OFA, ANLA ready for first joint event

January 28, 2013 -  By
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COLUMBUS, OHIO and WASHINGTON—This week, OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals and the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) will launch their first joint event as they co-host Next Level, an educational conference designed to help participants develop their business acumen and personal leadership skills. Next Level will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. The conference represents one of the significant achievements of the proposed consolidation between the two groups.

“Beginning last summer, a volunteer advisory group made up of members from both organizations worked with our collective staff to develop this built-from-scratch Next Level conference. This event is the beginning of great things to come for our organizations and our profession,” says Michael Geary, CAE. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, Geary assumed the responsibilities as ANLA executive vice president, and now serves as the chief staff executive of both organizations, with offices in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington. After serving as ANLA’s executive vice president for 21 years, Bob Dolibois retired on Dec. 31, 2012.

Following one year of working together in a joint venture structure, the boards of directors for both organizations resolved at the end of last year to continue supporting the development of a comprehensive horticultural trade association, including the planned governance structure. The plan is to launch the new association by Jan. 1, 2014, pending approval by members. The new organization will represent the whole of the ornamental plant industry, including breeders, greenhouse and nursery growers, garden center retailers, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and all of those who are part of the industry supply chain.

“Some people wonder why we are doing this. It’s because our members want this to happen,” says Bob Terry, ANLA’s president and owner of Fisher Farms in Gaston, Ore. A membership and organizational study performed at the end of 2011 indicated members of both associations want the organizations to work closer to unify the industry.

“Members clearly expressed their preference for their association to be all encompassing—one that touches and links all pieces of the horticulture industry. From breeders to the independent retailers, we believe this can be best accomplished by combining our groups into one organization,” Terry says.

“The combined 215 years of leadership, service, knowledge and history of these two organizations will result in a more robust experience for our members and ensure the vitality of the horticulture industry,” says Mike McCabe, OFA’s president and co-owner of McCabe’s Greenhouse & Floral in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Before the consolidation is finalized the two organizations will be working to secure the formal support of their respective memberships, merge operations, complete corporate and legal requirements, determine a dues structure, and confirm a new name, among other activities. In the meantime, both groups will continue to offer their respective member services and industry-wide programs. As progress continues, updates will be shared with members and made public at OneVoiceOneIndustry.com.

“It’s a very exciting time for the horticulture industry,” says Geary. “The future success of the industry, which includes the entire supply chain, will require different thinking and grander strategies from all of us.”

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LM Staff

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