January Trade Show Adventures

HNI booth at CENTS
The Hoffman Nursery booth welcomed visitors to CENTS with catalogs, info, and our liners.

The whirlwind of January trade shows is over, and we had a blast. Between MANTS in Maryland, CENTS in Ohio, and Green & Growin’ in North Carolina, we chatted, talked, and discussed our way through a lot of grasses.

According to John Hoffman, the feeling at all the shows was very positive, and everyone was optimistic about the new year. We see that optimism and confidence in the number of customers who have already booked their 2014 orders. In addition, we talked to lots of folks working on municipal, institutional, and other public projects. It seems like these jobs are going strong and are increasingly incorporating grasses, sedges, and rushes.

The Show Rundown

At MANTS, people filled the aisles, and the Hoffman Nursery booth was hopping. John Hoffman, Magan Agee, and Scott Epps managed our booth, and John’s son, David Hoffman, joined them for part of the show. David has been working at Stauden Peters greenhouse operation in Germany, but he was home for several weeks during their winter break. A fire alarm on the first day of the show forced exhibitors and attendees outside into the bitter cold. Fortunately, the evacuation didn’t last long. The MANTS show is always heavy on nursery people, so many discussions centered around new plants and expanding grass programs.

Magan Agee, our sales & customer service supervisor, attended a social at MANTS for the Young Nursery Professionals group. This group has been around for just a few years, and they gather at selected industry events to socialize and network. They are working on refining their mission while continuing to arrange new events.

Allan Armitage at CENTS
John Hoffman and Allan Armitage discuss grasses and sedges for Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals app.

At the OSU Short Course during CENTS, our team enjoyed the two “super” sessions. Tuesday morning, Dr. Allan Armitage shared his thoughts about a life in horticulture. He gave sage advice—think about what you “get” to do rather than what you’ve “got” to do—while enlightening and entertaining us with stories. He lamented the glut of new plants on the market, but noted that breeders (himself included) will continue to produce them. He’s concerned that too many choices can overwhelm consumers. With so much that’s new, he believes consumers will continue to turn to websites and apps for help. His new mobile app, Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals will soon include grasses and sedges. He talked with the Hoffman Nursery team about which genera to include during a visit to our booth.

Dr. Doug Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home presented on the last morning of CENTS. He outlined the tremendous loss of habitat and species diversity in our landscapes. While the evidence he presented is alarming, he offered solutions and a vision of landscapes that can address the problems. It was a thought-provoking message that’s worth hearing.

HNI booth at Green & Growin'
Magan Agee, Ryan Lambert, and David Hoffman enjoy the Green & Growin’ Show.

With the Green & Growin’ show just over an hour from us, more of our team were able to attend. The usual suspects (John Hoffman, Magan Agee, and Shannon Currey) were joined by Nursery Manager, Scott Epps; Production Manager, Ryan Lambert; and the Hoffmans’ son, David. Green & Growin’ always means seeing lots of friends, teachers, and colleagues, especially those connected with NC State. At this NC show, we can’t walk down the aisle without seeing someone we want to visit. It’s a great feeling, and most of us were talked out by the end of the show run.

As always, we appreciate everyone who came by the booth, attended a talk, or just said hello. You make these trade shows a pleasure!

To find out which plants generated the most buzz, go to our post on Hot Topics at the Shows.

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