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The Business of Nursery: Cultivate 2016 Recap

By: Bill Schrodel, Farm Credit Loan Officer

The green industry is one I know well. As a loan officer with Farm Credit, many of my customers are in the nursery garden business. I help them carve their path to success, whether it is by teaching them nursery business requirements or by simply helping them with their nursery business plan. Whatever stage of the business process they are in, I enjoy learning about their overall goals and helping them get to where they want to be.

This past July, I had the pleasure of attending the Cultivate16 Conference in Columbus, Ohio. This is the nation’s largest horticultural event and features not only growers and buyers, but also many of the top new green industry technology representatives. It’s important for me to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the green industry, and this conference offered a ton of excellent insights, as well as informative nursery business seminars.

While there, I was struck by the number of robotic technologies that not only encompassed both seeding and potting, but also included the use of automated systems to monitor plant health and environmental conditions in greenhouses. This type of modernized equipment is major for the industry, and will only become more popular over time.

There were great speakers and many learning opportunities throughout the conference. One of the speakers, Scott Steinberg, gave a great talk on “What we do together matters”.  He covered how success is a function of inputs from the team, customers, strategy, ideas, analysis, market, planning, and goals.  Sometimes we focus on big ideas, but in reality, it’s the little bets that really pay off over time.

I enjoyed seeing growers local to our area, like Walnut Springs Nursery (Cort Smith and Pete Gilmore), who were there to promote “sporticulture” – a means to drive sales by selling branded logos of football and other sports teams on their pots and related outdoor products.

Overall, this was a great chance to see new plant varieties and upcoming growing technologies, as well as ways of promoting the sales of plants with customer-driven presentations and potting systems. I think we are seeing a new growth period in the nursery business!