Industry Infection

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Whether your political views are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between, we can likely agree Americans are as politically divided today as they’ve been at any point in our lifetimes.

To me, the political division is OK. I should be able to think one way while you think another. We all have different backgrounds and needs anyway, and what’s viewed as an economic, foreign policy or health care solution to one person may be a new set of problems to another.

The real problem today is how we’re addressing our differences. Civil discourse and spirited debate are gone, and Americans are resorting to name calling, screaming at the top of their lungs and playing the blame game to get their points across. Look no further than a couple of cable news networks that often make news based on how the other network covers a big story. Mud slinging between networks almost always ensues, and it’s hard to take either seriously during those times.

I was always taught to attack the argument–not the man–but we’re attacking each other’s character without knowing a thing about the man. All political parties are guilty of such attacks.

As Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter John Campanelli wrote in an Oct. 18 editorial: “It’s happening from the top, with Rep. Joe Wilson shouting ‘You lie!’ at the president and Rep. Alan Grayson calling Republicans ‘knuckle-dragging Neanderthals,’ down to the bottom, with a man showing up at a Maryland town hall meeting in August with a sign that said, ‘Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids.'”

Growers Divided

Unfortunately, politicians aren’t the only ones divided these days. Our industry is divided, too–and in more ways than one. It’s box stores against independents, generic against brands and paper against plastic. Rather than build up our own retail channel, product or container for its true value, I hear industry people tearing down the channel, product or container that poses the greatest threat to their business.

Fran Hopkins, president of Under A Foot Plant Co. and creator of Stepables, sees an industry divided, as well.
“I must say [the state of the industry] is the most disturbing I have ever seen as a grower, as an owner and as a marketer,” she says. “Instead of a unified front forging forward in this horrible economy, we are regressing into civil war. Our industry has pushed itself into every corner it can with a fight-or-flight mentality.

“I used to love this industry, but going to meetings is now a dreadful undertaking. It’s vigilante time for many. Instead of pulling together and finding a common cause to whip this bad economy, my friends and colleagues are yelling at each other and pulling the industry I love so much apart.”

Sure, we have our differences. But like divided politicians, we too can rally around common goals to build our industry up. Whether you’re growing annuals, perennials or something else in the greenhouse, you’re producing something that benefits the people who use it in multiple ways.

Your products provide beauty, help the environment, reduce stress and increase the value of homes. Let’s unite and drive our businesses forward with themes like those. Moans and groans, after all, never solved a thing.

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.

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