In July, thousands of floriculture professionals converged on Columbus, Ohio for the annual OFA Short Course, sponsored by OFA — an Association of Floriculture Professionals. Attendees conducted business on the trade show floor, learned new skills in a variety of seminars, networked with peers and got a worldwide perspective on what’s happening in the industry.
Attendees from across the United States and 29 other countries visited 1,330+ booths during the three-day trade show. More than 120 educational sessions were presented over four days.
“OFA is continually focused on improving the quality of the Short Course — both the amount of business being conducted on the trade show floor and the response to our educational session topics — and we’re very pleased with the results this year,” said Cheryl Cuthbert, manager — communications.
Unique displays, new ideas, samples and demonstrations kept the trade show floor bustling with activity, and the educational program featured a variety of formats — seminars, hands-on workshops, tours and roundtable discussions — for all segments of the industry.
Harold Lloyd, a business management and marketing consultant, delivered the keynote address. Lloyd challenged attendees to ask, “Am I the Leader I Need to Be? He outlined 10 critical leadership qualities that effective leaders tend to possess, and he provided the audience with ways to quantify their own leadership skills.
Greenhouse. The greenhouse grower sessions included topics such as disease management, greenhouse technology, orchid production, vegetative annuals, herb production, crop production improvement, sampling (media, tissue and water) and managing the bulking of seed and vegetative plants. The greenhouse grower sessions were divided into three main categories: intermediate, advanced and production.
A study tour to the Cincinnati area gave attendees a chance to check out how other growers “do business.” A second grower tour, in central Ohio, featured an inside look at greenhouses from the extension perspective. Several special workshops focused on digital photography, diagnostics, insect and pest management and mixed container production.
The Floriculture College of Knowledge, a Michigan State University program, also offered its Track 1 and Track III courses at Short Course.
Garden Center. The garden center program kicked off with a tour of large, medium and niche garden centers in central Ohio. Garden center sessions included sales training, business etiquette, consumer trends and garden center safety. Additional sessions taught operators and employees how to conduct garden center housekeeping, increase average sales and establish a container garden department.
Retail Florists. Retail florist hands-on workshops focused on holiday designs, hand-tied bouquets and wreaths. General sessions featured a floral shop extreme makeover, sympathy keepsakes and wedding arrangements.
Interior Plantscape. Two Interior plantscape workshops (one for technicians and one for managers) focused on motivation and teamwork, evaluation of a business for acquisition, troubleshooting plant problems, dealing with challenging customer service situations, the art of interiorscape design, the many options in palms and the reality of on-the-job costs.
Industry Outreach.Individuals just launching their careers as floriculturists were encouraged to attend the industry newcomer outreach sessions. There were several opportunities to refine one’s business skills, learn more about Short Course, find out how to benefit from internships and learn how to market a new business.
Management and Marketing.Management and marketing sessions highlighted topics such as schmoozing: meeting, greeting and speaking with ease; communicating effectively; recognizing and capitalizing on trends; and retaining and motivating workers. There was also a 4-hour sales training workshop.
Attendees also had an opportunity to visit the New Products and New Varieties displays, attend the OFA Short Course reception, stop by the OFA ShowCase, utilize the E-mail kiosks provided by Green Industry Yellow Pages, support several FIRST fund-raising activities and visit the OFA MarketPlace — featuring the Ball Bookshelf, the Digitell audio recording sales and the OFA apparel shop. For a complete list of activities and event sponsors, visit the OFA Web site at www.ofa.org . The 2006 OFA Short Course will be July 8-11, 2006 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.