What About Mentorships?

You know what there needs to be more of around here? There needs to be more mentors…or even just some sort of way to connect people in this industry.

When I first started doing a little bit of traveling with my dad I personally didn’t know many people in this business. And it can be scary to put yourself out there and show up to some tradeshow cocktail function where you don’t know a single person. I see it all the time, especially with young people. They show up because they would like to meet new people and form connections with others who have similar interests, but everyone has their little groups already and everyone else seems to already know each other…and it can be intimidating. Yeah, I’ve felt it and I’ve been there before too.

Luckily for me I usually had my dad to fall back on. He would introduce me to people and I’d get to tag along for dinners and cocktails. But not everyone has someone to show them around.

Even if it’s just a distant acquaintance across the country or someone you know you can have lunch with once a year at the Short Course – it would be nice if people had a place where they could find others to connect with. A place to connect the newbie with the old-timer with a bit of advice or the first time tradeshow attendee with the seasoned exhibitor who wouldn’t mind sparing 20 minutes to show him the must see’s.

I know there are already lots of forums and facebook pages and associations out there, but I’m talking about a place where the sole purpose is to form these sort of connections. I’d feel silly throwing out a “Hey, let’s meet for drinks” on a facebook page where everyone is talking about plant ph or recent county regulations or things IGC’s should do…

Yes, It’s More Talk About Change…

Are you sick of hearing about it lately – the whole national campaign idea and what not? Well, too bad – you need to hear more of it so it can saturate deep into your brain 🙂 …

Today I thought I’d share some opinions from people other than myself or someone that is related to me (you all read what my dad had to say)…Marc Higaki of Bay City Flower Company in Half Moon Bay sent his thoughts over to my dad after reading his article in Greenhouse Grower:

…I enjoyed reading your article…As a consumer who is a Gen X’er, I rarely purchase plants, and I’m immersed in the industry!  

You hit on some great topics and there is a need for a change in this industry. One particular quote I came across a few years back that has stuck with me – “People do not change because they see the light, they change because they feel the heat.” By reading your article I think you’re one of the few that “sees the light.” 

I don’t think this industry needs to reinvent the wheel, we just need to listen to our customer.  

I’m going to use Apple as an example…Apple (or Steve Jobs) did not invent the computer, the MP3 player, the phone, the tablet pc, or the retail store. But what he did do was make each one of those pieces extremely user friendly – easy to use. In fact those items do not include a user manual, that’s how easy they are to use. 

Apple ( S. Jobs) made them extremely appealing to everyone, not just to the tech geek, but to soccer moms as well.  He turned a boring computer and bland phones into the Mac and iPhone which are “sexy” and simple. And sexy and simple sells in the US – this we all know. 

As I have attended various SAF and OFA events/seminars over the last 6 years, I always hear, “Did you know I am getting the same price for my pointsettias (or insert crop here) as I did 30 years ago!” And my response has been “Well, what are you doing differently now that you did not 30 years ago?” Or “What perceived value have you added to warrant a price increase?” 99.9% of the time, the response I get is, “Well, my costs have increased” 

Considering consumer goods, the trend has been a decrease in price as an item matures (food and clothing are necessities and are not included). CD players, microwaves, and DVD players were all very expensive at one time…

Marc really makes some great points – it’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about changing consumer’s perceived value in our products and marketing our plants in a way that will appeal to them. Let’s turn ‘I don’t really need…’ into ‘I really want…’ – how will we do this? I know, I know, it’s easier said then done. We’ll have to touch upon this more later – brainstorm out loud, share ideas, collaborate with one another – let’s talk about it another post to follow.

I’d also like to mention – Art Parkerson of Lancaster Farms in Virginia. Have you heard of his website OpenHort? If you haven’t you need to get on over there asap and check it out. He’s all about trying to change the consumer’s perceived value of our plants and he believes we can achieve that by sharing information and innovating on each other’s ideas. Sounds good to me! Check out his TED post – food for thought!

Marc and Art, just by taking the time to put their thoughts into physical form and share them with someone else – are taking the step towards change, towards helping our industry to transition and evolve to where it must go. If we each contribute something, no matter how small – even by leaving a comment on a blog post or sharing it with someone else…if we each contribute towards the bigger picture, I believe we can get there!

Got Plants? Part 2

Greenhouse Grower

My dad’s chiming in on all of this talk about a national campaign. Check out his article on Greenhouse Grower’s website. Leave a comment. What’s your two cents on all of this? – the good, the bad, the potentially ugly…

I’m all for something of the sort! My only fear is that the same sort of people will be in charge of the campaign and the result will be the same old look that appeals to the same old demographic. The point is to implement a campaign that will appeal to both our current audience as well as a new younger customer base as well.

