Upon receiving this issue of GPN, many of you will be
preparing to attend the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio (if you're there,
stop by our booth #1517 to say hello).
For many, the Short Course is the must-attend trade show of
the year. Growers can receive enough education and information in four days to
make their heads spin, and allieds have unfettered access to some of the most
important growers in the industry (see our exhibitor special starting on page
76 if you're looking for a particular product at Short Course). Besides all the
education and contacts, Short Course is the best industry event for seeing all
of your old friends (my favorite part).
But whenever Short Course is discussed, there is inevitably
a skeptic in the crowd wondering why everyone is making such a big fuss over a
single event. After all, they're not from Ohio, and they're already active in
their own state's association. Why travel half-way across the country to a spot
that's not the most glamorous?
I'll admit that Columbus suffers in comparison to Boca
Raton, Fla., or San Francisco or Chicago, my stomping ground, but we're not
there for sight seeing. We're there to at least act like a unified industry --
or at least we should be.
A national trade show -- and the Short Course is the closest
we have to a national venue that focuses on wholesale greenhouse production --
affords the opportunity to discuss industry issues, anticipate future
directions and seek advice from peers. I think this function of a trade show
often gets lost with all the other activities that are going on, but it's
probably the most important, whether we want it to be or not.
I realize that at this point I've already hit two hot-button
issues: espousing a single trade show event and calling for a more unified
industry. (Of course, those who know me personally will not be surprised to
find me on shakey ground.) And I want to say, before getting in too deep, that
my endorsement of Short Course is because it's almost where we need it to be --
why reinvent the wheel? Let's improve what we already have and be done. With a
little more outreach, the improved marketing position adopted last year and
more interest in having the association actually represent the industry,
instead of serve it, we would have a great venue.
I realize the assumption that I'm making here -- that people
want an association, be it OFA or ANLA or the International Brotherhood of
Greenhouse Growers, to represent them -- is a tricky one. Autonomy has long
been a sacred cow in our industry, but I'm a realist, and I say kill the cow --
it's time to stop going hungry!
We all know about the $2 poinsettia debacle from Christmas
2002, and the $.99 4-inch has become commonplace at mass merchants. I couldn't
feel more strongly that we should find one voice so that we can speak to the
market with a louder voice -- and Short Course is a great opportunity to get
started. Don't let it pass you up.
You might have noticed a new editor in the GPN family the
past few months. When former editor, Brandi McNally left to raise a family, we
recruited recent Columbia College graduate Neda Simeonova. A true product of
the world, Neda was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Japan and has lived all over
the world. She moved to the United States five years ago to attend college, and
we were fortunate enough to bring her on board recently. We're excited about
the international flavor Neda will be bringing to the magazine and invite you
to contact her with any questions, comments or words of welcome you might have.