On Sept. 28, members of OFA — the Association of Horticulture Professionals and the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) announced that their members voted overwhelmingly to consolidate into one national trade association (see news story below). The official name of the new organization is the American Horticulture Association and it will be known as AmericanHort.
The announcement was made Saturday evening at the OFA Fall Leadership Meetings in Columbus, Ohio.
I had a chance to talk to OFA CEO and ANLA Executive Vice President Michael Geary during the meetings and he filled me in on some of the behind-the-scenes details on the creation of the new organization.
“It is a legal consolidation. OFA and ANLA will be signing documents this fall to consolidate those two corporations into one new corporation that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014,” Geary said.
The members of both organizations will automatically transition into members of AmericanHort in January and their memberships will be extended through June 30, 2014.
“Members will continue to get the full membership services they paid for — but part of [their current membership fees] will fall under AmericanHort,” Geary stated.
He said AmericanHort will be “implementing a much flatter membership system that will be ala carte” so members can select the products and services that make the most sense for their companies. “They can have the level of participation [in AmericanHort] that they want to have and they will be contributing to the greater good of the industry. That is the point of this consolidation.”
Geary said they are “still finessing the numbers” but expect to announce the new membership offerings very soon.
Effective Jan. 1, AmericanHort will have approximately 3,000 member companies representing the whole of the plant industry, including breeders, greenhouse and nursery growers, garden center retailers, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers and all of those who are part of the industry supply chain.
In July, OFA announced a major expansion  in its programming and exhibits at Short Course for garden center retailers and Geary said as a result of the consolidation, AmericanHort “will now be the largest organization for garden centers in the world. That is why we are expanding our garden center programming. ”
“If we are the largest organization for garden centers in the world, then our programming has to reflect that and serve that constituency,” he remarked.
And when it came to selecting the new name, Geary said the board of the new organization “didn’t want to have to explain who we are so we created a whole set of criteria – Is it credible? Does it reflect the entire industry? Does it show respect [for our history]? Can the industry see itself in the name?”
After much discussion, the committee felt the official name of the American Horticulture Association met and exceeded those criteria. Geary said the shorter moniker, AmericanHort, was selected "because we want to be recognized as a modern and progressive organization.”
AmericanHort’s website is already up and running, so I'd like to introduce you to AmericanHort — www.americanhort.org .
— Tim