Why We Must Invest In The Industry

Bob Dolibois

Our industry has been blessed, particularly by the nation’s demographics. In fact, the “birth” of the modern green industry coincides with the first years of the Baby Boomer generation. The Baby Boomers (birth years roughly 1946 to 1964) were the largest generation in America’s history. The disruption (favorable and unfavorable) caused by this population bulge has been likened to a “pig moving through the demographic python.”

For our industry, Baby Boomers have led to suburbia, Disneyland, office parks, town house associations, golf courses, second homes and, finally, McMansions. Without all these developments, our industry would not be what it has become.

However, this demographic blessing is temporal, not eternal. It’s ending dramatically–not only for our industry, but for the entire nation. The Generation X population cohort (born 1964 -1983) has 9 million fewer people in it. The rate of household formation in the Gen X generation is dramatically less, meaning fewer homes, fewer customers and less commercial construction. It also means fewer employees and career seekers for our businesses.

It’s a new ballgame that will last for at least 10 years, until Gen Y (born 1984-present) reaches the age of prime buying years for our products and services. Gen Y is actually bigger than the Baby Boomers. That’s good news for those of us that can hang in there that long.

Coping With Change

As an industry, this new ballgame has some significant new rules:

1 We’re on our own as never before. Our industry has enjoyed a “near-free” ride in two crucial elements of business: R&D and marketing. Agriculture has enjoyed reduced pricing for research and development. Our sugar daddy has been the Extension service and he’s losing stamina. As for marketing, our industry has benefited from a growing market (pun intended) driven not by our own investment and ingenuity, but by the Baby Boomers growing up. Our industry’s price points haven’t included these customary expenses.

2 A new member on the opposing team: Ignorance. Most younger consumers do not understand how to garden satisfyingly. Furthermore, the managed landscape is undervalued, both economically and environmentally. The managed landscape is taken for granted. Water restrictions. Noise abatement. Labor availability. Waste disposal. All these community considerations increasingly work against us, if the value of the managed landscape is not understood.

3 The industry is under-protected. Government is looking for ways to staunch hemorrhaging budgets. Only the industries that actively engage in “the business of business” will emerge unmolested. Our industry’s businesses collectively are too uninformed and unengaged in influencing local, state and federal government decisions. The cost of protecting industry interests through the work of our associations is borne by way too few businesses, some of which are going under. Burden sharing in the cost of prevention beats the crippling costs of cure every time.

In short, the challenge for our industry has gone from figuring out how to harvest a bumper crop (which we didn’t have to plant ourselves) to figuring out how to continue eating while we plant the field– through collective investment–for an even greater crop a decade from now. Join us in the effort.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping Horticulture

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From Day One

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Best Practices for Quality

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Latest Stories
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping H…

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

July 8, 2017

How You Can Use Lifestyle Marketing to Sell Plants

Should we be trying to educate consumers into loving what we like to produce, or should we allow consumers to educate us into producing what they love?

Read More
Metrolina Make a Wish Greenhouse

July 7, 2017

Metrolina Builds, Decorates Greenhouse for Young Cancer…

When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.

Read More
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Co…

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More