Working Together in 2023 Will Keep Industry Strong

By Mandy Gerace, CGG, 2022 CNGA Board President

CNGA Board President Mandy Gerace, CGG

As President of the Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Growers Association (CNGA), I am proud to look back on another successful year for our organization and industry in general. The past few years have been full of ups and downs with so many changes. In 2020, we had to adapt to a new way of life and business. We didn’t know how we would survive and function in a world where many people were adjusting to working and staying home. What we learned is that people were eager to plant in their garden and take on new home projects—more than we could have imagined. Supply chain issues meant it was a challenge to keep up with demand. As we moved through 2022, we continued to see labor issues and began to feel the impacts of inflation. So, what can we expect from 2023? The two biggest hurdles for this year will likely be a continued labor shortage and a potential recession.

With an extremely low unemployment rate, labor will continue to be an issue for the new year. According to the Bureau of Statistics, Colorado’s unemployment rate is about 3.5% while nationally it is 3.7%. Your best bet may be to take advantage of H-2A seasonal visa programs to guarantee that you will have the labor force you need for the upcoming season. We know that one of the effects of COVID-19 in 2021 was that many people quit their jobs and the “quit rate” reached a 20-year high. Not only was it a challenge to get people back into the office, but many said they left due to low pay or feeling disrespected. So, as we adjust to the new normal, we need to make sure our employees feel appreciated and supported. The low unemployment rate is also a driver of wage increases, which is also a contributing factor to inflation.

Inflation will continue to be an issue in 2023. If you have been to the store in the last several months, you have seen the impacts of inflation on most of your goods. I noticed things like eggs and milk have doubled in cost. Inflation leading to a recession is highly likely, as we have seen in history. Economists expect it to be brief, but hang around for 2023.

As we move through 2023, the supply chain should improve as suppliers finally catch up to the intense demand they have been facing since 2020. The challenge for them will be not to over produce as demand starts to slow. Based on what I have heard from broker representatives and customers, sales this upcoming spring season will be down about 15% on average in our industry. We knew this would happen considering how our sales soared during COVID, so think about where your sales were in 2019: are you still up in sales? Most companies in our industry would say they are. Some companies maxed out on space, so they may be less impacted.

One of the greatest things about our industry and association is that we learn from each other and support one another. Rather than purely looking at each other as competitors, we see each other as friends. This has helped build a strong and resilient industry that is well positioned for the future no matter what is in store.

Looking ahead to 2023, I am confident that our industry will continue to thrive and continue to work together to overcome challenges that come our way. On behalf of the CNGA, I want to thank our members for their support and dedication. Together, we will continue to build a strong and vibrant industry that will thrive for many years to come.