In 2004, the Associated Landscape Contractors of America and the Professional Lawncare Association of America announced a merger to form a new association, the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). PLANET leadership then contacted related green industry associations to determine their interest in considering additional mergers. The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) responded to that invitation.
An ANLA-PLANET Joint Merger Evaluation Task Force of current and past leadership was appointed. Since its first meeting in January 2005, the task force continues to extensively study the benefits and disadvantages of a possible merger of ANLA and PLANET. Its findings are reported periodically to both associations’ boards of directors. “This industry’s national trade associations have a long history of effectively serving multiple business segments — growers, landscape design/build, maintenance firms and retailers. A combined ANLA and PLANET organization would serve individual business interests while addressing industry-wide issues from a position of greater strength with increased resources,” said Peter Orum, president of ANLA and president of Midwest Groundcovers, St. Charles, Ill.
A merger of ANLA and PLANET could build on the benefits and momentum gained by the formation of PLANET. It would combine two strong, full-service trade associations that currently address largely discrete, but contiguous, sectors of the “green industry.” The merged association would represent business interests involved in the full spectrum of the industry, including agricultural nursery production, wholesale distribution, retail garden centers, landscape design and installation, lawn care, maintenance and interior plantscape services.
“The potential benefits of an ANLA and PLANET merger are clear. The combined organization would create a membership of 6,000 firms and an operating budget of $9 million,” said Orum. “This would significantly increase our voice before the government and broaden the membership platform for events and services. But the key factor behind any decision ANLA makes is the long term interests of our loyal members and the good of this industry.”
Additional exploration is under way. A merger would require the approval of both boards of directors, the ANLA Senate with membership support, and the PLANET membership. A timetable for further evaluation is in place. Final decisions regarding a merger are targeted for fall 2005.
“ANLA and PLANET’s merger discussions are still in their early stages, but so far, the task force and ANLA’s Board of Directors have not discovered any deal breakers. There is still a long way to go, but the initial findings look promising,” said Orum.