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...
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Award

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties For Fall

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
Calibrachoa Chameleon Sunshine Berry (Westflowers) - Feature

June 9, 2016

Fall Crop Alternatives That Can Increase Your Sales

There’s a lot of competition for grabbing your share of fall mum sales. Give your program a boost with new varieties that complement traditional fall crops.

Read More

June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of Cali…

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

Read More
Carex 'Eversheen' (Hoffman Nursery)

June 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Has A New 30-Year Anniversary Look!

The new redesign of the Hoffman Nursery website packs in more content than ever with updated resources and 30 years of experience growing grasses.

Read More
GG June Cover image

June 6, 2016

The State Of Plant Breeding In 2016

Breeding companies look to strengthen their competitive advantage, easing the way for growers to procure new plant varieties and for consumers to grow with confidence.

Read More
Petunia Queen of Hearts

June 1, 2016

Danziger Introducing New Petunia Amore Series, And More…

Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm is planning to introduce 60 new varieties from its 2016-17 collection at the annual event, including petunias, bidens, and calibrachoa.

Read More
Nathan Lamkey Chuck Pavlich Allan Armitage talk about muckgenia

May 31, 2016

Allan Armitage: Three Trends (Good And Bad) That Caught…

We need to put the same energies we invest into California Spring Trials to get plants into consumers’ hands and encourage young people in the industry to attend.

Read More
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Poll…

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnersh…

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]