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The Year Ahead Looking forward to 2018

It’s been an exciting year with groundbreaking Cultivate numbers, two brand new events, and plenty of strategic advances to drive the industry forward in 2018 and beyond.

EVENTS / pg 8



What’s Ahead

2018 Outlook


Get ready for Cultivate’18 with a new and improved registration process.

AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge breaks down key issues to pay attention to.

Hear from key AmericanHort members about ways to advance your business in the new year.


About AmericanHort

Perform better, grow faster, and prepare for the future with AmericanHort A LETTER FROM KEN FISHER

AmericanHort is the national association of horticulture businesses and professionals across the spectrum of the industry. Without you there is no us, so AmericanHort undertakes the critical task of protecting, preserving, and promoting the national horticulture industry so that people like you can do what you love in an industry that thrives. Perform better, grow faster, and prepare for the future as a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association. Learn more at AmericanHort.org.

At AmericanHort, we take industry growth seriously. The coming year will find us focusing on strengthening our current programs and developing new capabilities to better serve you. As we move into 2018 and look to do more and grow stronger as the industry’s leading trade association, we’re reminded how important it is that we continuously work together. This forces us to ask key questions: How do we ensure our businesses perform at their best? How do we grow our industry, our workforce, and our organizations faster? And finally, how do we prepare for a future that’s greener for the entire industry? The answer is simple: Together. As a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association, we want to help you Perform Better, Grow Faster, and Prepare for the Future. That’s what we stand for. And together, that’s what we’ll do. Perform Better: The coming year will allow AmericanHort to share and represent best practices throughout the industry. Whether it’s an event like Cultivate or Plug & Cutting or a series of business-to-business tours, our focus will be on showcasing the best in operations management, sustainability and environmental efficiency, employee development and labor productivity, strategy planning, financial planning, consumer awareness, and more. Grow Faster: AmericanHort is committed to providing our members with the information you need to drive both business and industry forward. Better business and stronger growth begins with the right information, and we’ll be providing key resources to help you improve productivity, efficiency, margin structure, share of consumer spending, and overall industry profitability. Prepare for the Future: AmericanHort has its sights fixed firmly on the future and what it will take to ensure our industry’s continued growth and success for generations to come. This means facilitating successful succession planning


In 2018, we’ll be introducing a brand new website—stay tuned—as well as rolling out State of the Industry reports with cutting-edge data that will help you make the best-informed decisions possible. We’ll continue to grow programming aimed at helping young professionals develop their skills and expertise for successful, lifetime horticulture careers. And we’ll remain the strong national advocate on Capitol Hill for legislation that benefits all green industry businesses. AmericanHort is committed to you, our members, and the industry as a whole. When you’re with AmericanHort, you can plan on performing better, growing faster, and preparing for a future that looks much brighter. Here’s to 2018,

All Industry

AmericanHort represents the entire horticulture industry. No matter your specialty, we have the resources you need to cultivate a successful business.

Business Plus



Interior Plantscape


Garden Retail

Generation Next



With Us...and Your Peers AmericanHort.org/KC facebook.com/AmericanHort instagram.com/YourAmericanHort twitter.com/American_Hort

Ken Fisher AmericanHort, President and Chief Executive Officer KenF@AmericanHort.org

Hello@AmericanHort.org 2130 Stella Court Columbus, Ohio 43215-1033 USA (614) 487-1117 Main

AmericanHort Connect 2017:December

© 2017 AmericanHort. All rights reserved. This material may contain confidential information and it is for the sole use of AmericanHort members. The information contained herein is for general guidance and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It cannot be distributed, reprinted, retransmitted, or otherwise made public without prior written permission by AmericanHort. Please contact the editor at (614) 487-1117 for permission with acknowledgment.

AmericanHort.org 2 | AmericanHort.org

and generational transfer of current businesses, encouraging new business growth and development, and cultivating interest in horticulture as a desirable, meaningful, and rewarding career path.

P E R FOR M BETTER Highlighting best practices throughout our industry.


FA STER Providing our members with the information needed to drive both business and industry forward.


FO R THE FUTURE Ensuring our industry’s continued growth and success for generations to come.

