Here’s part two of our January road warrior stories, by Curtis.
There was much anticipation into the MID AM Show. For the past few years the MANTS Show has drawn the major crowd that typically went to MID AM. However, as Boyd and I jumped on the plane to head to Chicago, we had a few goals set in mind, and we were going to make sure that we would make the MID AM the best show it possibly could be.
For myself personally I was impressed on how Boyd, only 16 months into his position at Van Belle had taken this show by storm, and wanted to make the MID AM, HIS Show. Boyd’s upbeat attitude did attract what began as a small crowd, and I believe that positive energy, and the bright colors of our booth drew a lot of people to connect with us. Located directly behind Ball Ornamentals, we had a good opportunity to continue bonding with John McDonough, their Territory Manager of the North East and Mid West and were able to share customers from booth to booth.
One of the highlights of this show was the fact that we were able to go for dinner with Jerry Fultz of Acorn Farms and his Sales Team who were at the Show. We had an amazing evening of sharing great hunting stories, to forecasting where the year was going and the preparations for what was looking to be a positive year. Our relationship with Acorn has strengthened over the years, and I attribute a lot of that not only to the quality of the plants that were shipped, but in the way Boyd has managed the partnership and continued to build it forward.
Boyd was also able to have a great chance to connect with Paul from Home Nursery, yet another growing partner with Van Belle. Boyd and Paul had a great lunch together in which they were able to reconnect and look forward to the coming year. The Mid West has seen its challenges, however Home Nursery has seemed to really thrive forward, and prove to be a strong force in the industry.
During the week we were also able to connect with Dr. Roderick Woods, the developer of the Hibiscus Chiffon Series through Proven Winners. I have met many people in my travels, however Dr. Woods had some quirky stories…such as how in England they take the manure straight from a horse (and I mean fresh) rub it into pine bark, and use that to root Orchids. As Dr. Woods said, “If you ever want to see an orchid grow fast, just add horse manure.” I felt honored to be able to meet a man responsible for an amazing plant, and to share with him the success that we have had in growing and selling the Hibiscus Chiffon series. Thanks to Gary Neinhuis from Proven Winners for introducing Dr. Woods to our team.
The Friday of the show was a little dismal as snow canceled the show just a few hours in. Chicago was getting pounded with an amazing accumulation of snow, and the organizers believed the smartest thing was to close the show as no one would be getting in, and many would have issues getting out (including me!).
When we look back at the Mid Am Show, it may not have been as strong as MANTS. However, one thing remained very evident – the connections that we did make with our current partners at the show were very valuable. Somehow when you meet with people away from their office, you see the true person, and you are able to make that bond. I was truly amazed at the relationships Boyd has established with his partners, especially in the short while he has been here. It is evident that our customers are not just buying a liner, but they are buying into the Van Belle Team, and have a sense of trust.