Your Voice Matters

By Matt Edmundson, 2023 CNGA Board President

CNGA Board President Matt Edmundson, CGG

As we wrap up another season, we take time to assess where we are and where we want to go. Every year is different and this one had its share of challenges with heavier than normal rain and warm weather into the fall. Economic challenges continue to bring headwinds for some sectors of our industry with interest rates at higher levels and the hangover of inflation still felt.

The good news is that economic challenges seem to be settling down with the Federal Reserve expecting to cut rates in 2024 which helps the housing market and our businesses. It’s interesting to consider how resilient our industry is—given the nature of what we sell and how long it takes to come to market—that we weather these smaller economic bumps in the road differently than many other industries. Innovation and technology are accelerating and yet our industry tends to lag in adoption and innovation. However, there are great opportunities for those who are on the front edge of the trends, especially with the shifting demographics in our industry and the challenge of attracting younger talented workers into the fold.

Having been in this business since I was 12 years old, I can identify some overarching beliefs, trends, and priorities from those who came before us. Historically, it was more important to invest in more capacity including inventory and land, and eventually some level of mechanization and computerization of our office functions. For hiring, the main filter we often rely on is the level of subject matter expertise in horticulture. And yet, finding ways to invest in those people to help them develop additional skills that would push our industry forward seems to be lacking. We are in the midst of one of the greatest industry opportunities with regard to public perception of the importance and impact of our products, yet we can’t seem to grasp a good message or story to tell to complete the slam dunk right in front of us. The public already believes that plants and trees are an important answer to combating climate change. We don’t have to convince them because they already believe it! So, why do we continue to market our products for their ornamental features and benefits, positioning ourselves as the commodities of old?

CNGA is working to lead the way, as it always has, by providing a platform for education for its members and their employees. Many of our programs and events are well-attended and have high value for participants. However, we have one situation we need your help with and that’s the Horticulture Leadership Retreat held in the mountains every fall. This year’s event was sparsely attended, a trend for the last few years. Since our association’s core mission is to serve its members (you) according to priorities members identify as valuable and important. We exist to serve you. We need your feedback on why you don’t choose to attend this event or send staff. We need your input to identify things that keep you awake at night so we can provide resources and programs that help you, not only survive, but thrive in an increasingly challenging environment in which to operate a business profitably. So, my challenge to you is to consider what is missing in your world that CNGA can address to help you be more successful. At the next CNGA event you attend, please approach staff or board members to let them know what’s on your mind. Of course, you are always invited to drop an email or pick up the phone to share your thoughts. Your voice matters! We really do welcome your feedback so our association can remain not only relevant, but essential to your success and future.