Join us, you’ll dig it. AmericanHort.org/Join 2017:December | 3


Investing In Technology In 2018 By Neil Marek, Grower & Manager, Magnolia Gardens

Making decisions on how to make investments in your business can be difficult, but following these few simple steps can help you make sense out of what can easily become an extremely complicated process. First you must know what you need and most of the time you will need more than you have the budget for. To help in figuring out each of these first two items, gather up a team of your key managers and supervisors with the plan of coming up with a list of your needs within the foreseeable future. Now that your list is together, it must be prioritized. Because good plans take time, do not be alarmed if it takes longer than you anticipated. Consider which items can have the biggest impact to your processes as well as their ease of implementation. Once you feel like your list of projects is prioritized, you need to spend time fully analyzing each line item for its merits as a good investment. This is a critical part of 4 | AmericanHort.org

As a second-generation grower and manager at Magnolia Gardens, Neil has taken great interest in bringing his love for building and flying drones together with the agriculture market. Neil has participated in several activities and studies involving the use of drone technology in the agriculture and horticulture market, including inventory counts, crop health, and farm examination. He hopes that in the near future drones can help nurseries and farms everywhere become as efficient as possible. Below Neil explains the process Magnolia Gardens uses to know when and how to invest in technology.

considering any new equipment, process, or technology. You must first have a complete understanding of your current situation and what your production efficiencies or metrics are for a given process or piece of equipment. This can be done by identifying key pieces of data such as units produced, labor hours used to produce those units, or what your inputs might be. These key data points will differ for each project, but you are looking to track the keys points that you expect to be impacted by the addition of new equipment or technology. This information is key to making an informed and fact-based decision. If you do not know where you are now, you will not know where to go to get to where you want to be. Knowing these key points of data for your given projects might also influence how you want to prioritize them. At this point in the process, you should have a prioritized list of all the projects you are looking to accomplish and a better understanding of the key metrics for each of those items. It is now necessary to make some assumptions about how this new equipment or process

“If you do not know where you are now, you will not know where to go to get to where you want to be.” will influence those key metrics and use those assumptions to calculate what improvements you should expect after implementation. It can be very helpful to speak with someone already using this equipment or a similar process. Be sure to ask questions about actual metrics they are getting in a real-world setting and see if they have any considerations or helpful tips for you. Using these assumed improvements, you can begin to calculate what the return on investment will be. Calculations such as increases in units produced or processed per hour, lower expected return rates, or expected increases in cash flow over time are subtracted from the purchase price and implementation costs to determine how long it will take to pay for an investment, when a return can begin to be expected, and if this investment will meet your goals.

After your decisions have been made and as the project is being implemented, it is important to continue to track those key data points to make sure that the assumptions that you made are actually being met. Knowing that you are on track— or, almost more importantly, when you are not on track—allows you to make quick adjustments to be able to ensure that the return that was expected from this project is realized. Following this process will help in choosing improvement projects that will deliver measureable improvements to your processes and facilities. Neil Marek Grower & Manager, Magnolia Gardens

2017:December | 5


Your Customer Is Your Tribe By Stephanie Whitehouse, Retail General Manager, Dickman Farms

EDITOR’S INTRO Stephanie Whitehouse is retail general manager at Dickman Farms in Auburn, NY, and Community Coordinator of the AmericanHort GenNext Community. Stephanie’s ability to read trends, innovate new approaches to old challenges, and communicate a passion for horticulture have positioned her as one of the industry’s leaders. In the article below, Stephanie details a new approach for connecting with customers and developing winning strategies in 2018.

The onset of a new year always brings about a time for inward reflection of the previous year and outward goal setting for the year ahead. The world of retail is constantly changing, and sometimes things have changed just as the horticulture industry is catching onto a trend. That’s why 2018 is the perfect year to implement strategies from outside our industry to become better retailers. To use the vernacular of the elusive 26-year old demographic, it’s time to know, grow, and re-connect with your TRIBE.

Know Your Tribe How well do you know your customers? You may know your customers by name, their favorite plants, and the typical time of year we can expect to see them in the garden center, but how intimately do you know your core customer? Is your core customer who you think s/he is? Some experts have recommended focusing on specific niche demographic groups, 6 | AmericanHort.org

while others preach that putting your eggs into one age-group basket can alienate your core customer. In 2015, AmericanHort released its market research findings in the SHIFT report where it was identified that consumers have distinct motivations for purchasing garden products and can be profiled based upon their demographics, experiences, and lifestyles. In October 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that major brands such as Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, and Williams Sonoma are dramatically shifting their marketing strategies to specifically target and reach Millennials. This year Dickman Farms Garden Center identified our own niche profiles, targeting our marketing efforts on our broader demographic while creating product collections, events, and projects that resonated with each niche profile. In 2018 we’ll focus on implementing these strategies throughout the year.

