Why OFA Is Adapting – And Why Your Business Should Too

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Michael Geary

If you Google the expression “adapt or die,” you find thousands of references to books, whitepapers, newspaper articles, speeches and journal articles confirming the need to change. “Adapt or die” is not a creative phrase, but it’s certainly clear: Like death and taxes, we seem to have no alternative.

The need to transform is not unique to horticulture. All industries have experienced pain over the last few years and still today. Businesses are struggling, consumers are just starting to gain some financial ground, and we know it’s going to be a few more years before the global economy is back to normal– whatever “normal” means. In the meantime, we cannot sit back and wait for change to come to us. OFA is certainly not going to relax and hope for the best.

As we announced two years ago, OFA’s strategic plan includes an objective to expand our relationships with other industry associations. Why? Our board of directors understands that going it alone is 20th century thinking that could kill an organization.

A New Strategy

With this perspective, we recently decided to leapfrog our “relationship” strategy by organizing a joint venture with the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA).

We are adapting our operations in order to ensure the viability of our equally successful organizations, so that we can continue to effectively serve our members and the industry that is entrusted to us. Like you, we need to remain relevant to our customers.

The joint venture is more than just offering discounts to each other’s conferences. We are adapting so that key organizational operations will be integrated for efficiency and to improve value.

Yet we will remain discrete organizations. This is not a merger, but in several years, if both organizations see the joint venture as a value to our members and they can benefit from further collaboration, our intention is to form a new, single premier horticulture organization serving North America.

More specifically, the joint venture will increase participation in advocacy efforts; further expand and offer more robust educational programs; widen outreach to consumers; nurture commerce opportunities in order to connect more industry buyers and sellers; enhance support for research and higher education; and unite our thousands of member companies to create a stronger voice and vision for the industry.

These are things that only trade associations can provide. The list may seem short, but it is an expansive and complex effort. This is not an overnight solution, and it will take time to implement. Even if change is difficult, we must do what is necessary for long-term viability.


My overlying point is that businesses, OFA and ANLA included, can no longer count on sustainable growth by continuing to do the same old things. We must adapt to the changing times and needs.

Charles Darwin once wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Nobody wants their business to be a dinosaur – we all know what happened to them.

Michael Geary is president and CEO of AmericanHort. Learn more about the association by visiting AmericanHort.org.

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