Greenhouse Grower At 25
Editor At Large Dick Meister on Greenhouse Grower's past and its future.
November 11, 2008
Greenhouses are mighty engines of production, and the growers who run them are combining sophisticated and delicate methods of growing plants with the practicalities of a profit-and-loss statement. It has long been an objective to have a publication solely for this expanding industry, and this goal is being realized with this, our premier issue.
With these words, I introduced the inaugural issue of Greenhouse Grower in January l983. This issue was a step in the evolution of a long-range plan which began with coverage in American Vegetable Grower of the astonishing growth of bedding plant production. As that coverage grew and grew, it soon became evident it deserved its own title and its own publication.
That inaugural issue, 25 years ago, pledged our best efforts to provide the most informative editorial, graphics, circulation and advertising to instruct, stimulate and update growers, suppliers, trade associations and professional floriculturists. Little did we know then that the next 25 years would be so turbulent, so filled with innovation, so driven by unforeseen events. The growth of big box stores put great pressure on independent garden centers and upset the status quo, as did management by computers, new technology like DIF, explosion in breeding and exotic new cultivars, efforts to consolidate the industry with stock market leverage, continual weather disruptions and drought, threat of climate change, the need for sustainability, the siren call of organics, continual imported and domestic pest attacks and great investment in labor saving technology.
Through these violent times, Greenhouse Grower was the leading voice to provide perspective to unsettling events, to guide and lead with accurate information, with a sound and reasonable editorial voice from knowledgeable staff-written articles, and from experts in the business all based on the best of land grant college-based scientific knowledge. This platform of leadership was provided by editors who traveled the fifty states and in Latin America, Europe and the Far East, meeting and networking to find new and interesting angles to guide readers of the magazine. No greenhouse bench was left unwatched in the search for information. At the same time, the editors defined the structure of the industry with the listing of the Top 100 Greenhouses, and showed graphically how market changes were affecting growers with changes from year to year. Greenhouse Grower was the first to give extended coverage to the Pack Trials, and dramatize breeders' efforts with awards for best new cultivars.
Greenhouse Grower Today
Now, as we mark our 25th anniversary and look forward to the next 25 years, how do we see the magazine changing? First of all, the name Greenhouse Grower is now more than a magazine title: It is a brand signifying actionable, accurate information and communication based on sound science, not only in print, but also digital over the internet. And the combination of print and digital opens opportunities for innovative conferences and face-to-face meetings. In the next 25 years, Greenhouse Grower will develop and grow communications in print, in person and online to provide specialized information, customized and timed to each grower's and each advertiser's needs. It will be a new era in communications as never before realized.
What will make the next era in communication unique is the development of synergy between the print, the digital and face-to-face events. Each will have its place to best lead and inform, and together they create an integrated approach vastly stronger than each alone. Fast breaking news can be the province of email and websites, as well as in-depth research data and results. Broad perspectives and recognition of leaders, and information which defines and sets standards for the market, as well as special graphics, are best suited for print. Conferences and other face-to-face meetings provide the ideal setting for joining together to set policy, recognize awards and educate and instruct in a classroom setting. Videos which instruct or lead opinion are very effective online, and their availability can be publicized in print and in email. One can only guess how the integration will play out. It is certain to develop in ways not yet anticipated. Interactivity will play a strong role. Polls, surveys and feedback will help shape opinions and provide leadership in unexpected ways.
Greenhouse Grower is marvelously situated to grow these new lines of communication in the years ahead, as it is part of a media company of specialized ag publications with broad resources, including Clear Windows Multimedia Division. Clear Windows is a leader in ag media providing print, in person and digital coverage of industry support and awards programs. Also the experience of sister publications on the national and international scene will be of great value. The parent company, Meister Media Worldwide, has roots in many different markets that will nourish Greenhouse Grower's efforts. The company's slogan, "Growing Minds, Feeding Dreams" provides a sound approach for the next 25 years.
Although technological advances in communication will play a big role in the next 25 years, the basics will not lose their importance. The ability to see changes even before they develop, the ability to put events in perspective and write fluently, the ability to know and comprehend even the most sophisticated technology, the ability to understand and be expert in floricultural and related sciences, and most important of all the passionate commitment to the business of floriculture and the human needs it fills, these things will make the difference for the next 25 years, as they have for the last 25.
Richard T. Meister is chairman emeritus and editor-at-large of Meister Media Worldwide.