Grow Your Tribe 2018 is the perfect time to tell your story. Where was your plant grown? Who grew that plant? What was the process of

cultivating this earthly wonder from cutting to blossom? Consumers will purchase products they can connect with from brands they believe in; they want to feel confident their hard-earned dollars are well spent. Telling your authentic story allows your customers to see an intimate side of your company while growing trust between the brand and the consumer. This trust in turn breeds new loyal customers. Grow your plants and grow your tribe. Reconsider your product offerings to not only meet the needs of your entire local demographic but also specific niche groups.

Re-Connect Your Tribe In today’s technological age it seems everything and everyone is connected. Yet according to The General Social Survey as reported by Forbes (February 2017) the number of Americans with zero confidants has tripled since 1985. Not only are we disconnected from each other, we are disconnected from nature. The Nature Fix by Florence Williams calls the decreasing human interaction with nature as a growing global epidemic. Indeed in 2008, the World Trade Organization reported more humans live in urban areas than rural.

for enjoying the outdoors, the brand shifted their previously product-focused messaging to a benefit or habitual-focused message. L.L. Bean recognized their customers purchase their products not only because of their quality, but more importantly because they want to hike, pitch a tent, hunt, canoe, snowshoe, and go fly fishing. L.L. Bean’s slogan perfectly speaks to and resonates with all generations, while encouraging their present and future customers to simply partake in one of their favorite hobbies— enjoying the outdoors—hopefully all the while sporting a pair of lifetime guaranteed signature Bean Boots. When creating a business strategy for 2018, strive to grow your tribe, and ask the question “How does my company and brand encourage my customers to enjoy life living with plants?”

Stephanie Whitehouse Retail General Manager, Dickman Farms

Recently, internet sensation NatureRX and outfitter L.L. Bean created national marketing campaigns focused on reconnecting with nature. “Be an Outsider,” L.L. Bean’s current slogan, was released this fall and perfectly timed with the beginning of flannel and leaf-peeping season. Selling clothing, accessories, and sporting goods 2017:December | 7




Presented by AmericanHort. The premier all-industry event in North America. Cultivate: An event for the entire green industry. Perform better, grow faster, and prepare for the future as a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association. It all comes together at Cultivate, the industry’s leading event for new knowledge, products, varieties, and connections. Join us, you’ll dig it. AmericanHort.org/Join


Learn more and register online at AmericanHort.org/Cultivate

Plug & Cutting CONFERENCE

Plug & Cutting Conference SEPTEMBER


Presented by AmericanHort to help advance the industry and bring the latest technology to the forefront. AmericanHort’s Plug & Cutting Conference is the event for young plant producers and growers from across the country. In the world of plugs and cuttings, even the smallest changes in strategy, technology, and technique can mean huge impacts on your bottom line. Sheraton Charlotte Hotel Learn more and register online at AmericanHort.org/Plug

8 | AmericanHort.org

July 14-17, 2018

Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio USA AmericanHort.org/Cultivate

Cultivate: An event for the entire green industry. Perform better, grow faster, and prepare for the future as a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association. It all comes together at Cultivate, the industry’s leading event for new knowledge, products, varieties, and connections. Join us, you’ll dig it. AmericanHort.org/Join

2017:December | 9


Cultivating success, eliminating hassle. Introducing a new and improved Cultivate’18 registration process designed to ensure successful registration and hotel bookings—with fewer hassles and headaches for all.

Registration Packages Popular!


$305 $205 $45 $25

Pricing after June 20 $450




When Do I Register? Benefits

FEBRUARY 12 – 23

MARCH 6 – 14

MARCH 16 – JUNE 20*




Trade show access X X X X

Recommended for people who need hotel rooms and want the most options.

Those who registered as Early Birds will receive an email with an exclusive day to secure hotel rooms.

Recommended for people who'd like to register and book their hotel room all at once. Hotel rooms will still be available, and prices are the same.

Keynotes X X X X

Registration only

Hotel Booking only

Registration + Hotel Booking

Block Party X X X X Unplugged X X X X New Products & Varieties Zones X X X X Live for Growers





Knowledge Center X X X X



*Order of registration does not determine the order of hotel booking. Hotel booking times are determined based on membership status.

1. Register yourself and/or your group for Cultivate at Cultivate18.org/Reg. You’ll be able to select your registration package and book hotel rooms all at once. All registration pricing remains the same and hotel options are still available.

