How You Can Be a Hero for the Horticulture Industry

Regular attendees of Cultivate know that the morning keynotes that start each day often provide inspiring ideas that business owners and employees can take back to their operations. This year was no exception.

Kevin Brown kicked off Sunday’s festivities by asking the audience one simple question: “What does a hero look like?” While your answers may vary, the common theme in all traits of a hero, Brown said, was someone who knows they can never do wrong doing the right thing.

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Specifically, Brown highlighted four characteristics a hero has.

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown

• “Heroes are extraordinary people who choose not to be ordinary.” Brown noted that no one is ordinary because we are all unique, but it’s all too easy to think you are ordinary and not be willing to do extraordinary things.
• Heroes treat their customers like they are the only person in the room.
• Heroes aim to be “the” choice for someone who wants something, not “a” choice.
• Heroes aim to create an exceptional experience for their customers. In many cases, this means being willing and able to give the customer what they want, even if they do not have it available.

State of the Horticulture Industry: Seven Things You Need to Know

Ken Fisher

Ken Fisher

The Monday keynote was a three-headed State of the Industry presentation from AmericanHort. President and CEO Ken Fisher began by noting that, overall, the state of horticulture is strong. However, there are some lingering concerns such as an inadequate industry margin structure, which Fisher says AmericanHort says will be launching a study to investigate.

Labor is, of course, a huge issue, as well as bringing in a future generation of industry leaders. To address this, Fisher says AmericanHort is looking at the development of an Early Career Leadership Academy, with more information to come.

At the same time, there are trends the industry needs to be monitoring, including:
• Climate research. Fisher pointed out that research into changing climate conditions can lead to a better understanding of how trees and shrubs affect climate, and this could be an opportunity for the industry.

“Parts of the proposed Green New Deal could even be a boost for us,” Fisher says.

• Advocacy. Fisher says there is a greater need than ever for industry advocacy.

“Increased regulations can affect small businesses particularly hard,” noted Fisher, who urged attendees to consider registering for AmericanHort’s Impact Washington Summit in the nation’s capital in September.

Following Fisher’s comments, AmericanHort Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge brought attendees up to speed on regulatory issues, most notably H-2A reform and trucking concerns.

On labor, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently posted on its website a copy of the long-awaited H-2A modernization proposed rule.

“There’s been cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on this topic, and we hope to see real H-2A reform being implemented soon,” Regelbrugge says.

The future of trucking regulation is a bit more murky, as it is still unclear how much agriculture will be influenced by the electronic logging mandate.

“We are expecting changes in the hours of service and flexibility in loading and unloading trucks,” Regelbrugge says.

Shortly after Fisher’s remarks, AmericanHort Chief Economist Charlie Hall presented an economic outlook for the green industry.

“As an industry, we tend to focus on the ‘prettiness’ of plants, rather than their environmental benefits,” said Hall. “Today’s young plant buyers value the environment more than anything else, and catering to them may help you find new customers,” Hall said.