Caption: Ken Free, sales manager for Salem, Ore.-based JLPN, waters seedlings at CENTS 2011.
CENTS 2011 (Central Environmental Nursery Trade Show) opened Monday with optimism about the industry for the coming year. Suppliers and manufacturers said customers are asking about new products again, while landscape contractors said they have every reason to believe business will pick up come spring.
CENTS is hosted by the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association in conjunction with The Ohio State University Nursery Short Course, which is the educational arm of the event. This week’s events are taking place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Preliminary numbers showed pre-registration was equal to last year, said Kevin Thompson, executive director of ONLA.
Attendees from all aspects of the green industry are taking part in networking, viewing new products on the show floor and listening to educational seminars and earning credits in topics such as landscape contracting, pest management, plants, nursery/grower, urban forestry and retail.
Among the highlights:
Filling the gap
Many times there can be a disconnect between what the designer dreamt up and what the maintenance contractor ends up taking care of, says Dr. Robert E. Schutzki, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University. Really, there needs to be a synergistic relationship among the designer, installer and maintenance contractor.
The thought process needs to be, “We’re all in this together,” Schutzki says.
His talk “Design Maintenance Connection” gave advice on how to eliminate that disconnect.
One common area where problems occur is in the beginning stages of the plan and site review, he says. Perhaps the designer picked plants that were destined to fail because of information he didn’t know. Sometimes problems pop up because the contractor installing the landscaping didn’t pay close enough attention to the design plan or they misread the grade needed for planting material and mulching.
The key to making sure the client is satisfied, not only with the design and installation process but for years to come, is communication. That communication starts with the design intent.
“The design intent statement is two or three paragraphs and each paragraph has two or three sentences of what your intent is as the designer,” Schutzki says. It gives the installer and maintenance contractor a better understanding of the site plan, orientation and position of landscape features, type and size of material used and guides for on-site adjustment.
A final element that can help is creating a review process, a checklist of sorts, for when the project is complete. Take 10-15 minutes to go over plant alignment, plant quality, mulching, irrigation and clean up.
Schutzki said a contractor who was having problems with beds and plant materials once warranty was up saved $90,000 in the first year he put in a 10-minute review system.
ONLA held an awards ceremony Sunday night for its Landscape Awards Program. During the program, more than 30 awards were handed out in nearly a dozen categorizes and 17 scholarships were given to students pursuing degrees related to the green industry.
The Judges’ Choice: Project of the Year award went to Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus for its Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden Campus. The campus is used in part as an educational venue for the community.
Other award winners: McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery of Johnstown, Ohio, won the top award for residential landscape maintenance, and Yard Solutions of Groveport, Ohio, won for residential installation.
The award sponsors included Tabit, Arganbright & Hazelbaker, Mattingly Brothers Electric and Art Form Nurseries.