Five Questions With … Dave Doolittle
How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today?
Well, let’s face it: There is nothing but skepticism and negativity surrounding our economy in general, and that tends to harvest poor morale throughout all industries–not just horticulture.
Fortunately for us, at some time in our lives we’ve all made the decision to choose a career path working with plants, and I honestly believe there is a bond felt among horticulturists that promotes positivity. We grow the plants that our communities incorporate into our landscapes that provide a feeling of “home.” I don’t have a degree in economics, nor do I claim to have any profound knowledge of foresight, but I do know this: Everyone enjoys the comfort of “home.”
Has our industry entered a new era or paradigm shift? Please explain why or why not.
The floriculture industry is just like any other industry–times are tough–but as I mentioned in the previous question, we provide the most rewarding product available. Plants are an inexpensive means of enhancing what is most important to all of us: our homes and communities. I firmly believe the state of our industry is not only strong, but will persevere as an entirely new generation discovers the glory of gardening.
Has there been a changing of the guard in industry leadership? Please explain your answer.
Not yet, and in many ways that can be a very scary thing. When I attend industry events, I’m often jokingly–I hope–referred to as a kid or a member of “the other generation.” The truth is, there is a huge generation gap between the current industry leadership and the future leaders of horticulture.
What are the greatest challenges growers are facing today?
Nowadays, it’s near impossible to find funding for potential growth.
What are the greatest opportunities for growers to build their business?
Encouraging their strongest employees and promoting an environment that makes these employees never want to leave their source of income: your nursery. A lot of people might answer this question by saying “investing in cutting edge improvements in technology that decrease labor,” but no machine has a heart. In my opinion, a satisfied employee that truly believes in the better good of your nursery operation is the strongest investment a company can make.
The freshest and most profitable ideas often develop within an organization from employees who have had the opportunity to witness the evolution and growth of the nurseries they work for.