View: Scullin On The “Family Feud” At OFA

View: Scullin On The "Family Feud" At OFA

Laurie Scullin, a Greenhouse Grower marketing columnist, recently chimed in on the back and forth between past presidents and current leaders of OFA in a letter to us. He suggests the industry needs a national organization to act as the voice on issues affecting growers. Could OFA be that voice?

It very well could be, Scullin suggests. Here is his letter in full:

I have read with some interest some of the correspondence of the OFA family feud. I was intrigued by this conflict on several levels and thought it would good to share those thoughts.

First, how great to read about someone else’s “feud” rather than one I had started. As someone who lives on the “bleeding edge” of marketing, I have from time to time gotten into the middle of this type of stress. The hard part of leading the charge to any new destination is that some of the team you lead has a different idea of where to go, and as such there is stress. It is the price one pays to “lead” and to “change.”

Second, I know most of the folks on both sides of the debate, respect all of them and am enjoying listening to thoughtful professionals differ in opinion. Truthfully, this has been more interesting and better presented than any of the televised presidential debates.

Finally, I would like to offer an opinion. These past few years have been amazing to watch in our category. We have experienced massive changes in the housing market–in both directions, we have seen the impact of consolidation of growers, expansion of big box stores, the growth/death/growth of the dot.com retail space, Gen X and Y buying homes and an enormous bull/bear/crisis market on Wall Street.
 
The upshot to all this change is that as we enter into the 2009 spring market, most of us don’t have a clue how the spring will turn out. We do not know the impact on the average bedding plant or floral purchases from the homeowner who has been pummeled by falling home equity and mutual fund balances and who feels “poorer” by some six-figure amount than a spring ago. Add in the concern over job loss as businesses tighten their spending and next spring is the most uncertain any of us have ever faced.

Back to OFA: What is needed in this type of fast-moving environment is a trade association that can keep up–or even better, stay slightly ahead–of a changing market. Can OFA be nimble and flexible enough to help growers, to help garden centers, to help all the allied members who help make this a great organization?

As many retailers are now “national” and growers ship throughout the U.S., we need a trade association that has a national outlook. Can OFA speak and act in a way to help all growers deal with national problems?

We do need to lower costs. We have always needed to lower costs. In a big box-dominated marketplace, product manufacturers in all categories look to lower cost and improve margin. But we also need to look to increase sales, both for us and for the retailer. Looking at USDA data for the past five years, all I see is less dollars of total sales despite a gain in total units. Last I looked, we pay our staffs and ourselves in dollars and not units. Can OFA look to help growers not only reduce costs, but look to help shrinking national sales and work with growers on the “sell” side of the equation?

Taking this one more step: With the market shrinking, pressure on margins and national issues affecting all growers, can OFA remain relevant as a trade association in the face of a “new” market reality?

The consumer is changing. Our product “value” to that new consumer is changing. How do we sell petunias to a Gen Y homeowner in 2009 to whom bedding plants may not carry the importance or relevance they did to her Baby Boomer mother?

When Frank Zaunscherb and I looked at the business environment regarding our new marketing company, we felt strongly that “Relevance in Hort” was the correct tone. We, as marketers, had to help clients reposition themselves and their products to face this new market reality.

I suggest that OFA is in the same situation. All the questions being raised by the “family feud’ should be put through the same market reality screen:

- Does this change make OFA more nimble?
–Does it give OFA a more national approach?
–Does this allow OFA to help growers reduce costs?
–Does this allow OFA to help growers improve their product relevance to consumers?

If we get four positive checkmarks on this list, then I suggest that is the appropriate direction for the association.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “View: Scullin On The “Family Feud” At OFA

More From State of the Industry...
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific Plug & Liner

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Vista Farms & PSI

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Latest Stories
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More
DNA-logo

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More
AmericanHort

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More