1. Register yourself and/or your group for Cultivate anytime between February 12 – 23 at Cultivate18.org/Reg. You’ll be able to select your registration package and request number of hotel rooms. (One person can register multiple people). 2. Once you’ve successfully registered, you will be emailed an exclusive date based on your AmericanHort membership status to book your hotel room(s). This 2-step registration and hotel process eliminates the system congestion experienced in past years. • U  sing the link provided in the email you will receive, book your hotel room(s) on the designated day. Then you’re done! (One person can book multiple hotel rooms).

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Business Operation Sessions*



Industry Trends Sessions*



Plant Diagnostic Sessions*



Growing Sessions*



Research Update Sessions*



*Totalling over 120 professional development sessions over all categories!


All hotel options are available to all registrants based on hotel availability.

Order of registration during the Early-Bird period does not determine the order of hotel booking.

Only 15 rooms can be booked per hotel by the same company at the Hilton, Hyatt, and Crowne Plaza.

Any room cancellations must be done before May 22 by emailing Cultivate@AmericanHort.org. Any cancellations after close of business on May 22 will be charged for one full hotel night plus tax (per rooms reserved).

Any hotel reservations being made after June 21 can be completed by calling hotels directly.

July 14-17, 2018

Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio USA AmericanHort.org/Cultivate

2017:December | 11


Developing Your Team In 2018 By Kent Fullmer, Owner, Fullmer’s Landscaping

How will you manage your greatest asset in the upcoming season? What will you do to hone your edge so you can cut into your market? Let’s chat about how you begin the process of building a passionate team. I think passion is an attribute that deserves more attention in annual strategic planning. I want us to consider four areas that are important in emboldening and advancing the Passion in your organization. 1) Define your vision; 2) invest in your people; 3) train them; and 4) give them a sense of ownership. First, define your vision. Where there is no vision the people perish! Begin by clarifying what it is that your organization focuses on. Are you in the business of maintenance and service? Do you focus on growing quality plants in your nursery? Is your focus on a design-build landscape experience? Once you have a good understanding of the focus of your 12 | AmericanHort.org

From a backyard nursery in 1962 and a few simple jobs in those early years, Fullmer’s has grown to become the full-scale landscaping operation it is today. Kent Fullmer leads the company his father began as a oneman operation with the same passion and integrity. Although Fullmer’s Landscaping has developed considerably over the past 50 years, under Kent’s leadership, it strives to maintain its distinct family atmosphere with the simple commitment to long-lasting relationships. Here Kent shares his best experience and advice in developing strong and passionate teams.

organization, spend some time writing it out. Clearly articulate your vision and allow it to sink in. Be sure your vision involves people (you’re not doing business with plants!) and the godly principles of treating others with honesty, peace, and dignity. Next, assemble your team and talk about the vision together. This doesn’t come easily for everyone, and it can be a sizable investment of time, but the returns will be substantial. Getting everyone involved allows your team to begin developing ownership of the vision. Post a copy of your final mission statement where everyone can see it — let it be a reminder of who you are and what you hope to accomplish as you serve your clients and take on the tasks of each day. Now you’ve defined a vision, it’s time to focus on your people. Consider all the groups of people you’re interacting with on a daily basis: your clients, employees, vendors, and coworkers. Treating people with dignity and respect is part of what will create fertile ground for growing a culture of passion in your business. It is also important to spend time finding the right kind of people when it’s time to grow

“Investing in a culture of passion and the growth of your people is the most important business investment you can make. Your company will flourish when your people are also flourishing.”

your business and hire new employees. During interviews, go deeper than the typical questions and seek to understand the character of each applicant. What are they passionate about? What makes them happy? How do they exercise creativity? Share your newly polished vision with prospective employees. Do their personal goals align with this vision? If it becomes clear that this person will contribute to the vision of your organization and will become a valuable team member, hire them. And then train them. Training the people who work for you and alongside you is imperative to creating a culture of passion in your company. As you train, seek to uncover the individual skills of each person on your team and allow them to strengthen that skill to achieve expert-status. Creating opportunities like this for your people to feel important and valued will strengthen loyalty and grow their passion for the work you’re doing together. More broadly, engage in training programs for your entire staff. Cross-train between departments to develop well-rounded employees. Strengthening characteristics beneficial to the personal growth of your staff will communicate your interest in their whole person and give your team members a sense of importance. You can also convey this message of value by allowing thoughts, ideas, achievements, or struggles to be contributed openly and honestly. We do this by opening each training session with prayer and by reading a scripture and sharing a few thoughts. It’s a good time for others to speak up about what they’re learning about or ways they’re growing.

