demographic. Pontell has appeared on CNN, NBC and Fox News and in The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. He spoke to Clinic attendees about how to capture the significant disposable income represented by this group. “As marketers cut the demographic pie into thinner slices, Generation Jones is emerging as a key target. Making up the largest adult consumer market, Jonesers represent the greatest percentage of homeowners and garden product purchasers,” said Pontell.
This vertically integrated event provides programming for business professionals in garden retail, landscape, growing and landscape distribution. Michael Fellow of Price Nurseries in Indiana explained that the education he gains at Clinic “is a great enhancement to my Landscape Horticulture and Design degree from Purdue University.”
“It’s only the first day, and already I’m leaving here with an open mind, and I’m more willing to accept change,” said Ashley May, production manager of May Nursery in Florida. “The education I’ve gotten from a human resources standpoint has taught me to get the most out of my employees, while catering to their different personalities.”
Also presented at the Clinic was ANLA’s Rising Retail Star Awards, given out through its retail division, the National Garden Center Organization (NGCO). This year’s award was presented to Richard and Debbie Weber of Springhouse Gardens, in Kentucky, Steve Wilson of Wilson’s Greenhouses in Canada and Jeff Bailey of America’s Best Flowers in Wisconsin. This award recognizes the talented and visionary professionals and businesses that represent the future of the green industry.
To qualify for the Rising Retail Star Award, a candidate must be a company/individual in business (or ownership/management) less than 10 years, who actively participates in networking, staff professional development and the exchange of ideas with their peers through an association environment. Key criteria also include innovation and risk taking, charitable community participation and a demonstrated belief in the value of training and education.
Richard and Debbie’s Springhouse Gardens, showcases native, hard-to find, unusual plant material. Their company had a 20-percent sales increase from 2003 to 2004 and doubled contractor sales in the last 12 months by working with a consultant to improve business. The Springhouse team is active in the community, as well as state green industry organizations. Richard and Debbie encourage staff development by treating employees with dignity and respect, using good communication and encouraging initiative/independence. Their team consistently attends ANLA Retail Roadshows, Management Clinics and Independents’ Days. Their management team nominated the couple in a four-page letter.
Steve Wilson of Wilson’s Greenhouse has been in business for three years and joined ANLA just one year after they opened in order to attend the Management Clinic and enroll in Garden Center University (he graduates this January). The greenhouse is a very seasonal business where, on average, the temperature in Saskatoon is only above 32° F 164 days a year. With total annual sales of $677,000, 11.4 percent of total sales are spent on labor.
Jeff Bailey of America’s Best Flowers is the manager of Ed and Carol Knapton’s garden center. Ed Knapton nominated him; as excerpted from his nomination letter: “After working for a small chain of convenient stores in the area for 14 years (many as a manager) he (Bailey) did not see himself progressing in the organization, so he left and came to work for us as a seasonal associate on the production line. When production ended he switched into retail and took over as a retail manager in 2001. He has attended the ANLA clinic and garden center tours with ANLA to gain knowledge of displays used in garden centers. Jeff was in the inaugural Garden Center University class and graduated in 2004. He is currently working on his master garden certification. He has taken our garden center to the next level. His displays are wonderful and creative, and he involves the associates in the designs. He is constantly looking for improvement and is responsible for significant growth in sales the past few years.”
Next year’s Management Clinic is scheduled for Feb. 1-4, 2006. For more information, contact Stephanie Still, ANLA meetings manager at (202) 789-2900 or visit www.anla.org .