COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After two years of planning, the national trade organization to be formed through the consolidation of OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals and the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) is official. And it finally has a name: AmericanHort.
Members of OFA and ANLA voted in overwhelming support of the consolidation of the two organizations into a new, national trade association to serve the entire horticulture industry. The announcement followed a 30-day open ballot and Saturday’s in-person vote for OFA’s members, held in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s what our members want,” said Mark Foertmeyer, who was announced as the chairman of the board for the new organization. The owner of Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse in Delaware, Ohio, and current president of OFA continued, “We have surveyed our members, spoken with them, and finally asked them to cast a ballot. Each time they told us they wanted a national association that unifies and serves the entire horticulture industry.”
The new trade association, named the American Horticulture Association, will be known as AmericanHort, and will begin operations by Jan. 1. The mission of AmericanHort is to unite, promote, and advance our industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research.
The dues structure for the new organization has not yet been finalized. Members of OFA and ANLA as of December 31, 2013 will automatically become members of the new association in January 2014. Membership will continue through June 30, 2014. The dues renewal process for the new association will begin in the spring for the membership year beginning on July 1, 2014. The new dues structure will allow members to choose from an a la carte menu, said Michael Geary, CEO of OFA and vice president of ANLA. Dues will no longer be based on business size or revenues.
“We will have the largest national nursery, greenhouse, and garden retail membership of any horticulture association in the United States,” said the organization’s inaugural vice chairman, Dale Deppe, owner of Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Mich., and current vice president of ANLA. “Those communities will join together with breeders, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and all who are part of the supply chain to represent our industry with one, strong voice and a greater base of volunteer, staff, and financial resources,” Deppe added.
Michael Geary, CAE, who will continue as the chief staff executive, said the new association will maintain all of the current staff in both the Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D.C. offices.
“By including research, industry promotion, regulatory and legislative efforts, education, and countless opportunities for buyers and sellers to interact, we will deliver a broad range of business-based services to our industry and be the quintessential resource for the horticulture industry as a whole," Geary said.
“I have made long-term dues investments in both organizations," said Gary Mangum, CEO of Bell Nursery, headquartered in Elkridge, Md., and a current member of both ANLA and OFA. "ANLA is the leader in legislative and regulatory representation for our industry, and OFA offers outstanding educational programs and runs the largest horticultural trade show and convention in North America. With the addition of programs like the Next Level conference and the significant expansion of the retail segment at the 2014 Short Course, we can already see the benefits of these two associations joining together. It will be better for my business, and it is a true win for our industry. Congratulations to our leaders and members who made this historic decision.”
The new organization will represent the whole of the plant industry, including breeders, greenhouse and nursery growers, garden center retailers, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and all of those who are part of the industry supply chain. The association will have its primary office in Columbus, Ohio and an office in Washington, D.C. to facilitate government relations and research activities.
The inaugural board of directors was appointed by the legacy organizations. For the first year, the board will have equal representation from OFA and ANLA. The board includes the following leaders:
Chairman of the Board – Mark Foertmeyer, Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse, Delaware, Ohio
Vice Chairman of the Board – Dale Deppe, Spring Meadow Nursery Inc, Grand Haven, Michigan
Treasurer – Lisa Graf, Graf Growers, Akron, Ohio
Past Chairman of the Board – Mike McCabe, McCabe’s Greenhouse & Floral, Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Past Chairman of the Board – Bob Terry, Fisher Farms, Gaston, Oregon
President & CEO – Michael V. Geary, CAE, AmericanHort, Columbus, Ohio/Washington, DC
Joe Burns, Color Burst, Grayson, Georgia
Teri Cantwell, Bates Sons & Daughters Inc, Lake Placid, Florida
Tom Demaline, Willoway Nurseries Inc, Avon, Ohio
Bob Jones Jr, The Chef’s Garden, Huron, Ohio
Terri McEnaney, Bailey Nurseries Inc, St Paul, Minnesota
Dan Mulhall, Mulhall’s Nursery, Omaha, NE
Morris Newlin, New Garden Landscaping & Nursery, Greensboro, North Carolina
Cari Peters, JR Peters Inc, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Sid Raisch, Horticultural Advantage, Hillsboro, Ohio
The organization will have a new committee structure in place by the end of the year.
"We want the governance structure of the committees to be simple," Geary said. "We're creating a new system in terms of how we interact with members."
That includes an "enhanced strategy" to connect members with state and regional associations. ANLA's Lighthouse program will continue, which includes some 13,000 people throughout those "partner" organizations, Geary said.