When people feel valued and important in these ways, they’ll become more passionate about the work they are doing. Your culture of passion is growing! The final key in developing the kind of company where passion can grow and thrive is to give your team a sense of ownership. Allow them to be involved in the decision-making process of your business, and give them access to pertinent information about the success and challenges of your operation. Do this by sharing and explaining financial data like profit and loss statements. Explain how to read the data and illustrate how day-to-day tasks have an effect on the big picture of business. Help them understand this information in light of your company vision and share examples of the ways they can personally impact financial statements. Sharing this information will empower your employees to take ownership of their tasks and generate ideas that can help the business grow. They will catch the vision in the most personal way by realizing the value of the part they are playing in your organization! Investing in a culture of passion and the growth of your people is the most important business investment you can make. Your company will flourish when your people are also flourishing.

Kent Fullmer Owner, Fullmer’s Landscaping

2017:December | 13



Advocacy: A Look Ahead By Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort

Here at AmericanHort, our commitment to our members is to be a key resource toward helping your business perform, grow, and prepare for the future. Our advocacy program, accordingly, prioritizes issues that contribute to your business performance, growth, and prospects for the future. Tax Reform Cometh? As 2017 winds down, all eyes are on the GOP’s tax reform push. Senate and House Republican leaders have been pushing hard to get their respective bills across the finish line by Christmas. Because the GOP approach is not likely to draw much (if any) support from Democrats, success will require minimizing intra-party defections. The two bills are significantly different, and weighing the “good vs. bad” isn’t easy. Most businesses would welcome tax simplification and rate relief; top priorities for us include protecting the option to use the cash method of accounting and providing further estate tax relief. Our director of government affairs, Tal Coley, is monitoring progress closely, so stay tuned as the effort unfolds.

14 | AmericanHort.org

Labor, Labor, Labor Horticultural businesses are struggling mightily to attract and retain a sufficient workforce. Sensible immigration reform, including better worker visa programs, is not the only answer, but it remains a key strategic priority. For Congress, the most urgent task is to decide the fate of roughly 800,000 young folks who received relief from deportation under the DACA program. If nothing is done before March, these individuals’ protection and work authorization will begin to expire over a period of months. There is a lot of sympathy in Congress for the so-called Dreamers, and many Ds and Rs are pushing for a “clean” fix that pairs a DACA solution with strategic border security investments. Immigration hard-liners want more and seek to make the E-Verify electronic employment verification program mandatory for all employers. E-Verify’s two biggest House proponents—Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)—have announced their retirement at the end of 2018, so they will push hard to make this their legacy. Our unwavering position is that E-Verify can only move forward with immigration and visa program reforms that ensure a stable and adequate workforce.

It’s a Farm Bill Year!

In Conclusion

The next Farm Bill is scheduled to take shape in 2018. For Horticulture, the Farm Bill is now a major vehicle for funding research and innovation and for addressing plant pests and diseases that threaten business performance and growth. An example of such a looming threat is the spotted lanternfly, an unwanted invasive pest from Asia that found its way to southeastern Pennsylvania and now threatens nursery plants, grapes, hops, and other crops.

The politics of the day are tumultuous and defy prediction, but regardless of how they unfold, we’ve got an advocacy compass that knows “true north.” If we stick to our values of high integrity, take the long view, seek solutions that lift the whole industry up, and put policy above politics, we’ll ultimately prevail. Thanks for your commitment and your support!

AmericanHort is leading efforts to modernize greenhouse and nursery plant certification and safe trade. These efforts have been lifted up by the Farm Bill. Looking ahead, our top priority will be to preserve and strengthen a handful of key Farm Bill programs that advance our industry.

Craig Regelbrugge AmericanHort CraigR@AmericanHort.org


.org Stay tuned for the announcement of our new website in January 2018.

Brighter. Bolder. Better. AmericanHort.org

Agriculture (including horticulture) and seasonal employer needs do enjoy significant support in Congress. Yet 2018 is an election year, which makes legislative progress even less certain. Meanwhile, we’re pushing for administrative policy and regulatory reforms that would make the H-2 programs more reliable. With both friends and enemies in the Administration, the path is tricky. 2017:December | 15

Wishes You Happy Holidays & A Prosperous New Year! Name Company Street 2 Street 1 City, State ZIP

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