AmericanHort was officially established on the first day of this year. Their mission is to “unite, promote, and advance our industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research.” They are the result of the merging of the Association of Horticultural Professionals (OFA) and the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) voting in an almost unanimous decision. They have been working for the last two years to consolidate these organizations. So what does this mean for you? AmericanHort has kept the “OFA” scholarship which is available to students. This scholarship includes a one year student membership, the student short course fee, and room and board to attend the short course in Columbus, Ohio in late July. Most of all, this means a greater voice in government issues, one official industry standard, and a broader reach for helpful information. This
exemplifies their vision “to be the leading and unifying organization for the horticulture industry in order to cultivate successful businesses, and for our industry to enhance lives through the benefits of plants.” The benefits of membership include free education resources, access to free webinars, the Garden University, and many discounts on events, magazines, rental cars, shipping, and more. Their website is up and running beautifully and we encourage you to check it out and see the great information they have available.
HORT 299 is a class dedicated to hearing industry leaders talk to you about the day to day operations of their business. There are many benefits to seminar and you don’t have to be enrolled in the class to receive them. With all the many leaders in the industry coming here to talk to students it is a great time to network with them. Strike up a conversation, or have a resume or personal business card on hand. These people work on first impressions and are always looking to hire. Whether you are a freshmen or a senior always try and soak up what they are saying and make sure you stay in contact with them. Sometimes its about who they know, and that is what networking is all about. Here is a link to the schedule for the semester.
Outback Landscape started out with Chase Coates mowing lawns to earn some extra cash in high school. Now, almost 10 years later, Outback Landscape is a full service maintenance and landscape installation company in Southeast Idaho. Heather Pierce and Joel Kent, both graduates from BYU-Idaho's Horticulture department, gave us their insight from being employed at Outback Landscape.
Heather is the landscape designer and office manager for Outback Landscape. She's living proof that moms can still have the career they work for in school. She talked about how, when working for a company, you have to be willing to pick up different responsibilities and "do a little bit of everything". Even though she's involved in designing, she still has to do a lot of office work, like invoicing, estimating, etc. She mentioned that only so much can be learned in school and you should take advantage of any opportunity you can get for hands on experience. She also talked about her experience in advertising. Being a Horticulture major, that's not something we think about a lot, but she said that students would benefit from taking graphic design or other multi-media classes, because companies these days are investing a lot in their marketing and advertising.
Joel talked about the sales part of business. As far as advertising goes, he said, "Reputation is key". The best referral is word of mouth. He also talked about always being ready to upsale. Meaning, figure out what the customer wants, and be willing to sell them the best you have. Even when they have a 'smaller' budget, when they realize what you have can benefit them, their budget may expand. He said that as students, we should take advantage of networking opportunity we can; whether it be in seminar, at competitions, or even other students. He also mentioned that subscribing to industry trade magazines or websites has been really beneficial to him. It keeps him on top of the game and always seeing new things the industry is coming out with.
One thing both speakers talked about was being flexible, from life in general and even narrowing it down to doing a job for a client. Sometimes things come up and you have to be able to cope with those things and work around them. Having a strong team makes that possible for Outback Landscape.
Dave Vine, from Swingle, was our speaker for Seminar today. Swingle was founded in 1947 with the mission to "stay ahead of the pack". They specialize in lawn care, tree care, landscape care, and holiday decor (being the largest Holiday Decor franchise in North America).
Dave spent a lot of time talking about Swingle's "secrets to success". First, he talked about always being in pursuit of new ideas. Along with that, investing in equipment and technology keeps them on top of the game. They also value customer service. They guarantee their customers' satisfaction 100% offering refunds for less than satisfied customers. Their employees are also enrolled with "Swingle University" because they believe that "education is the essence of growth." Swingle University offers employees specialized training manuals, written and practical field testing, training videos and workbooks, certifications and licenses among other things. Swingle also values cross-training of employees to improve staff versatility, improve customer service, expand opportunities, and continue education. All of these things combined can attribute to the success of Swingle as well as the growth. Dave told us that Swingle is expecting 20% growth during the year 2011 as well as each year after that for about 5 years.
Dave also talked about qualities he looks for in hiring new employees. He said education and experience is extremely important as well as passion and a 'do whatever it takes' attitude. He also said that he looks for leaders as opposed to managers. He said, "Leaders do the right things, managers do what's right." The essence of a leader is change, while the essence of a manager is stability. He said a leader leads people, takes risk, and paves new roads while a manager manages work, minimizes risk, and takes existing roads. While neither is bad, being a leader is certainly a good quality to have for progression in your career. Doing all you can in gaining an education and experience will certainly give you a 'leg-up' on the competition as well as helping you gain those leadership qualities.
Lynda Wightman was such an enjoyable speaker for seminar today. As an employee for Hunter Industries and Chairman of the Board for the Irrigation Foundation, she had a lot to say about water conservation and efficient irrigation systems.
Lynda explained that water is the #1 most valuable resource in the world. She stated that the horticulture industry is very visible and, as part of that industry, we are stewards of this most precious resource. A large percentage of water is wasted due to lack of education to the public, improper installation of irrigation systems, as well as inefficient systems. She went over the new water conservation technology such as: Weather/soil sensors-sensors that are sensitive to weather conditions like rain and wind, and monitor sprinklers accordingly, Low Precipitation/high uniformity equipment-equipment that measures precipitation vs. infiltration and monitors sprinkler accordingly, Climate-based irrigation controllers-systems that read sun radiation/evapo-transpiration rate/humidity/etc. daily, among others. She did stress, however, that equipment and technology is only as smart as the installer and maintainer.
We need to be proactive in conserving water because it is in critical supply. Ben Franklin said, "When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water." Lynda then spoke about the 'going green' measures the industry is taking. She said, "Going green is here, it's not a trend. [It's] here to stay." She spoke a lot about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and SITES, an association that deals with water conservation within LEED. It's important for people in every aspect of the horticulture industry to be familiar with these and other legislative initiatives. We need to be aware and know what's going on so we can be on top of our industry.
Lastly, she talked about being involved in the Irrigation Foundation. This foundation has two goals: Investing in Education and Advancing the Industry. They help develop materials for irrigation classes for college students and promote careers for those students. The Irrigation Foundation is also highly involved in PLANET, which involves a number of our students every winter semester.
Ben Miller was a very interesting speaker to have for seminar this week. He gave very good insight to the business side of the Horticulture industry. He spoke a lot about the differences between 'big business' and small business. While large companies may seem to have more benefits, small companies may offer more opportunity for experience and growth. He brought up the fact that, in a small company, the lines of communication are a lot smaller, allowing you to have access to the 'big guys' of the business. With those communication lines open, more opportunity and growth is available, but only if you take seek out those opportunities for yourself.
He also talked about failure being a big deterrent for entering a small company. His definition of failure was not learning from mistakes. Failure isn't really failure unless you give up. He said, "Manage your failures." Address your failures, reflect on them and turn them into success. I really liked that he said failure should build confidence rather than rattle it. If we can turn 'failure' into a learning experience, it will only lead to success. On that note, he also said he looks for interns who aren't afraid to take on more than they can chew sometimes, who more or less aren't afraid of failure, because that creates more learning opportunities and experience for themselves and shows initiative.
Northwest Landscape Services seemed like a great company to work for. They view their company as a '2nd university'. Their goal is to make their employees more valuable to the industry than they were when they started work. They achieve this by allowing their employees more experiences and opportunities than most would get with a large company.
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.