Have you seen all the pistachio campaign commercials lately? They’re targeting a younger crowd by featuring current reality stars and keeping their ads simple and funny. That’s not necessarily the exact look we want, but let’s keep an open mind…

Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian, from Khloe & Lamar

Wee Man, from Jackass

Snooki, from the Jersey Shore

Got Plants?

Greenhouse Grower is taking a poll right now on whether or not you would contribute towards funding a national campaign like the ‘Got Milk’ ads – but for our industry (and no it’s not going to be ‘Got Plants’ – we can do better than that!).

Here and there people have been talking about it for years now. Individuals have brought it up, it’s been discussed amongst groups, brought up at meetings – yet we’re no where closer to enacting anything than we were then.

Currently the poll shows people being almost equally divided into Yes, Not Sure, and No – with the No’s at a slightly higher percentage. And although I feel ‘Yes’ should be the overwhelming majority, those numbers seem to reflect the general consensus out there.

I can understand having doubts as to how this will be executed and how your two cents will be used, but I can’t understand why the majority are not for implementing some sort of effort to change consumer’s perceived value of our products. If we can change their perception then everyone up and down the supply chain will benefit.

This poll is taking the teeny-tiniest, most miniscule step towards trying to change the way the consumer thinks of plants – and the majority are against it. Geez, we’re basically shutting it down at just the very thought of such an idea.

If we change nothing, then nothing will change – with the current state of things, is that what we all really want?

Generational Differences

Frauke Theilking Generation Photo Project

The next generation seems to be a hot topic right now! Probably because all of us nursery “kids” are now getting to that age where we’re becoming full fledged adults – not just the 18 year old kind – but the full-time job, first house, married with or without kids kind of adults. And as we mature and take on more responsiblity, the norm starts to shift. ‘This is the way it’s been done for years’ is being questioned and perhaps even challenged. But what do I know, maybe it’s not like that for everyone, but it’s definitely like that over here at our nursery (and I bet if your case is otherwise, then your children may not be voicing their difference of opinion, but I’m sure they harbor some). 

I consider my parents fairly open-minded. I grew up in a somewhat democratic family, where you had a say and a voice, but but ultimately my parents still made the decisions. So growing up this way and being raised with the nursery as such an integrated part of our lives, this sense of democracy has carried its way over as I stepped into the family business. Within the last few years as I’ve started my own family and hit 30 (eek! – well actually 31 one as of yesterday!), my sense of maturity has really evolved and I officially feel old when strolling by CSUF on the way to a football game.

Previously my only concern was marketing and outside of that I really had little interest in else what was going on. Now, I have a hard time accepting my previous notions of ‘eh, it’s not my problem’ when it comes to something that can be done better at the nursery. This has as led to voicing my opinions more adamantly than I had in the past in regards to issues at the company and ways that we do things around here…which had been consistently received with resistance, anger and excuses…which at its worse point earlier this year eventually led to a huge blow up between my dad and I, which then resulted in me turning in my future resignation at the end of this year – but before you run away with this – we ended up working it out and gaining a better understanding of each other. And I think my dad is finally coming to the realization that the next generation may have ideas worth hearing (other than our annual catalog themes which we argue about every year, because every year he thinks I’ve pushed the envelope too far…but that’s another story). I know I can be stubborn and frustrating at times, but guess who I get that from?

I’m not saying that what my parents have created isn’t a feat in itself or that they have nothing to contribute to the company anymore – it’s far from that. All I’m saying is this, “If you change nothing, nothing will change” – so don’t be surprised when the same issues arise again and again. Maybe it’s time to start allowing the new blood take the reins a little…maybe it’s time to allow us “kids” to show you that we’re not kids anymore…


(image via the Frauke Theilking ‘Generation’ photo project)

This is The Cultivate Project.

The purpose behind it is to stir up a stagnant way of thinking in the horticulture industry in the hopes of cultivating new ideas and bonds between its members in an effort to benefit us all…

Recently, I was asked to speak to about marketing and it’s really forced me to sit down and organize my thoughts – which are usually all over the place – bouncing around in my mind and scattered throughout numerous notebooks and random sheets of scrap paper.

This will be my place where I can compile my thoughts and voice my opinions about how we can help this industry to evolve and I encourage you to do the same and leave your comments behind. Change is good and if enough of us get on board it can happen.

Brush aside your fears…of looking bad…of being wrong…of the unknown…and get on board with change.

Now for a little something I found that seems to summarize it up so nicely:

Remember that even if you’re thinking big, it’s the small things you do every day that make a difference.

…It’s the small things that create the possibility for huge change…it’s not just having your eyes on the future…Because it’s right here, right now. That change is possible. It’s this moment that we must live in.

That’s where transformation culminates.

It’s in this moment that the revolution takes place.

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