AAS: Advantages Are Solid

AAS: Advantages Are Solid

All-America Selections (AAS) has developed an enviable cachet over its nearly 80 years, but taking advantage of it isn’t always easy. That was one of the themes that emerged from a panel discussion with industry leaders held during the recent annual summer tour–appropriately enough–right in the middle of McShane’s Nursery in Salinas, Calif.

A wide range of opinions was shared by the six panelists, but the panel was unanimous in one belief: the good feelings engendered by the AAS logo. In fact, many agree with Stephanie Turner of Park Seed in Greenwood, S.C., who says the logo is essentially the industry’s own Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Some panelists, however, wouldn’t go quite that far, saying it wasn’t as well known.

The moderator of the discussion was Jeanne Svob, flower seeds business manager, Syngenta Horticultural Services, who started out by asking how AAS could better integrate with nurseries. Kate Santos, director of research and development for Costa Farms of Miami, Fla., says AAS isn’t the end-all and that Costa rates products based on their performance at its gardens–not necessarily on AAS trials.

Heather Hydoski, the production manager at Armstrong Growers in California, nodded in agreement. She says she prefers looking at the performance of a series and drew some nods of her own when she added: “AAS trialing looks too complicated.”

From The Trenches

A last-minute addition to the panel subbing in for host Steve McShane was Christa Jennings, the nursery’s edible gardens specialist. She says her customers are largely ignorant of AAS. If they saw the AAS name they would likely see it in a seed catalog, she says, but most customers wouldn’t even consider starting plants from seed.

A vigorous proponent of AAS, Vaughn Fletcher, Midwest sales manager for McHutchison Hort Distributors, says he stresses the benefits of AAS winners, but he concedes he didn’t know if his customers retain the information. Turner, who markets catalogs largely through the Internet, said she thinks customers like the unbiased testing as well as testing in many locations. “It helps to have another stamp of approval,” she says.

The final panelist, Janis Kieft of Botanical Interests, a seed packet business in Broomfield, Colo., heartily agrees the AAS name carries a lot of weight with her customers. “They look for ‘AAS,'” she says.

What’s In A Name?

Svob, the moderator, asked if it was the logo that was most important, or what’s behind the logo. Kieft responded that the quality behind it was of critical importance, and Jennings agreed that it would be nice if that quality could be better elucidated. She said it would be a huge help to McShane’s customers if the nursery could put up a poster explaining precisely what the AAS logo means, and the value of its thorough testing.

“I agree,” said Hydoski, one of the panel’s growers. “It would be especially good for the landscape market because the product goes (right) into the ground.”

AAS-labeled products certainly have an advantage, agreed Santos, the other grower on the panel, but it’s important to look at the situation from the customer’s point of view. “The customer doesn’t care if it works everywhere in the country,” she says. “They want to know if it works in their own backyard.”

Selling The Salespeople

Svob, in turn, then asked the $64-milllion question: How do you educate consumers? Hydoski said that first you have to essentially market AAS to the salespeople, because if they’re not behind it, they won’t sell it to the customers. Jennings said that couldn’t be more true, and that AAS needs to do a better job. “I’ve been selling products for years and only found out after two years (they were AAS winners),” she said.

Diane Blazek, the executive director of AAS, interjected that after hearing similar sentiments in the past, the organization is taking action. She said that over the next 12 to 18 months, there will be a new website full of information explaining the AAS trial process, including downloadable and printable brochures and flyers that anyone along the distribution chain can use to better sell the AAS Winners.

Jennings says what it comes down to is that people sell what they know. “If someone comes in for a bag of soil, we’re all going to recommend the soil we know about,” she said. “You need to sell the sales people.”

Playing Field Is Moving

However, noted Fletcher, the sales manager, the game is moving online. AAS’s 79 years of sterling experience is all well and good, but it needs to be promoted. Today, that means promoting it on the Internet. TV and newspapers used to be the communication vehicles, but they’ve become too expensive for such an organization. “Let’s get AAS on the smartphones,” he says. “We’ve got to take advantage of the current technology.”

It’s not just a matter of expense, Santos says. The Internet is where it’s at for young people. “We have a new communications manager,” she says, “and the new (younger) demographic is getting all their information online.”

In sum, when you really get down to it, gardening is a hobby, an avocation that people like to talk about, they like to share. AAS may be an old institution, but its message is beautifully delivered by today’s social media. “Facebook is where people share life,” says Turner, whose company has a large Internet presence. “AAS is ideal for Facebook.”

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Varieties and Cultural Tips

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Spring Annuals

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Latest Stories
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Variet…

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Sp…

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Headliner Pink Sky" (Selecta)

August 3, 2017

Why Eccentricity is the New Black in Spring Annuals

Consumers judge plants by appearance, color impact, and ease of maintenance, which is why retailers want new spring annuals that are novel standouts.    

Read More

August 1, 2017

39 New Vegetables and Herbs for 2018

New vegetable and herb introductions for 2017 offer unique shaped fruits, distinctive foliage, intense flavors, improved disease resistance, high yields, and more. Here are 39 new vegetable and herb varieties to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More
2018 Griffin Catalog

July 31, 2017

Griffin Releases Print and Digital Versions of Its 2018…

The 250-page print catalog features more than 350 new varieties from leading breeders, while the enhanced digital version has extra features on crop culture, grower tools, and more.

Read More
Emerald-Coast-Growers-Guide-Feature-Image

July 27, 2017

Emerald Coast Growers Offers Updated Guide on its Newes…

This year’s guide features new varieties while maintaining Emerald Coast’s ornamental grass program and expanding its perennial plants line.

Read More
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 16, 2017

Pleasant View Gardens, D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Open H…

The event gives horticulture industry professionals the chance to check out nearly 80 new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles & Fragrants line.

Read More
All American Selections

July 12, 2017

All-America Selections Celebrates Milestone Anniversary…

Coinciding with its 85th anniversary celebration, AAS is hosting an open house at its new offices, and has also released its annual report.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline

Breeders call for better cooperation in protecting intellectual property while considering how stricter laws and expensive patents could impact the future of innovation.

Read More
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Holy Moly!’ (Proven Winners)

July 8, 2017

Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation…

The opportunities for innovation in plant breeding could be greatly advanced by creating an industry-led patent licensing platform.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Fleuroselect and CIOPORA Offer Organizational Leadershi…

Learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts.

Read More
Thalictrum Nimbus White (Terra Nova Nurseries)

June 30, 2017

Kelly Norris Dishes on New Plants, Going to Seed, and B…

From woody perennials to genetically modified petunias, Kelly Norris gives his take on what turned out to be a busy spring.

Read More
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More