Taking Care Of Business

One size or approach doesn’t fit all. As a publisher or specialized content provider, one of our biggest challenges is to meet the diverse needs of our readers — the wide range of growers who make up the commercial floriculture industry.

In addition to delivering well-rounded issues each month, we are gaining more experience in the digital realm developing our Web site and weekly e-newsletter, BenchRunner. Many of you say you like getting the weekly news tidbits in addition to the magazine.

We’ve also experimented with hosting in-person activities, like industry luncheons and the Your Turn To Grow series of regional seminars, which refreshed growers on production basics and brought them up to date on pH management, media testing and crop protection.

This year we’ve been working on something completely new for the owners and top decision makers of the largest growing operations called Greenhouse Xchange. From Oct. 15-18, we’ll be hosting 21 of our Top 100 Growers at a resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., and facilitating strategic meetings with up to 15 suppliers of their choice. These meetings will be held one-on-one in private suites and completely confidential. (No editors will be eavesdropping.)

While participating growers and vendors acknowledge they could hold these types of meetings on their own, the idea of being able to accomplish months worth of business in three days is extremely appealing. They’re also looking forward to networking with their peers during meals and receptions. Just think of the power of who is going to be in that dining room.

Our partners in this venture are Vertical Xchange in Minnesota. Formerly in the tradeshow management business, the founder launched this entrepeneurial concept to offer a focused, intimate and efficient alternative to a traditional tradeshow. Vertical Xchange has worked with publishers in diverse industries ranging from power sports equipment to paper manufacturing and food engineering. We’re excited to be the first to bring this to our industry and the first to do this at Meister Media Worldwide. We’ll be paving the way for other specialty agriculture markets.

We made sure the event would be grower driven and conducted exploratory interviews to assess interest and support. Once growers committed, we conducted more extensive interviews to assess needs and interests for profiles. These needs and interests led to which vendors would be invited to participate and how many in each product or service category. Growers then decided which specific vendors they would like to meet with.

The most pressing needs are:
• Equipment and methods to save labor.
• Alternative fuel sources and ways to increase energy efficiency.
• Facility upgrades, retrofits and expansion plans.
• Any innovation that will reduce costs or enhance margins.

Although I’ve worked with most of these growers over the years on stories, it was nice to check in with them and have very candid discussions about their most pressing business issues and challenges. It really recharged me editorially and was also a great opportunity for our newer editors to get acquainted with these industry leaders.

Several of the growers are serving on an advisory board to guide the future of this event. Our goal is for all participants to go home with solutions that will boost their bottom lines and grow their business. If we can do that, it will be a success.

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