You Don’t Need To Hit A Homerun Every Time, Armitage Says

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Athens Select- mandevillaVogueSophia

Mandevilla ‘Vogue Sophia’ was an Athens Select variety.

How nice it would be if things were easy. I have written enough of these columns to know that I cannot glue you to my words every time, but I
will keep trying.

The more I meet positive people and learn about successful endeavors, the more I understand that consistency, not power, is the key. I can also say that every successful person I have met has at one time been “unsuccessful,” as well.

My son-in-law Ray knows both success and failure. He owns and manages a number of restaurants in town. If you think the plant game is fickle, try the restaurant game. Finding the financing to get a restaurant started, finding an attractive location, finding the right product, finding the supply chain and finding people to serve it — every part of the process, if done poorly, affects all the moving parts. However, if done well, everything is so much easier.

Ray has seen adversity; he met it head on —  and is now doing very well. He did not hit a home run every time, but he kept his eye on the ball and hits it well. There is a lot of Ray in all of us.

Lessons Learned From Athens Select

A number of years ago, I started a brand of plants called Athens Select — one of the early examples of university and private growers supporting a national brand together. At its peak, it involved eight to 10 licensed growers, offshore propagation and a camaraderie and cooperation among members that was second to none. It was exciting! We hit an occasional home run or two, but mainly we worked hard to keep the ball in play, and made sure we laughed a lot.

In the long run, we saw it was time to move on, but what a time we had. No one lost anything, but we all gained countless friends, colleagues and experiences that never would have happened if we hadn’t all taken a chance. There is a lot of Athens Select in all of us.

HGTV Offers New Energy And Excitement

Such enthusiasm and excitement is alive and well! Both were abundantly evident in a meeting of growers I attended a few weeks ago supporting the emergence of the HGTV Home brand. It is not trying to compete as one more plant brand, but rather as a consumer brand, and everyone in that room enthusiastically supported that niche.

Without doubt, there were many pragmatic concerns, such as questions of supply, cost and assistance with marketing. However, the excitement in the room was evident. Those involved with the HGTV brand see the HGTV pot as a magnet for their neighbors and friends. These people are not gardeners, and likely won’t be for some time, but they want something real to decorate their deck, to provide sanctuary for birds and butterflies and enhance their outdoor activities. They want plants to complement their lifestyle. The more power to them for trying. I know these consumers, it will not be easy, but what is? There is a lot of HGTV in all of us.

Not a day goes by that we don’t have challenges and opportunities. Not one of them is handed to us. We need not hit a home run, we need not worry if we strike out occasionally, but we simply have to try.

Allan Armitage was a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia for 30 years. He recently retired and remains an active consultant, author and lecturer.
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