The 2013 edition of OFA Short Course kicked off over the weekend at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. The educational program began on Saturday and the trade show started yesterday morning.
While we haven't heard any official numbers yet, it seems like attendance is up as the educational sessions were packed and the trade show aisles were really buzzing all day Sunday. And it sounds like it will be even busier today!
On Sunday morning, Dennis Snow, a 20-year veteran of the Walt Disney Co., opened the conference with his keynote presentation on "Creating World Class Customer Service." And this morning, Jenni Britton Bauer, the founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, and Ryan Lang, owner and master distiller at OYO Vodka and Middle West Spirits, will take part in a "studio style" interview session to talk about how independent businesses can tackle their day-to-day challenges and be successful.
Last night during a special ceremony, we had the opportunity to recognize GPN's 40 Under 40 Class of 2013  as well as Lauren Tuski, the 2013 GPN/Nexus Intern of the Year . It was incredibly rewarding and refreshing to get more than 30 of this year's honorees in one room, along with members of the Class of 2012 and several previous Interns of the Year, and honor them for their achievements. Their enthusiasm, creativity, ingenuity and extraordinary accomplishments both inside and outside our industry are inspiring. They are trailblazers who are helping to determine the future of the horticulture industry — and how we are going to get there! In fact, on Sunday morning more than 100 Short Course attendees came to our special Mix 'N Mingle session to pick the brains and network with the Class of 2013.
During Saturday afternoon's technical program, I had a chance to moderate a lively session on "Rescue Programs for Greenhouse Growers" with GPN contributors Drs. Erik Runkle, Jim Faust, Ann Chase and Raymond Floyd. Nearly 150 attendees were on hand to learn about the latest disease management, production technology, pest control and cultural issues. The inquisitive audience kept the panel on its toes and peppered the industry all-stars with a wide variety of very interesting questions about the challenges they are dealing with in their greenhouses.
The big news in Columbus broke right before the conference opened when OFA announced its expansion plans for 2014 (see news story below ). The trade show and conference is expanding its retail offerings and adding a 50,000 square-foot exhibit hall to host more companies that sell products and services to garden retailers.
OFA Short Course will conclude tomorrow afternoon — I hope my feet hold out.
— Tim