Victory in Vancouver
Bedding Plants International’s change in programming will serve as a model for future conventions.
BEDDING Plants International (BPI) took a risk when it officially left the trade show business, but its 33rd annual convention September 21-25 in Vancouver, BC, turned out to be its most successful in years and will serve as a model for years to come.
Although trade shows play a vital, revenue-raising role for many associations, the resounding message from BPI members was to give it up and focus on BPI’s strengths – providing opportunities for growers and allied industry members to visit top-notch greenhouses and garden centers in a different region each year; learn from their peers and experts in seminars; and socialize in a slower-paced environment. Attendees did receive registration passes to the CanWest Hort Show, held September 20 and 21, at the nearby Vancouver Convention Center.
BPI helped fill the revenue void by working closely with 40 industry sponsors to subsidize the convention and keep registration costs down for 325 attendees. Sponsors were on hand at all tours to tell growers more about their products in live greenhouses, acted as bus leaders, and played active roles in all social functions.
Through this support, the convention was expected to generate $25,000 profit for the organizations Last year’s convention with a trade show yielded $11,000 and the year before lost money.
Vancouver marked the first time in years that attendees weren’t wondering if BPI would be back next year, and many said they’re looking forward to the next convention in Baltimore, MD. The upbeat attitude shined in new BPI president Paul Yantorno’s address. He asked the crowd to spread the good news and said,
“When people ask you how BPI is doing and how the convention was, say, ‘When I tell you, you’re going to want to be me.”‘
Yantorno, who represents Center Greenhouses, Denver, CO, succeeds Henry
Gardens, Loudon, NH, as president. BPI also welcomed two new board members Mike DeWinter, DeWinter’s Inc., Grandville, MI; and Gary Mangum, Bell Nursery, Burtonsville, MD. Retiring board members Kim Bordine Reynolds, Bordine’s Nursery, Rochester Hills, MI, and George Todd, George Todd Farms, Ruskin, FL, received service awards (see “BPI Honors Dedication,” page 56).
Time For Tours
Attendees took in beautiful, Northwestern scenery and new ideas for their businesses on five tours.
The high-tech tour featured: Burnaby Lake Greenhouses, an ultra-modern potted plant facility with 1.5 million square feet of greenhouse production; Milner Greenhouses, which grows bedding and potted plants for chain stores in five acres of greenhouse and three acres outdoors, and contracts an additional eight acres with other growers; and Houweling Nurseries, which is currently converting its 60-acre Delta, BC, facility from vegetables to flowers.
Leading perennials grower John Schroeder, Valleybrook Gardens, conducted an on-site marketing seminar at his facility in Abbotsford, BC.
The Langley-area propagators tour featured Westcan Greenhouses, which is known for developing alternative crops and hosting poinsettia and geranium open houses, and Genesis Plant Propagation, which produces cut flower and perennials liners and is a geranium rooting station for Ball Seed.
The Washington grower tour featured poinsettia production at Smith Gardens’ Bellingham location, perennials powerhouse Etera, and ended with a salmon barbecue at Skagit Gardens.
Fabulous fall product was showcased at two upscale garden centers on the retail tour – The Garden Works and Mandeville Garden Center (see “Fantastic Fall,” page 60). An extra tour to Victoria on Vancouver Island featured the famous Butchart Gardens.
Beyond tours, the BPI convention hosted an impressive lineup of speakers and panelists on market trends, strategies, and e-commerce.
Keynote speaker David Baxter, executive director of the Urban Futures Institute, painted a picture of how demographics will impact the future marketplace. Over the next 10 years, a 20 million-person increase in the 45 to 64 age group bodes well, with ages 45 to 54 being peak spenders and ages 55 to 64 the highest participating gardeners.
One caveat: “Just because the population is growing rapidly doesn’t mean you’ll make money,” he says. “You have to tap into it.”
Growers can do this by switching from selling plants to selling services, he says. “Consumers are time starved,” Baxter says. “They have more money to spend but less time. They try to buy time through products and services. They will buy lots of plants but pay someone to help them select, install, and maintain them.”
Another option is to sell stories. “Baby boomers like to talk about what they bought, whether it’s vintage wines or organic arugula,” he says.
The next convention will be September 27-October 1 in Baltimore, MD. For more information, contact Bedding Plants International, 800-6477742, fax 515-282-9117, or email email@example.com. 08
Copyright Meister Publishing Company Nov 2000
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