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A Busy Winter, Busy Spring Filled with Happenings

Friday, February 10, 2017
Article by: FNGLA President Robert Shoelson, FCLC

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The New Year is off to a running start. As busy as my December was, January was no different.  The TPIE (Tropical Plant and Industry Exhibition) was held January 18-20 in Fort Lauderdale.  If you have never attended this show, you are definitely missing out. This is one of the most colorful, beautiful tradeshows you will ever attend. 

I had the pleasure of presenting the TPIE booth awards this year and all I can say is the judges did not have an easy time with so many spectacular booths! Congratulations to all of the winners and special congratulations to Costa Farms for earning the award for Best of Show.

As soon as the show floor closed that first day, the party moved outside to the front of the convention center.  All of the exhibitors and attendees poured out to mix and mingle.  The weather was perfect and it seemed everyone was happy with the traffic and business from the first day. This happened to be the first time my company, Getting Green, exhibited at TPIE. We had been trying to expand into the foliage and export markets and could think of no better way to achieve this goal than by attending the TPIE Show. I just want to say we made several good contacts from the show and one of these is turning out to be a great potential customer. That’s all it takes to make the show worthwhile. I’m sure we will be exhibiting at TPIE for a long time to come.

On the second TPIE evening, I had the pleasure of attending the National Horticulture Foundation’s reception. No, you are not reading that incorrectly. The National Foliage Foundation is changing its name and made the announcement during the party. In part, this change is underway as recognition that the Foundation’s far-reaching impacts on scientific research and educational scholarships continue to be much broader than tropical foliage and houseplants which will remain a primary focus. There are many other aspects of our horticultural industry which this Foundation embraces, so it’s easy to see why the name is changing. NHF President David Liu (Foliage Design Systems) did a remarkable job as host and emcee of the evening. It was great to see all of the donations made by the end of the evening.

Overall TPIE was a huge success. All the exhibit booth spaces were sold out and more than 6,300 attendees representing 47 states and 49 countries walked the aisles.  Perhaps the most impressive stat is the 53% increase in interiorscape buyers over last year!  There was a very positive attitude from the exhibitors and attendees with whom I spoke and the overall consensus was business is growing and people are buying plants.

The following week, I headed back up to Orlando to attend a meeting for the ‘Flip My Florida Yard’ television show with which FNGLA has partnered.  The message is homeowners can have beautiful landscapes which are environmentally friendly! We are working with the show to create four episodes in four areas of our state where each home will have its landscape transformed into a beautiful, water efficient and easy-to-maintain yard.  

One episode has already been filmed in the Gainesville area thanks to the wonderful hands-on leadership of FNGLA’s Frontrunners Chapter. The next landscape installation will be filmed in Orlando, followed by one in Broward County and the fourth show will be filmed in the Tampa area.  These episodes will air statewide sometime this spring on the ABC television network. I will be sure to keep you posted.

Just three short days later, I ventured back to the center of our state for FNGLA’s Landscape Division Leaders’ meeting.  This was a very productive and informative meeting with some of the best landscape professionals around the state. We discussed some of the major issues currently affecting the landscape industry:  irrigation, labor shortages, plant material shortages and worker’s compensation insurance rates. There are many folks out there who still perceive FNGLA as a nursery-only association. This is just not the case any longer. FNGLA is tackling some of these issues affecting the huge landscape segment of our industry.  The majority of new members joining FNGLA are landscape firms who are realizing the benefits of being part of this great association. 

One of the issues I mentioned which we addressed is probably the most important to our industry - water.  As Florida’s population rises, so does the demand for water. FNGLA’s landscape leaders believe a well-rounded irrigation technician certification is needed to raise the education and professional training for landscape workers as we move forward. This new FNGLA certification is just now being developed. Once launched, it will be instrumental in helping our industry play an even bigger role in reducing overall water use in the landscape. Having the skills and knowledge to install and maintain an efficient irrigation system for a landscape is just as important as putting the right plant in the right place.

February doesn’t look like it will be slowing down much. I will be headed up to the Jacksonville Landscape Show on February 9 & 10. Soon afterwards, the FNGLA Board of Directors will head to Tallahassee to sit down with some of the newly elected state senators and representatives.  I am very much looking forward to that trip.

Stay warm and see you in March.

Robert Shoelson, FCLC

Getting Green Plant Service, Inc. (Davie) & Betrock Information Systems, Inc. (Hollywood)


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